Perfect Ruin (Internment Chronicles 1)

Perfect Ruin (Internment Chronicles 1)

By: Lauren DeStefano


Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (October 1, 2013)

A Young Adult dystopia fiction review

On the floating island of Internment, Morgan Stockhour wonders what lies beyond the Edge of her world, about the forbidden ground below.  How different is life there, really? Why is it so dangerous that even to approach the Edge will mean it is too late? Above all, why does it hold such a powerful fascination for her?  Is there something wrong with her that she still longs to know more, even after a trip to the Edge blinded her brother?  Then violent incidents start occurring on civilized Internment and the neat borders of Morgan’s world start to bend in ways even she couldn’t imagine…but how far before they break?  When on a floating world, just how many ways are there to fall over the Edge?

DeStefano’s take on teenagers discovering their ordered world comes at a terrible price stands up well to predecessors like The City of Ember and The Giver.  Internment’s well-defined myths, its ever-unfolding laws, and the casual delivery of its entrenched perspective bring this world to life.  Through Morgan’s eyes, readers realize the norms and assumptions of Internment’s citizens as if they were our own; DeStefano lets us belong there rather than thrusting us abruptly into her world like most dystopian works.  The duality between growing into our knowledge of Internment as Morgan knew it at the same time as Morgan unearths the lies behind that facade brings the emotions and questions of Perfect Ruin straight to the reader in a unique way.  The sharp individuality of Morgan’s supporting characters keep entwining the audience further into this world, this life, these questions, because they illustrate so clearly what lines of thought belong to them personally and which come from living in this particular space and time.

Perfect Ruin starts with a somewhat cliche dystopian setup, but through DeStefano’s writing style and the interplay of relationships, it lends the familiar aspects of this plot a more intimate emphasis, and rather different punctuation.  Here, questions come with clouds and wedding rings put a period to many ordinary statements.  It’s these details that moved me the most and enticed me to keep on reading, and feeling, along with Morgan.  I invite you to do the same and go past that book cover’s Edge…to see how far you fall with Perfect Ruin.  

Prudence (Custard Protocol Series 1)

Prudence (Custard Protocol Series 1)

By: Gail Carriger


Orbit US (March 2015)

A YA Fantasy Steampunk review

(Review of the first in Carriger’s previous series here:

Prudence, releases March 17, 2015

When Dama, better known to those who aren’t his adopted daughter as Lord Akeldama, gives Lady Prudence not only an advanced dirigible, but also a dangerous, tea-centric mission in India to carry out, the world’s only metanatural charges full-steam ahead.  After all, with her best friend Primrose to ensure the supply of proper pastries, Professor Percy to do research, and Quesnel Lefoux’s engineering, how far off course could Prudence’s crew really go?  Unfortunately, it turns out that a mysterious kidnapping, disputes over an international treaty, and the maneuverings of a secretive liaison can steer one sadly far away from one’s tea.  Nevertheless, the youngest and most impulsive of the Maccons must captain her ship through the tumult.

Prudence introduces its next generation of characters with gusto.  They manage to takeover all the action without replacing any of the drama still to come for the elder generation.  Carriger makes it clear that these older relationships will still bear fruit.  Still, it is easy to set it aside for Prudence’s new characters and new climes.  While the title heroine feels much more immature and in need of development than Alexia, it is fascinating to see this world through such different eyes.  The depths of Prudence’s new acquaintances are barely skimmed, but are already as rich and smooth as whipped cream.  Once in India, the scintillating expansion of this world and its inhabitants unfolds with a marvelous flair for intrigue.  The plot’s twists and discoveries proved hearty, satisfying fare, well-buttered and crisped.  It kept me up, devouring it, until much later than I intended.  The lacking aspect of this novel is the romance.  Prudence’s flirtation brings out nothing in either of its participants and progresses in a stilted fashion, without enough substance to back it up: a rather weak serving of tea to accompany an excellent meal.  However, as the first book in a companion series, Prudence had a lot to establish, and there will be later books to grow both the heroine’s romance and maturity.  All in all, this debut makes me very eager for the rest of the Custard Protocol books.  Perhaps with some illustrations of Queen Ivy’s horrific hats?

