Review: Only Everything

Only Everything, Kieran Scott


Published May 6, 2014 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

336 pages

Source: Author

From Goodreads…


High school romance is tough—even for a bona fide love goddess. Can Cupid succeed as a mortal matchmaker?

When Eros (aka Cupid) is expelled from Olympus for defying Zeus after falling in love with Orion, she is banished to what she believes to be hell. We call it New Jersey. If she ever wants to go back to the comforts of her old life, she will have to find love for three couples—without using her powers.

Eros, now calling herself True, immediately identifies her first project in Charlie and believes finding him love will be a piece of cake. Charlie is new at school and eager to break out of his old image of band geek, so it’s lucky for him when he falls in with the right crowd on his first day. But music is still his passion. That is, until he meets Katrina…

Katrina is floundering after the death of her father and takes refuge with a boy who, while not entirely supportive, will be there when she needs him, unlike her mother. Too bad True thinks any girl Charlie talks to is perfect for him. Can she get out of her own way and help Charlie and Katrina connect, or will she be stuck in New Jersey forever?

I love reading mythology and I really like seeing these timeless stories with a new twist.  This was a fun and light take on Eros, the Greek god of love.  Kieran Scott turns Eros into a goddess with a bit of an attitude.  Eros has been so busy with her new love Orion that she’s not doing her work of facilitating love matches, so she is banished to Earth to get to work.  Eros becomes True, a high school student that would fit right into Mean Girls.

I admit, True was not my favorite character in the beginning.  She’s whiny and self-absorbed, but I really came around on her by the end and I look forward to reading the rest of the series. I think there’s going to be a lot more to her than just matchmaking.

I didn’t mind True’s less pleasant characteristics because I thought Charlie and Katrina were both just adorable.  It was obvious where the romance was leading from the beginning, but the journey was worth it this case.  Yes, this was a fluffy high school romance, but there the accompanying teenage angst was not overdone.  Scott was able to keep it serious without too much melodrama (besides from Aphrodite and when you’re a goddess you’re allowed to be melodramatic).  I also really love reading books where not every character is lily white and flawless so thank you Kieran for that!

A very cute new series, check it out when you’re looking for a light read!  

3.5 stars

Review: Children Are Naughty

Children are Naughty, Vincent Cuvellier and Aurelie Guillerey

Amanda and Babycakes   

Published: May 13th 2014 by Flying Eye Books

Hardcover, 28 pages

Source: Edelweiss

From Goodreads…


Children are naughty and parents are nice.

Some children bite and don’t share their toys and there are some who fight and make lots of noise. Let’s remember that parents were young once too! But were they as nice back then?

A tongue-in-cheek story about right and wrong, giving kids the opportunity to learn through laughter.

For something different, my three year-old and I decided to review a book together.  I’m doing my best to make sure she’s a book addict as well.


(reading with Auntie Holly!)

I loved the idea of this book because yes, children are naughty! And aren’t parents always nice?  No? Just me?

The description says this book is for 3-7 year-olds and I think trying it older on the spectrum is a better idea.  My 3 year-old loves to read and looks at her books daily and unfortunately she could not keep her interest in this one.  It was meant to be funny, but maybe it was just a bit over her head at 3.5.  I see the authors are in France so I wonder if there is also something lost in translation?

I did like the drawings-particularly of the little boy who threw his spinach on the floor after it had been lovingly prepared by his father. The horror!

For us this was a 2 star read.  Just didn’t work, but I’ll try again when she’s a bit older!

Thank you Edelweiss and Flying Eye Books for this advanced copy to read.

Interview with Lauren of Lose Time Reading!

So, we signed up for this Book Blogger Love-A-Thon deal, and, even though I’m still not sure exactly what that means, the best part was that we got paired up with another blogger to interview. It gave us a good reason to check out another blog that we might not have discovered otherwise, and it was super fun coming up with questions for Lauren. We totally enjoyed getting to know her, and you should go check out her blog too – after you read her awesome answers below!

We won’t ask why you started book blogging, because that’s right on your “about me” page. So, we’ll ask this – how has book blogging changed how you read?

The main thing it’s changed was how MUCH I read. I was still a big reader before blogging but I would read probably between 4 to 6 books a month, now I read between 10 and 15 a month! I also have much more broader tastes. I wouldn’t have considered about 95% of the books I read now prior to blogging!

