Michelle’s Review: For the Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Michelle’s Review: For the Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana PeterfreundFor Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
Published by Harper Collins on 2012-06-12
Genres: Family, General, Love & Romance, Visionary & Metaphysical, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Fans of Divergent will love Diana Peterfreund’s take on Jane Austen’s Persuasion set in a post-apocalyptic world. In the dystopian future of For Darkness Shows the Stars, a genetic experiment has devastated humanity. In the aftermath, a new class system placed anti-technology Luddites in absolute power over vast estates—and any survivors living there. Elliot North is a dutiful Luddite and a dutiful daughter who runs her father’s estate. When the boy she loved, Kai, a servant, asked her to run away with him four years ago, she refused, although it broke her heart. Now Kai is back. And while Elliot longs for a second chance with her first love, she knows it could mean betraying everything she’s been raised to believe is right. For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking YA romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

I have found my way back to reading by getting sucked into a series. But instead of just reading each book in the series back to back directly, I thought I would add a book or two in between, the lemon to refresh my palette so to speak. For the Darkness Shows the Stars was intended to be that fresh lemon and it ended up being more than that to me.

I understand now why everyone was loving this book and its companion. It’s a retelling that was very refreshing because while it kept a lot of the details that are important from the original (I presume, because I’ve never read Persuassion) it was enough removed to feel entirely original.

A disaster to human kind occurs after the majority of people began to recode their DNA and basically become bionic humans. It backfired, creating the Reduced, those humans who maintain a little of their humanity but are basically little evolved from livestock. The Luddites had resisted the appeal of science and were therefore spared from the Reduction. Now, in a post-apocalyptic world where the Luddites are the ruling class and the Reduced the serfs, there are a new group of people emerging from the Reduced, seemingly no different than the Luddites.

I could go on about this premise because it was so entirely fascinating to me. It was exciting to read and learn more about it. It wasn’t overly complicated and allowed the story to grow. The story itself is one of complicated love, but it is not too overwrought. The epistolary nature of the book really helped build the story and reveal enough to keep the suspension there. Without those parts, I doubt I would have enjoyed the book half as much.

I would definitely recommend this book to others. It was a nice escape and was the perfect refreshing sorbet.

Christina on Dracula by Bram Stoker

Christina on Dracula by Bram StokerDracula by Bram Stoker
Published by J S Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction
Pages: 338
Format: Paperback
EDITORIAL REVIEW: *Dracula*, by **Bram Stoker**, is part of the *Barnes & Noble Classics** *series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of *Barnes & Noble Classics*: New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars Biographies of the authors Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events Footnotes and endnotes Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work Comments by other famous authors Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations Bibliographies for further reading Indices & Glossaries, when appropriateAll editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. *Barnes & Noble Classics *pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works. ** *Count Dracula* has inspired countless movies, books, and plays. But few, if any, have been fully faithful to **Bram Stoker**'s original, best-selling novel of mystery and horror, love and death, sin and redemption. *Dracula* chronicles the vampire's journey from Transylvania to the nighttime streets of London. There, he searches for the blood of strong men and beautiful women while his enemies plot to rid the world of his frightful power. Today's critics see *Dracula* as a virtual textbook on Victorian repression of the erotic and fear of female sexuality. In it, Stoker created a new word for terror, a new myth to feed our nightmares, and a character who will outlive us all. **Brooke Allen****** is a book critic whose work has appeared in numerous publications including The Atlantic Monthly, The New Criterion, The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, and The Hudson Review. A collection of her essays, *Twentieth-Century Attitudes*, will be published in 2003.

The classic book Dracula has been on my to-read shelf for forever. I finally came across the book at a book sale in Fairfax County Public Libraries and read it this year… what an eye opener it was! Compared to Hollywood portrayals, I clearly did not know the whole story of Count Dracula.

