Mar 04

January 2017 OwlCrate Review

Books/Writing, Reviews 4

Life kind of bit me in the butt this week, so I’m behind on my posts AND my reading…but here is my (late) January 2017 OwlCrate review! As of the writing of this post, there are still a few boxes left for purchase so if you want one you should probably go now. 😉 Sadly my photography was somewhat lacking on this box. My apologies!

The theme for January was Classic Remix, and unlike several recent boxes I had NO clear guess about what the book would be. Then I opened the box and couldn’t believe I hadn’t guessed!

Because it was so obvious. 😛

January Book:

Roseblood, by A.G. Howard – I was planning to buy this at some point anyone, so this was absolutely perfect! I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews so I’ve lowered my expectations slightly but am still hopeful! It’s a Phantom of the Opera retelling, if you have somehow avoided all the hype. 😉


Not as many extras this month because (I’m assuming) a couple of them were BIG!

  • Calendar from ObviousState with illustrations inspired by various children’s books – AWESOME. I still don’t know exactly where to put it because my desk overflow-eth, but awesome.
  • Magnet from SweetSequels inspired by Phantom of the Opera and OMG I NEED EVERYTHING IN THEIR SHOP. Especially this blanket:
  • A lovely “Everything is Beautiful” bookmark from LexyOlivia, on cardstock! She has a ton of beautiful designs and I need them.
  • Book-shaped soap from TeaSoapBooks! Smells heavenly, like a spring garden…very fitting. 😉 This is another one of those things I don’t really know what to do with but it smells amazing.
  • A full bag of loose leaf tea from the First Edition Tea Company! Yet another thing that smells amazing (I really should actually try it). Blend inspired by The Little Prince…awwww.

That’s it, folks! Hope you enjoyed the rundown. 🙂


Mar 01

Writing Up Wednesday #6: Give me ALL THE SETTINGS!

Books/Writing 0

writing up wednesday

Welcome to the next week of Writing Up Wednesday! I’ve been so excited to see more people participating in this, I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I do. 🙂 Besides the writing I do for my blog, I’ve also started writing fiction again this year. NaNoWriMo 2016 really kicked me into gear and got me excited about writing again. It’s an excitement that I hope will last, and there’s no better way than to keep motivation up than to share it! I know a lot of my blogger friends also have writing goals outside of their blogs. Week to week I want to discuss various different topics related to writing, and I’ll put a link-up at the bottom of each topic post. This week we have:

Writing Up Wednesday #6: Give Me ALL THE SETTINGS!

The setting of your story may seem like a background element, but in all but a very, very few books the setting is one of the MAIN elements and usually effects your story to a large extent. Different genres call for different settings, some requiring more research than others. A fantasy novel is usually has very involved worldbuilding, but the only facts you have to check are the ones you make up! In a historical fiction, however, factual accuracy is EXTREMELY important and hunting your facts can take as long or longer than the actual writing!

My current novel is a high fantasy, so I’ve put A LOT of effort into my world. While it’s somewhat inspired by medieval British and European cultures, some of it is also very loosely inspired by Greek mythology. At least right now. I’ve started to struggle with that aspect of it so I’m considering writing it out! Which would be…different.  On the other hand, a lot of it I just totally made up and it gets confusing! I have sections in Scrivener for the history, for the different levels of society, for the magic system…a horribly drawn map (haha). I also use a rather detailed set of worksheets that cover everything from outline to setting to characters.

I do need visual representation of things though, so I found a couple of castles (one in Scotland…be still my heart) that to me represent the main residences of the story. If you’re interested, check out my Pinterest board for the entire novel (including how I see my characters! *heart-eyes*). 😀 I have no artistic ability of my own, so drawing or sketching anything is out of the question. Every now and then I get a specific idea of something in my head though, and off I go to Pinterest or Google Images until I find it! And it’s only then that I can write a proper description. See, the ability to draw would be SO incredibly helpful. 😛

What’s your setting like? How much time do you spend making sure that you don’t change something halfway through (I read a very popular book awhile back, where the villain had red hair…until a random scene near the end of the book, where it was black…aaaaaand then back to red)? I know that’s what editing is for but I’m positively ANAL about keeping track of as much as I possibly can so that I don’t get confused.


Feb 27

Down the TBR Hole #14

Books/Writing 2

down the tbr hole

Time to wield the axe again – I’m mercilessly culling my TBR list on GoodReads with the amazing Down the TBR Hole meme by Lia at Lost in a Story!