So, you mention that you love organizing AND you clearly love books. Do you keep an organized TBR list? Track your book stats by different categories? (No pressure…we don’t judge either way!

Oh, I definitely love organizing! I do keep an organized TBR although lately I have been deviating from it quite a bit based on my mood. As far as my review books go I do have a TBR to follow with those otherwise it would be a disaster for me. I do track my book stats by different categories… I have Excel spreadsheets for practically anything you can think of(I would be lost without them!). I enjoy keeping track of which genre I read the most of, last year it was contemporary which was a HUGE shock to me! I also keep a bazillion shelves on Goodreads 😛

Okay, we see Divergent on your fave series list! We are not in agreement on the series (our joint review is here). What’s your take on the progression from the beginning to that end?

It’s so funny that you asked this question because lately I’ve found myself really questioning that series. I LOVED the first book, and if I read it again I probably still would. Insurgent I enjoyed as well but Tris really grated on my nerves and honestly, I think if I was to push myself through it again… both Insurgent and Allegiant would be lower ratings. I’m not sure it gave a proper ending to a series that I loved so much initially. I wouldn’t even list it as one of my favorites anymore 😦

E-reader or hard copy?

Hardcopy 100%! I do love my Kindle, it’s light and so easy to take to work but if I had to choose one for the rest of my life, I would always pick the hardcopy.

Favorite place to read?

This is boring… it’s actually my bed. I just want to be comfy when I read and curling up with a ton of pillows, my cat and a book is the perfect way!

Hey, we are terrible at WordPress and doing fancy blog things. Your blog is so pretty! What tips can you tell us to make an eye-catching blog

Thank you ❤ I don’t really have many tips honestly, except do what you love. You look at your blog more than anyone so make sure that YOU love it! Everyone has different tastes so you can’t appeal to everyone! I did a lot of Googling and looking up tutorials and design techniques. I’m constantly adding and changing things and I think that’s the funnest part. I started out on Blogger, but after a few months switched to WordPress because I wanted a bit more freedom. Well… It was terrifying once I started, I had no idea that it was a completely different than Blogger (research would have been helpful!) so I spent a good week learning how to fix things and making a layout to fit a theme. It kind of worked out in my favor though because now I can use WordPress enough to manage and I learned quite a lot! Google really is your best friend!

Favorite book-turned-movie? Least favorite?

I am definitely not someone who likes book-turned-movies but I do have a few favorites (that of course I can’t narrow down!): Anne of Green Gables, The Devil Wears Prada, The Harry Potter series, The Narnia movies, and The Notebook. I think The Hunger Games and Beautiful Creatures are probably my least favorites, at least my most recent least favorites. I didn’t dislike THG but I was just disappointed overall. I also liked a lot of Beautiful Creatures but it was much too different from the book for me to love it the same way. 

You start reading something that you’re just not digging. Put it down, or forge on?

Oh, the question of the year it seems! I’ve only recently been more open to DNFing a book. I have done it in the past but more often than not I will forge on, I just feel like it may get better and THEN what? Code Name Verity bored me to tears for the first 40% of the book but I pushed through and it’s now one of my all time favorites. Recently I have put several books aside though and I realized that I haven’t even thought about them. There are just SO many books, why waste time on something that you are not enjoying? 

Oh we see you mention a requesting/accepting review copies problem! One of us might be developing that problem! What’s the best thing about review copies – besides the obvious free books!?

I like getting the change to read books before they are in stores! I’m not really sure why, it’s just something that I always thought was interesting since I started blogging. I really enjoy being about to rave about a book on release day, tweet about how awesome it is and support different authors as well. I have also had a chance to try books I normally never would have picked up because of it! It’s a neverending cycle though… It really can become an addiction because there are just SO many eyecatching titles!

Favorite book is too hard of a question so, how’s this – what book comes to mind when you think about how much you love reading? 

This is going to be a very random answer but The Baby Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin. I have read a lot since I was a little girl and my absolute favorite books were BSC. Whenever I was able to go shopping with my Mom I would make a list of titles that I still needed and then carefully pick out which ones I wanted at the bookstore. She would also take me to secondhand bookstores and I would find a lot of the ones I needed there. I cherished these books, and one of my favorite reading memories was when I was home sick from school with a head cold. I curled up in my bed and read several Super Specials. Despite being sick, I had a ton of fun that day!

