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Diamond Dee Loves to Read

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Currently reading

Lumberjanes, Vol. 1
Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke A. Allen
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
Chris Grabenstein
Resonance (Dissonance)
Erica O'Rourke
The Turn of the Screw and The Aspern Papers
Henry James, Anthony Curtis
Exactly my thoughts!

On Reading

Reblogged from Nemo @ The Moonlight Library:
Oh jeez, this is why I have an entire bookcase of unread books.

 

Consider the possibilities...

Excellent tale of Cleopatra as a young priestess

— feeling amazing
Cleo - Lucy Coats

 

*Review originally posted on my book blog (along with AUTHOR INTERVIEW + GIVEAWAY (ends 7/31)) @ Diamond’s Reads-- >>  Author Interview + Giveaway: Cleo by Lucy Coats <<

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Cleo instantly grabbed me with its cover. I saw, Cleo and Cleopatras face with a cartoonish design and immediately gleamed it was a middle grade historical fiction book. Keeping with my historical fiction frenzy I decided to request it, and I’m so glad I did. Although I have kind of taken a break from my middle grade frenzy these past few months, I do still love the genre (and always will). In fact, reading Cleo has helped me remember why I love middle grade books so much when they’re done well. Cleo definitely did a hard thing, in my opinion. That is in the sense that to I felt like I really was reading a great historical fiction novel…but more importantly, I just felt I was reading a story. A story of Cleopatra and how she had to flee the palace in fear for her life just minutes after her mother was pronounced dead. Talk about exciting!

The pacing of this book was excellent. Pacing has been so important to me lately due to my busy schedule. I don’t really give every book 100 pages to “warm up” to anymore like I used to. If I do it just sits there and collects dust and builds guilt in my stomach for not finishing another book. Which is why I can’t skip the fact that this book had me pretty much glued to my kindle as the events unfolded. Another thing rarely accomplished in middle grade to a seasoned middle grade reader like myself aka old.

 

KEEP ME GUESSING UNTIL THE END.

And boy, did this book do that. Almost infuriatingly so, to be honest. Why do I say infuriating? Well, probably because I thought things would be tied up with a nice big fat bow on the top at the end. NOT SO! There’s not so much a cliffhanger, as a what the heck moment at the end that I seriously did NOT see coming. It makes me so happy though when this happens in MG books though because I always feel like I know what is going to come. Especially with an adventure story such as this.

Then again, Cleo is so much more than just an adventure story. It’s the story of Cleopatra and her best friend/slave and her survival traveling across the land to finally become a priestess of the goddess. There is some magical elements n the book, that are really really freaking cool!! For instance, the gods and goddess can show their favor openly to anyone/everyone. So some random girl can walk into a room and maybe, if she’s in danger or something, a god can show that they favor her by having a brightly lit symbol of said god glow above her! I thought that was really cool. Besides these little nuances, the ancient Egyptian world was extremely close to our own, in history. I felt it was very believable from the historical aspect. In fact, a little too believable [see interview below]. 

While Cleo can “see” gods / goddesses, it’s not something anyone knows. She hides this vey rare and valuable gift, although it doesn’t really come to play more than in a cursory sense, same as her being favorited by the goddess is more like a burden to be honest, and Cleo doesn’t hold herself above others (much). In case like me you kind of are bored by these heroines/heroes born with special magical powers that just save them from everything while they do literally nothing of accomplishment and at the end reap all benefit and priase. *eye roll* THIS is NOT that type of book.

While there is a love interest, Khai isn’t in a lot of the story until the end. I actually really really liked it because (another tricky feat) it felt like a genuine middle grade love blossoming. It didn’t feel too advanced or too juvenile. It really seemed natural and cute and there were tons of “awww!” moments that I just loved (especially since Khai’s a librarian!!!!) 