To begin for those of you unfamiliar with the book and tale, Bran Stoker presented the story through a composition of letters, memoirs, telegrams and similar communications. His main characters he tells the story through are: Jonathan Harker, Mina Murray, Lucy Westenra, Dr Seward and Van Helsing. The tale begins with Jonathan Harker off to visit the Count on business in Transylvania. From there, the story progresses to the tale of Dracula some are familiar with: he travels to London, targets individuals in the town to give them the fateful bite on their necks, and has certain weaknesses such as the cross, garlic and other items. While Dracula’s presence affects the characters in Stoker’s story, they plot to banish him from London and destroy him once and for all.

Now, some may ask why Hollywood portrayals made the story different from what I expected?

  1. I did not know the book was written through a series of first-hand perspectives (letters, memoirs, etc) That was new and limiting to the story interpreted by others.
  2. I always thought there was something more sensual… more sexy about Dracula. I did not get that feeling reading the story. Instead, I felt the creep and danger in his character.
  3. His image when I first met Dracula in the book is FAR from the way Hollywood portrays Dracula… Stoker described him as:

a toll old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache, and clad in black from head to foot, without a single speck of colour about him anywhere.”  (20)


Now, I understand Dracula does appear younger when he arrives in London. But seriously… a white mustache?  Later, when Dracula is in London, he was described as:

“a tall, thin man, with a beaky nose and black moustache and pointed beard…” (186)

Now that is more like it. Yes… he got younger, this description is one many of us our more familiar with. One of my FAVORITE TV series was NBC’s “Dracula” with Jonathan Rhys Myer. This description of the beard and mustache fit his character much better here. But see what I mean on some of the other favorite Dracula’s from the past?

Dracula 1

Jonathan Rhys Myer – NBC Dracula – Image from www.facebook.com/draculaatnbc

Dracula 2

Bela Lugosi – Dracula (1931) – Image from Wikipedia and in public domain

Dracula 3

Christopher Lee – Dracula (1958) – Image from Wikipedia and in public domain

Besides appearances (and praise to NBC’s portrayal from me… but shame on them for canceling my favorite series) … let’s face it: Dracula is still a terrifying concept. After years of watching Dracula movies and TV shows, dressing as a vampire for Halloween, and especially this whole vampire craze in literature and movies today, I am so glad I finally had the opportunity to read Bram Stoker’s classic.

As you can guess, I highly recommend this book simply because it is a classic and the writing style is unique. Pair with a glass of red wine (my choice: a Norton). Take it in and don’t forget to surround yourself with garlic before you sleep, and do not welcome in strangers. Oh yeah, and if you look in the mirror next to a friend and do not see their reflection next to yours… run.

pj - christina

Michelle’s First Three Reviews Ever: Nervous Conditions, The Chronicles of Pern: 1st Fall, and Mariel of Redwall

I joined Goodreads in 2010 but didn’t automatically begin reviewing books. Even then, I wasn’t quite sure how much detail I wanted to delve into. You’ll see in these three reviews that they were little more than a few sentences on my thoughts on them. Perhaps some wouldn’t consider them reviews. But as I’ve stated before, reviews are really my way of documenting that I actually read a book. Can I remember the details of these books close to five years ago? Little bits and pieces. But these little sentences are a testament to my thoughts directly after finishing them.

And considering that I don’t want to lose my reviews, here they are. Feel free to make fun of them or take heart that everyone has to start somewhere and just a few sentences can still get a point across.

Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembganervousconditions

Published:  January 10, 2004 by Ayebia Clarke Publishing Ltd
Format: Purchased paperback
Originally reviewed: May 2010

Tambudzai dreams of education, but her hopes only materialise after her brother’s death, when she goes to live with her uncle. At his mission school, her critical faculties develop rapidly, bringing her face to face with a new set of conflicts involving her uncle, his education and his family. Tsitsi Dangarembga’s quietly devastating first novel offers a portrait of Zimbabwe, where enlightenment brings its own profound dilemmas.


Read it for an English class. Wonderful story with lots of depth. It sticks with you once you finish it.

