The Rest of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness


The Rest of Us Just Live Here
by Patrick Ness

Source: Public Library

Format: Print

Summary from Goodreads: What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?
What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.
Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshiped by mountain lions.

Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.

This book was amazing! I read it halfway through as an ebook, had to return it, then finished it once the hard copy came in at the library. The characters were real people, with flaws. Events that would have been melodramatic in another book were emotional in this one, because they focused on Mikey’s relationships with his family and friends.

Mike lives in Washington state with his mom, dad, and two sisters. Their small town is overrun every generation or so by some creature or other–Gods and Goddesses, vampires, aliens, the walking dead. The “indie kids” are the heroes and heroines of YA paranormal/fantasy novels: “That group with the cool-geek haircuts and the thrift shop clothes and names from the fifties. Nice enough, never mean, but always the ones who end up being the Chosen One when the vampires come calling or when the alien queen needs the Source of All Light or something. . . .They’ve always got some story going on that they’re heroes of. The rest of us just have to live here, hovering around the edges, left out of it all, for the most part.” As a regular kid, Mikey just wants to hang out with his friends before graduation casts them out into the world. And make out with his friend Henna, before she leaves for Africa with her doctor parents.

His sister Mel, aka Melinda, is a year older than him, but was held back by a eating disorder. Mike struggles with his OCD–washing his hands until they bleed, counting anything over and over. Fortunately, he has his best friend Jared to get him out of “loops.” Jared is gay, and possibly in love with Mikey. He’s also a demigod of cats. Mikey’s sister Meredith is ten, a genius, and the only one in the family not messed up, according to him.

I liked the way Ness told two stories in one book. The main story in each chapter was Mike’s story. The other story was a basic YA paranormal novel told in the chapter headings. For example: “Chapter the First, in which the Messenger of the Immortals arrives in a surprising shape, looking for a permanent Vessel; and after being chased by her through the woods, indie kid Finn meets his final fate.” Mike and his friends only see Finn run into the forest, followed by strange blue light. That way of storytelling made the book more than just a spoof of popular YA fiction.

I also liked that the emotional scenes were about Mike’s family for the most part. His dad is an alcoholic, but the sad depressed kind, not the scary abusive kind. His local politician mom appears to care more about her run for U.S. Senate than her family. His grandma has Alzheimer’s, but not “kooky Alzheimer’s” where she says cute things, the real kind where she doesn’t know who she is anymore. So Mike just talks at her when he visits her. His life sucked relative to the indie kids’ lives, which became part of the main theme of the book, friendship. He loves his family and friends for the messed up people they are, and makes do the best he can.


#ShelfLove 2016 February Discussion: Book Best Friends

This challenge’s discussion question for this month is: 

Who is your book boyfriend or girlfriend or best friend? What qualities does this character have that makes him/her the best?

A tricky question! I chose strong female characters for “book friends.” I picked: Elizabeth Bennet, Hermoine Granger, and Katniss Everdeen. 

Picture from:

For a challenge update, I spent January finishing library books, which doesn’t count. But right now,  I’m enjoying a book of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short stories for the challenge. 

Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brian

Z for Zachariah

by Robert C. O’Brian

Source: Public library


2007 (1974)

Simon & Schuster Pulse


After a nuclear war, sixteen-year-old Ann has survived on her family’s farm, in a valley that has its own weather system. She misses her parents and brothers, who left and never returned. She has a cow for milk and chickens for eggs. The general store in town has supplies of canned goods and men’s clothing for her to use. She also works on her garden. One of the two streams in the valley stayed fresh. One day a man arrives in an anti-radiation suit. He’s John Loomis, a scientist from Cornell University in New York. He created the suit shortly before the war, then went out in search of survivors. Even with his Geiger counter, he bathes in the irradiated stream and gets radiation sickness, so Ann has to nurse him back to health.

John wants the world as it was–except with him in control of civilization.  He’s very practical for a post-apocalyptic person. Ann asks if she could take the suit to get books from the town’s library, like Shakespeare and Dickens. He refuses, because textbooks and technical manuals have “more use.” He thinks she’s stupid because she’s young, and forces her to work for him. She has to fight and escape him. It turned into a good thriller once that happened! I liked Ann as a protagonist.
I had difficulty knowing where this was set, even with the long descriptive passages of the valley, hills, and town. I thought since New York was “very far away,” Ann must have lived in the Southeast, like Kentucky or Virginia.

