Insanity

InsanityInsanity by Cameron Jace
Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on December 19th 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages: 254
Format: ebook
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

After accidentally killing everyone in her class, Alice Wonder is now a patient in the Radcliffe Lunatic Asylum. No one doubts her insanity. Only a hookah-smoking professor believes otherwise; that he can prove her sanity by decoding Lewis Carroll's paintings, photographs, and find Wonderland's real whereabouts. Professor Caterpillar persuades the asylum that Alice can save lives and catch the wonderland monsters now reincarnated in modern day criminals. In order to do so, Alice leads a double life: an Oxford university student by day, a mad girl in an asylum by night. The line between sanity and insanity thins when she meets Jack Diamond, an arrogant college student who believes that nonsense is an actual science.

Well, I sure am glad I went into reading Cameron Jace’s Insanity, the first in the series of the same name, without reading the summary on Goodreads – had I read it, I wouldn’t have been so pleasantly surprised by the story’s plot.

I’ve been curious about Insanity for a long time, but had held off on reading it because I judged the book by its cover, which isn’t my favorite by a long shot. However, when I found the first three books in the series available for rental from the Kindle Unlimited library, I took it as a sign and checked them out virtually.

I was almost instantly sucked into Insanity, with its short and sweet chapters and quick action. As I mentioned before, since I hadn’t read the Insanity summary, I was very surprised to learn the series revolves around the maybe real Alice from none other than Lewis Carroll’s famous Alice in Wonderland.

I’ve never read Carroll’s original work, but I am aware of the basic plot points, which are touched upon by Jace in the Alice retelling.

This may be odd to some bookworms, but I very rarely go into reading a book actually knowing what it’s about. I generally don’t even read the backs of books or the insides of their jackets; I’ve read too many silly summaries, which have turned me off particular tomes.

Which leads me to a big reason I’m glad I skipped the Goodreads Insanity summary – I’m bothered that one of the major characters is referred to as ‘Professor Caterpillar.’ Granted, the character is the caterpillar of Lewis Carroll’s imagination, but in Jace’s retelling, he is NEVER referred to as ‘Professor Caterpillar’ exactly – he’s Pillar the Killer.

Anyway, despite my aggravation with the summary, the imagination that went into the writing of Insanity is incredible. Not only does Jace take the reader on a ride with Carroll’s characters in the modern world, the author delves into the personal history of Lewis Carroll himself, who also plays a role.

Perhaps my favorite aspect of the book is the guessing game played by the reader in a dance with Jace to figure out whether Alice Wonder is in fact THE Alice in Wonderland.

This is the first book in a while I’ve read decently quickly and without moving it to the back burner to start another, more exciting story. I am genuinely interested in the fates of Jace’s characters, who are those from Alice in Wonderland re-imagined, and I’m tickled that there is an upcoming eighth book.

I adored this book and am excited to continue the series. I give Insanity four stars…I would have most likely given it five, but there were a few typos I can’t let go.

For instance, the name of one of Alice’s sisters is different in one sentence – I wouldn’t have known who was being referred to had the actual name not started with the same letter as the incorrect one.

Every other facet of the book – plot, world building, character relationships, pace – fit into my reading style perfectly.

I very highly recommend Insanity, especially to those who adore retellings, as I have recently discovered I do.

Love, Maggie

A to Z Survey

So, I adore discovering tags and surveys, especially when I’m clueless about what exactly to write. I stumbled across The A to Z Survey, created by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner, way back in 2013 and decided to give it a shot!

Author I’ve Read the Most Books By

Hmmm…I need to travel back in time for this one, as I tend to jump from one author to another quite a bit! I’d say I’ve read almost all of Ann. M. Martin’s The Baby-Sitters Club series as well as the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories by Carolyn Keene! 😀

Best Sequel Ever

I adored Leigh Bardugo’s follow-ups to Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising! The original in the Grisha series was awesome, but the sequels tied the whole story together and were very entertaining!

Currently Reading

Right now, I’m officially in the midst of reading four books! I’m reading A Batter of Life and Death, a precious cozy mystery by Ellie Alexander, for The Candid Cover’s Summer TBR Wipeout Challenge and I’m doing buddy reads of both Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley.

In addition, I’m taking a short break from reading Stephen King’s behemoth post-apocalyptic novel, The Stand. I never used to read multiple books at once, but I think I like jumping between reads!