Under a Parasol

“Under a Parasol”

Wishes weigh like pebbles

In a crushing waterfall,

Fears and hopes tumbling,

Burying it all


Just words and sometimes a good thought,

To shield me down here,

Flimsy, waving parasol,

Looking for good cheer


O, for a wind that could carry me away,

Make this colorful cap strong,

Not mere paper-thin cover-

A thing I can hang on


There drops another fabric tear,

Before I scribble another line-

Now it’ll just stay unfinished,

A ? mark of a sign.


A question mark without its hook,

All I can do is wonder it,

And wish as hard as wishing can

-That’s it.


Just words and sometimes a good thought,

To shield me down here.

Flimsy, waving parasol,

Please keep bobbing near.

Top Ten Authors I’d Love to Meet

This is a rendition of’s Top Ten Tuesday. This week it’s the Top Ten Authors I’d Really Love to Meet.  Now, there are several favorite authors which I would actually prefer not to meet, either because I don’t want to discover they aren’t like the version of them in my head or because I love their work too much to want meeting the creators to influence it.  Hence, this is a list of authors I would adore hearing a lecture from and/or having a good, long lunch with.  Classic authors such as Voltaire and Jane Austen are excluded, however.  That’s just too hard.  Here goes:

Top Ten Authors I’d Love to Meet

1. Maurice Sendak of “Where the Wild Things Are,”

who dictated that this list include dead authors, as well as living.

2. Kristin Cashore of “Graceling”

because Katsa is my spirit-animal.  Also, I like her blog so I’m confident we would get along swimmingly.

3. Sarah Prineas of “Magic Thief”


4. Rachel Hartman of “Seraphina”

because each of these authors has powerfully reminded me of one of my dear friends, which instantly makes them fascinating, approachable, and wonderful.

5. Umberto Eco of “Baudolino”

because that book is written, not in how I expected it to go or what I thought fit in with the genre, but in the way that I think!

6. Jane Yolen of “Sleeping Ugly”

because she dabbles in so many of my favorite subject matters.

7. Raphael Sabatini of “Scaramouche”

because no one can do adventure, swashbuckling, or romance like that man.  Also, I wish to discuss history with him.

8. Emma Thompson of “The Further Tales of Peter Rabbit”

because I am convinced we could have the most epic tea time ever, given that she didn’t try to foist any haggis.

9. Diane Zahler of “The Thirteenth Princess”

because I love the tone and beauty of her stories.

10. Madelaine L’Engle of “A Wrinkle in Time”

because who doesn’t want to hear her talk more about weird and wonderful things?

Also, it must be said, I would also love having a good, long chat with Alton Brown about ridiculous and showy ways to be evil.  He didn’t make the list because although he has written books, I’ve only watched him on TV, but his malicious wit deserves recognition.

So, who would you like to meet?  Which authors would you prefer to love from afar?  Have you ever found an author who reminded you of a friend?

Top Ten Authors

This is a rendition of’s Top Ten Tuesday. This week it’s the Top Ten Authors of All Time…For Today, Anyway being my caveat.  Nevertheless, I have hunkered down and considered, rejected authors of favorite books whose other works I didn’t love as well, realized who truly felt like a good, old friend, and didn’t let myself narrow it down by any genre, whatsoever.  It was tough.  It was revealing.  It was…..

Top Ten Authors:

1. Raphael Sabatini

-No one does great adventure, high romance, or dramatic swashbuckling like Raphael Sabatini.  Also, excellent insults.

2. A.A. Milne

-For keeping me six forever and ever, where I’ll always stay clever as clever.


3. Kristin Cashore

-Katsa is my spirit animal.

4. Shakespeare

-The bard is not to be denied.

5. Oscar Wilde

-The only thing I have to declare is his genius.  *Begins to eat muffins….out of my handbag*


6. Barbara Helen Berger

-Authors/Illustrators’ combined work counts, for this list-I didn’t even deny myself that.


7. Maurice Sendak

-Once a king, always a king when someone loves you best of all.

8. Jane Austen

-It is a truth universally acknowledged that a reader with great taste, must be in want of an Austen.

Mr. Darcy!

9. James Thurber

-Just here, in this doom-shaped list, after this doom-shaped number, on this doom-shaped blog…

typewriter ribbon-1

10. Madeleine L’Engle

-She will never leave my mind.

Who be yours?