4/5 stars

The Chronicles of Pern: 1st Fall by Anne McCaffreyfirstfall

Published: August 1st 1994 by Turtleback Books
Format: Hardback from public library
Originally reviewed: November 2011 (I think I edited it over a year later after initially reviewing it)

For use in schools and libraries only. A collection of short works about Pern features five tales of the time of Pern’s exploration, original Dragonriders, and first Threadfall.


A collection of stories that fills in the holes of the beginnings of Pern, it was entertaining. Some stories were better than others; I did not enjoy Rescue Run. It was frustrating to me. Sometimes the stories could be a little redundant, but it was enjoyable. That said, it makes me look forward to see how Pern continues to evolve…or see if it devolves!

3/5 stars

Mariel of Redwall by Brian Jacquesmariel

Published: March 1st 2000 by Ace
Format: Purchased paperback
Originally reviewed: January 2010

In the fourth volume of the epic Redwall saga, a mouse-ship is attacked by the pirate rat Gabool and his heinous band of cut-throats. Hapless voyagers Mariel and her father Joseph the Bellmaker are mercilessly thrown into the sea by the pirates. Mariel washes ashore, starved and near death, and is taken in by the hospitable inhabitants of Redwall Abbey. Sure that her poor father is dead, Mariel swears an oath of vengeance against the filthy pirates who killed her father. With he help of a motley band of animals, Mariel leads the charge to recover a bell and avenge her father.


Let it be known that I have read most of the Redwall series before in my childhood. This past summer I challenged myself to read them all again in the order in which they were written.

I recently finished Mariel of Redwall. It is different than the previous three in that a portion of the plot is set in the Isle of Terramort, an island separate from the land mass Salamandastron and Redwall are on. It’s the first (in publishing order) to deal more in depth with searats. It is also the first to have the main character as a female.

I have come across a few typos (Bladegirt v. Bladegrit) as well as character switches. The plot and characters are predictable with an understanding of the series. But if you’re just looking for a fun read about heroes, battle, adventure, and the pursuit of peace, I’d highly recommend this book.

4/5 stars

pj - michelle

Christina’s Review: The Old Dominion in the Seventeenth Century edited by Warren M. Billings

Christina’s Review: The Old Dominion in the Seventeenth Century edited by Warren M. BillingsThe Old Dominion in the Seventeenth Century by Warren M. Billings
Published by Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia on 2009-01-26
Genres: Colonial Period (1600-1775), History, United States
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Since its original publication in 1975, The Old Dominion in the Seventeenth Century has become an important teaching tool and research volume. Warren Billings brings together more than zoo period documents, organized topically, with each chapter introduced by an interpretive essay. Topics include the settlement of Jamestown, the evolution of government and the structure of society, forced labor, the economy, Indian - Anglo relations, and Bacon's Rebellion. This revised, expanded, and updated edition adds approximately 30 additional documents, extending the chronological reach to 1700. Freshly rethought chapter introductions and suggested readings incorporate the vast scholarship of the past 30 years. New illustrations of seventeenth - century artifacts and buildings enrich the texts with recent archaeological findings. With these enhancements, and a full index, students, scholars, and those interested in early Virginia will find these documents even more enlightening.

This is one of my personal favorite books to keep on my shelf. The Old Dominion in the Seventeenth Century is a documentary history of Virginia from 1606 through 1700. It’s a great read for anyone interested in the history of one of our first colonies and states, and one I reference in research quite a bit.

I was recommended this book by one of my professors who wanted us to read primary research material for an early American history class. Being from Virginia, I jumped on this read. The book is organized with letters, documents, lists, court notes, and more, broken up into the following sections:

  1. “The Beginnings” – including information on the settlement of Virginia, such as instructions given to ship crews, contents of ships, letters of experiences, and more.
  2. “The Evolution of Self-Government in Virginia: The Governor and the General Assembly” – this section dove deeper into the construction of the government by the British and the development of the House of Burgesses, with a look at select Acts, elections and other legislation.
  3. “The Evolution of Self-Government in Virginia: Local Government” – this section dove deeper into the country court systems, deeds, information on commissions and more Acts. This section also contained information on court cases I later used in research, including text on land and debt suits and punishments.
  4. “The Structure of Society” – looking more at census records and land patents. Here the editor also included papers from a Virginia family, the Willoughby Family.
  5. “Bound Labor: Indentured Servitude” – a more in-depth look at indentured servants, including runaways and thefts associated with.
  6. “Bound Labor: Slavery” – this is another section I have referenced for research before on Virginia slavery history. There is information on runaways, slave insurrections, and court cases including freedom suits. More information is also included on laws that defined slavery and its progression in Virginia society.
  7. “Tobacco and Trade” – Virginia’s early economy thrived on tobacco, and this section exemplifies its importance for individuals in society during colonization and early settlement.
  8. “Indians and Whites: The Conflict of Cultures” – more information on Native Americans, including the Anglo-Indian war of 1675-77 is included in this section. Pieces from notable characters in Virginia history, such as John Smith and John Rolfe, were also included here.
  9. “Upheaval and Rebellion” – Virginia’s history contained court cases, riots, and rebellion that defined the colony’s development. Bacon’s Rebellion of 1676, led by Nathanial Bacon, was a notable rebellion in early colonial history with documents included in this text.
  10. “Life in Seventeenth-Century Virginia” – This is an overall general history of the settling of the colony, including documentation on travel and promise in Virginia, the development of homes and families, information on religion, as well as leisure activities that entertained early colonists.

Overall, this is an interesting compilation of documents from seventeenth century Virginia that add clarity to the colonial developments of the country. Each section begins with an overview of the topic, followed by suggested readings (primary, secondary and electronic) then a selection of documents that support the topic. It’s educational, at times a quick read, and at others times a little more challenging as the reader confronts old English text. It is definitely one I will keep on my shelf for quick reference on topics of colonial history in Virginia.

pj - christina

Michelle’s Review: Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

Michelle’s Review: Voyager by Diana GabaldonVoyager by Diana Gabaldon
Published by Delta Trade Paperbacks on 2001-08-01
Genres: Fiction, General, Literary, Romance
Pages: 870
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
In this rich, vibrant tale, Diana Gabaldon continues the story of Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser that began with the now-classic novel Outlander and continued in Dragonfly in Amber. Sweeping us from the battlefields of eighteenth-century Scotland to the exotic West Indies, Diana Gabaldon weaves magic once again in an exhilarating and utterly unforgettable novel.... Their love affair happened long ago by whatever measurement Claire Randall took. Two decades before, she had traveled back in time and into the arms of a gallant eighteenth-century Scot named Jamie Fraser. Then she returned to her own century to bear his child, believing him dead in the tragic battle of Culloden. Yet his memory has never lessened its hold on her ... and her body still cries out for him in her dreams.When she discovers that Jamie may have survived, Claire must choose her destiny. And as time and space come full circle, she must find the courage to face what awaits her ... the deadly intrigues raging in a divided Scotland ... and the daring voyage into the dark unknown that lies beyond the standing stones.

*Because this is a review of a book in a series, there are some spoilers regarding the previous books in the series, not this one.*

At this point in the Outlander series, I’m becoming quite torn about them.

I was able to defend the series when I had already read the first one. Outlander was unlike anything else I had read at the time and I was definitely hooked. It was romance, it was adventure, historical fiction, and science fiction. It was basically everything without being too crazy.

Dragonfly in Amber was a struggle with France but I still enjoyed it and wanted to continue.

Now with Voyager it was back to being an adventure and it was still enjoyable, but now I have found myself having a hard time defending this book against those who call it drivel or far-fetched.

“Well, Jamie survived Culloden, and then he went and lived in a cave. But he kept living and then became a smuggler and now they’re dealing with pirates…”

There’s no way for it to not sound ridiculous. Which unfortunate because it’s still enjoyable book, it’s just no longer at the same level as the first book.

Another thing that detracted from my full enjoyment is the way the language seemed to skip to me. I know that I have the tendency to read paragraphs out of order, but I swear that too often I thought the characters were in one place only to learn that they were somewhere else. It was like certain details were missing.

