Lair of Dreams

Caution: Read The Diviners by Libba Bray before proceeding. There may be spoilers ahead!

Last month, I finally made time to read the first book in a thrilling, terrifying series. That series, of course, began with The Diviners. Yesterday, I finished reading the second book in the series, Lair of Dreams. Well, if The Diviners scared me, Lair of Dreams terrified me to the depths of my soul. Thanks to the fabulous Libba Bray, I can now add dreaming to the long list of things that scare me. (If you’re curious, that list includes–but is not limited to–clowns, balloons, thunderstorms, zombies, most forms of social interaction, the dark, and failure. Yes, I’m aware I have issues.)

Moving on…

Lair of Dreams picks up where The Diviners left off. Let’s dive in, shall we?

After the horrendous battle against Naughty John, the whole world knows of the existence of Diviners, and Evie O’Neill is determined to be the most famous of them all. She is now the “Sweetheart Seer,” and she performs her object readings on a very popular radio show. Evie is a media darling, and she’ll do almost anything to keep it that way…even aligning with her nemesis, Sam Lloyd.

As for Sam, he has own agenda, and he needs Evie’s help to finally discover what really happened to his mother. He knows she’s still out there somewhere, but he’s having no luck in uncovering the truth behind “Project Buffalo,” the shady government project that may have something to do with locating (or even creating?) Diviners. Sam knows his mother was involved in the project, but he doesn’t know how…or why. He’s hoping that Evie’s object-reading ability will clear things up, but can he work with Evie, a girl who craves the spotlight, while keeping his own abilities a secret?

Evie and Sam have the media’s attention at the moment…but something else is in the news as well. A mysterious sleeping sickness has taken hold, and it has all of New York on edge. People are being trapped in their dreams, and there appears to be no cause or cure for this strange illness. Is there anyone who can figure out what is happening?

As it turns out, there is. Two young Diviners, Ling Chan and Henry DuBois, are dream-walkers, and the ability to discover what–or who–is responsible for the sleeping sickness may reside with them. But what if they don’t want to leave the dream world? What if it’s so much better than the prejudice and ridicule they face every day?

For many people–Ling and Henry included–dreams are quickly turning to nightmares, and there appears to be no escape. Diviners and their allies will have to work together to stop this evil from spreading and taking those they hold dear. But how? How can they stop an evil that exists in dreams?

On the fringes of this terror, there’s always the odd gray man in the stovepipe hat, known to some as the King of Crows. This shadowy figure, who was also present during the Naughty John fiasco, seems to thrive on terror, but his endgame is unclear. What does he have to do with the sleeping sickness, and how will the Diviners play into his plans?

As the Diviners navigate the terrifying dream world threatening to invade even their waking hours, they must also unite to face the uncertain future ahead of them. Something big is headed their way. Will their abilities be enough to fight it? Who or what will try to get in their way? And what will they discover about themselves and their “gifts” in the process?

Find out just how dangerous dreams can be when you read Lair of Dreams, the thrilling second installment in Libba Bray’s Diviners series.


To say that I liked Lair of Dreams would be something of an understatement. Granted, I could not read it at night, especially right before bed, but I still enjoyed every bit of it. This book, like The Diviners, is rich, complex, and provides a rather interesting, alternate-history type look at life in the 1920s. Those who read this book may just find themselves doing a bit of research into just how much of it is historically accurate. (A lot of it, by the way.)

If you, like me, are already eager for more of The Diviners, well…we’re all out of luck for now. According to Goodreads, there will be two more books in the series, but there is no timeline on when we can expect them. Given that the two books we already have come in at around 600 pages each, I imagine it takes the wonderful Libba Bray quite some time to research, write, rewrite, and otherwise prepare the books for publication. So, I guess we’ll just have to be patient.

As news of future books in The Diviners is released, I imagine it will be on Libba Bray’s website first, so check there often. You can also follow the fantastic Ms. Bray on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram.

If you’d like to hear more about Lair of Dreams from Libba Bray herself, check out the interview below from BookCon 2015. Enjoy!

The Diviners

My favorite historical period (in America, at least) is the Roaring Twenties. I also enjoy reading books about people with supernatural abilities. Well, my latest read combined those two things in an amazing story that I’m still thinking about.

