That time I did a Follow Friday on a Saturday: Japan!

Yesterday, I did not go to work. I woke up at 9:00 in the morning bathed in warmth and the sun’s rays. It felt like a magnificent Saturday morning. Alas! It was only Friday. This is a much better scenario than thinking the day is Friday, but in reality it’s only Thursday (or worse, Wednesday). I did forget about participating in Follow Friday, but this week’s question was too fun for me to pass up.

Spring Break: Where would be your favorite destination spot if you could join the Spring Break festivities?

First, this would require me to still have a Spring Break. Adulthood is such a drag! But, if I could choose any place to visit for a Spring Break, I would go to Japan.

Hanami by Eric Monfort

Hanami by Eric Montfort

1. I would have a Hanami (花見)– Hanami means “flower viewing”, and they take place when the cherry blossoms are flowering. I’ve read that many people get together and have picnics in parks, but even to walk amongst the trees and their delicate flowers would be a delight.

Okunion Cemetery on Mount Koya from Jordy Meow

Okunion Cemetery on Mount Koya from Jordy Meow

2. Take a hike on Mount Koya– After spending a day hiking mountain trails, you can experience a temple lodging by staying at one of the Buddhist temples.

Old Town in Takayama

Old Town in Takayama

3. Travel back in time in Old Town in Takayama– The houses that line these streets are preserved from the Edo Period (1600-1868). Take tours of sake breweries, enjoy a cup of coffee at a coffee house, or even take a tour of houses to see how people lived during the Edo Period.

Kenrokuen from trako_aus

Kenrokuen from trako_aus

4. Visit Kenrokuen– Kenrokuen in Kanzawa is considered to be on of Japan’s most beautiful landscape gardens. While you’re there, you can also visit a tea house and watch a tea ceremony.

Nagoya Castle from Yevgen Pogoryelov

Nagoya Castle from Yevgen Pogoryelov

5. Daydream in Nagoya Castle– because how could you say no to a quintessential touristy thing like touring a castle?!

Japan is on my bucket list, so really I’d be happy to visit even in the dead of winter. Where is your dream Spring Break destination?

Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkee’s Views and Alison Can Read

Just My Cup of Tea: April Showers

In the north, there often is one week of warm weather early in the year that makes northerners feel irrationally hopeful that spring is around the corner. It usually takes place in March. We start packing away our long johns and bulky sweatshirts…only to be greeted with a porch-full of snow a few days later. Now it’s April, and the true battle for warm weather begins. It snowed last earlier this week, dipped down into the teens at night, and now it’s 70 degrees and sunny. Which begs the question, why am I indoors typing up this post?! But, I digress.

I planned this post shortly after browsing the Farmer’s Almanac, which suggested the Great Lakes region was going to have a soggy springtime. It made me think of that proverb “April shower bring May flowers”. In reality, it’s not been overly rainy, at least not in my town. The forecast always says rain, but it never comes. It’s kind of disappointing because I love rainy days.

Ah well. Here is a collection of fantastic tea cups and mugs for rainy days.

Rain from Society6

Rain from Society6

The Rain mug makes me think of rolly faces pressed up against rain-spattered living room windows looking out onto the world with longing. I never experienced this because I was always the kid splashing around in puddles and making mud pies. I had good parents, and they had good carpet cleaners.

Polka Rain from Society6

Polka Rain from Society6

If you take your tea or coffee with a little whimsy, then I think Polka Rain is the mug for you!

Monsoon from Society6

Monsoon from Society6

Somehow, I don’t think this really represents a monsoon. But hey, what do I know? I live in Michigan, and we don’t get monsoons here.

White Cloud and Rain from Pieces of Porcelain @ etsy.com

White Cloud and Rain from Pieces of Porcelain @ etsy.com

I love this White Cloud and Rain mug from Pieces of Porcelain. So, the handle looks a little cramped, but the patterned cloud and the raised rain drops are unique. Pieces of Porcelain offers a lot of really unique and clever pieces of pottery, so mosey on over to her etsy shop to see more.

The details on the Rainy Day mug are subtle. I love the lightly raised rain cloud at the mouth of the teacup!