^ This answer killed me! I (Holly) could totally relate! Those books were definitely the jam. Leave us a comment with your answer to that last question! (But I bet you can’t top Lauren’s!)

Harry Potter Romance Controversy Our Thoughts

Amanda & Holly

Have you seen the news?!  JK Rowling has told Emma Watson–Hermione herself!– that she  “wrote the Hermione-Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment”, and that “for reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron” instead of with Harry himself.


She is also quoted as predicting that the pair would have needed relationship counseling.  To that I say no big deal! I think counseling is good for everyone and why not take something that could make your relationship stronger? I am sure Hermione would instigate counseling and prod Ron into going with her.  Hermione and Ron both are strong willed and opinionated, so I’m sure that taking time to check in with a non-emotional party and making sure they’re both being heard and validated in their marriage would be a good thing!  My sister says I’m assuming a nagging female role for Hermione in the situation that she’d take him to counseling.  I’m assuming the smart woman who knows that marriage is WORK and needs to be worked on continuously actually. So neener neener neener Holly!

Here is how the conversation about these revelations went down between my sister and I during the very boring Super Bowl last night:


For starters, WTF.  For seconds, it’s interesting that this is even a conversation. I’m watching the Superbowl and also reading comments on the twitter and the facebook where every commercial and facial expression is analyzed from every angle, but it still surprises me how much we, as in everyone, scrutinize authors outside of the books.  And sometimes completely change our minds about a book based on how we feel about an author.

Not that I’m changing my mind about anything! I just think its weird that a) JK can come out with a statement like that then b) it spreads like wildfire and c) we all go apepoop.

I love when Ron and Hermione get together.  And I love that it starts when Victor is interested in Hermione and then Ron finally wakes up!  I love that Harry and Hermione are platonic great friends of the opposite sex.

But truth?  I don’t love that in the end Harry & Ginny and Ron & Hermione are all happily ever after.  BUT NOT BECAUSE OF SOME BS IDEA THAT HARRY AND HERMIONE SHOULD BE TOGETHER.

The only reason it bothers me is that its just *too* neat and perpetuates this idea you must meet your soulmate, or at least someone you’re really into, by age 15 or you’re destined to wind up lonely and unhappy.

[Amanda disclaimer-I did meet my soul mate at 15. But I didn’t decide he WAS my soul mate for years and years!]

Of course I must remember who I’m talking to. That’s my point.  One of the 2 of us had met our best dude at 15.  The other of us would probably not have gotten along with dude at 15.  So it irks me a little that they all end up with their Hogwarts sweethearts.


I see your point.  Maybe because its a “kids book” the general Happily Ever After ending doesn’t bother me?  Because also, with the short epilogue she had to tie it neatly into a bow.  No room to introduce new loves.  I know some people would be happier if the epilogue was not even included– I am not one of them!

I also LOVE Hermione and I love that she doesn’t end up #2 to HP in a relationship.  She’s so much more than just his girlfriend.  Which I feel is how she would have ended up in perception if they had dated.


Yes, I agree with what you’re saying about Hermione not being #2 to Harry, but not sure I agree with the wording.  Ginny isn’t exactly a doormat!  Harry can deal with an independent woman!  But yes, I am glad Harry and Hermione are not like that.  Because she belongs to Ron! So, take back everything I just said about being annoyed with the ending because I actually don’t want it any other way.


But then again it’s not like they had average lives where they were meeting the loves of their life at 15.  They were all signed up to die together.  Kind of different than me being afraid of Brother Ruhl with J.


Also Ron gets kind of a bum deal.  What teenage boy isn’t at least a little bit of an idiot? 

[Amanda disclaimer: What fully grown male isn’t sometimes kind of an idiot?}


And that’s not what I meant either! Ginny is a bad ass!  Bat bogey hex?!  And yes– I agree re: Won Won.


Excellent point.  Traumatic experiences lead to intense connections.  And I just died at Won Won.

In summary, even if JK thinks the ending should be different, she shoulda kept that thought to herself.  Or maybe she should write a new book about the next generation at Hogwarts.  Though I’d like to think those kids don’t have quite as much seriousness to deal with!  Second, I’d also like to think that Hermione and Rob both learn to bring out the best in one another.  Third, I bet Ginny, Harry, Hermy and Ron hang out like every Friday night.  Big fun.