This book, The Diviners by Libba Bray, was a lengthy tome, and I couldn’t read it much at night because I’m a wuss, so it took me longer than I would have liked to finish. That being said, I adored this book, and I look forward to reading the second book, Lair of Dreams, which came out last month. I’m fairly certain it will give me the same case of heebie-jeebies that I got while reading the first book.

Evie O’Neill doesn’t quite fit in her boring Ohio hometown…and everyone knows it. When scandal erupts–a scandal that Evie had a part in revealing–she is sent to live with her uncle in Manhattan, and Evie couldn’t be happier. She knows she’ll find the life she’s always wanted in the Big Apple, and she’s ready to take the city by storm.

As Evie explores the speakeasies, parties, and good times that are so much a part of New York in the 20’s, she’s also being introduced to her Uncle Will’s work in the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult. Uncle Will is soon called to assist with a strange murder investigation, and Evie finds herself right in the middle of it.

You see, Evie has a special ability that helps her to know much more about these gruesome murders than she should…and this ability may just make Evie a target herself. Evie is quickly caught up in an investigation that leads her to learn more about a dangerous cult, ritualistic killings, ghosts come back to life, and someone’s quest to bring about the end of the world.

How can one girl hope to stop such horrible events? Evie will have to use all of her considerable wits to combat the evil to come, but it still may not be enough. She’s on a collision course with a vicious killer, and her charms and abilities may not get her out of this mess.

And Evie is not the only person with abilities that put her in a killer’s cross-hairs. Theta, a chorus girl with a tragic past, has her own dangerous secret. Memphis once had sought-after healing abilities that left him after his mother’s death. His brother, Isaiah, is showing signs of his own special–and disturbing–gifts. Then there’s Sam, a pickpocket who has the handy ability of going completely unnoticed when he wishes to. And let’s not forget Jericho, a student of Evie’s uncle, and a young man who isn’t completely what he seems.

All of these people will, on some level, come face-to-face with the horrendous evil that is waking in New York, and each of them will have to do what they can to protect themselves and those they love. Will they be able to stop what’s coming before it’s too late? Or will one of them be a murderer’s next victim?

Answer these questions and many more* when you read The Diviners by the fantastic Libba Bray.

*Warning: For every answer you receive, about a thousand questions will pop up in its place. It’s kind of awesome.


To say that I like The Diviners would be a major understatement. This book was rich, terrifying, entertaining, complex, and filled with characters that I want to know more about. (If you’re familiar with Libba Bray’s other books, this is probably not news.) Luckily, The Diviners is only the first book. Lair of Dreams was released on August 25th, and there are rumored to be two more books in this captivating series.

In my most humble opinion, The Diviners a series more suited to teen readers, but some mature middle grade readers may be able to handle it. There’s a certain amount of rule-breaking and alcohol use–completely true to the historical period–that might keep it from being a must-purchase for libraries that serve middle grade students. (For instance, I definitely wouldn’t put this book in the hands of sixth or seventh grader.) I simply think mature teen readers will be able to read this book and keep social and historical context in mind. That’s all, really.

If you like your historical fiction with a supernatural twist (or vice versa), I’d highly recommend The Diviners. To learn more about the series as a whole, I urge you to visit the series website. There’s loads of information on The Diviners, Lair of Dreams, and the amazing Libba Bray.

Happy Again

If you haven’t read Jennifer E. Smith’s This Is What Happy Looks Like (which is a nominee for the 15-16 South Carolina Young Adult Book Award), do so before reading this post or Happy Again. Spoilers ahead!

So, last year, I read This Is What Happy Looks Like, a great contemporary YA romance by Jennifer E. Smith. After that last page, I wondered where things would go with Ellie and Graham. If you’ve read the book–and, at this point, I’m assuming you have–you know that things weren’t tied up in a neat little bow for them at the book’s conclusion. Well, now we have Happy Again, a sequel novella, to help clear things up a bit. Let’s dive in, shall we?

It’s been over a year since Ellie O’Neill has seen Graham Larkin. After they said their goodbyes on the beach in Henley, Maine–and Graham jetted off to finish his latest film and press tour–they stayed in touch for a while. Phone calls, text messages, and constant emails. But eventually, their emails stopped being personal and started to seem sort of emotionless, and they faded to nothing after a while.