Which of these rainy mugs is your favorite? Alternately, is springtime sprouting in your neck of the woods? Has it been particularly rainy?

Sorry!

This is a list of things I have not done lately:

  1. Read books. Yep, I admit it! I’ve barely picked up a book since the New Year. What’s my problem, man?
  2. Taken lunch breaks. This is a problem that has existed for over a year. I have a ton of work, even during the slow season, so I feel anxious when my hands are idle. I am actually forcing myself, at this very moment, to take a lunch break by typing up this post.

This is a list of things I have done lately:

  1. Exercised on a regular basis. Generally I’m a sluggish, sedentary person, but not since the beginning of February! I’ve been exercising 3-4 times a week, and I’m not even certain what motivated this change. I get at least 45 minutes of a clear mind, I sleep easier, and I feel pretty good about myself afterward.
  2. Made better financial decisions. I’m paying down my credit cards, rebuilding my savings account, and saving for a down payment on a new car.
  3. Studied Japanese every day. Because I’m a nerd.
  4. Read about ancient civilizations. See #3.
  5. Had a Boys Over Flowers marathon. I can’t say I’m hooked on Korean dramas (yet!), but Boys Over Flowers is excellent. It’s like Gossip Girl but in Korea. Has anyone read the manga? I’m wondering how different the manga is compared the TV show, and is it worth reading.
Boys Over Flowers

Boys Over Flowers

 

Things I would like to do:

  1. Jetset all over the world.
  2. Eat better.
  3. Read more.

Dream big, friends!

Book Report: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

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A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson
Released: May 1999
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Non-fiction, Travel
Pages: 304
Source: Purchased

From Goodreads The Appalachian Trail trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America: majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaining guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy (or just foolhardy) folks he meets along the way; and a couple of bears. Already a classic, A Walk in the Woods will make you long for the great outdoors (or at least a comfortable chair to sit and read in).

My Thoughts:
Good gravy! All I really want to say is, “OMG! GO READ THIS BOOK NOW!”. But, that doesn’t really make for an interesting review. Does anyone else find it challenging to write a review for a book that you absolutely loved?

There is no doubt that Bryson is a well-traveled individual, but he seems so out of his element on the Appalachian Trail. This makes for some pretty hilarious stories– his foray into a camping supply store, meeting other foolhardy hikers, his companion (Katz), crossing paths with a moose, and of course bears. If you’re familiar with Bill Bryson’s writing, then you know it’s never short on snark. Sometimes his style of humor can be exhausting, and it can make him seem pretentious. This is not the case in A Walk in the Woods. For every jeering remark he makes, it’s followed up by an anecdote of his own ineptitude. Hiking the Appalachian Trail seems like it was a humbling experience for Bryson.

Bryson’s account of the trail was satisfying enough, but the gem of the book was his discussion of human interaction with nature. The first half of the book, while it focuses on Bryson’s experience of hiking the trail, introduces the reader to the National Park Services. The NPS is a government organization created to preserve nature, though they have been known to single-handedly eradicate entire species of animal or plant. Oops! The second half of the book provides a more in-depth look at the human/nature relationship and on a broader timeline– from the European explorers first trek into the woods to modern-day ghost town made so because of a massive fire that’s been burning in a coal mine since the 1960s . You come away with the feeling that humans, who have always had a fascination with their surroundings, manage to destroy the beauty of nature out of sheer curiosity or their desire for recognition or monetary compensation.

A Walk in the Woods is the fifth book I’ve read by Bill Bryson, and I think it might be my favorite. It’s a perfect balance of everything that is typical of Bryson’s style. It’s equal parts breathtaking, informative, and hilarious. The landscapes he creates with his words makes me want to trek along over 2,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail myself. Then, he obsesses over bears and hantavirus-carrying mice, which immediately brings me back to reality. I am not a hardy person, and I am better suited to experiencing Mother Nature vicariously through others. Thank goodness for Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods.

Read A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson if– OMG! JUST GO READ THIS BOOK NOW!

