Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Reading Plan: Week of January 30, 2012

Goal: Read 3 books a week to meet my goal of 160 books for 2012.

Hmm... Of the books actually on my list, I finished two. The Man in the High Castle & Storm Front. However, I did get my 3 books in, even if one of them wasn't on my list, so that's a success, right?

Last week, I finished:

  • The Man in the High Castle - I actually really enjoyed it. I chose it for my first real life bookclub meeting, and the others seemed to enjoy it too, so yay!  
  • Storm Front - Really enjoyed it, and I'm definitely looking forward to the rest of the series now! 
  • Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians - Really cute and fun. Very different than what I'm used to from Brandon Sanderson, but enjoyable, as expected! 

Here's my plan for this week in Wordle, bookcover and title formats... 

The Book of NegroesGenesisThe Poet (Jack McEvoy, #1)KirinyagaBet Me

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill (Currently Reading...still!)
Genesis by Bernard Beckett
The Poet (Jack McEvoy, #1) by Michael Connelly
Kirinyaga by Mike Resnick
Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
(Recommended by the famous Allison from The Allure of Books!)

What is on the agenda for your reading list this week?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Review: Harry: A History... by Melissa Anelli ★★★

Harry, A History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter PhenomenonHarry, A History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon by Melissa Anelli

I admit it, I was a Harry Potter late bloomer. I've told the story before, so suffice it to say that it wasn't until after the 5th book was out that I became a Harry Potter fan. I immediately fell in love with the books and the world... but I missed almost all of the "Harry Potter phenomenon" as it was still in progress.

I only had a few friends (back then) that were Harry Potter fans, and we discussed the books excitedly, and re-read them repeatedly, but I didn't know that I was missing this whole world of HP fandom. When the 6th book released, the B&N in my area, rather than waiting for the midnight release, had already closed up shop by 11:30pm when I got there after racing from work. I was mad, reamed out the manager, and refused on principle when he offered to open the store again for me to buy a copy. I bought the book from the local grocery store instead. So it wasn't until the 7th book came out that I started to understand the magic of the Harry Potter release parties I'd missed... and the one I went to was small even to my naive eyes. But man, it was exciting. People were dressed up, there were games, the staff was doing trivia, people were practically doing the pee-dance in excitement... and when 12:00am came, the bookstore was like a well oiled machine. Every register opened and started ringing out excited Potter fans like it was a race.

That experience was amazing, and I'm glad that I got to have at least one before it was all over. Better late than never, huh?

Back then, I never knew the extent of the fandom. I knew there were websites, and I'd visited The Leaky Cauldron and the HP Lexicon. I knew that there was fan fiction, but I was never interested in it. (I'm a purist.) I didn't know that there were bands based on Harry Potter, or that there were podcasts, or conventions or anything like that. I'd seen a few YouTube videos of HP themed music, but I'd always thought it was a parody thing, never a true band. I hadn't realized that the NYT Bestseller list had been fractured by this series, or that it had changed the publishing industry so much. I knew that this series encouraged new young readers, but again, the extent was so much more than I'd thought. So this book was interesting to me, because it shows just how deeply this series touched peoples' lives.

There was a lot of detail in this book that I found fascinating, like the way that Harry Potter and the Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone made it against all odds, and how it changed the industry as I mentioned above, but at the same time, I found some parts of the book to get bogged down in too much detail. I listened to this on audio (although I do have the trade paperback as well), and the opening section, about Melissa's excitement that "it was here", went on for too long before saying what "it" was, or giving any real context to the situation at all. Turns out, it was the release date for the 7th and final book, but I think that the way it was written tried for a bit of mystery and excitement, and just failed to get that from me. I kept thinking, "Can we get to the point?" I want to hear about the books, and about the fans and about the phenomenon itself... not one person's squeeing over some mysterious "it" thing the reader doesn't get to be in on. For a while, I thought that "it" was publishing news coming down the pipeline of an exciting new series of books - so, the START of the HP series phenomenon.