All that said, I loved the return to high adventure and I went ahead and bought the next book in the series. Because I’m a sucker for Jamie (as he was manufactured to be irresistible).

pj - michelle

2015 Book Blogger Love-A-Thon: Day One



Hello everyone! I participated in the Love-a-Thon last year and thoroughly enjoyed it! Looking forward to participating again this year and meeting all of you (and some of you again!). To learn more about it, please visit the wonderful host Alexa at Alexa Loves Books.

This year, I’m going to only have one post per day. I’ll edit the post with each challenge I’m participating in for that day to avoid spamming myself.


  1. What’s your name? Michelle
  2. Where in the world are you blogging from? DC Metropolitan Area, Virginia
  3. How did you get into blogging in the first place? I have always played around with blogging since it first existed basically. But this blog came out of the post-school boredom and following the example of Steph at Cover2CoverBlog.
  4. How did you come up with your blog name? I have always had the Twitter handle “deckfullojokers”. I didn’t want to have to completely rebrand, but I also liked the meaning of it. Basically, it’s a deck full of wild cards–I have many interests and would talk about anything. My reading choices are much the same. I don’t limit myself to reading only a certain type of book or genre. Playing Jokers was a combination of both the direction I wanted the book blog to go in as well as my enjoyment of that metaphor.
  5. What genre do you read and review the most on your blog? Maybe young adult? But I read and review nonfiction, adult, young adult, genre fiction, really anything. As does my co-blogger Christina and contributors Ellen and Calvert! We are reading omnivores.
  6. What other types of posts do you do on your blog, apart from reviews? We do some discussion posts (want to do more!) and we are brainstorming a new set of features that will bring the blogging community together.
  7. Best blogging experience so far? Having met an author, reviewed his book, and had him continue to be excited about my review and interactions. It was thrilling to feel the connection with the book go beyond just the book itself and reach into an interaction with the author.
  8. Favorite thing about the blogging community? Learning about other readers and book events in the area. I have had a great time going to these events that otherwise I was simply just not clued into. And the support! The conversations!
  9. Name the 5 books you’re most excited for this 2015! I’m not exactly very good at knowing new releases or knowing which ones I’m excited for but I would definitely say A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab tops my list and stays there.
  10. What’s an underrated book or series that you think everyone should read? This is difficult because I don’t know what books or series are actually underrated. So picking one from out of my head randomly, The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O’Shea is definitely one of my favorite books that I don’t hear many people talking about.
  11. Which book boy or girl would be your book BFF? This is also hard for me…perhaps I’ll just go with the standard Hermione Granger. ;)
  12. Apart from reading, what are your other hobbies or interests? I am a TV junkie. When I have more time, I also like to knit/crochet, cross-stitch…basically be a little crafty. Video games are also a lot of fun.
  13. Apart from book shopping, what else do you like shopping for? Sometimes clothes, but that can also be very stressful. I have a thing for homemade soaps and novelty food items.
  14. At a party, the DJ suddenly changes the song – and it’s your song. What song would be playing? Maybe Sideways by Dierks Bentley. A good dancing song.
  15. Pick out either a book you want turned into a film/TV show, or a film/TV show you want turned into a book. I’d love to see Vicious by V.E. Schwab actually become a movie.

Book Spine Poetry

pj - michelle

Michelle’s Review: Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

Michelle’s Review: Dragonfly in Amber by Diana GabaldonDragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
Published by Delta Trade Paperbacks on 1992
Genres: Fiction, General, Historical, Romance, Time Travel
Pages: 743
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
With her now-classic novel Outlander, Diana Gabaldon introduced two unforgettable characters -- Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser--delighting readers with a story of adventure and love that spanned two centuries. Now Gabaldon returns to that extraordinary time and place in this vivid, powerful follow-up to Outlander.... For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland's majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones ... about a love that transcends the boundaries of time ... and about James Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his.... Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire's spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart ... in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising ... and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves....

After reading Outlander, I was so hooked on the story that I…

spoiled the series for myself.