Obligatory New Year’s Resolutions Post

New Years, 2014

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I read the blogging resolutions that I made for 2013, and they were simple enough that I thought I might actually be able to follow through with them. I wanted to read more than I did the previous year, update by blog regularly, and participate in at least one read-a-thon. I basically failed to achieve everything on that list except for “create a more appealing blog layout”, though recalling what my blog layout looked like circa December 2012, that wasn’t much of a feat. I could jot down yet another bullet-pointed list of resolutions that I’m not likely to accomplish, but on the eve of 2015 I’d look at it and lament over lost opportunities. So instead I’ll make it simple.

My 2014 resolution for reading/blogging/writing:

Just My Cup of Tea: A Blank Slate

A (long) while ago, I ran a brief series about finding a designated tea mug for my post-college life. I wanted one that said a little something about me as an individual. Bonus points if it acted as a conversation starter as I awkwardly navigated my way through my first nine-to-fives (or more accurately, eight-to-five-with-an-hour-for-lunches). I never did find that perfect tea mug. To be honest, it’s for the best. I’ve discovered on days that I’m really frantic, I have a tendency to punch my mug of morning brew spilling it all over my important paperwork. Now I only drink from a travel mug that my office provided me. Just to clarify, I received the mug because there were extras, not because I’m clumsy.

Even though I’m destined to drink from work-provided travel mugs for the rest of my life, I decided to bring back this feature. Simply put, compiling a post of tea mugs to fit a certain theme (for example, animals) was really fun. I’m jump-starting Just My Cup of Tea with a blank slate.

Behold! The simple, white teacup:

Any time I mention to my mother that I want to own white shoes/shirts/cats, she gives me a horrified look. She knows that I’m almost definitely going to scuff or stain the pristine fabric by the end of the day. Usually while I’m standing still. But, should I deny myself the opportunity to drink tea from a proper teacup on the likely chance that it will end up permanently tea stained by the end of the day? I say nay!

Vintage Gladding McBean, Cloud Nine tea cups via SageGoods@Etsy

 1960, Gladding McBean, Cloud Nine teacups via SageGoods@Etsy

I’m not going to pretend to know anything about mid-century, modern dinnerware, but apparently there are books about it. Like a pair of white Chuck Taylors, these teacups are timeless.

Vintage White Tea Cup via  thesistersoberth @ etsy

Vintage White Tea Cup via thesistersoberth @ etsy

Nobody said white teacups had to be plain. The dot and stripe texture and the unique handle give this sweet little cup some flair.

Magisso Tipping Teacup via Finnstyle

Magisso Tipping Teacup via Finnstyle

This teacup is ingenious! Tip to the side with the tea leaves to steep. Tip to the other side to drink and enjoy.

Hidden Animal teacups via Uncommon Goods

Hidden Animal teacups via Uncommon Goods

If you’re on tumblr, then I’m sure you’ve stumbled across these mugs at least once. But, I had to include them on this list. What’s sweeter than finding an adorable ceramic bear staring back at you as you sip your tea?

Which of these white teacups do you fancy? Alternately, since we’re ringing in the new year in a few days, do you plan on making any resolutions?

Follow Friday: What Books Did Santa Bring?


Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! What books did Santa stuff your stocking with this holiday season? Do a holiday book haul for us! If you don’t celebrate just show off your books that you got this week. Pictures!!!

One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson

In the summer of 1927, Charles Lindbergh became the first man to cross the Atlantic by plane nonstop. Babe Ruth was beginning his assault on the home run record. A Queens housewife named Ruth Snyder and her corset-salesman lover garroted her husband, leading to a murder trial that became a huge tabloid sensation. Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly sat atop a flagpole in Newark, New Jersey, for twelve days—a new record. The American South was clobbered by unprecedented rain and by flooding of the Mississippi basin, a great human disaster, the relief efforts for which were guided by the uncannily able and insufferably pompous Herbert Hoover. Calvin Coolidge interrupted an already leisurely presidency for an even more relaxing three-month vacation in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The gangster Al Capone tightened his grip on the illegal booze business through a gaudy and murderous reign of terror and municipal corruption. The first true “talking picture,” Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer, was filmed and forever changed the motion picture industry. The four most powerful central bankers on earth met in secret session on a Long Island estate and made a fateful decision that virtually guaranteed a future crash and depression.