I agree, but I don’t want books about the kids.  I am ok with just compulsively re-reading.  Besides, JK is too busy writing more Cormoran Strike to write more HP!

What are your thoughts?  Do you think Harry and Hermione belonged together?  Or were you a Lavender fan for Won Won? Are we just crazy?  I’m off to reread!

Finished with the Cuckoo’s Calling


Holly and Amanda

Make sure you check out part one and part two of our discussion on The Cuckoo’s Calling!

Holly has been traveling for work and I have an insane 3 year-old who refuses to go to bed, so we had to summarize our thoughts on the Cuckoo’s Calling by text message. (edited by Amanda to make sense and to cut spoilers)

H:  I finished! I was not sure what to expect with this book at all, but I definitely enjoyed it more than I was expecting! And spending  most waking hours at various and sundry airports was not at all annoying because I was so engrossed in finishing my book!

A:  I also enjoyed this far more than I expected to.  I was so glad that the character I suspected was not the creeper I was predicting him to be.  I was not going to be entertained by that story line.

H:  Yes!! We totally learned our lesson suspecting that person.

A:  I think that Rowling has a gift that makes you care about her characters with very little interaction.  You never meet Lulu alive, but you have to feel sadness and pity for her-even though there are definitely aspects you do not like about her as well.

A: Lulu is like the anti-Harry Potter in a way.  She has no one real to love and support her in life.  Where are her Hermione and Ron?!

H: Oooh, that is a profound comparison about Lulu and HP.  Except wait, HP grew up with no one (visible to him) loving and supporting him.  And Lulu had everyone around her clamoring to get close to her.  So I’m not sure if they are alike or antithetical.

A: Hmm.  Maybe I was trying to sound too smart :p

H:  And I did appreciate the genuineness some characters showed in their affection for Lulu, though it’s hard to tell who is genuine sometimes!

A:  No one was genuine except Guy!! And maybe crazy mama.

H:  And that Strike! He is so clever.  I want to read it again just to see what I can pick up on that I missed.

A:  And Robin! Is her engagement totally falling apart as the series continues?

H:  Oh! I can’t decide if that will happen.  Or if that’s what I want to happen or not.  I am definitely interested to see what Robin gets up to in the next book.  When does that come out?

A:  August 1, 2014 per Goodreads-I’m not necessarily buying that date due to the lack of details.  And Amazon has nothing.

H: My one gripe, because I usually have one, is that the BIG REVEAL scene felt a little dramatic and unrealistic… like that scene was written for a movie.  Because of course in a movie everyone has to spell out what they know and how.  But, maybe its logical based on those characters and their personalities and what they’re trying to prove.

A:  Totally agree.  She could do that in HP because a) it was a “kids” book and b) with magic you can do whatever you want!

Agreement: 4 stars!

Still Reading the Cuckoo’s Calling

Click here for part 1 of our discussion on The Cuckoo’s Calling

Click here for part 3:

Check in #2 – 60% In

Warning: Slight spoilers ahead!  We’re more than halfway through the Cuckoo’s Calling and here’s what we think so far:

Holly –

I know I am always going on about the books that Amanda demands I read, but I should probably confess that I am a pretty bossy little sister. I am currently insisting that we discuss this book so far, like five minutes ago, so that I can get on with the rest of the story ASAP! We agreed to stop at 60%, which, with the chapter break ended up at 62% and it was definitely a big moment! Strike just received some very interesting information. (BTW, if you are not a Kindle person, we are not actually crazy with figuring out the reading percentages…Kindle does that for you!)

I am definitely getting into the story, and I’m clearly dying to finish. There were a couple scenes that had me laughing out loud (I do that when I read. J looks at me like I’m a crazy person when I’m reading something funny.) – one where Robin is digging for clues at a high-end boutique, and one where Strike is goading Lula’s Uncle Tony. I have two texts from Amanda from the last few days about how much she dislikes Uncle Tony. I won’t say too much else, at the risk of spoiling anything, but Rowling/Galbraith has definitely left some guns on the wall that had better go off in the last third!

Amanda –

Let me also say Holly’s J looks at her like she’s a crazy person a lot. And most often when we’re together laughing our heads off.

As I’m bombarding my sister with texts about how I dislike Uncle Tony her response: “He is shady without the palm trees.”  Perfect description! What is his deal?!  So many questions need to be answered right now! And Rochelle?  Hello payoff?! What’s happening here?