I didn't really need to know the color of the dust on the Harry And The Potters' tour van, or exactly how sweaty they were, or that they chose cashmere pullovers because they were less likely to be sweat-stinky. TMI. Really. There were a lot of sections that I feel just kind of got lost in the memories and forgot the point that was supposed to be made.

In addition, aspects of the book were repetitive and disorganized. Anelli would jump from 2007 (the section I mentioned above, once I finally found out the context), to telling the history of the books being written, submitted, published, sold, etc, then on to how Anelli got involved in The Leaky Cauldron (TLC), to 9/11, to book 5, to how Anelli first read the books.. on and on. It was like playing Frogger, hopping around, back and forth. I really, really wanted a more structured format for this book, especially listening on audio. Sometimes it was hard to follow where I was in terms of timelines.

There were several sections that were repeated at least twice, and I found that to be a little tiresome. Once we've covered the basis of 'shipping/'shippers, I don't need to rehash what it is again later. We can just move on to how it's relevant to the part of the story being told. I want the history and backstory, but I don't need to know, yet again, what the city by city fan count at a Harry and the Potters show was.

Those criticisms aside, I did really enjoy this book. It made me sad at times, especially during Melissa's recounting of 9/11 and her panic at not knowing where her sister was, but it made me happy that the community of Harry Potter fans that she'd so recently found were able to support her. It made me nostalgic for the experience of reading these books for the first time, and watching this story unfold with each book. I didn't have the long gaps in which to theorize and wonder for most of them, but each new book was a revelation in just how much a story could affect me... and it STILL affects me just the way it did the first time. I cry with certain deaths, I laugh at the twins, I cheer for Neville finding the courage to stand up again and again.

These books didn't make me a reader; I'd been a reader since I was little. What they made me was a part of a huge community of people who all share the love of an extraordinary series of books which changed almost everything. I think that Harry: A History did a good job at showing that, despite the issues I had with the writing and organization.

I can't wait to revisit Harry Potter again.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Name My Nook Contest! Enter to Win a $10 Giftcard

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to suggest an awesome name for my Nook Touch!

The person who suggests the best name (subjectively chosen by me... it is my Nook after all) will win a $10 e-gift card/certificate for the vendor of their choice:
  • Amazon 
  • B&N 
  • Better World Books.
- Fill out the form below to enter. 
- The contest will run for two weeks from January 24th through February 7th.
- The winner will be announced on February 10th (so I have time to review the submissions and choose a winner).
- The e-gift card will be emailed to the winner by February 13th.
- There will not be any extra entries for Tweeting or sidebar links or anything like that, but feel free to spread the word if you choose. I mean, if you really wanted to Tweet something like "Want a $10 giftcard from @escapismtb? Enter her contest here: and name her Nook!" out to your followers, I wouldn't say no... ;)

That's it. Easy peasy chance to win a free $10 gift card!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Reading Plan: Week of January 23, 2012

I finished 3 of the 5 books I planned for last week. I'm currently starting on book #4 which has morphed magically into book #1 for this week. Since reading three books each week is what I would need in order to hit my overall 2012 goal of 160 books, that makes me a winner!

Take that Charlie Sheen!

From last week's list, I finished:

Here's my plan for this week in Wordle, bookcover and title formats... 

The Man In The High CastleGenesisThe Poet (Jack McEvoy, #1)The Book of NegroesStorm Front

The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick
Genesis by Bernard Beckett
The Poet (Jack McEvoy, #1) by Michael Connelly
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
(Currently Reading)
Storm Front by Jim Butcher

What is on the agenda for your reading list this week?

Review: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson ★★

Speak2.5 Stars
This is an issue book, a book about a terrible thing, and how one person copes with it. I pretty much knew what the unspeakable thing was going in. It wasn't really hard to figure out even before I started, but I didn't feel like this book was about the "what happened", but rather that it was about the "what happens next". In a way, it worked for me, but in others it definitely did not.