All this and much, much more transpired in that epochal summer of 1927, and Bill Bryson captures its outsized personalities, exciting events, and occasional just plain weirdness with his trademark vividness, eye for telling detail, and delicious humor. In that year America stepped out onto the world stage as the main event, and One Summer transforms it all into narrative nonfiction of the highest order.

By now my mother has caught on that I’m a huge Bill Bryson fan, but I was still surprised to find myself holding this book on Christmas morning. I knew I’d read this book eventually, but I never dreamed that I’d own it a few months after it was released. My frugal nature makes owning new releases a rarity. I’m really hesitant to start reading this book though. It has the word “Summer” in the title, and it’s the dead of winter. Embracing American nostalgia seems more appropriate on a warm, summer day with an ice-cold glass of Coca-Cola or a mouthful of watermelon flavored Hubba Bubba. Someone tell me I’m nuts and get to reading because Bill Bryson books are great in any season.

Whiskerlists: The Kitty Classifieds by Angie Bailey

When the humans are away, the cats will play . . . online

Do you ever wonder what your cat does when you’re not home? Is your keyboard covered with mysterious paw prints? Well, your feline friend might be hiding a secret Internet addiction: whiskerslist. The kitty community is more connected than ever with this online hub that brings together cats looking to sell lousy pet toys, rant about their humans, search for a soul mate (or quick hookup), and much more.
With more than 160 hilarious classified ads written for cats, by cats, whiskerslist reveals the inner lives of our furry companions like never before.

The only thing I love more than Bill Bryson books are cats. Have you seen my #crazycatlady hashtags on Twitter? So, my mom scored another win when she gifted me with a book about the feline version of Craigslist. After Fargo and I have a session of chase-the-laser-point, we settle down and read a few Whiskerlist ads.

Dr. Seuss: The Cat Behind the Hat by Caroline Smith (Collector’s Edition)

Illustrator by day, surrealist by night, Ted Geisel created a body of previously little-known work during his leisure hours that he called his “Midnight Paintings,” and which is now known as “The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss.” This irrepressible and soulful collection redefines Ted Geisel as an iconic American artist. For sixty years, his “Secret Art” allowed Geisel to expand his artistic boundaries without the confines and pressures of commercial deadlines and influences. These paintings afforded the peaceful distraction that he craved, and through this work, the tenets of surrealism—surprise and juxtaposition—energized his sensibilities.

This volume exuberantly juxtaposes Geisel’s “Midnight Paintings” with his best-loved children’s books because this was how Dr. Seuss constructed his creative life—his days devoted to literature for children, his nights to letting his mind and palette wander to even stranger shores. Inevitably, Geisel created images in his private artworks that would find their way into his literary projects. Though he fiercely protected his “Secret Art” from criticism during his lifetime, his intention all along was for these works to be seen when he was gone.

 The collectors edition come with this 320 page “coffee table book” about Dr. Seuss and his artwork, a poster sized colored print, and three smaller black and white prints.

Of all the gifts I received this Christmas, The Cat Behind the Hat was probably my favorite. The gift-givers thought the artwork was kind of neat, but they were uncertain if I would like it. I meant to tell them this gift was perfect, but words failed me.

Barnes and Noble Gift Card. I like to think of this as potential books. Maybe it’s Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. Maybe it’s Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Or maybe I’ll make a tradition out of buying science books. Last year I purchased A Brief History of Time and The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking. Maybe this year I’ll try Death by Blackholes: And Other Cosmic Quandaries by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Sky’s the Limit! (Actually, it’s $25).

Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Rachel at Parajunkee’s View!

Teaview: I’m not nuts about Almond Tea

Almond Tea by Adagio

Almond Tea by Adagio

On occasion, I get a hankering for the flavor of amaretto or raw almonds. I blame it on my sister-in-law, who fixed me my first amaretto sour, when I went to visit she and my brother in the very flat lands of North Dakota (to this day, one of my favorite vacations…EVER). I’ve been obsessed with the flavor ever since; gobbling down raw almonds is a luxury I rarely afford myself, but I do appreciate adding amaretto-flavored creamer to my weekend coffee. Naturally my interest was piqued when I discovered Adagio sold an Almond Black Tea. Finally! An opportunity to marry two of my foodie obsessions.