Now, Ellie is a freshman at Harvard, and she only keeps up with Graham by glancing at the tabloid headlines. One weekend, Ellie uncharacteristically joins her roommate on a trip to New York City. When she sees a commotion near the Ziegfield Theatre, without even really knowing what’s going on, something tells Ellie that Graham is nearby. And she’s right. As fate would have it, she’s stumbled upon the premiere of the movie that brought them together.

Almost immediately, Ellie has the urge to run. Part of her desperately wants to see Graham, but another part is scared of what might happen if she comes face-to-face with him once again. As it turns out, that decision is kind of taken out of her hands.

Ellie and her friends are invited into the premiere, and, soon enough, there he is. Graham Larkin. He finds Ellie in the crowd, and insists they talk about the past year. What follows is a spontaneous trip through Manhattan, a trip where Ellie and Graham clear the air about why they stopped communicating, what’s been happening in their lives…and where they go from here.

Can Ellie and Graham find the happiness they felt last year in Henley, or has too much passed between them? Does this one extraordinary, fateful meeting have the power to bring them back together, or will this be their final goodbye?


If This Is What Happy Looks Like was a little too open-ended for you (as it was for me), Happy Again definitely gives a bit of closure. But even this story leaves readers with some questions about whether Ellie and Graham will end up together. The ending in this one isn’t completely nice and neat, either. I like to think that things will work out for Ellie and Graham this time around, that they’re willing to work to be together, but that’s not crystal clear. And that’s okay. This gives me–and other readers–the opportunity to continue the story for ourselves, in whatever way we like.

All in all, I found Happy Again to be a pretty satisfying conclusion (?) to the unlikely love story of Ellie and Graham. Will we hear more from this duo? I have no idea, but I like to think that, whether their story continues in print or not, that they’ve found happiness together once again.

If you’d like more information on Happy Again, This Is What Happy Looks Like, or other books by Jennifer E. Smith, visit the author’s website and Twitter. For what it’s worth, I’ve yet to encounter a book by this author that I didn’t like. I hope you feel the same way.

Published in: on June 28, 2015 at 7:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , ,


Greetings! This evening, I bring you yet another of the 15-16 South Carolina Children’s Book Award nominees, Gingersnap by Patricia Reilly Giff. This short yet powerful novel combines historical fiction with a bit of the supernatural, and readers end up with a moving tale of a young girl looking for a sense of family.

The year is 1944, and war continues to hold the world in its grips. Jayna knows it’s just a matter of days before her big brother Rob, the only family she has, will be deployed on a ship headed for the fighting in the Pacific. Jayna tries to put on a brave face, but she’s not happy about being separated from her brother once again, and she doesn’t want to live with Celine, their grumpy landlady, while Rob is away.

After Rob leaves for duty, Jayna is comforted by her turtle Theresa, cooking soup, and by an odd presence that seems vaguely familiar. Is this a ghost? If so, who is it, and what does it want with Jayna?

When Jayna receives the devastating news that her brother is missing in action, this “ghost” leads the girl back to their house and to an old box in a closet. There Jayna finds an old blue cookbook and the address of a Brooklyn bakery called Gingersnap (which happens to be Jayna’s nickname).

Jayna, though scared and unsure, sees the bakery’s name as a sign, and she packs up her turtle, the blue cookbook, and most of her belongings and sets off for an uncertain future and a grandmother she’s never known. Jayna is accompanied by the voice of her ghostly companion, and she eventually arrives in Brooklyn. What she finds there, however, may not be exactly what she expected.

Jayna is very confused about her current circumstances and what will happen to her should her brother never return. She likes being in Brooklyn and the friends she’s made, but what if Rob never comes back to her? What if he’s gone forever? Jayna seeks out her ghostly friend to give her some measure of help, but she doesn’t know if that will be enough to keep her brother safe or to preserve the little family she’s made for herself in Brooklyn.

What will become of young Jayna in this time of turmoil? Read Gingersnap by Patricia Reilly Giff to find out!


Many of my students may pick up Gingersnap for the length (only 160 pages), but I hope they stick around for this heart-warming story. In just a few pages, Patricia Reilly Giff gives readers a fairly realistic look at what life may have been like for a young girl during World War II. We see how a family can be torn apart by war, how a girl will do whatever she must to survive and thrive, and how scarcity and rationing can have a huge effect on not just a family’s meals but also keeping a business going.