The “About the Author” page at the end of the book said Robert C. O’Brian left notes for this after his death in 1973, so it was finished by his wife and daughter. That only bothered me a little because the tone and writing stayed the same throughout the book.


#ShelfLove 2016 Update: Visiting Used Bookstores

Last week my boyfriend and I visited family near Grand Junction. I went to a couple of used bookstores there, Grand Valley Books and Out West Books. The employees at both were friendly and helpful.  I ended up not staying as long as I wanted at either, as eating lunch and browsing took up most of the parking meter time!


Out West Books in Grand Junction, CO. Photo by me.


At Out West Books, I bought the paperback edition of The Martian by Andy Weir. I’ve been wanting to read it for a while, and didn’t want the movie tie-in edition. So now I’m counting The Martian as part of the #ShelfLove 2016 reading challenge! I’m also looking forward to watching the movie after I read it!



#ShelfLove Challenge 2016


From looking at challenges on A Novel Challenge’s website, I decided to do the year-long Shelf Love Challenge hosted by Chapter Break, Second Run Reviews, and Bookworm Brandee. The challenge itself is  to “read books that are in your personal library that were obtained before January 1, 2016.”

Here are the other rules from their site:

  • Responsibly obtain books for your personal library.
    • You may wish to abstain from purchasing books or set a book budget for yourself.
  • You decide the best way to get control of your TBR pile and read the books you already own.
  • Library books (and textbooks) do not count for the challenge.
    • You may use your library to obtain different formats of books you already own and count those towards your goal.
  • Participate in the monthly discussion posts by linking up, visiting and commenting on the other participants’ blogs.

I picked this challenge because it was something I wanted to do this year anyway, and they have interesting monthly discussion questions! I have around 35 books I own that I want to read. That puts me in their “Regular Date Night with your books” level.

If you want to sign up click here or on the picture above. I’m excited to get started! I have a good mix of science fiction, historical, and nonfiction to read.

My Ikea bookshelf
Some of the books I’m reading for the 2016 challenge.


Adaptation by Malinda Lo (Adaptation #1)

AdaptationMalindaLoAdaptation (Adaptation #1)

by Malinda Lo


Little, Brown Books for Young Readers


Source: Public library (Overdrive)

Summary from Goodreads:
Reese can’t remember anything from the time between the accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: She’s different now.
Across North America, flocks of birds hurl themselves into airplanes, causing at least a dozen to crash. Thousands of people die. Fearing terrorism, the United States government grounds all flights, and millions of travelers are stranded.
Reese and her debate team partner and longtime crush David are in Arizona when it happens. Everyone knows the world will never be the same. On their drive home to San Francisco, along a stretch of empty highway at night in the middle of Nevada, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won’t tell them what happened, where they are—or how they’ve been miraculously healed.
Things become even stranger when Reese returns home. San Francisco feels like a different place with police enforcing curfew, hazmat teams collecting dead birds, and a strange presence that seems to be following her. When Reese unexpectedly collides with the beautiful Amber Gray, her search for the truth is forced in an entirely new direction—and threatens to expose a vast global conspiracy that the government has worked for decades to keep secret.

This was a good YA sci-fi thriller with memorable, realistic characters. It reminded me of The X-Files.  (Or, more recently Orphan Black.) Reese discovers she has special abilities after being treated for injuries at a secret military hospital, and gets drawn into a government conspiracy.

Lo wrote memorable characters. Reese comes to understand the difference between being attracted to someone and being in love with them. She’s attracted to her debate partner David, but then realizes she’s in love with Amber, the mysterious girl she met by chance. She eventually suspects Amber of being involved with the military conspiracy, which was the other part that reminded me of Orphan Black. The supporting characters were also memorable. Reese’s best friend Julian is a conspiracy theorist, and makes her investigate the connections between the secret hospital and the government. His being biracial was a part of him, but not so much that it defined his character. The same went for Reese’s bisexuality, which I liked. So all the characters were well-rounded.