I felt a little like Melinda's art teacher, wanting more life and honesty to shine through. Some parts were really good, poignant and realistic... but they were the wrong parts. The parts I wanted the most depth and honesty from were the ones dealing with what happened, with the loss of everyone Melinda could confide in, the inability to make people see her pain. I wanted those things to speak to me, and I feel like other aspects of the book were louder, more focused on. Melinda's sarcasm and wry sense of humor, even if it's just inside her head, for instance. Her observation of the social cliques and school were right on. I liked her voice, her sardonic viewpoint, but I wanted less of that and more of her coping with what happened to her. No... I take that back. I didn't want less of that, I wanted it to relate more to what she was going through. It felt like being inside ANY sarcastic highschool freshmen's head.

The "what happened" part is almost unimportant, except that it's the catalyst for this story. It's supposedly the thing that silences Melinda... but I don't really get that. I can understand her fear, but I don't feel like it changed her much otherwise, and it just seems "off" to me, somehow.

It's the little things that make me feel this way, that there's not enough contrast between "before-Melinda" and "after-Melinda". Her room not having its own Melinda personality and resonance, her routine post-it note communication with her family, her thinking about what her friends will think of a boy paying attention to her before thinking about what SHE thinks of a boy paying attention to her... It's like she has no personality of her own. So her silence doesn't have the power I wanted it to have.

I wanted her silence to speak volumes. I wanted to see the huge changes in her, the unignorable wrongness of her tongue being trapped by fear. I wanted to see all of that and more... even if it was only for my benefit and nobody else around her could see it, if that makes sense. We're the ones in Melinda's head, seeing her world through her eyes and living her life along with her. I wanted to really feel it... and what I felt was more like a very introverted girl than a victim.

When Melinda finally found her voice, I wanted more resolution. I wanted to see the repercussions, for everyone involved, and for Melinda to really find strength and use it... and I felt like that was all kind of glossed over in a "who's the outcast now?" kind of highschool way. Really? No criminal charges? No counseling? Nothing? I wanted strength and inspiration to come pouring out of the last pages of this story, but instead, the story just ends. We can extrapolate and hope that Melinda gets there, but we're technically on our own.

I had very high expectations for this book and I wanted to love it. While I enjoyed some aspects of it, the aspects that I really wanted to shine just didn't. I wanted more, I expected more, and unfortunately, I just feel like this one fell really short of what I'd hoped it would be.

View all my reviews

Thursday, January 19, 2012

1st 2012 Thrift Store Score! :D

I haven't been buying physical books lately, since I've been doing so much reading on my Nook, so naturally, I haven't been raiding the thrift store book section, either. Which is a shame, because 1) thrift store books are super inexpensive and 2) those purchases help my community.

So, the boy and I were out and about last night and stopped in on a whim. And I bought these:

From left to right:
- The Fate of Katherine Carr by Thomas H. Cook
- Why We Can't Wait by Martin Luther King Jr.
- Odd's End by Tim Wynne-Jones

Hmm... 3 books... 3 authors... 3 names each. Weird.

Anyway, The Fate of Katherine Carr and Odd's End are both unknowns to me... just thrillers that sounded interesting, but I was really excited to find the MLK book. A little late for MLK Day, which was Monday, but not the end of the world... But, since I did miss it, I'll definitely be reading this book for Black History Month.

I ♥ MLK.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"The Plan" AKA: What I want to read this week. Maybe...

<--- This is what I feel like most days. There are just so many books out there that I want to read. It's crazy. So I'm trying to get a bit more organized about it.

I've challenged myself to read 160 books this year. That's 15 books more than I managed last year, and works out to about 3 books a week. So each week on Sunday, I'm going to try to plan for the week ahead and post my reading plans here.