Most of you probably know this feeling. Your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well, that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books.
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?


When I started this series of posts, I had 604 books on my TBR list. As of today, I have 616 (the same number I started with LAST week). So let’s see how this one goes. Up this week are numbers 72-76 of my original list. Covers link to GoodReads!



Title/Author: All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr

Date Added: December 28, 2014

Thoughts: I’m slightly suspicious of this being some kind of Nazi romance, but it has SO MANY stellar reviews I’ll have to try it at some point.

Judgment: Keep.




Title/Author: I Shall Be Near to You, by Erin Lindsay McCabe

Date Added: December 28, 2014

Thoughts: I was going to keep this, then I happened to read a review that had some spoilers (they were tagged, and I read anyway), and they were things that would really, really have bothered me about the book. Also an excerpt I read had the characters “talking” in a written-out accent, which always annoys me.

Judgment: Go.




: Stolen (Women of the Otherworld #2), by Kelley Armstrong

Date Added: December 28, 2014

Thoughts: I read the first one of this series and while it’s nothing spectacular it was a fun, well-written book. Brain candy that doesn’t grate on my grammar-fanatic tendencies.

Judgment: Keep. Also find a copy.






Title/Author: What Angels Fear (Sebastian St. Cyr #1), by C.S. Harris

Date Added: December 30, 2014

Thoughts: Recommended by Sharon K. Penman…and I’ve loved everything I’ve read by her!

Judgment: Keep.




: Denyse Schmidt Quilts, by Denise Schmidt

Date Added: January 4, 2015

Thoughts: While I would like to have this book on my shelf for reference, it’s not one I would sit down and read front to back.

Judgment: Go.



There we have it! 2/5 seems to be my new normal. Hehe. Now if I could just cut down on the number I add each week!


Feb 26

Something Else Sunday #26

Life 2

something else sunday

Hi everyone! How is it Sunday again? My last couple of weeks have been super full. I did manage to get all my planned posts up last week, though! *pats self on the back* Seriously though, my brain feels like mush a lot of the time right now. Our move is getting closer and closer and I’m thinking about the “purge ‘n’ pack” that must occur before and…

This is me.

I am looking forward to HAVING MOVED so very much, but the actual moving process…yeah, not so much.

I have no real “something else” to share this week, except to mention that I’m working on super-secret-squirrel project that will be released to the public some time in the near future…but I’m not sure many of my bookish readers will be interested. 😉 I do want to point out that this is Something Else Sunday #26, which means I’ve been at this more roughly half a year (I think I missed a Sunday or two). I’m having so much fun with my little blog, getting to know people and find new books!

Oh, I did make a veggie tray owl. Which looked very…not-owlish. Oh well. 😛 It was duly eaten (but not a single person noticed the owl), so I guess that’s what matters, right?

Anyway, here’s a look at the upcoming for this week! I feel like I’m kind of pushing it with aiming for 2 reviews…neither of which I’ve finished the book for (I’m about halfway through each, haha).

This week on the blog:

  • Down the TBR Hole #14
  • Writing Up Wednesday #6: Give me ALL THE SETTINGS!
  • The Bone Witch (YA review)
  • January OwlCrate Review


Feb 24

The Get to Know Me Tag

Life, Random 5

I saw the Get to Know Me tag over on Kourtni Reads, and it looked like so much fun I had to give it a shot! Fun and random…I’ve had quite a few new followers lately so I thought it would be fun to do. 😀 If you want to do it, consider yourself tagged!

Vital Stats

Name: Elizabeth
Nicknames: Liz, Lizzy
Birthday: Soon 😉
Star Sign: Pisces
Occupation: EMT/jack-of-all-trades


Hair Color: Red (yes, I know it doesn’t look red in my pic…it’s a very dark, moody red that refuses to play nice in artificial light).
Hair Length: To my waist
Eye Color: Hazel
Best Feature: I think my hair and my height (is that a feature?), but my husband would probably say something else. *cough*
Braces: Nope!
Piercings: Two in each ear and used to have my belly button done but I took it out for a job and it closed up.
Tattoos: A tree of life inspired by Jen Delyth’s artwork
Right or Left: Is this about hands? Left.