Drink of Choice While Reading

My drink of choice is always coffee with only cream! I drink it all day, every day! 😀

E-Reader or Physical Book?

Honestly, I enjoy both my Kindle and physical books. Generally, I’ll switch back and forth between reading an ebook and a hard copy.

Fictional Character I Probably Would Have Dated in High School

OMG! I adore Rob in Kelly Oram’s retelling, Cinder & Ella! Although Rob is simply an excellent guy friend to the main character, he is too sweet for words and doesn’t pressure Ella into a romantic relationship!

Glad I Gave This Book a Chance

Insanity by Cameron Jace was a big step out of my reading comfort zone! I’m so happy I decided to read it, a retelling of Alice in Wonderland. It’s sort of overwhelming, as there are at least seven total books in the series, but I love the story and plan to read them all!

Hidden Gem Book

For this one, it has to be John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, which I read for English class in high school. I went into reading it not knowing what to expect, but it seriously pulled at my heartstrings and will forever be very special to me.

The reason this book holds such a special place in my heart is because my older brother, Bill, is autistic. One of the main characters, Lennie, is descried by Steinbeck as ‘simple-minded’ and his story really makes me think of Bill. 

Plus, with the tragic, yet merciful ending, I can’t help but put myself in the shoes of George, Lennie’s closest friend‘.

Important Moment in My Reading Life

The first thing that comes to mind is when I read Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park as a fifth grader! I read it after seeing and loving the movie and at the time, it was the fattest book I’d ever read! I’m still really proud of that accomplishment! 😀

Just Finished

The most recent book I finished reading was Cinder & Ella, quite obviously a Cinderella retelling! It’s a lovely book and I thank Delaney for highly recommending it to me!

Kinds of Books I Won’t Read

The only kind of book I’m really opposed to reading is straight-up erotica! No judgment toward people who enjoy the genre, it’s just not my cup of tea.

Longest Book I’ve Read

At the moment, the longest book I’ve read is Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, clocking in at 817 pages. When I finally finish it, hopefully by September, The Stand will bump Tolstoy’s classic out of its top spot, as it has 1153 pages!

Major Book Hangover Because of

Anna Karenina! I adored reading it SO VERY MUCH and I didn’t want it to end! I ended up reading a nonfiction book about Catherine the Great, Portrait of a Woman, by Robert K. Massie, not long after finishing Tolstoy’s work, as my mind was still in imperial Russia!

Number of Bookcases I Own

I don’t have any serious bookcases, sadly! I do have an antique curio that belonged to my great-grandmother, but I only store my babies’ books and pictures in it for the time being. Now I have my books in stacks in my walk-in closet, but one of these days, I will have my own real library!

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times

The only book I’ve reread is J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone! I actually reread it via audiobook and with Jim Dale narrating it was amazing! I’m really glad I chose to listen to the first installment in the Harry Potter series; I had forgotten a lot of the detail included in the story and I look forward to listening to the rest of the series soon.

Preferred Place to Read

I like to read anywhere I can, whether it be on the couch, curled up in my bed, nestled in a nook outside, or even in a waiting room – as long as I can read, I’m pretty happy!

Quote That Inspires Me from All the Books I’ve Read

Since it’s fresh in my mind, there is a quote from Cinder & Ella that I absolutely adore! 

“Her laugh was my new favorite sound in the whole world.”

Reading Regret

I always regret DNFing books, but sometimes it’s just necessary. For instance, I was really looking forward to reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, but I just could not get through it. I am going to try reading a manga version by Stacy King!

Series I Started and Need to Finish

I really need to finish The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer! I’ve read both Cinder and Scarlet, but need to get to CressFairest, Winterand Stars Above. While I enjoyed Cinder, Scarlet didn’t really grab me. I have a feeling I will really like Cress and Winter though!

I want to throw in the novellas, Fairest and Stars Above just to get the full effect of the series.

Three of My All-Time Favorite Books

Nothing can top Anna Karenina and Of Mice and Men!

Unapologetic Fangirl for

– a good retelling

Very Excited for This Release More Than All the Others

I love Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon novels and his latest installment, Origin, releasing October 3rd, is definitely the one I am most looking forward to getting my hands on!

Worst Bookish Habit

My worst bookish habit is judging books by their covers. I’ve come to learn that an eye-catching jacket does not necessarily mean a quality book is encased within it.

[Your] My Latest Book Purchase

I’ve been on a serious graphic novel kick, so pretty much any book in the genre must be mine! But, most recently, I bought a book in another favorite genre – the cozy mystery! I purchased Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower.