Peppered throughout Gingersnap, readers see Jayna’s soup recipes. These recipes reflect exactly what Jayna is going through, and the instructions are at once charming, funny, and reminiscent of many recipes created by kids–or my own mother, a woman who makes soup by tossing everything but the kitchen sink into a pot and cooking until it tastes right. (Whatever she does, it works. My mom’s soup is the best.)

Even though the ending of this book is a tad predictable, I still appreciated Jayna’s journey. She learned quite a bit about herself, her family’s past, the war going on around her, and what it really feels like to be part of a family and the community around her. And even though everyone around her had their own reasons to be cynical and angered by the circumstances of war, they were all kind and caring, and they showed Jayna just what it meant to be there for one another in difficult times.

As for the “supernatural” bits of Gingersnap, neither I nor Jayna are sure if a ghost was at work. It’s possible. This part of the book is definitely open to interpretation, and the discussions about this presence could be quite interesting.

I think Gingersnap is a great read for those in third grade on up. (Yes, even middle schoolers and teens will find something to enjoy.) This book could lead to further research on World War II and the fighting in the Pacific, and it would be a good novel study presenting a different view of the war. (As my fellow educators likely know, most novels with a WWII-focus tend to center on the fighting in Europe and/or the Holocaust.)


Spoiler warning! If you haven’t read Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers yet, you simply must before reading the sequel, Game. (My fellow South Carolinians need to read I Hunt Killers anyway. It’s nominated for the 14-15 SC Young Adult Book Award.)

As you’ve no doubt gathered, I recently finished reading Game, the second book in Barry Lyga’s Jasper Dent series. In this series, we get to know Jasper, known to his friends as Jazz, the son of the world’s most prolific serial killer. In I Hunt Killers, Jazz helps the authorities find the Impressionist, a killer copying the work of Jazz’s father. At the end of that book, though, readers got the kind of cliffhanger that makes us weep or scream in frustration. Somehow, Jazz’s father escapes from prison, and he’s on the hunt again. That’s where Game picks up.

Jazz knows his dad is on the loose, and it’s just a matter of time before their paths cross. In the meantime, there’s yet another serial killer prowling in New York City, and Jazz’s help is once again enlisted to determine just how this maniac thinks. And if anyone knows how a killer thinks, it’s the son of Billy Dent.

Jazz and his girlfriend Connie head to NYC in the hopes that they will be able to find some clues that lead to the capture of the Hat-Dog Killer. The police and FBI seem to have no leads, and Jazz is able to provide a bit of insight into the mind of this psychopath. It’s not always a comfortable process for Jazz (or the reader). In trying to figure out what the killer thinks, Jazz is forced to come face-to-face with his own damaged psyche.

Can Jazz really handle the pressure of thinking like a killer once again? Is he losing himself to the teachings of his father? How can Jazz possibly spend most of his time profiling serial killers without succumbing to the voice of Billy Dent in his head?

As Jazz comes closer to the truth about the Hat-Dog Killer and his dad’s possible involvement in this disturbing game of murder, Connie and Jazz’s best friend Howie are entangled in their own mystery. Someone is sending Connie messages leading her to some disturbing information about Jazz and his past. Who is sending these messages? And why send them to Connie and not Jazz? Connie enlists Howie’s help in her search for the truth, but neither of them will be prepared for what awaits them…

Once again, the hunt for a killer is on. Jazz and company will have to rely on their wits, tenacity, and good old-fashioned luck to figure out what’s going on…but it may not be enough. Even when questions are answered, dozens more pop up in their place, and the hunt for the truth may lead Jazz, Connie, and even Howie into further danger.

Someone is playing a murderous game with people’s lives, and Jazz and his friends may just become unwitting game pieces themselves. Can they make it out of the game alive? Only time will tell…


I freely admit that the above recap doesn’t come remotely close to capturing everything that happened in Game. I didn’t even touch on the glimpses we got into the minds of Hat-Dog, Jazz, Connie, Howie, and Billy. Each perspective brought us new insights into these characters and how they view the world around them.