Real Holiday: When I was 8, my parents took a 5 day vacation to Gatlinburg, TN. 
Best Friend: Mara. Since I was 16 and she was 15.
Award: Uhhhhh….I have no idea.
Sport: Swimming!!
Concert: I have, uh, never been to a concert. *embarrassed*


TV Show(s): I’m not much on TV, but Sherlock and Outlander are awesome. Also The Big Bang Theory and Scrubs, for lighter stuff.
Color: Green.
Song: Hmm. 3 Doors Down “Life of My Own” or Within Temptation’s “The Truth Beneath the Rose.”
Restaurant: Right now anything that doesn’t have a South Korea side chain, hahaha.
Shop: Probably Barnes and Noble…at least until I move to a new town with a good indie bookstore!
Books: Ack. Outlander, I guess? Lord of the Rings…anything by Gail Carriger, Naomi Novik…
Shoes: Flipflops that don’t make my toes hurt.


Feeling: Stressed. Work sucks. 😛
Single or Taken: Taken and married!
Eating: Nadda. I had Subway for dinner.
Thinking About: Our upcoming move.
Watching: Nadda. Husband is out so the TV isn’t on.
Wearing: Yoga pants and an Under Armour hoodie.


Want Children: The 4-legged kind! I have a lovely little kitty right now, but hope we can add a dog once we move!
Want To Be Married: I am and quite enjoy it. 😉
Careers In Mind: Medical doctor, eventually.
Where You Want To Live: In the mountains.

Do You Believe In

God: “g”ods, maybe?
Miracles: Ehhhh…I think there are some things that can’t be explained, but miracles typically imply divine intervention and I doubt that very much.
Love At First Sight: Not for me, at least!
Ghosts: Maybe
Aliens: Maybe
Soul Mates: Maybe
Heaven: No
Hell: No
Kissing On The First Date: If it feels right!
Yourself: Sometimes.


If you want to do it, consider yourself tagged! No pressure on anyone. 🙂


Feb 23

Review of Iron Cast

Book Reviews 10 ★★★★

Review of Iron CastIron Cast by Destiny Soria
on October 11, 2016
Genres: Alternate History, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Goodreads four-stars

In 1919, Ada Navarra—the intrepid daughter of immigrants—and Corinne Wells—a spunky, devil-may-care heiress—make an unlikely pair. But at the Cast Iron nightclub in Boston, anything and everything is possible. At night, on stage together, the two best friends, whose “afflicted” blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art, weave magic under the employ of Johnny Dervish, the club’s owner and a notorious gangster. By day, Ada and Corinne use these same skills to con the city’s elite in an attempt to keep the club afloat.
When a “job” goes awry and Ada is imprisoned, she realizes they’re on the precipice of danger. Only Corinne—her partner in crime—can break her out of Haversham Asylum. But once Ada is out, they face betrayal at every turn.

I was so excited to see this book in my tiny local library! They seem to be putting more of an effort into diversifying their YA section and it makes me really happy. This is my pick for February for the Diverse Reads 2017 challenge. So here I present my review of Iron Cast, Destiny Soria’s debut novel from 2016.


“America is the land of liberty, Danny dearest,” Corinne said. “She won’t stand for Prohibition, mark my words.”


This book feels like a gangster movie with a few twists. Also not everyone dies, like in most gangster movies I’ve seen. 😛 I felt like I was sucker-punched in the gut a few times. Also I love how the author has chosen a relatively unexplored (in YA, at least) period of time (the weeks right before Prohibition took effect in 1919) for her setting. It was an awesome experience!

Ahem. Where was I?


“No one likes a know-it-all, Ada.”
“Yes, I’ve been trying to tell you that for years.”

Ada and Corinne are amazing. Their chemistry just leaps off the page and it’s beautiful. It made me miss my best friend so much. The back-and-forth banter had me laughing out loud, but their fierce loyalty to each other was what really made this story. The romantic interests – sure, they’re there, but they are a background to the girls’ friendship.


Destiny Soria has taken the year 1919 and turned it on its head with one change of facts: there is a small percentage of the population that are born as hemopaths, who have the ability to manipulate other people and sometimes time itself through some form of art. When I first started reading I thought that the hemopath ability was inspired by sickle cell anemia due to the influence put on the hemopaths’ aversion to iron (an iron deficiency being one of the side effects or symptoms of sickle cell anemia), but after I finished I wasn’t sure. It’s an interesting thought, though. If it WAS so inspired, the author definitely gave it a new look by making it a strength and also making it just as widespread in people of every race.