The “villains” AKA “Evil Sow Sisters” are Cleopatra’s two half sisters who take the throne after her mother passes away (her father, the Pharaoh is in Rome). Those two…wow, what can I say? I’ll keep it short by saying they were excellent villians. They had depth (one more likable than the other), personality, evil geniuses, and I could see why they decided to turn to evil. Sometimes characters are just “evil” for the sake of “evil” and I always think “why? what enticed them to this lifestyle?” I really am anxious to see what happens in the next book with the whole family situation.

Oh did I not mention? THERE IS A SEQUEL. Yes, as I mentioned earlier, the ending really had me surprised. Not only due to the plot twist, but because I had NO idea there was going to be a second book! That kind of bummed me out, because I felt like I was purposefully manipulated. Although, obviously, that is far from the truth! lol. I just didn’t know. So it took me totally off guard and yeah, now I am pretty much in hives dying trying to figure out what will happen with Cleo and Co. in the next book, Chosen! 

I really recommend this book. I heard some reviewers saying it didn’t have enough “historical language” and I have to disagree. I’ve read adult historical fiction books with less historically accurate language than Cleo (ahem, MJ Rose, I love you …but..yeah). I never once felt like, oh, are we back in the 21st century now? That is my biggest thing. If the language sucks me out of the time period and morphs me back into my living room glancing at my gadgets like what? Well, then we have a problem with the language. If the language, however, is subtle enough to keep me in the past engrossed fully with the story, characters, setting, plot, and atmosphere. Well, then, that is a success in my eyes. Cleo did that 100% and it was heavenly to get lost in a book again. It’s been awhile.

I recommend this book to those who love historical fantasy books and strong, flawed, female heroines who don’t have an easy way of things. There is strong mythology and the setting is amazing. If you love imagining how Egypt was during the time of the Pharaohs (plus some magic mixed in), then you need to read Cleo

HOBOS

Reblogged from Derrolyn Anderson:

 

This seems so hopelessly anachronistic.

Terry Pratchett in Quotes

Reblogged from BookLikes:

Beloved fantasy author Terry Pratchett has died at the age of 66. He will be very much missed but not forgotten. Have a look at some of Terry Pratchett's most inspirational quotes - fill up your mind with writer's words and your shelves with his incredible books. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terry Pratchett sold his first story when he was fifteen, which earned him enough money to buy a second-hand typewriter. His first novel, a humorous fantasy entitled The Carpet People, appeared in 1971 from the publisher Colin Smythe. Terry worked for many years as a journalist and press officer, writing in his spare time and publishing a number of novels, including his first Discworld novel, The Color of Magic, in 1983... more
 
Guards! Guards! - Terry PratchettWyrd Sisters - Terry PratchettEqual Rites - Terry PratchettThe Light Fantastic - Terry PratchettThe Wee Free Men - Terry PratchettPyramids - Terry PratchettThe Long Earth - Terry Pratchett, Stephen BaxterWitches Abroad - Terry PratchettMen at Arms - Terry Pratchett 

Super Secret Crisis War! Volume 1

Super Secret Crisis War! Volume 1 - Louise Simonson, Derek Charm I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

What do you get when you take your favorite 90s Nickelodeon cartoon characters and bring them all together for one epic show-down?

No, it's not a Netflix sponsored movie (although, that would be damn great!)--it's the first volume in a graphic novel released by IDW collab w/Cartoon Network, of course.

I immediately saw the cover and was like, "Read NOW." No hesitation, no questions asked. I'm a 90s Nick kid, and if you live in the US and watch Cartoon Network every night after 9pm, you know what I mean too. Our favorite shows that nursed and comforted us in the mornings and after school every day have revisited the screens across the country as part of CN's new '90s are back" thing. I didn't think it'd last as long as it did, but boy am I glad because I am ALL ABOARD THIS SHIP (and have been, for quite awhile). :O

Characters

Heroes:
Samurai Jack
Powerpuff Girls
Ben Tennyson "Ben 10"
Dexter (Dexter's laboratory)
Ed, Ed, and Eddy (not 'heroes' per se, but from the show w/the same name)

Villains:
Aku (Samurai Jack)
Mandark (Dexter's laboratory)
Mojo Jojo (Powerpuff Girls)
Evil Robots

Basically, the story is a wild concoction cooked up to satisfy people like me who love these characters and don't care how much "sense" it makes to have them all together. The "villians" are all together and have some sort of plan to hold the "heroes" hostage and take their powers. Ed, Ed, and Eddy are just in there because of a fluke. Obviously, they get free pretty easily but their robot counterparts are created to learn from them as they fight and things escalate from there.

