City of Saints and Thieves

City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson
Genre: YA, Thriller
Published January 24th 2017 
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers

33956433City of Saints and Thieves is a refreshing YA thriller. Set in Kenya, the story revolves around Tina. A character unlike any I have met in YA before, Tina is a refugee from Congo who escaped with her mother when she was very little. Her mother got a job as a maid for the Greyhill family, a wealthy member of the “Ring,” the wealthy part of Sangui City. Five years ago, after having Mr. Greyhill’s illegitimate daughter, Tina’s sister Kiki, Tina’s mother is murdered. Shot in the head. Now, Tina seeks revenge against her mother’s murderer—Mr Greyhill.

Tina is now a thief, a member of the Goondas gang. She lives on a rooftop, and survives in the shadows. She is planning her biggest break-in of all, a mansion in the Ring, where she will avenge her mother. Her plan is simple. Dirt. Money. Blood. But as things unravel, Tina learns that her mother had many secrets, and revenge is not as easy as she thinks.

City of Saints and Thieves takes the reader from the streets of Kenya to deep in the Congo on a page-turning adventure. With a unique cast of characters, vivid details, and a protagonist ready to kill for answers, this novel is both pleasurable and interesting. I found myself learning about the Congo and the women who have survived the terrors of war, while cheering on Tina. While there are some romantic elements that didn’t needed to be there, and the plot dragged a little at the end, the writing is engaging enough to forgive these slight imperfections. If you’re looking for a YA thriller in a unique setting, City of Saints and Thieves will not disappoint.



midwinterbloodThe moment this book won the Printz Award I put a hold on it at the library (yes, this bookseller uses the library…I have to or I’d be broke!). I finally got my copy right before I left for a business trip, and  pretty much read the entire thing in one sitting on the plane. Which I suppose means that it was a page turner, but mostly that’s because it is in short sections which just make it easy to get through. Midwinterblood, by Marcus Sedgwick, tells the story of Merle and Eric, starting in the future and moving back in time throughout centuries of love, death, and interconnected relationships, until you reach the beginning of their story, a tale from the viking days.

I’ve seen this book compared to Cloud Atlas before, so I’ll just say that when the thought came to my mind I was a bit annoyed at the lack of originality. That’s not to say you can’t take something that’s already been done and make it your own original concept, or make it awesome despite the similarities. I’ve never read Cloud Atlas, but I was not a fan of the movie, I thought it was too heavy handed with the DEEP MESSAGE. While Midwinterblood isn’t heavy handed, it is really weird. It didn’t sit right with me. In some of the stories Merle and Eric are brother and sister, and in some they’re mother/son. I realize there are different kinds of love, but I wasn’t satisfied with how this was dealt with. The concept of the book, and the connecting stories, were intriguing in theory, but the reality fell flat for me. I kept waiting for the Amazing Epiphany and ended up disappointed.

While Midwinterblood is an interesting book, I don’t understand how it won the Printz Award–an award for acclaimed young adult writing–when there wasn’t a single teenage in the entire novel. Maybe that’s a separate issue–what makes a book YA?–but it’s definitely one worth discussing.

Midwinterblood didn’t meet my expectations. The writing was strong and the stories were interesting, but as a whole I feel like it could have been more riveting, and Sedgwick could have had more fun with the concept.

Monday Mush

laundry-day-is-cruelI don’t know what’s with me the past few days, but man am I cranky. Honestly I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I haven’t been as strict with my eating this week (half a bag of Pirates Booty for lunch…), and have been making other not so smart life choices lately, which just makes the little bad choices seem even worse. So as with most things, this has been a good practice for Not Being Too Hard On Myself. So what if I don’t lose a pound this week? I’m still putting in the effort, and fighting the good fight…or whatever. I just don’t want Weight Loss to become My Life. My life is pretty awesome and while I am slowly losing weight I don’t want it to be a Big Fucking Deal. I need to love myself no matter what size I am, and no matter how cheesy I am.

But anyway. I was REALLY cranky today, and am happy to report that it was nothing a Bar Method class couldn’t fix. UNTIL… I was walking home all happy and in pain (the good kind), planning on doing laundry when I got home, so that I could REALLY kill the cranky dead–I am a huge slob, and my mood gets 102309458098234% better when I clean. So. Laundry Time. Walking down my hallway, I stopped in the laundry room and score. Both machines were open. UNTIL 5 SECONDS LATER WHEN MY NEIGHBOR STOLE THEM.


I know you all didn’t come here to read about me bitching about Tiny Stupid Things (my memoir title?), so here’s some Monday Love. Just a few things I’ve been enjoying/eating/doing/seeing lately:


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I have a fear of heights, so my newest hobby is very very strange for me, but I’ve been bouldering at the Circuit Gym three times in the past month, and love it. It’s a different kind of work out, and I love that it combines your muscles and your brain–you really do have to think about your next move, and plan your path up the giant fake rock. The Circuit has a few locations, but I’ve only been to the one on Sandy. It’s a great facility, and everyone there is friendly and helpful–I recommend going with someone who knows what the hell they’re doing though as it can be very intimidating. Lucky for me my climbing buddy didn’t mind spending a lot of time on the kid’s wall at first. It’s been a great challenge, and I’ve got the blisters on my hands to prove it!