I am glad this is going to be a series because I definitely need to know more about Strike than I think one book is going to cover. Is he ever going to call Charlotte back?  His dream description is killing me “gorgeous, vituperative and haunted.”  What is up with her?

And can Robin really leave his office to work somewhere else?  This is going to upset me.

My train ride home tonight had better not be too crowded to read again! Suspense is starting to get to me!

Reading “The Cuckoo’s Calling”

Holly: If you think that all Amanda and I do all day is read and blog about books, you are incorrect. We also spend a great deal of time gchatting/texting/facebooking about all the books to read and blog about. Seriously. Oh, and Amanda is also making me tweet. I still don’t know what to do there.

cuckooscallingAnyway, in one of these conversations, we talked about reading a book together, and discussing as we read. Amanda suggested The Cuckoo’s Calling, by J.K. Rowling’s alter-ego Robert Galbraith. It was an Amazon deal-of-the-day, which was obviously all the convincing I needed.

I had briefly seen the story about how this book was written by J.K. Rowling under a pseudonym*, but I hadn’t read any details about the book. I haven’t yet read The Casual Vacancy, so I wasn’t sure what to think about a non-Harry Potter Rowling book.

*Now that I just read that story in more detail, WTF? “It was frankly too good for a book by an unknown first-time author”? That may be the more depressing statement I’ve ever read.

30% In

Holly –

This feels very strange. I keep wondering how anyone figured out this was Rowling.** I’m looking for some giveaway, like for Robin to get on Platform 9 and ¾ at King’s Cross. No such luck.

There was a line about Strike’s beer: “The Cornish beer tasted of home, peace and long-gone security” which made me wonder about butterbeer and what that’s supposed to taste like. Is that the giveaway?! I checked: “Harry drank deeply. It was the most delicious thing he’d ever tasted and seemed to heat every bit of him from the inside.” (Prisoner of Azkaban) And now, I want a drink.

Anyway, I’m still not sure what to think. The story feels worn – down-on-his-luck detective working on a (seemingly) dead-end case with a beautiful secretary hanging on his every word. And it feels like it could have been set 40 years ago just as easily as today. Yet, I totally buy it, and I am invested in the characters, and I’m excited to see what happens next…even if I probably would not have picked up this book if I didn’t know that Robert Galbraith was actually JK Rowling.

**Google just told me that it’s because her lawyer spilled the beans. But apparently before the story was broken, the London Sunday Times did analyze the writing style with a software program. This is kind of an interesting story.

 Amanda – 

I of course had read every story I could see about this being a new Rowling book because: A) I am a huge nerd. B) I miss Harry Potter and even if I cannot have HP back I want more from Rowling’s mind.  I did try The Casual Vacancy, but I did not finish it.  I liked the style and thought it was well written, but honestly it was just too dark for me at the time.  I tried to read it during the holidays and it was just the wrong book.  I need to go back and try it again in the right mindset.  

Like Holly, I am also looking constantly for an indication this is J.K. Rowling writing, but I’m not really seeing it.  I have found myself checking a definition or two on my kindle-certainly not something you have to do in Harry Potter!  I do love a well written mystery so I was really excited with this was an amazon deal of the day.  

I liked Robin right away, though I suppose she’s a pretty stock character-pretty young thing from a small town following her boyfriend to the big city.  I was worried she was going have a run in with our murderer right after she was introduced.  I like Strike and I’m intrigued as hell about Charlotte, Strike’s newly exed ex-fiance. I hope we get more of Strike’s backstory as the book continues, he’s an interesting guy.  

We’ll check back another third of the way through!

In the meantime follow us on twitter-we’ll add a link when I figure it out. @GuninActOne and @Ampersandpaper

Click here for part 2 of our discussion:

Our Best Reads in 2013


These are the books that I think have best stuck with me this year-though there are definitely others.  

#1 Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.  This was just a beautiful love story.  I can’t find the words to describe it so here is the Goodreads blurb.

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

This was the kind of book that makes me do a happy dance.  The characters are well written, the story surprises you and I found a new author with a collection of books to look forward to trying.  I loved seeing Will and Lou first see each other as more than they appeared and then finding out how strong they each were.  Read this!

#2 Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta.  This is the conclusion of Marchetta’s Lumatere Chronicles. At my polite request (ahem), Holly just read and reviewed Book #1, Finnikin of the Rock which is also a 5 star book for me.  Quintana wraps up the Lumatere Chronicles beautifully and this is another book that made me cry. Read them!!