But, this is where the excitement ends with Adagio’s Almond Tea.

My experience with Adagio teas that have artificial flavoring has been positive. I could practically bury my face in a pouch of Adagio’s Chestnut tea, remember? The same could not be said for the Almond Black tea. First sniff was alright, and I definitely smelled the sweet, raw almond scent I hoped for. But, with each intake of breath after, it got worse. After a while, the Almond Tea started to have the bitter or sour scent of chemicals, which was obviously unpleasant. It was so off-putting that I almost ditched the bag because I was certain this would affect the taste.

Flavor-wise, the Almond Tea wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. When sipped at a temperature slightly less than piping hot, all I picked up was the flavor of the black tea. Not until the tea cooled down did the almond flavor seem to stand out. Then, instead of tasting the sweet, cherry-like flavor of raw almonds, I tasted the nutty flavor of roasted almonds– a flavor I can tolerate, but ultimately don’t enjoy.

Bottom Line, I’m a big fan of Adagio tea (and their prices), but I did not enjoy their Almond tea. Honestly, the tea did not taste bad; if you’re a fan of that roasted almonds, then you may enjoy this tea. However, I don’t like that flavor and don’t really want to sip on a tea with a flavor I consider merely “tolerable”. I’ll probably put off drinking the rest of the Almond Tea until I’m desperate for a caffeine fix. Luckily, I only purchased their sample (makes ten cups) for a whopping $2.

Waiting on Wednesday: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

scarlet

From Goodreads:
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Is there a rule about only showcasing new and upcoming releases for Waiting on Wednesday? Because I’m breaking it.

I read Cinder by Marissa Meyer last year, and the author’s creativity blew me away. Scarlet has been on my wishlist ever since, but I never got around to gifting myself with the book. I like to pretend that it’s because I have excellent self-control, but really I’m just broke. I need to re-re-re-setup my Nook so I can download library books again. I digress! Now that the third installment of the Lunar Chronicles is hitting shelves early 2014, my desire to read Scarlet has turned into a need. I’m so neurotic about this book that every time I cross a review for Cress, the third book, I immediately close the window. I won’t even let myself finish reading the description because I don’t want to spoil anything in book two.

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Published: February 2013
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine.

Book Report: Dark Parties by Sara Grant

Dark Parties by Sara Grant
Released: March 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Dystopian
Pages: 320
Source: Giveaway hosted by Khy @ Frenetic Reader

From Goodreads Sixteen-year-old Neva has been trapped since birth. She was born and raised under the Protectosphere, in an isolated nation ruled by fear, lies, and xenophobia. A shield “protects” them from the outside world, but also locks the citizens inside. But there’s nothing left on the outside, ever since the world collapsed from violent warfare. Or so the government says…

Neva and her best friend Sanna believe the government is lying and stage a “dark party” to recruit members for their underground rebellion. But as Neva begins to uncover the truth, she realizes she must question everything she’s ever known, including the people she loves the most.

My Thoughts
Inside the electrified walls of the Protectosphere is a community cut off from the rest of the world. The government says they’re better off because beyond the Protectosphere lies a wasteland. Citizens may notice luxuries like blueberries, chocolate, and new clothes are disappearing, but at least they are alive.

But, are they really living when the government determines what job an individual holds? Or tries to brainwash the youth into reproducing at a younger age to save a dwindling population? Are they really alive when troublemakers are injected with tracking devices? Or worse, when family members and friends suddenly disappear during the night? Only the government knows where to, but to question them might create for you the same fate.

The teens hold Dark Parties to start underground rebellions, to join celibacy pacts, to spray paint anti-government propaganda on city walls. But, when their friends start disappearing, their rebellion fizzles out. Of the youth that attended the Dark Parties, three fighters remain– Neva, Sanna (her friend), and Braydon (Sanna’s boyfriend). Without the support of their peers, the three dig into their government to discover the history of the Protectosphere, and they begin to learn the atrocities their government is capable of.