At this time in history, hemopaths are feared and even hunted in Boston. Once considered artists, they are now looked at as freaks that are sub-human. Ada and Corinne find the noose of the law closing on them as they struggle to survive in their underground nightclub home, seemingly able to trust almost no one. Hemopaths start disappearing – people they know. Unsure where to turn, they spend a lot of time wandering from place to place. At times this was kind of a drag…it created atmosphere but left me wondering what was the point of a particular scene or chapter. However, the characters and a lot of the places they visited were interesting enough to keep me reading. I really wanted to find out WHO was behind all the horrible things that kept happening!


Reading this was like walking down a dark, foggy street. Or sitting in the darkened, smoky club surrounded by toughs and exquisitely dressed women. OR being kidnapped and dragged to a sterotypical “insane” asylum! There is a definite 1920s vibe to it that I loved. It’s so different and feels so glamorous compared to most places and even books (maybe I haven’t read the right ones?) today.

Final Rating:

4/5 stars. As I mentioned, the plot did drag a bit sometimes. Also I wish that Charlie and even Gabriel had been a little more fleshed out, but maybe that would have taken away from the strong thread of female friendship that holds the story together. I also really enjoyed the diversity aspect, as Ada’s family was not white but neither were her parents from the same country, and there is a LGBT couple as well. I loved that Destiny Soria didn’t gloss over how any of these characters would have been treated at this point in history but manages to (to me, at least) portray them without the slightest hint of bias. I’m not marginalized myself, so I can’t authoritatively speak to how accurate the characters are, but they felt very real and relate-able.

review of iron cast

Actually 384 pages, the auto-generated data was wrong.



Feb 22

Writing Up Wednesday #5: What’s Your POV?

Books/Writing 5

writing up wednesday

Welcome to the next week of Writing Up Wednesday! I’ve been so excited to see more people participating in this, I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I do. 🙂 Besides the writing I do for my blog, I’ve also started writing fiction again this year. NaNoWriMo 2016 really kicked me into gear and got me excited about writing again. It’s an excitement that I hope will last, and there’s no better way than to keep motivation up than to share it! I know a lot of my blogger friends also have writing goals outside of their blogs. Week to week I want to discuss various different topics related to writing, and I’ll put a link-up at the bottom of each topic post. This week we have:

Writing Up Wednesday #5: What’s Your POV?

Point-of-view can make or break a book. The right one draws you in, gives you just enough information to keep you entertained and reading to see what happens next. The wrong one is nails on the chalkboard of your brain. If you’re not familiar with the different POVs, there’s an awesome, detailed article here on Novel Writing Help. There are 3 main POVs in fiction: first-person (a huge favorite in YA fiction), third-person limited, and third-person omniscient. I’m not going to get into a breakdown here – there are TONS of helpful articles around the web for that. So for now, think about your current WIP. Are you consistent with your POV, or do you use multiples? If so, do you handle it in a way that won’t confuse your reader? How did you settle on your POV?

I didn’t give a whole lot of thought to the POV in my current novel, to be honest. It just was. It just happened, and it felt completely right. I’m using a third person limited perspective, that of my MC. As it’s a fantasy, I can see some additional characters maybe jockeying for a turn eventually. Like my dragon. Pretty sure she will have a voice of her own that needs airing more than just as a side character. As it is, while I’ve done a LOT of her character development, both in my head and in written character sketches – I haven’t actually written her into the novel yet!

Personally, I don’t care for writing in the first person. It just feels…odd, to me. I can read it alright, but I think it’s a more difficult POV to do WELL. A lot of writers try to tell the reader things through the first-person, that that character simply wouldn’t know.

I can’t wait to hear from all you guys and what your thoughts are on this topic! Be sure to add your link to the widget. 🙂



Feb 20

Down the TBR Hole #13

Books/Writing 6

down the tbr hole

Time to wield the axe again – I’m mercilessly culling my TBR list on GoodReads with the amazing Down the TBR Hole meme by Lia at Lost in a Story!

Most of you probably know this feeling. Your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well, that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books.
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?


When I started this series of posts, I had 604 books on my TBR list. As of today, I have 616. This week I added QUITE a few! Eeeek. But I just found some that I couldn’t pass up. So let’s see how the culling goes. Up this week are numbers 67-71 of my original list. Covers link to GoodReads!