ZZZ-Snatcher Book

ANY audiobook is likely to put me to sleep! 😀

Love, Maggie

February = Heart Reading

Sporadic Update was inspired by The Sunday Post meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. 😀

Sweet Reads

February began slowly for me, reading-wise; however, I sprinted toward the end of the month by starting and finishing five books over the course of two weeks, which for me is a lot! I am an admittedly slow reader, plus I’m a parent, making it difficult to carve out reading time.

I’m still ahead of my Goodreads challenge goal of 40 by five books, with a grand total of 11 read. I hope to maintain my pace and stay ahead of my goal until I reach it. I’ve toyed with the idea of upping my 2017 reading goal, but I’m torn as to whether or not to simply leave my goal as is and let extra books tick up my percentage. I’ve got time to ponder this, thankfully! 😀

As for February’s sweet reads, three books made the cut! I didn’t intend for it to be, but The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West turned into the perfect read during the month of love. I hadn’t planned to read anything romantic in February, but I couldn’t resist, as I’ve been incredibly curious about West’s work for a while now.

I also really enjoyed Rick Riordan’s The Throne of Fire, second in the Kane Chronicles trilogy. I may have mentioned that I love to learn as I read, especially while perusing fiction. Long story short, Riordan never disappoints when it comes to melding entertainment with education.

My favorite book of the month was the debut novel in the cozy mystery series, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop, Elementary, She Read, by Vicki Delany. I’m really looking forward to writing my review for this one. Let’s just say that I recently stepped out of my genre comfort zone by trying a cozy mystery – Delany’s book is only the second cozy I’ve read! It didn’t take long for me to realize that I adore cozies!

Sour Reads

My not-so-favorite, so so reads of the month both received a mediocre three stars from me, meaning I liked them okay, just meh. More often than not, I adore Nancy Drew mysteries by Carolyn Keene. Sadly, the Audible edition of The Sign of the Twisted Candles didn’t grab me.

Figment, the second book in Cameron Jace’s Insanity series, didn’t grab me either. I understand that it has a plot more focused on character building rather than action, but I’m looking forward to the third installment, Circus, which I hear is action packed and exciting, as was the series opener, Insanity.

Welcome to My Library!

I’m proud to have been approved for some great ARCs on NetGalley this month! I was so lucky to receive my first ever invite to read a popular upcoming book, Roshani Chokshi’s follow-up to The Star-Touched Queen, A Crown of Wishes! I got the invitation because I was approved much earlier to read an ARC of Chokshi’s debut. 😀

I requested and was approved for Noteworthy by Riley Redgate and Ensnared by Rita Stradling, which I’m reading at the time of this typing and enjoying! I really liked Redgate’s debut novel, Seven Ways We Lie, so I hope to feel the same about Noteworthy!

I also bought a few books this month, mostly Kindle editions. I thought The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani looked cute, so I snatched it up. I also got Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt, about which I’ve been curious for a while, on special.

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest finally found its way onto my Kindle, as did Carolyn Keene’s The Clue of the Dancing Puppet. With my Audible credit for the month, I got Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling and narrated by Jim Dale. This will be my first reread ever and I’m really looking forward to hearing Harry’s saga.

Speaking of sagas, I went nuts and bought volumes four, five, and six of Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, rounding out my collection, in preparation for volume seven’s release this spring.

Finally, I ended my book spree by purchasing three books for my two-year-old, My Very First Book of Colors by Eric Carle, Curious George Tool Time by H.A. Rey, and Dinosaur Dance! by Sandra Boynton.

Near the end of the month, I received the ultimate book mail – my first ever Fairy Loot box! I’ll be showing off the entire contents of the February box later, but I do want to mention that the chosen book was the enticing Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza.

Challenging

In my Pulling the Plug post, I explain why I decided to abandon the year-long reading challenges for which I had signed up so early in the year. I decided to alleviate the reading pressure I was already feeling by solely keeping up with my reading through the Goodreads challenge.

As for short and mini reading challenges, bring them on!

In Real Life

In last month’s Sporadic Update, I mentioned applying for a job as an in-school therapist. I had an interview scheduled, but ultimately decided to cancel the day before. I dwelled on whether or not to take the job for a couple of weeks prior to my set interview.

I finally came to the conclusion that I’d rather continue with my role as a housewife and full-time mother. I adore every moment that I’m with my children and ever since I applied for the job I have tried even more to avoid taking any minute with my boys for granted.