I briefly mentioned Jazz’s struggles with his own mind, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Jazz is all kinds of messed up, and that definitely comes through for the reader. I even had to put the book down a couple of times and just catch my breath. Jazz’s head is not a happy place to be. What do you expect when a kid is basically raised to be a murderer, right? Sometimes it’s not clear if we’re actually reading Jazz’s thoughts or those of his lunatic father. I guess that’s the dilemma for Jazz as well.

Without giving too much away, I must say that the “game” aspect of Game freaked me the crap out. I may never look at board games the same again.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the whopper of a cliffhanger at the end of this book. When I closed Game last night, I just sat there for a minute and thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” Has Barry Lyga been taking lessons from Steven Moffat (of Sherlock and Doctor Who fame) on torturing fans with mind-boggling endings? Do we seriously have to wait until September to find out how things are resolved (or if they are resolved) for Jazz and friends? I guess we do, but we don’t have to be happy about it!

The third book in this series, Blood of My Blood, should be released on September 9th. (Loving the title, by the way. Can’t wait to see what it might mean for Jazz!) Judging be the synopsis on Goodreads, we’re in for a lot more danger and intrigue. I look forward to diving into what I’m sure will be another fantastic read.

If you can’t wait for more of Jasper Dent and company, though, you can check out a couple of companion novellas. Lucky Day tells of how Billy was first captured, Career Day is a day in the life of sixteen-year-old Jasper, and Neutral Mask provides a look into the beginnings of the relationship between Jazz and Connie. Just click on the titles of each novella in the previous sentence, and you’ll be taken to the Goodreads page on each ebook.

For more information on I Hunt Killers, Game, or other books by Barry Lyga, check out his website, Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook. If you’ve got a minute or two to spare, you may also want to take a look at the Game book trailer below. It covers things I didn’t here, and, in my opinion, it definitely captures the mood of this intense read!


Also Known As

Every once in a while, Amazon offers some pretty great Kindle Daily Deals. (Most of them are less than $3.00.) Recently, one of those deals came in the form of Robin Benway’s Also Known As. I previously read and liked Audrey, Wait!, one of the author’s other books, so I was pretty sure that I would enjoy this one. After reading the synopsis, I was even more certain. You see, this book is about Maggie, a teenage spy. After reading Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls and Heist Society series, I really dig books about teenagers who are spies or use, shall we say, less than legal means to right wrongs. That’s just what I got with Maggie in Also Known As.

Maggie is an expert safe-cracker. She’s been a spy for the Collective for over ten years…and she’s a teenager. Maggie picked her first lock as a preschooler, and she’s been working ever since. But now, she’s facing her first solo assignment. She and her parents (also spies) are relocating to New York, and Maggie is tasked with obtaining information that could expose and bring down the entirety of the Collective’s operations. How will she do this, you ask?  Well, her mission begins with enrolling in high school…

Maggie has never been what one would call a traditional student. She’s never been in a regular classroom, had to make friends, been judged on her fashion choices (which are many even with school uniforms), or faced the horror of a school cafeteria. Her first and most daunting task here is going to be just trying to fit in. This might just take every one of her super-spy skills.

Eventually, Maggie becomes closer to Roux, a social pariah at school, who has a connection that Maggie needs to complete her job. Roux is acquainted with Jesse Oliver, a boy whose father may just be printing the article that could end Maggie’s world as she knows it. As spies have always done in the past, Maggie must use every weapon at her disposal, including budding friendships, to get the job done, and that’s exactly what she does.

What Maggie didn’t count on, however, is actually becoming close to both Roux and Jesse. (How could she anticipate such a thing? It’s not like she ever had real friends before?) Now, Maggie is torn between doing the job she’s always been groomed for and being honest with the first real connections she’s ever had with people her own age. Could there possibly be a happy medium here? And can Maggie complete her mission–and figure out who would put the mysterious Collective in jeopardy–before it’s too late? Follow Maggie on her quest for the truth–and lasting friendships–when you read Also Known As, the first book in an exciting new series by Robin Benway!


Also Known As is a quick, thoroughly entertaining read that, in my opinion, is a great fit for upper middle grade and young adult readers. There is some swearing, but I don’t think it’s excessive, and it’s true to the situations in this book. (I dare you to be a teenage spy or son/daughter of extremely permissive, absent parents and not drop the occasional expletive. Go ahead. I dare you!)