: The Anatomist’s Wife, by Anna Lee Huber

Date Added: August 20, 2014

Thoughts: This still sounds intriguing. However, I tend to have unrealistically high expectations of historical mysteries, and this review is really turning me off. Nobody got time for that…that, in this case, being cheesy writing.

Judgment: Go.





: The Girl in the Steel Corset, by Kady Cross

Date Added: September 4, 2014

Thoughts: Despite the slightly eyebrow-raising cover (thank god for no muscle-bound male though), this still sounds fascinating.

Judgment: Keep.





Title/Author: Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare

Date Added: September 4, 2014

Thoughts: Despite my abandoning of the Mortal Instruments series in the middle of book 3 (angst much…I couldn’t take it), I still really enjoyed the first two books and am very intrigued by the world and characters. Also, lots of people have said this trilogy is better than the longer series.

Judgment: Keep.




: The Madman’s Daughter, by Megan Shepherd

Date Added: September 4, 2014

Thoughts: This still sounds like a hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck-standing-up good book.

Judgment: Keep.






Title/Author: Code of Honor, by Andrea Pickens

Date Added: November 27, 2014

Thoughts: What is this? How did this get on my TBR? I honestly have no memory of ever even SEEING this book or description before…

Judgment: Go!





Well, 2/5 won’t quite catch me up from all the ones I added this week, but it’ll help. How are you guys doing?


Feb 20

Something Else Sunday #25

Life, Musings 1

something else sunday

Happy Sunday, everyone! It’s time for another Something Else Sunday and unfortunately about the only “something else” that I got to this week was my job. 😛 Haha. However, there have been MASSIVE improvements on that front…a day late and a dollar short, but I will definitely enjoy them for the rest of the time I’m here. I haven’t been getting a whole lot of reading done either, sadly, but this weekend helped some with that. I actually did massive amounts of adulating this weekend…laundry, groceries…all that dumb stuff that’s necessary but annoying. 😉

Oh, I did get the pieces of my Iris the Gourmet Monster knitted. Now just to add eyes, stuff, and sew together! This is for my goddaughter (who I will meet for the first time when we go home in the late spring!). I’m using a yarn I spun a few months ago. I think it’s going to be pretty stinkin’ cute, if I do say so myself!

I also participated in the second Beat the Backlist Instagram challenge – I was behind the entire week but I’ve posted all my entries now! I’m not a huge romance reader so I struggled a bit with this one but I got a few good or at least decent pics. 

Other than that, here’s the rundown for the next week!

Upcoming Posts:

  • Down the TBR Hole #13
  • Iron Cast (YA review)
  • Writing Up Wednesday #5: What’s your POV?
  • The Get to Know Me Tag


Feb 18

Review of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-4

Book Reviews 0 ★★★

review of a series of unfortunate events

I missed the boat on these books growing up. Actually, I think they were published just a little bit behind when I would have been of the age to most appreciate them (yes, I’m old…shhhh). Of course I had heard of them, but when I saw all the hype about the Netflix show I decided to pick them up and of course I had to write a review! My plan is to read all 13 books and review them in 3 posts.

Review of A Series of Unfortunate Events
Series Overview

This series is entertaining just for the narrative voice, if nothing else. Mr. Snicker (as narrator), is so dry and ridiculous that while yes, the books appeal to children, the tone is undeniably entertaining for adults. Are they great literature? No, I really don’t think so. Will they be remembered in 50 years? Yes, I think so, because they are so different from the vast majority of middle grade (MG) books.

The first 4 books (all I’ve read of the series, at this point) are all very similar. Set in an indeterminate time after the invention of the car and the telephone but before television and cell phones (I’m leaning towards the 1930s but not sure), the Baudelaire siblings, as we are told “lead lives filled with misery and woe” even though “they are charming and clever.” The actual location varies a bit, but adults are generally stupid and careless or cruel and cunning. The siblings stick together even as various horrible people try to hurt them or steal their fortune (or both). As their parents die in a catastrophic accident at the beginning of the first book (hence the title), the siblings have an enormous fortune, no near relatives, and no intelligent adult to help them or protect them. They fall easy prey to fortune-hunters…a theme that is repeated in all four of the first books. They go through a series of “guardians,” each seeming more horrible than the last, but at the end of the 4th book it looks like something might be changing as far as their living situation goes. To be honest, that is the main reason I’m going to continue on with the series, just because they were all so very similar.