Top Ten Books for Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

This is a rendition of’s Top Ten Tuesday. This week it’s the Top Ten Books for Blank, and I have chosen….for those that love Alice in Wonderland.  Because that’s how my writing desk ravens and my mushroom resizes.

1. The Chrestomanci Chronicles by Diana Wynne Jones


-Zaniness, strange logics, and spunky young heroines and heroes.

2. Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

-Because pixies convinced they are dead are a good start and a young girl with an extreme fondness for logic and good advice follows through.

3. Candide by Voltaire

-Adventures with a satiric take on the world, characters that continuously pop back up, and naivety making the world strange.  Didn’t think I could make that case, did you?

4. Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salmon Rushdie

(Review here:

-Genies finnicking with faucets are a great continuation of rabbits with pocket watches.

5. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

-If you like Alice and her attitude of trying to be sensible amidst the bizarre, you ought to like Ella and her attitude of being a rebel amidst exact obedience.

6. The Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

-Weird worlds, weird peoples, and Englishness…Englishocity?

7. Le Petit Prince by Antoine St.-Expupery

-Talking flowers, new views, and wonder.

8. The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer

(Review here:

-I like to think that Alice sighs over Sophy’s antics, and then turns around and achieves exactly the same results.

9. The Princess Bride by S. Morgenstern


-Wonderland loves to delve and explain the illogical.  The Princess Bride takes the logical and explains them so thoroughly they become fantastic and strange.  They belong together.

10. The Poems of A.A. Milne


-Englishocity, royalty with obsessions, children fooling adults, etc.

So, what do you guys think?  Have you read anything more Wonderlandian?

The Little Grey Lists

I have just finished watching the last season of Agatha Christie’s “Poirot” mysteries starring the brilliant David Suchet.  I wanted this week’s list to be a tribute to this ending, but how to do it?  By the Poirot books?  I went through these many years ago and most have blurred together.  All Christie books?  Some of my favorites were not Poirot, although he was by far my favorite.  By the “Poirot” series?  All Poirot adaptations?  In the end, I couldn’t choose.

Top Agatha Christie Mysteries:

1. Five Little Pigs

-This one was by far my favorite.  With the crime in the past there was nothing to get in the way of the psychological study.

2. And Then There Were None

-This is the first Christie book I read and one of the few books ever that I kindof wish had been withheld from me til I was a few years older…it still plays vividly in my mind, compelling, brilliant, and incredibly creepy.

3. Crooked House

-The tone and ending of this book just stay with you.

4. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

-Seeing the crime through the villain’s notebook while still not knowing who it is….thrilling.  The adaptation of this was one of my only true letdowns-no cinema can do it properly.

5. The Man in the Brown Suit

-This is a novel where I actually remember the characters more fondly than the mystery-it’s great fun and my favorite of Christie’s matchmaking moves.

6. Dead Man’s Mirror

-Another Poirot mystery I found particularly clever and memorable.

Top Suchet “Poirot” adaptations:

1. Five Little Pigs

-I was surprised at how faithful they managed to keep it.  Love it!

2. Evil Under the Sun

-They managed to add humor and suspects with more depth without losing the tone of the original.

3. The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor

4. The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge

5. The Chocolate Box

-All of these are just delightful to watch….I’m sure this list will change often, but David Suchet’s Poirot just shines.

Top non-Suchet Cinema Adaptations:

1. Thirteen for Dinner

-This Peter Ustinov one just has more time to flesh out the characters and what I found to be a more believable Lady Edgeware.  Plus, Suchet does appear…as Japp!

2. Witness for the Prosecution

-This Hitchcock film feels like a real Agatha Christie, and is well acted!

3. Death on the Nile

-This one I include because, although I feel the Ustinov version and the Suchet version are both excellent shows, I prefer the Ustinov one simply because it has more time to develop various motives and has a memorable montage showing how practically everyone could have committed the crime…On the other hand, I prefer Suchet’s Poirot here, as usual, and find his portrayal much closer to the books.  Still, whichever way you go, I recommend it.

Poirot would hate these mini-lists for being uneven and a hodgepodge of preferences rather than one, orderly list…I know, shall blame it on my need for gastronomic nurturing and plead that I have not yet eaten.  What about you, mes amis, which novels, episodes, or crimes do your little grey cells prefer?

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