I think this book is more about developing Maggie’s character than it is about spying…but there was plenty of intrigue, especially in the latter part of the book. The biggest mystery for me was how Maggie was going to reconcile her work with her new relationships…and I feel like Benway resolved that in a rather satisfactory way, one that I’m sure will pop up in subsequent books in the series. (At least, I hope so!)

Speaking of sequels, the next book, Going Rogue, will be out in less than two weeks! It will be released on January 14th, and I’m definitely planning to read it as soon as possible. I’m sure it will be just as captivating as the first book!

If you’d like more information about Also Known As and other books by Robin Benway, check out her website at You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. Enjoy!

Published in: on January 3, 2014 at 7:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

City of Orphans

Well, my summer is nearly at an end, and I’ve almost finished reading the twenty books nominated for the 2013-14 South Carolina Children’s Book Award. Last night, I finished #19, City of Orphans by Avi (also nominated for the South Carolina Junior Book Award). Had this book not been nominated for the SCCBA, I don’t know that I would have picked it up. It’s no secret that historical fiction is not my favorite genre. (For those wondering, the 20th SCCBA nominee left to read is also historical fiction. I’ve put it off as long as possible.) After reading City of Orphans, though, I’m honestly glad I gave this book a chance.

For the most part, this is not a particularly happy book, but it does explore what life was like for kids in turn-of-the-century New York. (Hint: If you had no money, it was bad.) The title, City of Orphans, refers to the fact that even kids with parents, most of whom were immigrants, were–for all intents and purposes–orphans. It was up to them to figure out how and where to make money, where to go when they needed help, and how to get out of bad situations. In this book, we meet Maks and Willa, two “orphans” just trying to survive in this bleak world.

It’s 1893, and New York City is teeming with people–immigrants, crooks, cops, and, most of all, kids. Kids just trying to survive, trying to make a few cents to help their families. One of these kids is Maks Geless. Maks is a newsie. (He sells newspapers on street corners.)

One night, Maks runs into some trouble on his way home from work. Trouble by the name of Bruno and the Plug Ugly Gang. Maks is sure he’s dead meat…until a dirty, homeless girl with a big stick saves him. This girl, Willa, has lived in the streets for months, and Maks figures the least he can do is give her a place to stay for coming to his rescue. So Maks takes Willa home to stay with his family.

Maks’ family, immigrants from Denmark, lives in a tenement, nearly ten people crammed into one small apartment, but it’s home, and they’re all together…until Maks’ older sister Emma is arrested! Maks is sure that Emma must be innocent. There’s simply no way she could have stolen a watch from someone at the new, fancy Waldorf hotel where she works. Maks’ parents are unfamiliar with the way things really work in America, so it’s up to Maks–and his new friend Willa–to figure out just what happened with Emma and the case of the stolen watch.

All the while, Maks and Willa have to watch out for the scary Bruno and this gang, just waiting to terrorize them and take their meager earnings. Can these two kids save their own necks while trying to get Maks’ sister out of jail? And is anyone willing to help two poor kids–who have no money–without expecting something in return? What will these two junior detectives discover in their quest for the truth? The answers will shock even them and will have the power to turn their worlds upside down. Learn how two kids navigate the perilous waters of turn-of-the-century New York when you read City of Orphans by Avi!


I think City of Orphans is a great discussion-starter about what kids experienced throughout history. As a former social studies teacher, I can tell you that most lessons focus on what adults did in the past. Not much attention is given to kids’ experiences, and that’s a shame. I think many students today would find lessons more engaging and relatable if they could somehow identify with the people they were studying. Do we need to ignore what adults were doing during historical periods? No, but we shouldn’t discount a large portion of the population just because they’re young. (I see a research project in the future for some of my students!)

I also believe City of Orphans could be a “gateway” book to other works of literature. Those that immediately come to mind are the works of Charles Dickens, particularly Oliver Twist and Great Expectations. City of Orphans, while not quite as bleak–or wordy–as Dickens’ works, has the same kind of tone. I don’t particularly care for Dickens, but others do, and readers who really enjoy City of Orphans may want to explore a few of these classics.

If you’d like more information about this book and others by Avi, visit You can also like his page on Facebook.

I hope you enjoy City of Orphans as much as I did!