My mother, who didn’t have the luxury of staying home with my brother and I full-time, implored me to let go of feeling the urge to have a full-time job. She re-instilled in me how important my job as a mother is – I am charged with raising two beautiful, spirited, happy boys.

Basically having little lives in my hands is definitely overwhelming at times, but it is so rewarding. I sometimes feel like what I do – raise my children and maintain our family’s household – isn’t worthy of admiration. But, I realize now that my boys will ultimately be the best they can be at least partially because of my love and the sacrifices I make for them.

March Madness

I am a humongous college basketball fan and, quite naturally, my [second] favorite time of year is March Madness, the technically 64-team tournament that serves as the season’s grand finale.

I say technically 64 teams because there is a play-in round these days known as the First Four. Anyway, Selection Sunday is coming up I believe next week for the men’s tournament and then Selection Monday will follow to announce the women’s tournament contenders.

I always root for the SEC, excluding Vanderbilt, as I am from the South. However, every year features at least a few Cinderella teams with whom I fall in love. I could ramble on about basketball forever, alas, I shall return to the subject at hand – books!

I’m not totally sure as to what I want to read this month, aside from Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. Since I ditched my reading challenges, I don’t have any particular books that I need to get to; I’m free to mood read!

On the other hand, I would like to finally read my ARC of Gilded Cage by Vic James – I’m really looking forward to it. So I figure I do have a bit of planned reading after all! I would also like to get on with reading Noteworthy.

In Closing

I hope all of y’all have a fantastic March and happy reading! 😀

Love, Maggie

ARC Attack

Happy hump day! With today arrives the weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, WWW Wednesday! The meme has a simple format, asking the three W’s:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently

At the moment, I’m reading Ensnared by Rita Stradling. A futuristic take on Beauty and the Beast, Ensnared reminds me a lot of Cinder by Marissa Meyer thus far – lots of robots!

I’m still stuck on listening to the Audible edition of Stephanie Garber’s Caraval. I’m just not excited about it anymore…I think my expectations were set incredibly too high due to the book’s huge hype.

Just Finished

Yesterday I finished an amazing cozy mystery releasing soon, Elementary, She Read by Vicki Delany. I read it in two days – I’m lucky I loved it so much, as I only had a few days to get the Sherlockian tale read before it was archived on NetGalley!

I’m really excited to write a full review of Delany’s first book in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series. Needless to say, I will be delving into other books by Delany!

I also finished Cameron Jace’s Figment, the second installment of the Insanity series. While I didn’t quite enjoy this book as much as the first, Insanity, the plot makes sense as a jumping off point to the third tale in the series, Circus.

Next

I am incredibly excited to get my eyes on The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern! I’m totally planning to pick Morgenstern’s novel up after finishing Ensnared, but, being the mood reader I am, my plan can definitely change!

I’ve heard that The Night Circus is a gorgeously written book – if the story is half as appealing as the cover, I’ll be a happy reader!

Plus, I’m looking forward to taking an ARC reading break for a bit!

Love, Maggie

Book Report

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is the question asked weekly by the meme’s host, The Book Date. Additionally, you can announce to the world what you plan to read next as well as what you recently finished.

Now Reading

I started a NetGalley ARC, Elementary, She Read by Vicki Delany and I absolutely adore everything about it! I mean, a main character who owns a Sherlockian book store and investigates murders, yes please!

I’m still listening to the Audible edition of Stephanie Garber’s much hyped Caraval. I’m about two hours into it and have yet to be captivated. Please tell me it gets better…

Already Read

This past week I read the amazing Kasie West’s The Fill-In Boyfriend and Figment by Cameron Jace. I gave one book five stars and the other three – I’ll post my reviews soon! 😀

Up Next

I’ve got a few ARCs that I need to read this week, as their archive dates are creeping up on me. Those books are Ensnared by Rita Stradling and Noteworthy by Riley Redgate.

Ideally, I’ll finish Elementary, She Read early today, as it archives tomorrow, and finish Ensnared, archiving March 1, by tomorrow. As for Noteworthy, its archive date is April 2, so I’d love to get a head start on it.

Well, that wraps up my beginning of the week reading report! Good luck to all of you readers out there on achieving your reading goals! 😀

Love, Maggie

Pulling the Plug

It’s only the end of February and I’ve made the difficult decision to give up on the 2017 reading challenges I signed up for. The challenges I started are AMAZING and are hosted by AMAZING bloggers – I’ll link to them further on in this post!