There’s no good reason why, but I did. I read reviews with spoilers and different wikipedia articles, learning more about the events of each book. Why I didn’t just read the book, I don’t exactly know. But it’s safe to say that many of the reveal moments in this book was not exactly news to me.

However, I still enjoyed the book. It was lovely to go back to Jamie and Claire and see how their marriage evolves. They became very different people in France than they were in the Highlands, which unfortunately took away some of my enjoyment from the book. France became very tedious, dealing more with political intrigue and domesticity. Compared to the crazy adventures in the Highlands, this shift was almost too much and it was comforting to hear the same things echoed by fellow readers. (Including my mother who is reading it now. I have told her the same thing I was told: just get through France and it gets better.)

And that’s true. Without going too much in the details to spoil other potential readers (like I had done myself), the book does get better towards the end. Is it enough for me to give it a higher rating…likely no.

I am torn with my rating. Is it a three, where I liked it but didn’t love it thanks to France and the lack of novelty making it seem a little more ridiculous? Or is it a four, that I loved it enough to want to keep reading the series?

This series has become a little problematic to me. I’ll say more in my Voyager review, but it’s suffice to say that at a minimum I will likely see Jamie and Claire to the end, regardless.

pj - michelle

Ellen’s Thoughts: How Should Stories End?

I’m writing this post with one book in mind: The Winds of Winter.  Do author’s owe something to their fans to get a book completed by a certain deadline?

Now, this may apply to any series or novel, but the A Song of Ice and Fire universe is a special example of this problem.  To anyone who has finished the series, it’s no secret that the Game of Thrones series will surpass the books this season.  Already, they have finished the published storylines of Bran, Sansa, and are choosing to leave out several “important” characters.  I say “important” because in the books we have little indication as to whether certain characters that were introduced books four and five will have a major impact on the story.


The TV show has all but spoiled several fairly guessable, but unconfirmed, mysteries of the books.  What do book fans do with the new season approaching?  Do we continue to watch and hope that no material will be released first via TV?  Even if we somehow manage to resist the urge to watch HBO’s fifth season of Game of Thrones, there is little doubt that we will not avoid the click-bait titles or posts on Twitter, Facebook, and every news outlet.  Events, deaths, plot twists will be revealed.

So where does George R.R. Martin fit in this sequence?  He sold rights to an unfinished work with no timeline on when the books would be released.  Rumors have surfaced that The Winds of Winter, book six, will not be released in 2015 – meaning that if season five of the show doesn’t surpass the books, season six will.

ADancewithDragonsbyGeorgeRRMartinA Game of Thrones was published in 1996.  This means that diehard fans have waited almost twenty years for the story to conclude.  I finished A Dance With Dragons in 2013.  I’m by no means an original follower.  I have not deduced any major theories of my own; however, /r/asoiaf is great when you are bored.  I am worried about the possibility of the show ending the story first.

George R.R. Martin has detailed the major plot-points in the A Song of Ice and Fire series to the Game of Thrones producers.  I think it would be tragic to see the conclusion on screen before reading the author’s words.  HBO’s Game of Thrones has done a fantastic job adapting the lengthy books to ten episodes per season, but there is so much internal conflict, dialogue, and character development missed by only watching the show.

With nineteen years to develop and grow his fan-base, you would think that his priority would be to finish the books.  Yet, George R.R. Martin has spent much of the last three years on tour or writing an episode for the show.  Book-first fans are not being too critical of him by demanding the final two books.  No one wants a second-hand finish.

Despite my opinions, we need to forgive George R.R. Martin.  Yes, we will almost certainly see the ending on screen before on paper.  Yes, the television show will leave out many characters.  Yes, we will miss several major events.  Let’s not forget that the show can err; the television show is not in George R.R. Martin’s control.  What is in his control are the final two books, and I, for one, want to read an excellent book.  I don’t want a rushed finale.  I want the best ending that I can get.  If I have to wait another two years for The Winds of Winter then so be it.  The books have proven to be worth the wait.