The Great Gatsby

This week, I finally did something I probably should have done years ago. I read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I know many people may be shocked that I never got around to reading this American classic in high school, but I guess I just missed out on it. (When I was in high school, I didn’t read “classics” unless they were required in my literature classes. I gravitated toward cheesy teen romances, fantasy, and some science fiction. Not much has changed.) Anyway, I wanted to see the movie adaptation this weekend, so, of course, I had to read the book so that I could compare the two.

(For the record, I probably would have seen the movie even if I hadn’t read the book. I’ve been a Leonardo DiCaprio fan since he played Luke Brower on Growing Pains in the early 90s. That is one man who just gets better with age…and he’s a fantastic actor.)

So, I’m not going to tell too much about the book because I figure all of my readers either have read it or will read it the future. I will say, though, that I think The Great Gatsby paints a vivid picture of what life was like in New York in the Roaring Twenties. There were some lavish parties and, at least among the upper echelons of society, a rather casual disregard for propriety and self-control–when it came to wealth, sex, marriage, sobriety, etc. (Goes a long way in explaining how the whole concept of Prohibition came about.)

The Great Gatsby is both a tragic love story and a tale of people who bring out the worst in each other. Told from the perspective of Nick Carraway, who is at once above the drama and a part of it, we delve into the mystery of Jay Gatsby and his love for Daisy Buchanan. It’s often difficult to sort out the truth from all the lies, but the lives of the people in this book intertwine in a beautiful mess, and, in the end, their lives unravel in the blink of an eye.

I enjoyed reading The Great Gatsby, and a big part of me is happy that I waited until I was an adult to experience this book. I honestly don’t think that I could have appreciated it as a teenager. Now, with some knowledge of the time period–I studied the 1920s extensively as an undergrad student–and more life experience myself, I can grasp just why this book is widely considered a must-read American classic.

I can’t wait to see what Baz Luhrmann does with Jay Gatsby’s story. I hope I enjoy it as much as I did Moulin Rouge, especially since The Great Gatsby has the same kind of decadence that was present in that wonderful musical. I have high hopes for this movie, and I am praying that my hopes are not dashed by Hollywood (as they have been so often in the past). So far, reviews are mixed, but I don’t really put too much stock in reviews. (The original Star Wars trilogy was widely panned by reviewers. Those people were made of stupid.) Either way, I’ll get to look at Leo DiCaprio on the big screen, and that’s always fun!

Speaking of fun, here’s a trailer for the movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby to whet our appetites for the movie…which is in theaters today!

Published in: on May 10, 2013 at 10:25 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , ,

City of Lost Souls

Warning!  There may be City of Lost Souls spoilers ahead!

After work on Tuesday, I rushed to the closest Barnes & Noble to pick up a book I waited on for far too long—City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare.  I started reading it as soon as I got home, but, sadly, I wasn’t able to finish it until yesterday.  (Lots of things kept getting in the way—work, my regular TV schedule, meetings, and my need for naps.)  But finish it I did, and I was absolutely blown away.

Like the other books in Clare’s Mortal Instruments series (City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, and City of Fallen Angels) and her Infernal Devices series (Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince), City of Lost Souls had me hooked before I even opened the book.  And I think a part of me was reluctant to finish the book, partly because I wanted to prolong the time I spent with my favorite characters, and partly because I knew this book would end on a cliffhanger, and I’d have a long time to worry about how things would be resolved.  How right I was.

I’m not going to tell you much about what happens in City of Lost Souls because I don’t want to spoil things for you.  This series means too much to me to ruin it for other fans.  I will say, however, that I am an emotional wreck after reading this book.  Sacrifices and deals are made—or at least considered—that change the entire fabric of this world.  The relationships between the characters have me tied up in knots, and I’m hoping against hope that things get better for everyone in the next book, City of Heavenly Fire.  I even found myself hoping that there was some way to “fix” Sebastian.  When you read this book, you’ll see why that hope was rather short-lived. 

While reading City of Lost Souls, I was always for clues about what might happen in Clockwork Princess.  (For those that don’t know, Clockwork Princess is the third book in the Infernal Devices, the prequel trilogy to Mortal Instruments.)  I think I may have found at least one clue, but it’s so out there that I don’t want to say anything in case I’m wrong (but I don’t think I am).  I also looked for things we might see in the next Shadowhunter series, Dark Artifices, which will take place a few years in the future at the Los Angeles Institute.  Based on things I’ve heard from Cassie Clare and the YA blogging community, I encountered a few characters that I know I’ll see again.