I say "try" because... well, I'm a commitment-phobe. I always have noble intentions of reading such and such book at such and such time, but I never do. I cheat and go for the quickie with a book that offers a thrill. What? I'm easy. I admit it. My pride AND my shame. ;)

Anyway, here's my plan for this week in Wordle, bookcover and title formats... 


The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1)The Inventor (Fantasies of New Europa Series)The Poet (Jack McEvoy, #1)The Book of NegroesSpeak

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch
The Inventor by Morgan Karpiel
The Poet (Jack McEvoy, #1) by Michael Connelly
The Book of Negroes (AKA Someone Knows My Name) by Lawrence Hill
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

What is on the agenda for your reading list this week?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Review: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck ★★★★★

Of Mice and Men"Guy don't need no sense to be a nice fella. Seems to me sometimes it jus' works the other way around. Take a real smart guy and he ain't hardly ever a nice fella." - Of Mice And Men

I really think I love John Steinbeck, which is surprising to me, because I never would have thought of myself as a Steinbeck reader. There's just something about the way he writes that cuts through all the bullshit and pretense and just tells it like it is, and I find that really refreshing. Sometimes they aren't easy, and sometimes they hurt, but it's the kind of hurt that, hopefully, makes us want to be better. At least it makes me feel that way.

I know it'll be hard for those of you reading this to believe, but I can sometimes be a bit of a bitch. I can be demanding, irrational, impatient and moody, and sometimes my annoyance and irritation is taken out on unsuspecting innocents, or at least people who don't really deserve the hell I serve up on a platter. So, this book resonated with me. George resonated with me, and I felt myself willing him to be patient, to just try to understand Lennie's perspective, all while my face is flushing red from the knowledge that I don't always practice what I was preaching. I'm a damn hypocrite.

I really felt this book, as seems to be the case with the Steinbeck books I've read lately. I could identify with all of the characters in some way, and I love that. In such a short book, it's easy to get the characters very wrong... either they are caricatures, or they are cliches or they just plain stink and are boring. I really felt like I understood these characters, even if I didn't like them. At the end of the book, when Lennie asks George to yell at him, isn't he going to hit him, isn't he going to tell him he'd be better off without him, I found that just heartbreaking... that Lennie's sense of normalcy stems from George's frustration with him. I felt for George too. He only wants to take care of Lennie, but sometimes it's so hard. He can't be everywhere at once, and has had to make so many sacrifices in order to keep Lennie out of the kind of trouble that just comes from not knowing any better.

This story is just a smidge over 100 pages long, so it won't take you long to read at all, and I highly recommend it. Or you could take about 3 1/2 hours and let Gary Sinise read it to you, which is what I did. I wasn't sure about Gary at first, but he grew on me really quickly. I've never seen the movie, so I didn't know that he'd starred in the remake. Gary Sinise has a very recognizable voice, at least I think so, and it's kinda the opposite of my "preferred reader", but I thought he did a wonderful job reading this. The voices and the characters were all just right, and I'm not normally a "voice" fan when it comes to audio... I want the story to speak for itself.

This one definitely did that. This is the kind of story that will stick with me for a long time. As I was listening, I kept writing notes about thoughts that struck me, feelings that I had, concepts and themes in the book, and all sorts of interesting stuff that I don't really know how to express without spoiling this wonderful little story.

"The best laid schemes of mice and men oft' go astray." -- Robert Burns

View all my reviews

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Top Ten: Best of 2011

Happy 2012 ever'body! I'm sure that most bloggers (or in my case, lapsed bloggers) are kicking off the new year by posting their Best/Worst lists from the previous one. So here's my contribution: A Top Ten Best of 2011 list.

I'm not doing a Worst list this year. Not because I've made some whack New Year's resolution to be more positive in my reviews (Cain't nobody hold me back! *cough*YA Authors who can't take criticism*cough*), but rather because the books I didn't enjoy were just not that memorable. And if I didn't like 'em enough to remember 'em in the first place, I say, let 'em stay forgotten and unmentioned...