I liked that the parents were in the story, instead of absent so the plot could advance. Lo portrayed Reese’s mom’s struggle to be a good single parent well. The way she wrote about Reese’s deadbeat dad made me think he shows up more in the sequel.

Weird Wednesday: Welcome to Night Vale the novel


Weird Wednesday is a monthly feature about “weird” fiction, which is a combination of science fiction/fantasy and horror, or sometimes pure surrealism. 


Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel (Night Vale #1)

by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor




Source: Personal copy

As a fan of the podcast Welcome to Night Vale, I thought this book would be difficult to review at first, as I wondered if I could be objective. To me the podcast is like connected short stories, so this was like a novel based in the world of the short stories.

Night Vale is a small town somewhere in the desert of the American southwest. It has a community radio station run by friendly Cecil Palmer, a pawnshop, an all-night diner, a Secret Police force, and various “vague yet menacing government agencies” who watch the citizens’ every move. Only the very brave enter the library because the monstrous librarians have been known to eat people. Religious arguments erupt over whether mountains exist. Jackie Fierro owns the pawnshop. For as long as she can remember, she’s always owned the pawnshop, and has always been nineteen. One day, a mysterious man in a tan jacket carrying a deerskin suitcase gives her a paper that says “KING CITY” on it. She tries to destroy the paper, but it always reappears in her hand. The only other person to notice this is Diane Crayton, as she was also given a paper by the same man. Diane worries about her teenage son Josh–he’s started asking questions about his absent father. He can also shape shift into different animals, or his favorite combinations of animals. In alternating chapters, Jackie and Diane eventually decide to go to King City and find some answers.  Where exactly is King City? What does it mean to be “a good parent”? Do you decide to grow up, or do your experiences decide for you?

Events from podcast episodes were explained, so you don’t really have to listen to the podcast for this to make sense. Then again, after I finished the book, it seemed like the opposite. It seemed like Star Trek books or Star Wars and so on, where you have to know the characters and the setting to know what’s happening. In the case of Night Vale, you’d also have to like a podcast that’s been described by its’ creators as “Twin Peaks meets NPR” or have to like surrealism.

Themes of family and coming-of-age intertwined with the surrealism. Fink and Cranor turned Cecil’s point of view from the podcast into third-person omniscient for the novel, which worked very well. I liked learning more about minor characters from the podcast stories, especially the Man in the Tan Jacket. Even with my mixed reaction, I liked this book overall. I  want to listen to the audiobook version, too, read by the narrator of the podcast. I’m looking forward to the next Night Vale book!



2015 in Review

2015 was a good year! I found an end of the year survey from Jamie at Perpetual Page Turner that I liked and wanted to do myself. Most of these weren’t reviewed on my blog.

Image from

2015 Reading Stats (with help from Goodreads stats):

Number of Books Read: 48 books. I might add a couple more before the year is out.

Number of Re-Reads: 0. I don’t re-read very much, maybe every few years.

Genre I Read the Most From: Science Fiction, Essays.

Best in Books

Best Book I Read in 2015: Tie between Lexicon by Max Berry and The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque by Jeffrey Ford.

Book I was Excited About & Thought I Would Love More But Didn’t: The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin. I like The Left Hand of Darkness and Le Guin’s short stories a lot. This ended up being too complicated and political for me.

Most Surprising (in a good way or bad way) book I read: The audiobook of A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller. It was surprising in a bad way because the concept sounded interesting, but the book was very long and difficult. I’m glad I listened to it instead of reading all that Latin!

Book I “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did): None this year, either in person or on my blog.

Best series you started in 2015: Tie between Ironskin by Tina Connolly (review here) and Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacagalupi.

Best Sequel of 2015: No sequels in the novels I read this year.

Best Series Ender of 2015: No series enders in the novels I read this year.

Favorite new author discovered in 2015: No new authors this year, only ones I hadn’t read before. So my favorite new to me authors were Shannon Hale and Ruth Reichl.

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone: Glimpsing Heaven: The Stories and Science of Life After Death by Judy Bachrach. Runner-up: Austenland by Shannon Hale (review here.)