The narrative voice in this series is as previously mentioned, very distinct. It breaks all the rules. It interjects into the story – sometimes with 3rd person omniscience, sometimes with random definitions of words. Like this:

This is one reason many lawyers make heaps of money. the money is an incentive – the word “incentive” here means “an offered reward to persuade you to do something you don’t want to do” – to read long, dull, and difficult books. The Baudelaire children had a slightly different incentive for reading these books, of course.

I think in this way, the author manages to use some words that middle grade readers wouldn’t necessarily be familiar with. It works, surprisingly – though as an adult reader I found it a bit annoying. The narrative voice is also the constant voice of doom and gloom, though with such wryness I found myself chuckling.

The series is not a realistic fiction series. I read several negative reviews that obviously took it as such, and I think that’s missing the entire point. The appeal of these books is that they use gross exaggeration to make points and to be funny. The characters are not supposed to be people you would meet on the street. They are grotesque exaggerations of people. Yes, we can all see elements of our crazy ex-boss in Count Olaf or Mr. Poe. But no one in the real world is that overtly-obtuse or evil. There are also made up creatures in these books – a dead giveaway that while they are set in a familiar world for readers, they are not in fact events that could actually happen.


Review of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-4The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #1) by Lemony Snicket, Brett Helquist
on September 30th 1999
Genres: Middle Grade
Pages: 176
Goodreads three-stars

Dear Reader,
I'm sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.
In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.
It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.
With all due respect,Lemony Snicket

The Bad Beginning as a title does not exaggerate. These poor kids, let me tell you. It starts off with introducing us to the Baudelaire siblings – Violet, Klaus, and Sunny – just as they’ve lost their parents. Their solicitor, Mr. Poe, is a well-meaning but incredibly thick man who has no idea how to care for children and truly seems unable to see past the end of his constantly dripping nose. The siblings go to live with the evil Count Olaf, who is somehow VERY distantly related to them (how is it their parents have SUCH weird distant relatives and no near ones?) and cares nothing for them except how to get his hands on their money, as their deceased parents were quite wealthy. They move into his horrid house, where there are treated as little better than slaves. There is some comic relief, and also a consistent ray of sunshine in the form of Count Olaf’s neighbor (who, despite being well-meaning, is just as dense as every other “good” adult in this book).

The siblings are far from being normal children. They are all extremely gifted in some form, even Sunny – who is still a baby but is able to both communicate and act on a much older level. Violet is an inventor, and Klaus is a devourer of books and therefore just a general compendium of knowledge. Are they believable? Hardly. But neither are the adults.

The dark, twisted tone of this book really surprised me. This is for children!?! There are elements of abuse of the Baudelaire kids on all kinds of levels, twisting of the law in the worst possible way…and yet, the siblings refuse to be put down and refuse to give up. They stick together and eventually overcome the evil…but the evil is still lurking…and Mr. Poe is just as dense as ever.

Review of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-4The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #2) by Lemony Snicket, Brett Helquist
on September 30th 1999
Pages: 192
Goodreads three-stars

Dear Reader,
If you have picked up this book with the hope of finding a simple and cheery tale, I'm afraid you have picked up the wrong book altogether. The story may seem cheery at first, when the Baudelaire children spend time in the company of some interesting reptiles and a giddy uncle, but don't be fooled. If you know anything at all about the unlucky Baudelaire children, you already know that even pleasant events lead down the same road to misery.
In fact, within the pages you now hold in your hands, the three siblings endure a car accident, a terrible odor, a deadly serpent, a long knife, a large brass reading lamp, and the appearance of a person they'd hoped never to see again.
I am bound to record these tragic events, but you are free to put this book back on the shelf and seek something lighter.
With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

The Reptile Room starts off (after the necessary doom-and-gloom letter from the narrator, of course) on a much better note for the Baudelaires. At last it seems they may be going to live with someone who genuinely cares for them and has their best interests at heart. BUT WAIT. Let’s not get too carried away. This is, after all, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and indeed they do seem to be the MOST unfortunate of children.

Soon after they arrive at their new home – another relative, this one a eccentric but lovable scientist, disaster strikes and they find themselves being hunted by the horrible Count Olaf once more. Only of course, since they are children and have been greatly traumatized, no one believes them. Because why would you? 😛 Naturally, things go from bad to worse and the children find themselves in a desperate fight to avoid being kidnapped right under the nose of the law. Sunny, the little rascal, plays a very important part in this one – eliciting a few eyerolls as somehow she manages to have the mental compact of about a 7-year-old in the body of a 15-month-old, but you know. Realism isn’t the point here. 😉 In the end, they narrowly avoid Count Olaf once more.

