The 5th Wave: A Review

The 5th Wave by Rick YanceyWhat if every alien invasion scenario in every movie and book was wrong? What if there is no rallying point? What if the People in Charge never figure it out?

What if you’re left alone with no one to trust?

No one expected the aliens to win–even with their advanced technology, even with the 1st wave bringing darkness. After the 2nd wave, when only the lucky survived, people started to know the score. After the 3rd wave the only ones left are the unlucky ones.

After the 4th wave there’s only one thing left to do: Trust no one.

And now the 5th wave might be starting and humanity is so royally screwed this whole invasion is starting to feel like a terrible joke.

Cassie might be the only human left alive. She is definitely the only person she can trust.

But Cassie has a promise to keep and a long way to go before she can lay down and let the aliens win. Cassie might be alone, she might be all that’s left of humanity. But if that’s true, it also means Cassie has to face what’s coming because she is the battlefield in humanity’s last war in The 5th Wave (2013) by Rick Yancey.

The 5th Wave is the first book in Yancey’s 5th Wave trilogy. There is definitely still tons more to tell but The 5th Wave is still a nicely contained story with a perfect balance of suspense and closure (even if I absolutely had to stay up until 4am to finish reading it).

Yancey takes a familiar scenario from science fiction and turns it completely upside down: not only are the aliens smarter, they’re winning. Not only are they winning, they’re probably going to keep winning.

And yet in a world essentially without hope we get characters made of steel with an inherent resilience and courage.

It’s hard to talk about more here without ruining the surprises of Yancey’s expert plotting and masterful writing. Truly, The 5th Wave is a masterpiece with brilliant plotting as everything readers think they know is thrown into question again and again as the story continues. Yancey expertly uses multiple viewpoints to tell an intricate story with carefully time reveals and more than a few twists.

Possible Pairings: Landscape with Invisible Hand by M. T. Anderson, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch, Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, False Memory by Dan Krokos, Legend by Marie Lu, A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix,  Divergent by Veronica Roth, Vicious by V. E. Schwab, This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers, Pod by Stephen Wallenfels, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

A poem I wrote about all of the traveling I haven’t done . . .

Baedecker Love Song


London is burning

Venice is sinking

New York is dirty

Oslo is cold


We booked all the wrong tours

We missed our connections


We bought the wrong gifts

from all the wrong shops


We saw all the wrong places

with all the wrong people


We made all the wrong choices


I’d make them again

given the chance to make them again

with you

(This poem is an original work by me. Copyrighted. Please don’t steal it.)

A haiku I wrote about my second last smartphone

This is a haiku I wrote about my Palm Centro–a long sad story represented by a haiku and long since forgotten now that I have Polly the iPhone.

Too Smartphone: A Haiku

My sleek blue pod of

alien technology—

apt for girls like me.

(This poem is an original work by me. Copyrighted. Please don’t steal it.)

In which I share pictures of my plaid nails

Today seemed as good a day as any to revisit my experiments with Sally Hansen Nail Polish Strips.

This time around I had a really fun plaid design from my mom. I applied them the week before Easter and they lasted a good three weeks. I was more careful with application this time so there was no peeling at the cuticles. Some nails had air bubbles but the overall effect was not diminished. Also, because it was such a light base color I was able to retouch small chips with a coat of clear nail polish.

Here are some pictures I took for posterity:




You can also read a poem I wrote about these nail decals because . . . why not?

Almost forgot to post today

I almost forgot to post today because I was busy buying flowers so my yard can look as nice as this:


One Perfect Rose and why I love it

One Perfect Rose

A single flow’r he sent me, since we met.
All tenderly his messenger he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet –
One perfect rose.

I knew the language of the floweret;
‘My fragile leaves,’ it said, ‘his heart enclose.’
Love long has taken for his amulet
One perfect rose.

Why is it no one ever sent me yet
One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it’s always just my luck to get
One perfect rose.

by Dorothy Parker
No one does wit quite like Dorothy Parker. While Resume is by far my favorite, this one is much more light-hearted. Just goes to show love (and gifts!) are all about perspective!

Darker Still: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Darker Still by Leanna Renee HieberOddities have always clung to Natalie Stewart. Some are tame like the art objects her father collects for the new Metropolitan Museum. Some are stranger like the Whisper that sometimes tugs at the edge of her hearing.

Some are so terrifying that they took Natalie’s voice, leaving her Mute from a young age.

Then there are the things that defy all description like the portrait of Lord Denbury–a painting that seems to call to her, changing as if Lord Denbury himself were beckoning Natalie.

Stranger still, when Natalie answers the call of the portrait she finds much more than a painting. Soon she is drawn into the uneasy world of magic and possession where paintings can act as traps and a body can be stolen with the right words.

In this dangerous word Natalie may love and even her voice. But other, darker things, may find her as well in Darker Still (2011) by Leanna Renee Hieber.

Darker Still is the first in Hieber’s Darker Still trilogy, followed by The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart and The Double Life of Incorporate Things which is currently being presented in serialized form on Hieber’s blog (and will culminate with the publication of the complete novel).

For obvious reasons, Darker Still is an epistolary novel–written as Natalie’s diary. The format makes sense and provides opportunities for interesting passages of time and an interplay between “present” moments and Natalie’s narrative asides. However during high action sequences the journal entry form does stretch the limits of believability as Natalie rushes to jot down key scenes.