Anyhoozle! Here's my list for your reading enjoyment. As a side note, if you click on the bookcover images, it will take you to my full Goodreads reviews. (Some of these reviews are on the blog, but that was just easier, and we all know how lazy I am by now, right?)
Oh! And if you did a list of your own, I'd love to see it, so please comment and link! :D

Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse?Can YOU Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? by Max Brallier
(Read 5/29/2011)
This book was fantastic. I received a signed copy for review from the author, and it was so much fun to read! I've since encouraged my friend to buy a copy for her nephew (who loves zombies as well), and herself. There are a multitude of ways that this book can be read, so it's the type of book that lingers and continues to excite over and over again. There are some situations that are for a more mature audience, but overall, I think this was a fun, and very well done book. Definitely a keeper! :D

Danse MacabreDanse Macabre by Stephen King
(Read 11/25/2011)
If you are a fan of the horror genre, whether it's books or movies, you should read this book. This is such an interesting examination of the genre, and the books and movies that have really been centerpieces in it, that it is a must read for fans. So much insight and knowledge is crammed into this book, it's really fascinating. Plus, it's got a whopper of a recommended reading list. CHA-CHING! I haven't come even remotely close to reading every book mentioned in these pages... life goal? ;)

Rosemary's BabyRosemary's Baby by Ira Levin
(Read 10/19/2011)
Another amazing book... well, I should say trio of awesomeness. The book is great all on its own, but it inspired a fantastic movie adaptation (one of the closest adaptations I've ever seen), as well as a damn near perfect audiobook, read by Mia Farrow.
This story is one that is part of pop culture now - mention the name "Rosemary" and someone inevitably mentions the baby. But there's a difference between knowing this story in a pop culture way, and really experiencing it for itself. I highly recommend the latter, preferably the audio if possible. Farrow reads it with such emotion and depth, with just the right amount of tension and fear... I got chills listening to it. Do yourself a favor and give this one a try.

Full Dark, No StarsFull Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
(Read 1/21/2011)
This collection of short stories by Stephen King really highlight why he is a master at his craft. All four stories in this book (or 5 if you pick up the edition with the extra story, which I did not, sad to say... *sigh*) are dark and a little disturbing (OK, sometimes a lot disturbing -- but this is Stephen King!), and all examine humanity and choice and life in stark terms that really made me ponder...
It's hard for me to choose a favorite, because I loved all of these, but if you REALLY want to know, I'd have to say '1922'. It's gory and as disturbing as some of King's earlier work - Pet Sematary comes to mind - but as beautifully written and heart wrenching as anything I've seen him write lately.
"Rats in the corn again..."
I don't think that line will ever leave me.

The Grapes of WrathThe Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
(Read 11/24/2011)
I've only recently discovered that I enjoy Steinbeck. The first book I read of his was 'The Pearl', which was OK. Just OK. Next came 'Travels With Charley', which I enjoyed more than I thought that I would. I discovered then that I like Steinbeck's voice, when he's writing for himself and not writing a parable.
On Thanksgiving of this year, I discovered 'The Grapes of Wrath'. This is an amazingly beautiful, heartbreaking book of struggle and hope and determination in the face of overwhelming opposition. I stood in my kitchen, listening to this on audio, with tears running down my face while I cooked, and it absolutely made me thankful for everything I have in my life. I'm so glad that I was able to experience this book as I did, because I am able to appreciate it properly now, both in terms of Steinbeck's writing, and where I am in life. It was perfect timing, and an exceptional story.