# 3 My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor.  Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor is just freaking amazing.  She’s brilliant and she rose into her position against pretty overwhelming odds.  My friend Kara said in her review of this book, “She is what America is about;” which is a perfect summation.  I feel good having a woman like this on the bench. I hope she can write another memoir to share what her years as a judge were like.

#4 Chimes at Midnight by Seanan Maguire.  This is book 7 of Maguire October Daye series, which I highly recommend if you like urban fantasy/paranormal. October is a changeling, half human and half fae and is something of a detective in the fae world.  The series has only gotten stronger as it continues and this last book brought me to tears– I didn’t know a pie could break my heart let me tell you.  Its really hard to say something about just one book of a series! So I’ll just say to give Toby a try.  She’s not perfect, but she is a champion at heart.  Rosemary & Rue is the first book so start here!

Honorable Mention – The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.  I heard the author on the NYT Book Review podcast discussing how she wanted to write a love story intermixing her culture with that of her husband.  And so Chava -our golem and Ahmad-the jinni were born.  I loved the movement of this book, from Europe to New York, from ancient Syria to 1899 in New York again.  Clearly I like fantasy books, but I didn’t find this to be too “fantastic”.  There was so much realism brought out I thought in the setting and in the cultural influences of Judaism and the Syrian immigrant community.  I recommend this for just a really different book-also a good story of of how strong relationships can be and what love is like even without the physical. (Pssst – Goodreads is giving this book away -sign up! 


When Amanda said, “oh, we should write a post on the best books we’ve read in 2013,” I had to really think about what I’ve read this year that I loved. This was a much easier task for Amanda, I’m sure, because a) she reads books basically by osmosis, so she’s got a plethora of books to choose from for the year, and because b) she tracks everything on Goodreads. I, on the other hand, read a fraction of what my sister does in a year, and just started to get the hang of Goodreads sometime in the last few weeks (admittedly, I am now hooked).

So, what did I read this year that really stood out to me?

# 1 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. I LOVED this book. When I finished it, I posted something on Facebook about how I was probably (as always) behind the times, but that if you hadn’t read this book yet, you should. I got lots of agreement from friends about how fascinating the content is, but also some mixed reviews about the writing style. I however, was completely drawn into the book, and I appreciated the mix of science and personal narrative that Skloot used, including her discomfort as she got more and more involved with the Lacks family. Do I have to add that Amanda was the one who told me to read this book? I swear, she is (almost) always right-on. You should listen to her too.

#2 Thunderstruck by Erik Larson. I know I have already waxed poetic about how much I loved Devil in the White City, and I never would have picked up Thunderstruck if not for my complete obsession with that book and Larson’s writing style. This one is different, and it did take a bit to get into, but this book has definitely stayed with me. What I love about Larson’s books is the level of detail about people and places and trends during the period he’s writing about. I started Thunderstruck just after reading Alice I Have Been (a novel based on the girl who inspired Alice in Wonderland), and I remember noticing (and recognizing) a reference to Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) as the book opens with an 1894 (I did not remember this fact 6 months later…I had to look it up) scientific lecture in London, and Dodgson was a member of the hosting body. I appreciate the facts and all the context, though looking at reviews of this book on Goodreads, I see things like “an interesting book but often slowed by side journeys into minutia,” so I guess that’s not for everyone. I say, bring on the minutia!

#3 Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Since I just told you about how much I love this book, I’ll spare you the details – but I will link to my review! Just read it, because I am not going to shut up about this one anytime soon. Or ever.

Honorable Mention  – The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster. Yes, after writing a pretty awful review of Jeneration X, I am giving The Tao of Martha an honorable mention for my best of 2013, and I’ve even rated it 5-stars on Goodreads. I really liked this book, and  I’ve  given unsolicited recommendations of this one on more than one occasion.  One of my best friends went through a phase of being fascinated with organizing – not actually doing the organizing, but wondering why there are so many organizing gurus and organizing step-by-step workbooks and organizing professionals who will manage your life and your closet, etc. And this book, through Jen’s style of writing memoirs about her (repeated) attempts to not be an asshole, gets to that point – that having yourself slightly pulled together in one area of your life, often makes other areas work better. That’s a pretty solid message for the end of one year and the start of a new, no?