Hieber’s writing is delightful with Natalie’s breezy, sometimes even impertinent, tone. Natalie is refreshingly brash and independent as she does a lot of the wrong things throughout the plot (for all of the right reasons). Being Mute, Natalie’s narration also offers a unique perspective on life in general and specifically 1880 New York.

While Natalie shines as a heroine, the format and pacing of Darker Still did not leave much room to build up the setting as a backdrop for the story. The journal also created limitations in pacing as Natalie “rushes” to write everything down.

While Denbury is an admirable male lead in terms of looks and personality, his immediate connection with Natalie felt almost too immediate. It works because the entire novel is a bit of a whirlwind but if you think too much about their connection it starts to fall apart.

Darker Still is a fun, generally satisfying, riff on themes found in many a gothic classic with obvious nods to The Picture of Dorian Gray. A great read for anyone eager to try reading historical fantasy, gothic tales of suspense and even steampunk.

Possible Pairings: The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, Dracula by Bram Stoker, Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney

“Steps” and why I love it

Steps by Frank O’Hara

How funny you are today New York
like Ginger Rogers in Swingtime
and St. Bridget’s steeple leaning a little to the left

here I have just jumped out of a bed full of V-days
(I got tired of D-days) and blue you there still
accepts me foolish and free
all I want is a room up there
and you in it
and even the traffic halt so thick is a way
for people to rub up against each other
and when their surgical appliances lock
they stay together
for the rest of the day (what a day)
I go by to check a slide and I say
that painting’s not so blue

where’s Lana Turner
she’s out eating
and Garbo’s backstage at the Met
everyone’s taking their coat off
so they can show a rib-cage to the rib-watchers
and the park’s full of dancers with their tights and shoes
in little bags
who are often mistaken for worker-outers at the West Side Y
why not
the Pittsburgh Pirates shout because they won
and in a sense we’re all winning
we’re alive

the apartment was vacated by a gay couple
who moved to the country for fun
they moved a day too soon
even the stabbings are helping the population explosion
though in the wrong country
and all those liars have left the UN
the Seagram Building’s no longer rivalled in interest
not that we need liquor (we just like it)

and the little box is out on the sidewalk
next to the delicatessen
so the old man can sit on it and drink beer
and get knocked off it by his wife later in the day
while the sun is still shining

oh god it’s wonderful
to get out of bed
and drink too much coffee
and smoke too many cigarettes
and love you so much

Frank O’Hara is one of my favorite poets. He writes free verse the way I write free verse. He’s funny, he’s witty. And he’s so New York.

I love the bounce and vibrancy of this poem and the sheer exuberance of it.

It’s wonderful to be so unequivocally happy and it’s wonderful to find a poem that captures that feeling.

5 Reasons You Should Be Watching “Mr. Selfridge”

PBS started broadcasting a new series this month called Mr. Selfridge. It is my new favorite thing.

Here are five reasons you should be watching it:

  1. Jeremy Piven: Who doesn’t love Jeremy Piven? He stars here as Mr. Selfridge and is his usual wonderful self. He is also surrounded by a superb supporting cast. This is an ensemble show that works because of the great actors.
  2. The Story: Set in 1908 this is a story about American Mr. Selfridge who moves to England with is family to build and open the first department store. (Think Macy’s or Harrods.) It might be because I love department stores but watching the stories of the store and the employees unfold is fascinating.
  3. It’s historical: As  I said, it’s set in 1908 so you know the costumes and sets are going to be fantastic!
  4. The Writing: Based on real events (and a book chronicling those real events) this is the kind of story that is almost too amazing to be true. Selfridge puts an airplane in the store, Anna Pavlova visits the store, there are affairs, drunken parents, romantic tension, and hats–so many hats. After the premier, episodes run an hour and they pack in so much excitement and plot and wonderfulness that it’s impossible to believe a full hour has passed by the time the end credits start to roll.
  5. It’s Just That Good: I love this show and I fully expect it to only gain in popularity as others realize how great it is. You should get in on the ground floor and start watching now BEFORE everyone else starts asking you about it.

Mr. Selfridge airs Sunday nights at 9pm Eastern on PBS.

You can watch all of the previously aired episodes (and get more info on the show) at PBS’s website here:

In which I pat my own back

I just want to take a minute to say how happy I am with myself for staying on top of this “blogging every day for a month” thing. It’s been hard at times but I’m happy with how I’ve been doing (even if I have not managed quite as many poetry posts as I had initially hoped–there’s still time, right?).

I’ve also made a very small but important breakthrough in getting on track with reviews and books I have to read.

As some of you know, I get review books from Amazon’s Vine program. Their site policies are changing in the near future and, without boring you with details, I had roughly 10 books to get through reading and reviewing by May 15. Today I have One. Book. Left.

I also have reviews and interviews scheduled through July. And I’m planning for my blog’s birthday in August which will mean another giveaway and rolling out a new feature here. Plus I’m planning for this year’s BEA and yes that involves a spreadsheet.

None of this is particularly useful in “real” life where I am still hunting for gainful employment (versus part-time) but it’s a start. And when everything gets crazy it’s somewhat comforting to be able to point to this small piece of my life and say “This is under control.”

What did you get under control this week? Or what are you looking forward to working on next?