11/22/6311/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King
(Read 12/11/2011)
Yeah, another King book on the list. What can I say? He's my favorite author for a reason!
This book was brilliant. I loved how it examines the implications of a major, world-changing event... what led up to it?, what did it mean?, could it be changed?, and what would THAT mean?... all the while telling us another story of love and loss and regret and how the choices we make have far, far wider consequences than we might ever think.
I loved the concept of this book, and how it was handled. I loved the ties to Stephen King's other works and loved the feel of just reading this book. It was amazing.

A Monster CallsA Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
(Read 10/31/2011)
This was another dark, emotional ride of a book. Another audio that I cannot recommend highly enough, as well. This book deals with some hefty issues - a parent's illness, loss, fear and confusion and powerlessness, among other things (as if those weren't enough) - and does it with grace and honesty.
This was the first full Patrick Ness book I read, and it completely wowed me. It dragged me into the story, under the surface, and then held me there until I couldn't breathe. This book broke my heart and then I fell in love with it. Absolutely recommended.

Mistborn SeriesThe Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
(Read 3/12/2011)
This includes the entire trilogy ('Mistborn: The Final Empire', 'The Well of Ascension', and 'The Hero of Ages').
I absolutely loved these books. They made me a Brandon Sanderson insta-fan. The characters, the world, the history, the magic... everything about these books was just amazing. If you haven't read them, I can only assume you're waiting on handwritten, personalized, and engraved invitations to do so. I'll get those in the mail ASAP.
Seriously, there was so much in these stories that I didn't want them to end. I am super thrilled that Sanderson has written another book (and more hopefully!) in this world. I don't want to give anything away... but spoiler alert: I bet it's amazing. :D

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
(Read 4/20/2011)
Speaking of amazing... This book. ;)
One of my friends on Goodreads didn't care for this book much, and there's quite a bit of contention about it on her review. This is one of those books that people love, or hate, and I can easily say that I absolutely loved it.
It's not for everyone... there are aspects of the story that made me cringe several times, but I couldn't look away. I was so drawn into this story, and these characters, that even after reading the next 4 books in the series, I still cannot look away. I loved this book, this series, and for a while there, it ruined reading epic fantasy for me, because nothing I'd read after it really lived up to the level of investment I felt in these characters and this story...

The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive, #1)The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
(Read 12/29/2011)
...Until I read this book. I begged Brandon Sanderson to bring awesome back to my reading life, and he delivered spectacularly. I was blown away by this book. It was so great, so vastly brilliant and detailed and... just, well, EPIC, that even now, a little over a week and several books later, it still lingers in my mind.
I am in awe of how incredibly good this book was, and the potential of this series, which is a proposed 10 books long, is just mind-boggling. I can't wait to see what the next book holds in store... :D
My SQUEE-O-METER is through the roof!

So there ya have it. My horror and fantasy heavy Top Ten list. Eh, I can't help it... I likes what I likes! ;)

PS. That's totally not my real handwriting... I just like it. ;)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012 Goal - No Re-reads!

You hear that sound? That quiet weeping? That's not the friendly attic ghoul - that's me. That's me mourning all of my favorite books for all of 2012, because I've banned myself from re-reading them.

No Harry Potter.
No re-reading The Shining, The Stand, The Dark Tower series.
Nothing I've read before... ever.

Dawson feels my pain. And I didn't even watch Dawson's Creek. That's how painful this is.

Shhh... There there, Dawson. I know. It's hard. But, we'll get through this year, Dawson. We WILL.

I mean, unless the Mayans were right. Then we're just screwed. O_o

Monday, January 2, 2012

Review: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson ★★★★★

The Way
of Kings (Stormlight Archive, #1)This book. Wow.

I kinda don't even know what to write about this book. The scope of it, the detail, everything is just so... epic. And then I think about the fact that there are a proposed nine more books, and I just...


As I was reading this, I admit to being unable to see how this story, already ginormous all on its lonesome, could expand to a whopping 10 book series and do it well. Keep the pacing, the excitement, the world, the magic system, the awesomenes all consistent.