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I had a writing date with a friend last week and we ended up getting lunch at Harlow, a lovely, pretty, gluten-free vegan restaurant on Hawthorne. Just walking into the airy open space makes you feel like you’re doing something good for yourself. They have a large variety of bowls with veggies and stuff, as well as juices and smoothies. I ordered the Pride of Portland which was really pretty boring–brown rice, avocado, with peanut sauce on the side, but it came with a green juice, and my stomach had been kinda flip-floppy all day so it was probably the right choice. I can’t wait to go back and explore the menu some more.

Oscar Movies
The race is on! Two of my OMGBFFs and I try to watch as many nominated movies as we can before the Academy Awards, and we started with a marathon a few weekends ago. My favorite so far has been Ernest & Celestine, which is a French movie that was nominated for Best Animated Feature.

It. Is. So. Cute. I also have to throw in a quick shout out to Matthew Mcconaughey, because he was pretty amazing in Dallas Buyers Club. The movie itself, while not enjoyable, was really well done. But definitely hard to watch, mostly because of the subject matter. It’s just not a fun movie. But not all movies have to be fun (I see a long, ranting blog post in my future).

We’re planning on going to watch the nominated shorts at the Hollywood Theater later this month. A tradition that we started a few years ago that I love.

And now that I’ve taken the time to write this post, hopefully the laundry room is free!

Bookshop Girl Confessional

So, I suck at blogging. But the thing is. I don’t really. Not in my head. In my head I’ve written 23424509834 glorious posts. So why have I not POSTED these posts? Because I feel like an asshole. This blog. It is called Bookshop Girl. I LOVE that name. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT. But. I want to break ALL THE BLOGGING RULES. I don’t want to blog about JUST books. I love books, but a book review a week…blah. I could do it. Of course I could. But I don’t want to write about just books. I could start another blog. A blog with all of my witty I HATE BEING SINGLE posts. Or a foodie blog. Or a blog about how I JOINED WEIGHT WATCHERS. But I don’t want a new blog or two. I want this blog. SO. I am making a declaration. I AM NOT WRITING A SPECIFIC BLOG ABOUT SPECIFIC THINGS. Sure my traffic to this lovely place may suck. Sure I might not become FIT AMBASSADOR because I’m not writing specifically FITNESS ALL THE TIME. I might not make it to the top 24245346 Food Blogs. But you know what? THERE WILL BE CONTENT. I won’t feel ashamed posting my food/fat/single/cat/knitting posts. Because this blog? It’s mine.

So now I’m going to stop yelling at you all now. Be prepared for everything and anything. This here? It’s what people call a “lifestyle” blog. Which is a nice way of saying, I’m self-centered and want to write about ME.

Book Review: Night Film

Night FilmThis book:
a) gave me nightmares
b) is really creepy
c) is a page turner/thriller/mystery
d) all of the above

Clearly, the answer is D. I was drawn to this book because of the premise: the daughter of a renowned film director mysteriously commits suicide, and journalist Scott McGrath is investigating her death, and thus her life. The premise is actually strangely similar to Cuckoo’s Calling, but where Rowling’s mystery is fun and endearing, Pessl’s novel is dark, twisted, and complicated.

Set in New York City, the novel mirrors the grit and dirt of the city as McGrath searches for answers about Ashley Cordova’s death. McGrath quickly meets two younger characters who join him on his hunt, thus creating an amusing Three Musketeer scenario–a journalist, a drug dealer, and a struggling actress make for a very odd couple situation. I was worried when the threesome originally came together, but the characters worked surprisingly well despite being rather unbelievable.

What kept me turning the pages was the story of Stanislas Cordova, Ashley’s father. A recluse director who once created terrifying films that question humanity, Cordova lives in an estate in upstate New York called The Peak. There are very little pictures of Cordova, not much is known about his history, and yet his movies have created a huge cult following. As McGrath searches for information about Ashley, he must figure out who Cordova is–the man behind the night films.

One interesting aspect of the book is that it includes the newspaper articles, websites, and other print evidence that McGrath uncovers, so that the reader can investigate as well. While it was maybe unnecessary, this device did draw me in more, and make me feel more attached to the characters and the mystery. It gave everything a more realistic feeling, which makes the story that much more horrifying.

Night Film is a well-written, creative, dark and twisted novel. My only complaint is that Pessl loves her italics. There were so many unneeded  instances of italics, it drove me nuts. See what I did there? But if you can get over the italics, and the unlikely trio of detectives, this book will draw you in until the last page turn.

Here We Go Again….

I’m back!

Due to life happenings, and busyness, I took a bit of a blogging break….if you hadn’t noticed…all 5 of my lovely readers. But I’m back. I’m not going to lie and say I’m committed to posting EVERY DAMN DAY but, I’ll be posting. Hooray. So with out further adieu, what I’ve been up to:

Writing Stuff:

-Lauren at The Renegade Word posted this lovely article about how the two of us discuss our writing projects and bounce ideas off each other.

-I’m taking a writing workshop at The Attic, and making major progress on my manuscript

-Mailing off my MS pages and a check to the Oregon SCBWI Silver Falls retreat, which is next month! I’m so excited for an opportunity to spend a long weekend with writers, agents, and editors. In a cabin! Yay cabins!

-Attended Wordstock, PNBA and the OCTE (Oregon Council of Teachers of English) Conference this weekend. Phew. Crazy Book Weekend.

Working Out Stuff:

-Lost 10 pounds and celebrated 6-months of Bar Method. Hooray!
-Had a stress fracture in my foot thanks to running… no more running. Except it’s been over a month since it’s been healed and I’m tempted to try again. We shall see…

Food Stuff:
-Roasted a pumpkin and am planning on making Pumpkin Parmesan Sauce with some pasta and chicken apple sausage tonight. I love fall.