Review: The Divergent Trilogy

Titles: Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant

Author: Veronica Roth

Reviewed by Amanda and Holly

SPOILER ALERT!!! We’re covering all three books here, so while we try not to give away too many details, read at your own risk if you haven’t finished the triology yet. / end warning


Holly:  Welcome to my life – G-Chat from Amanda on 5/1/2012: “Have you read Divergent? The sequel came out today and I am itching to buy it.” “G-Chat from Amanda on 9/27/2013: “Have you read Divergent yet? You did right?” I did not (for shame) actually read Divergent until October 2013 – quickly followed by Insurgent, and then Allegiant as soon as it came out. Oh, how the tables turned, because then I was dying to discuss the conclusion with Amanda, who suddenly had 12 books to finish ahead of Allegiant. So, starting with Divergent: I loved it. I loved the idea of the factions – that people had to follow these guiding principles, but also had a choice in their faction. I liked that everyone had to take the aptitude test, but you were not required to choose based solely on your results. Of course, it was pretty clear that Beatrice was not going to stay in Abnegation.

Amanda: You know you love it when I tell you what to do Holly.  You always have.  And I’m ALWAYS right right?  RIGHT?  At least maybe when it comes to books?!  I just reread Divergent to refamiliarize myself before reading Allegiant and I’m so glad I did.  I forgot the nerves I felt every time Tris did something crazy or something Dauntless.  And oh, poor Tris, that ending.  You’re so sad and yet so in love with Four.  I would have forgotten important things like poor Will and how Tris’s mom had sent her to Caleb.  Most importantly I would have forgotten Eric and Jeannine Matthews and the set up for Insurgent.


Holly: I jumped immediately from Divergent to Insurgent – possibly on the same evening. I was so caught up in the story. Okay, Tris’s family – and the city – was falling apart, but at least she had Four. And her brother. Surely they would figure something out, right? I knew that the third book was coming, so obviously everything would not get resolved, but I was not expecting the cliffhanger ending. I MUST KNOW WHAT’S OUTSIDE THE CITY! Book three followed just a few days later, for me.

Amanda: Oh Insurgent.  I was so hopeful for change.  There’s so much potential and then just so much more evil.  I forgot how annoying Tris and Four are in this book. Lies, truth, anger; rinse and repeat.  But yes, as Holly said-that ending– Oh my goodness! What is outside the city?


Amanda: What a bummer.  This was so clearly the weak link in the trilogy.  I don’t know why the serums overall in this book just did me in.  I bought into them in Divergent and Insurgent and then boom! They’re at the bureau and there is a serum for everything. Really? There couldn’t be another answer? And they have cameras-with sound no less– hidden all over the city of Chicago and yet have no cameras within the Bureau?  So those in charge have no concept of what’s happening in the very building they operate in?  And really, that ending?  Did you have to do that to my heart Veronica Roth?!  Sigh. I just didn’t  think Four could turn into that weak of a person.  I did not like him at all.

Holly: When I finished Allegiant, I could not say one thing about the book to my sister, lest I give away just how much I hated it. Okay, okay, reading teenage dystopian novels (or any fantasy stories) obviously requires a suspension of disbelief, but nothing in this book made sense to me, even within the confines of the world that Roth created in the first two books. I mean, there is a whole system outside the city walls, setting up these “experiments,” yet apparently there is no plan to receive people who make their way out from the experiments? And, I don’t know, maybe offer the teenage runaways some psychiatric treatment, and something to do besides roaming the compound? This book was just such a buzzkill for me. When Amanda finished, she chided me for not warning her not to read Allegiant on the el (hey, that’s the same train the Dauntless used! How poetic!), because she is crier. I pointed out that I didn’t even think about that, because a) I have a heart of stone and don’t cry at books/movies/sappy commercials, and b) I didn’t really care what happened to anyone at the end of the book. I just wanted it to be over.

Amanda: On further reflection, I do think that Roth was very brave with that ending.  I think she was setting herself up for some brutal reactions from her fandom, and she had to have known it.  I don’t think that it had to end that way, and yes I was sad-but I swear I didn’t cry on the el.  I don’t cry nearly as much as Holly thinks I do.

Holly Ratings: Divergent: 4/ Insurgent: 3/ Allegiant 1

Amanda Ratings: Divergent: 5/ Insurgent: 4/ Allegiant 2