While I am totally continuing to track my progress through the Goodreads challenge, I simply cannot bring myself to read set books. Over the past two months, I’ve come to realize that I’m an absolute mood reader!

If I claim I’m going to read blank book for, say, a certain month, I feel like I’m back in English class with an assigned book to put off reading until the last second. Needless to say, this causes me undue anxiety, which I put on myself.

I don’t feel as much pressure with the Goodreads challenge – it’s totally open-ended, meaning, of course, that I can read what I want, when I want. A lot of the time, I’ll go into reading a book with an idea of what I want to read next. However, being a mood reader and all, my plans typically fly out the window and I pick up something the book I just finished inspires me to read, whether it be similar or of a totally different genre.

For example, I recently finished my first Kasie West book, The Fill-In Boyfriend. Instead of reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern next, as I’d planned, I opted for the second in the Insanity series by Cameron Jace, Figment. I think all the exquisitely written romance of West’s tale turned me toward a guilty pleasure-type book. [The Insanity series is totally a guilty pleasure!]

While I do hate to pull out of my challenges, I do feel it’s necessary, as I feel like a creep when I don’t meet my goals – and I can already tell, obviously, that I’m going nowhere with my year-long reading challenges this year.

Here are the buttons and links to the challenges I am dropping out of – they are all awesome and if you’re top notch at finishing challenges, I highly recommend these!

The first challenge I’m opting out of is the very cool Reading Assignment Challenge, hosted by the lovely Michelle at Because Reading and Berls of Fantasy is More Fun. I did actually read the book I assigned to myself in January, alas, I never got in the mood for my February pick, hence my mood reading!

Just in case you’re curious, here’s the list of books I had planned to read for this challenge. [I want to get to them, but at my own pace.]

Technically, I could still do the Shelf Love Challenge, hosted by Second Run Reviews, as the point of the challenge is to show those books sitting on my shelves, begging me to read them, some attention. However, I’m simply too lazy to keep up with my progress.

As for the Keyword Reading Challenge, hosted by Claudia at My Soul Called Life, it has the coolest concept I think I have come across, challenge-wise. For the challenge, Claudia chose particular words coinciding with each month in 2017 for challengers to base a monthly book pick on.

While I managed to read – and adore – A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas for January, I had a tough time with choosing books that fit with the keywords for the remainder of the year. I think I tried to get too creative with my book titles!

As for all of you who are dedicated to completing your reading challenges this year, I applaud you! You are very admirable to me; I just don’t think I have it in me to participate in year-long challenges anymore. But, I do look forward to joining in on short challenges and read-a-thons throughout 2017.

Love, Maggie

Book Blast

Happy hump day! With today arrives the weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, WWW Wednesday! The meme has a simple format, asking the three W’s:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently

Today I started reading the second installment of Cameron Jace’s Insanity series, Figment. Thus far I’ve only read a few pages and I’m hopeful I’ll love it as much as I did the first in the series, Insanity.

In addition, I’m listening to Caraval by Stephanie Garber on Audible. I’m an hour or so into the book, and it’s just okay so far – I’m still waiting for excitement. I’ve seen mixed reviews of this one, with some citing offensive topics and others absolutely loving it. I wanted to read Caraval before the controversy, but it definitely made me curious enough to go ahead and pick it up!

Just Finished

This morning I finished my first ever book by Kasie West, The Fill-In Boyfriend. I absolutely LOVED this book and gave it a five-star rating on Goodreads! I’m so excited to write the review – so many emotions were stirred within me as I read – and that doesn’t happen to me often.

Long story short – I cannot wait to read the rest of West’s work. The Fill-In Boyfriend is a book I typically wouldn’t just pick up, but I was haunted by it and kept seeing rave reviews. I’m so tickled with myself for branching out of my genre comfort zone and discovering a new favorite author!

The other day, I finally finished The Throne of Fire, the second in Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles series. I took nearly three weeks to read it – I apparently had a hard time finding freedom to read, as I really enjoyed this tale and could’ve finished it quicker.

Next

I have a bunch of galleys I need to get through and write up reviews for before they’re archived. Luckily, I’m looking forward to testing out the books for which I’ve been approved. I still can’t get over the fact that I was auto-approved by Udon Entertainment, which produces Manga Classics! 😀

That’s it for me this week! How about you?

Love, Maggie