Stories should end first through the author’s hand.  It is a tragedy to potentially witness your favorite characters’ triumphs, failures, and conclusions through other means.  An unfinished epic was sold.  Here lies the problem.  Optimism of a producing a completed, written series by now no doubt prompted the sale.  We cannot change this decision, but we should not berate Martin.  He is the person responsible for getting us hooked on Game of Thrones in the first place.


Michelle’s Review: Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Michelle’s Review: Salt and Storm by Kendall KulperSalt & Storm by Kendall Kulper
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on 2014-09-23
Genres: 19th Century, Family, Fantasy & Magic, Girls & Women, Historical, Multigenerational, United States, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder--and the one boy who can help change her future.Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.

Sea witches is not something that I have had much experience in reading about. But Salt & Storm presents a magic structure that was intriguing and had me interested through most of the book. Each of the Roe witches has their own specialty, something that makes me turn into a little kid, imagining what my own specialty would be. (Don’t ask, I haven’t decided yet.)

If I’m remembering correctly, this book to me had a lot of opportunities to become cliche but avoided most of them. The setting was unique, being both historical and paranormal, on an island somewhere in the northeastern U.S. In some regards, I almost wished for more setting of the world beyond, but it matched the type of isolation Avery was feeling on the island.

The author’s note was perhaps the most interesting to me, which sounds strange, but it really helped tie things together for me. The book had its flaws, and it wasn’t a perfect read for me, but it was definitely an enjoyable one.

pj - michelle

Christina’s 5 books on the period of the American Revolution she recommends:

As an undergraduate student, I took a couple classes on the period of the American Revolution. During my master’s classes, I chose to focus more in-depth on this period and found books I very much enjoyed and learned from. Here are five books I recommend on the period of the American Revolution for the reader looking to learn more beyond a general synthesis of the period:

  1. The Marketplace of Revolution by T. H. Breen – I reviewed this book here and only gave it 3 ½ stars. However, I must say this book has stuck with me. Breen focused on consumerism in the period leading up to the American Revolution and how this contributed to the revolution conceptions and outbreak. He argued there were two separate revolutions during this time, one commercial and one political. Overall an interesting side to the causes of war I recommend for the reader looking to learn more on the period.
  2. In the Midst of Perpetual Fetes by David Waldstreicher – I found this book to be very interesting, entertaining, and another read that stuck with me over the years. Waldstreicher focused on the development of American nationalism as seen through toasts, parades, and other celebrations and events. This book started in 1776 revolutionary America and continued through the post-revolutionary period. Overall, a captivating read with an easy to remember and reference back to argument and supported research.
  3. Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis – I like this book. I have read it a couple of different times and have pulled away something new each time on the revolutionary generation. Ellis focused on little-known events that affected the American Revolutionary period, from secret dinners where the location of the American capital was discussed to dueling founders: Hamilton and Burr. This book was a fairly quick read and exhibited a little known side of the founding fathers’ generation.
  4. Sex about the Rabble by Clare A. Lyons – This book offered a detailed look at sexuality in Philadelphia across class, gender and race from pre-revolutionary to post-revolutionary America. Power and gender roles went through transformations during this time as the period progressed and the perception of strict virtue of the upper and middle classes developed. Lyons offered a different and important look at the revolutionary period through gender perceptions and changes.
  5. Defiance of the Patriots by Benjamin L. Carp – While I only gave this book three stars on Goodreads initially, I recommend this book as a great pairing with Breen’s The Marketplace of Revolution. Carp explored the marketplaces’ contributions to the outbreak of revolution further, with a focus on the Boston Tea Party. For those of you who have watched the new History channel series, “Sons of Liberty,” this books adds further details to the events that took place in Massachusetts. Carp focused on Boston as one of the first to react to the Acts in the colonies passed by Parliament and how this led to the American Revolution.

There you have it… a mix of books on the causes and transformations that took place in society during the period of the American Revolution. These are a just a small handful of books I recommend on the period. Do you have favorite books or authors on revolutionary America? Share them here!

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