Dark Parties by Sara Grant could have been a great novel, but like most of the other books I’ve read in 2013, it fell short of amazing. “Decent” and “all right” are more fitting adjectives. Perhaps my opinion would have differed if I hadn’t read two, awesome dystopians prior to Dark Parties. Already, the novel had some pretty big shoes to fill, and I approached reading it with a more critical eye. At first many of the elements of the society in Dark Parties seemed generic, but as I read on, they started to seem similar. Dark Parties by Sara Grant is to Young Adult as The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau is to Middle Grade. I’m not implying Dark Parties is a rip off because there are a few elements unique to its storyline. I am saying that because I’ve experienced a similar story already, Dark Parties failed to excite me. Besides, I liked Lina and Doon better than Neva, Sanna, and Braydon.

Neva, the main character, lacks passion and personality. Her ability to lead a rebellion seems more a result of circumstance than her own drive. Then there is Braydon, the love interest. He’s dating Sanna, Neva’s best friend, but Braydon is trying to become intimate with Neva, too. And Neva falls for it! As I read the story, I kept wondering how Neva could be attracted to a guy, who is two-timing her best friend. Hoes before Bros, amiright? Even worse, Neva is barely remorseful about it. I mean, she keeps saying she feels bad, but she still pursues Braydon. Aside from his teenage infidelity, Braydon lacks a personality, like Neva. (Perhaps they are meant for each other after all.) He’s pseudo-mysterious. He appears to be brooding, but that’s only because he doesn’t have anything valid to offer in a conversation. He does drive a motorcycle though, and everyone knows the ladies find motorcycles sexy or something. Braydon seems to exist merely as a plot device– Neva’s temptation to break her celibacy pact. But, I feel like the author should have given Neva someone more worthwhile and convincing. Sanna is about the only character in the story that is interesting, though at times she seems artificially sweet. Regardless, she has more passion, she has more challenges to overcome, and she has more life-altering decisions to make. Why couldn’t the story have been about Sanna?

While most of the characters lacked substance, the world didn’t. About 16 chapters in, the reader learns the founding fathers of the Protectosphere were xenophobic. The Protectosphere was developed to keep the effects of globalization out– no sharing religion, no sharing language, no sharing culture, no sharing ideas. I think this is an interesting idea given the shrinking world we live in, but I don’t think the idea was explored as well as it could have been. In fact, it caused a few holes in the world building. Earlier in the story, Neva laments over blueberries, which are no longer available in her world. Except, chances are, if she’s living in America or Europe, blueberries probably grow…naturally. Things like coffee and gas for cars still exist in Neva’s world though, and both of these most definitely would have to have been exported from the outside world. Unfortunately, I didn’t sense any irony or hypocrisy here, which makes this aspect of the world seem underdeveloped.

Even though I didn’t find the storyline compelling for the most part, I continued to read because I kept hoping the story would improve. And improve it did. Things took a turn for the better when Neva infiltrates the Women’s Empowerment Center. For the first time, the reader and Neva understand the grotesque and horrible things the government does to its people, its women. Finally,  a fire sparks in Neva; she realizes what she’s fighting for and fighting to get away from. Then, Grant leads us through a series of twists and turns and twists that had me at the edge of my seat. And just when I thought things could get any more satisfying, the last few pages happened. The end. OH MY GOD! I mean, I can’t tell you what happens because spoilers, but trust me when I say the ending was perfect. Unexpected. Thought-provoking. Grant doesn’t wrap up Dark Parties neatly with a nice little bow. As many answers are provided as questions are created in those last few pages. I guess you could say the story ends on a cliffhanger, which I understand is an acquired taste. I’m obviously a huge fan of them. I like it when a little is left up to the imagination, and since this book appears to be a stand-alone, all I will have is my imagination. I loved that the ending of Dark Parties filled me with as much wonder as it did Neva.

Read Dark Parties if you enjoy dystopian novels but haven’t read too many stories that fall into that genre. The character development and world building seemed worn out at times, but Grant’s storytelling shines during the second half of the novel. I’m not even being cheeky when I say the ending of Dark Parties makes it a book worth reading.