It's a short graphic novel. While at first I thought it was mostly written for a younger audience, I don't feel that way after reading it. It seemed more like twenty somethings would appreciate it more having seen the shows and followed the storylines. The characters are all explained, but not to the extent that you feel like it's made for people who have no idea who the Powerpuff Girls are, or Dexter from Dexter's Lab.

I felt like it was a fun, light, and really funny read with bright and colorful graphics that stayed true to each show. I recommend it for people who like any of the shows listed above, are fans of Cartoon Network, or just love amalgam stories that don't necessarily follow logic.

Classical Myth

Classical Myth - Barry B. Powell I used this book in my undergraduate Classical Mythology class. It's one of the few textbooks that I didn't sell back; because I wanted to keep for further reference. Even more amazing, I actually have used it for reference and perusal many times.

I recommend it actually exactly for that purpose. If you like Mythology at all, it's really handy to have in your collection because you just check the table of contents, find the myth and BOOM; short and sweet, easy to understand.

Exquisite Captive

Exquisite Captive - Heather Demetrios Review also published on my blog @ Dee's Reads

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I've been gunning for more young adult fiction that deals with the Middle East. Anything really, from its vast mythology (which I feel has been left relatively untapped) to just using the setting or having a character(s) speak the languages of Arabic/Farsi. I read The Fire Wish earlier this year and liked it. I was eager to read this one because it seemed to have more mature themes.

Wanna see what Nahlia, Malek, Leilan, and Raif look like?
Check out my post where I cast the characters!

I finished this book over a week ago and had so many thoughts it was difficult to pound out a review. I did, however, have to get my images from my imagination onto the blog somehow so I did a post where I casted the characters. (see link above). It was a lot of fun, and I got so much positive feedback it gave me energy to write this review.

Here's the thing about this book: There are many polarized reviews/opinions out there about this. I feel like I need to write a few points to help you decide (if you were on the fence) about reading this.

The things you need to know or consider when reading this book:

It reads more like New Adult - There are adult themes in here. If you're looking for a young YA book and don't care for adult or new adult, just walk away from this. It's not all light and fluffy, it's dark as shit. In fact, I agree with Wendy who mentioned that she thinks this would've done well as a NA book.

There is abuse - There is emotional abuse (and some physical too). The physical isn't what you may think, but stuffing someone into a tiny space for months on end (her bottle), where she could barely breathe definitely constitutes as abuse in my book.

There is NO love triangle - I can address this later, but just...no. Those who think there is either didn't read far enough? or maybe they didn't understand the dynamic of the relationship. Think: Stockholm syndrome.

If any of those things are problematic for you, just walk away. It ain't gonna work. If you like darker books, don't mind tortured characters who are struggling with some major shit, then just be prepared. This is a book with A LOT of stuff going for it. I ultimately do think it pulled it off, but that's not saying I didn't have any hangups (because I did).

Although I'm Middle-Eastern, I don't get over-eager when I about about to read a book that contains ME mythology/ideology/setting. *why* ..because I'm almost always disappointed. If the author is from the Middle East, then -maybe- I'll be impressed. Even then, I don't hype myself up. It just doesn't happen. It's a complex and old culture and it varies (seemingly slightly but significantly to us) from country to country. While trying to relate to one group you may inadvertently be pissing another group off.

Thus, don't go into this book thinking this is an amazing retelling of Arabian Nights. Or that it portrays Middle Eastern mythology to the T. It doesn't. I don't even know why they said that on the cover, it's more like a novel with some flavoring from Arabian Nights. That doesn't mean it doesn't do a damn good job giving a feel for the culture, especially the sub-culture that exists in Los Angeles.