In short, I LOVED this book just as much as everything else Cassandra Clare has written.  I am totally invested in what happens to these characters that I’ve come to love and think of as my friends.  (Most of my best friends are fictional characters.)  I am eagerly anticipating the final book in the Mortal Instruments saga, City of Heavenly Fire, which won’t be released until March of 2014.  (Yep.  You read that right.  Nearly two years away.  Let the temper tantrum begin.)  Clockwork Princess will tide me over for a bit, but it won’t be out until March 19th of next year, so I’ve still got about ten months to stew.  Curses!

There is, however, something I’m looking forward to that will ease the pain of waiting.  Cassie Clare is coming to South Carolinain November!!!!  I got to meet her late last year during her Clockwork Prince tour (and she’s as awesome as you’d think she would be), and I was thrilled this week when I heard she’d be coming back to my fair state.  She, along with dozens of other bestselling authors—including Holly Black, Stephanie Perkins, Gayle Forman,  Margaret Stohl, Andrea Cremer, Kim Derting, and too many others to name—will be coming to Charleston for YALLFest (, the Charleston Young Adult Book Festival.  The event will be November 9-10, and I am so there!  I’m so excited about this that I can barely contain my joy!

So, while the wait to find out what happens to Jace, Clary, Simon, Alec, Magnus, Isabelle, and even Sebastian, is way too long for me, there’s plenty going on that will tide me over (including hearing more about the middle-grade series by Cassie Clare and Holly Black that’s currently in the works). 

If you’d like more information about all of Cassandra Clare’s amazing books, check out her website (, her tumblr site (, Twitter (!/cassieclare), and Facebook (  You may also want to check out my favorite fansite, Mundie Moms (  Also, if you haven’t seen it already (I’ve watched it about five thousand times), here’s the official City of Lost Souls book trailer.  If this video doesn’t make you want to read this outstanding book, nothing will.  Enjoy!

Published in: on May 13, 2012 at 10:06 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , , , , , ,


This post is going to be a short one.  Why, you ask?  Well, because it’s my birthday, and I want to spend the rest of it having a Big Bang Theory marathon.  Anyway…I finished reading Timeless by Alexandra Monir earlier today.  If you follow this blog at all, you probably know that I’m not a huge fan of time travel fiction.  That hasn’t changed, but I will say that I enjoyed this story.  I also enjoyed the glimpses I received of New York City life throughout the past century.  So much has changed while so much has remained the same…

After a horrible tragedy turns Michele Windsor’s whole world upside down, she is sent to live with her wealthy, estranged grandparents in their Fifth Avenue mansion in New York City. Michele is not sure why her mother chose these people–who’ve never shown an interest in Michele or her mother–as her guardians. Michele just knows she’s not ready for this huge change in her life. Well, an even bigger change is on the horizon…

After Michele receives an mysterious key and finds an old diary, she is somehow transported from 2010 to 1910. Michele can only be seen by certain people in her travels through time…and one of them will totally capture her heart.

Philip Walker is just as enraptured by Michele as she is by him. But how can their love exist when neither belongs in the other’s time? Is there a way? And what force is allowing Michele to travel through time anyway? What family secrets will Michele uncover on her journeys, and can she find a way to stay with the love of her life? Read Timeless by Alexandra Monir to discover that real love can cross all boundaries…even time itself.

I truly enjoyed this book (and I honestly didn’t think I would). I was pleasantly surprised by how the timelines in the story connected, and I appreciated the discussion of Albert Einstein’s theories of time travel contained within the book. As I said previously, I loved the glimpses of old New York, and I also liked how history and music played into how events unfolded for Michele and Philip. (I was a music major for a while in college, and I started my career in education as a history teacher, so this was even more awesome for me.)

If you think you’d enjoy Timeless as much as I did, I invite you to check it out. You can also look forward to more of Michele’s story in the sequel, Timekeeper, due out in December 2012. To learn more about Timeless and author Alexandra Monir, visit You can even download some of the music featured in Timeless! Pretty cool!

Published in: on March 3, 2012 at 9:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 260 other followers