Oh me of little faith. O_o

This is BRANDON SANDERSON. I should have known better. His leg hath been metaphorically humpeth'd by thy humble review writer thrice previously, and I anticipateth this trend to continueth.

The last 150 pages or so of this book brought things together in such a way that... well, a whole world of possibility has opened up. It seems a bit silly to say that, because a book, any book, EVERY book opens up a universe of possibility just by virtue of what it is... but in regards to my not seeing how this story, which seemed as though it could be a standalone for so much of it, could spawn a potential 9 sequels... the last 150 pages clinched it. And then I went back to the beginning and read the prologue again (having to stop myself from just continuing...) and it becomes clearer just how vast this story could be.

The world-building alone here is fantastic. This whole world, so many peoples and creatures and beliefs and societies, the weather patterns and landscapes and the history... all of it has the feeling of both being barely touched upon and described in depth. I can see it all so clearly in my head, it's almost as if I were there. I need my own Worldsinger to come tell me more. I am so curious and so excited about the scope and depth of this series, I can't even describe it.

And that's just the "background" stuff.

One thing about the beliefs in this book. Religion plays a big part in the daily lives of the characters here, as it did in his Mistborn series as well. If you aren't aware, Sanderson is a Mormon. I don't know anything about Mormonism, but I remember worrying as I was reading the Mistborn series how the religion in that story would be handled. I hate being preached to.

I don't worry about that anymore with Sanderson. I think that the way he approaches religion in his books is intriguing and unique and thought-provoking, but never preachy. These are fantasy-world religion/belief systems that one can think about and take with them as they will, but Sanderson doesn't force or push his beliefs on anyone. And I very much respect that.

The characters in this book... I just have no words. No, I lie. I have a word: Amazing.

But before we get into that, let me tell you about this bad habit I have. I don't read chapter or section titles. There, I said it. It's true. I don't read chapter or section titles. Too often, they give something away, which I really don't like. So I skip them. Which means that, unfortunately, sometimes I miss key things and have to either pick them up elsewhere, or backtrack.

I had to backtrack a couple times while reading this one. There are a lot of perspective shifts, and sometimes they threw me off. A switch to a known character is one thing, but there are these sort of 'intermission' sections with characters that come into the story only briefly to give us something and then leave again.

So, getting back to my point about characters, I was a little thrown off when I realized that the Jezrien and Kalak I'd met in the very beginning (aka: the prologue I didn't realize was a prologue until much later) weren't the characters I'd be following and that the world was very different. One backtrack later, and it makes sense... 4,500 years separation between prologue and chapter 1. Got it.

I have no regrets regarding the characters that I spent the last two weeks with, though. Like I said: amazing. I loved all of these characters. All of them. Even the horrible ones. And the weak ones. All of the characters have such a depth to them. Their lives seemed 100% real to me, as if they could step right off the page (or screen in my case, since I read this whopper on my nook) and into my life.

I cared about these characters. A lot. They live in a world in chaos. They are in the midst of a lingering, brutal war. The seasons are in a constant state of flux. Highstorms are only semi-predictable, but seem to be getting stronger and stronger. There's betrayal everywhere and trust is a luxury that almost nobody can afford. Is it any surprise that I read in this sort of state of constant fear about What Might Happen? It was thrilling, but at the same time, I was a nervous wreck.

I love that feeling... of actually caring what happens to characters. I like exciting books as much as the next person, but if I don't invest anything in the characters that the excitement is happening to, then it's just kind of hollow. Enjoyable? Sure. But forgettable.

I want reading to affect me. I want to feel it. I want my hands to shake, my heart to race, or break, or ache, my eyes to be filled with tears and my stomach queasy with worry. And it was. This book gave me all of that, and more.

The more I think about this book, the more I piece together. The more theories I form, the more excited I get for the next installment. I loved it. Loved it loved it loved it. In case you hadn't noticed.

This feeling that I have right now, this awe and wonder and excitement... This is why I read.