Review of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-4The Wide Window (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #3) by Lemony Snicket, Brett Helquist
Published by HarperCollins Publishers on February 25th 2000
Pages: 214
Goodreads three-half-stars

Dear Reader,
If you have not read anything about the Baudelaire orphans, then before you read even one more sentence, you should know this: Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are kindhearted and quick-witted; but their lives, I am sorry to say, are filled with bad luck and misery. All of the stories about these three children are unhappy and wretched, and this one may be the worst of them all. If you haven't got the stomach for a story that includes a hurricane, a signalling device, hungry leeches, cold cucumber soup, a horrible villain, and a doll named Pretty Penny, then this book will probably fill you with despair. I will continue to record these tragic tales, for that is what I do. You, however, should decide for yourself whether you can possibly endure this miserable story.
With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

The Wide Window takes place far and away from the first two books, in a reclusive town and even more reclusive house with, you guessed it, yet another unstable distant relative as guardian for the Baudelaire children. This time their guardian, Aunt Josephine, isn’t even actually related to them, but is their “second cousin’s sister-in-law.” Who just happens to be terrified of everything. The dock. The lake. The oven. She never eats anything hot for fear of getting burned by either the oven or the food. However! She has an intense passion for grammar.

“Grammar is the greatest joy in life, don’t you find?”

Being something of a grammar freak myself, I found her constant corrections and horror at bad grammar to be quite entertaining and that in itself is the reason this book received a slightly higher rating than books 1 and 2. It really was hysterical at times, and plays an interesting part in the story.

Of course this wouldn’t be an A Series of Unfortunate Events book without, well, you know. Horrible bad luck. Of course these kids can’t catch a break and when a “Captain Sham” (hahaha ok, Lemony Snicket, you must have had such fun naming characters) shows up with an unhealthy interest in the children and all kinds of sweet words for Aunt Josephine, the terror begins. Once again (I since a recurring plot) the kids are forced to fend for themselves due to the incompetence of their adult guardians, and once again after a great deal of running around and close calls and horrible things happening to certain people, they manage to escape.

Review of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-4The Miserable Mill (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #4) by Lemony Snicket, Brett Helquist
on April 15th 2000
Pages: 194
Goodreads three-stars

Dear Reader,
I hope, for your sake, that you have not chosen to read this book because you are in the mood for a pleasant experience. If this is the case, I advise you to put this book down instantaneously, because of all the books describing the unhappy lives of the Baudelaire orphans, The Miserable Mill might be the unhappiest yet. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are sent to Paltryville to work in a lumber mill, and they find disaster and misfortune lurking behind every log.
The pages of this book, I'm sorry to inform you, contain such unpleasantries as a giant pincher machine, a bad casserole, a man with a cloud of smoke where his head should be, a hypnotist, a terrible accident resulting in injury, and coupons.
I have promised to write down the entire history of these three poor children, but you haven't, so if you prefer stories that are more heartwarming, please feel free to make another selection.
With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

Whoo-boy, here we go – The Miserable Mill picks up where The Wide Window left off, with the Baudelaires going off to yet ANOTHER guardian, this one the most mysterious and incomprehensible yet. Things are getting extremely repetitive at this point, so much so that I was tempted to not read this one. But the books are so easy to get through and so FAST to get through that I persevered.

This book gives a new spin to the Baudelaires mistreatment – they actually ARE slaves in this one, for the most part! Thrown into a sweatshop/poorhouse type sawmill, they are used and abused and try to hold each other together. Hope seems to be slipping away from them as they are too exhausted to do anything at the end of the day. But then Klaus breaks his glasses and has to go see the “optometrist.” And all is not as it seems…because nothing ever is, for these kids. Of course no one believes them when they say they are being stalked. Of course no one sees anything wrong with 3 children working in a sawmill – actually, someone does, but has no guts to do anything about it, typical of the “good” adults in these stories. In the end, they of course barely escape per the usual. However, this time, the ending doesn’t have them going off to another relative, it has them going somewhere else entirely, so maybe the next book will have a change in plot. I very much hope so because I really think even most children would be bored with these by now.