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? Lexicon by Max Barry (review here.)

Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year: Again I don’t re-read much, but probably stories from Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree Jr.

  Favorite Cover of a book read in 2015: Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer.


Most memorable character of 2015: Tie between Nailer from Ship Breaker and Joanna from The Stepford Wives.

Most beautifully written book read in 2015: I only read half of The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness before it was due back at the library–with many holds on it! I can see why it’s a popular YA novel.

Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015: I found Being Vegan by Colleen Patrick-Godreau thought-provoking even though I didn’t end up becoming fully vegetarian this year, like I thought.

Book I waited Until 2015 to finally read: The Dispossessed.

Favorite Passage/Quote from a book I Read In 2015: I liked alot of passages from Ruth Reichl’s books Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me with Apples.

Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015: Goodreads 2015 stats say Terry Pratchett’s Discworld children’s book Where’s My Cow? was the shortest. A Counterfeit Betrothal by Mary Balogh was the longest–I only read half, as the other half was another book (The Notorious Rake).

Book That Shocked Me The Most:  New Cthulu: The Recent Weird (review here.) Shocking like disturbing in a bad way, so I therefore didn’t review the stories I didn’t like.

OTP (One True Pairing) of the Year: None.

Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year: Pima and Nailer, Ship Breaker.

Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman.

Best Book You Read In 2015 That I Read Based Only On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure: I picked out the Mary Balogh book at a used bookstore based on reviews of her books at Smart Bitches Trashy Books.

Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015: None.

Best 2015 debut: Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. My only 2015 debut I read this year.

Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year? Ship Breaker.

Book That Was The Most Fun To Read: Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones.

Book That Made Me Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015: None that I can remember.

Hidden Gem Of The Year:  I didn’t read many new books this year.

Book That Crushed My Soul: None this year!

Most Unique Book You Read In 2015: Wonderbook. I enjoyed the illustrations, essays, and writing exercises, though I didn’t try writing any.

Book That Made Me The Most Mad: A nonfiction book I read for personal reasons. I thought it would go more in-depth on the topic than it did, so I was frustrated I had to look elsewhere for that information. I also didn’t like the writing style very much. It was strange, as I usually like researching something I’m interested in learning about!

Blogging and Bookish Life

New favorite book blog discovered in 2015: Hard to choose–maybe Neon Yeti Reads.

Favorite review written in 2015: Ironskin. My first review!

Best discussion/non-review post on your blog: Not sure. My post about Beeminder might count as a non-book review.

Best event:  I went to a Neil Gaiman signing back in February! It was very exciting, as he’s one of my favorite authors. I was very starstruck and nervous to meet him in person. He signed my copies of his books as well as his new book, and everyone there got a picture with him. He was very nice!

Me with Neil Gaiman at his signing at Old Firehouse Books in Fort Collins, Colorado.



Blogging wise, I really liked the Austen in August event from Adam at Roof Beam Reader. I was sad to read he’s not doing it again next year! I’m thinking of joining his Shakespeare event–more info here.

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015: I just enjoyed reading different blogs and book blogging tips.

Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year:

Most Popular Post This Year: The minimalist community gave me a lot of likes for my review of The 100 Thing Challenge.

Post I Wished Got A Little More Love: None really, I know I’m just starting out as a blogger this year!

Best bookish discovery: When I travel, I like going to local libraries and bookstores. The bookstores I visited in 2015 were Old Firehouse Books in Colorado, and in Maine, Sherman’s Books and the Friends of the Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library bookstore. I wasn’t able to visit the library itself, but I want to visit Maine again!

Completed Reading Challenges or Goals: I set my 2015 Goodreads goal as 30 books, and I read 48-50!

Looking Ahead

One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness.

Book I’m Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut): I don’t have many upcoming books on my To Read List. Most of it is from 2015!

2016 Debut:  A 2016 release I have on my To Read list is And Again by Jessica Chiarella.

Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016: None.

One Thing I Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Reading/Blogging Life In 2016: Get more involved in the book blogging community through comments and social media.

A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone: I haven’t yet read my ARC of If At Birth You Don’t Succeed by Zach Anner yet. It looks fun and inspiring.

I have a couple more 2015 reviews to finish, then on to 2016!