I live in Los Angeles. There is a HUGE population of Middle Eastern people here and while reading this I kept thinking "Oh my God!!! I wonder if that place is based on "The Spot"?" (It's a hookah place in Encino, where everyone goes to just dance and "be seen" and appraise each other.) It's definitely a place where if Raif and Nahlia danced--everyone would stare and gossip about it for a long time. It probably isn't based on that, because there are sooo many similar places here. Basically anywhere there is tea, hooka, loud music, and a late closing time (the place I frequent is open until 4am).

Demetrios got a surprising amount of things right in Exquisite Captive. Surprising to me because wasn't expecting that. Even on the cover, the writing on the cuff is in Arabic. [She consulted some friends and kind of made up her own phrase which fit the book. (I know because I asked around, googled it, checked her website, and finally had to stalk ask her) lol]

There are a few Arabic words sprinkled throughout too. I don't speak Arabic, But the letters are pretty much the same as Farsi (Arabic has additional letters/versions of certain ones that we don't really use, but have to learn when learning Farsi). I was happy to see Arabic in the lines of a YA book. I wish there were more. There are some awesome words and I think the language she did create was so similar to Arabic/Farsi that it gave the desired effect. I just wonder, is creating a new language for a novel/series easier than learning the language and including it? (future discussion post, anyone?)

The Characters:

I really enjoyed the characters in this book. Notice I didn't say "like" haha. I enjoyed the characters and their development. There is a character you will hate, so keep that in mind. He's also a main one, so yeah. Each character has flaws, especially Nahlia, Raif, and Malek. Nahlia is chained to her past and kind of stuck in her present by being Malek's genie.

Which leads me to my hypothesis (with research from my nonexistent doctorate):

Nahlia suffers from PTSD.
Is this stated in the book? No.
Can I substantiate this? Yes. (but this review is long enough so I'm not going to include all the quotes. if you're curious though--email me.)
Is this what the author intended? I have no idea.
(Remember when I stalked asked her? Turns out she has done research/work with PTSD before, So it is def plausible).

It makes sense though. She has constant flashbacks to the past. Nahlia's past was beyond rough, she went through crazy stuff. (Think: Iron Trial in the beginning with all the dead bodies..) If you don't get that ref, just trust me, it's bad. Her flashbacks are why so much of the book goes back and forth into the past. Once I figured assumed that about her, I became a lot more tolerant of her as a character.
I notice many people didn't like this back and forth but if you think about it, your main character is a woman suffering from PTSD (undiagnosed) who is living with (circumstances suggest forever) her "master" who is a sadistic man with multiple personalities. If you read the book you know how this is confirmed. Sometimes he's kind and part of him (one personality) really loves her/ believes he does. The other part though, damnnnn.

Nahlia has to figure out why she is responding to this type of abuse and behavior. She (obviously) doesn't get that right away. She also has to understand she needs to open up and be honest about herself. She does this, all while figuring out how to save her brother and evade who/whatever is hunting her.

I was quite taken how well Nahlia was portrayed; in the sense that she was a woman who is very old, in a beautiful body, but who was always trained to be stony and that she could never love. It's no wonder then that when she starts to get a conscience she'd feel shame.

Does it sound like I'm making a psychological analysis?
I kind of am. But you know what? I had fun doing that with this book. The author, whether she intended to or not, accurately portrayed the mental illnesses that the characters have in this book. The results of war, death, abuse, and slavery are far reaching and don't fade with time. This book illustrates that point in a meaningful way.

Raif, the leader of the revolution, enters Nahlia's world and brings with him a seer for a sister and Nahlia's personality deepens when faced with her past actions. Raif's initial reaction to Nahlia can be explained by his psychological state. Raif was a jerk to her and just plain mean. Then again, when you consider how he grew up and that her people were responsible for the death of his father and friend, it makes sense. OF COURSE he will say to himself and others that he hates her.

The element of mystery and fantasy was not lost on me either. The world that was created lie right on top of our own, and even dealt with human trafficking. The slave trade discussed in the book is actually based on human trafficking in our world today, and was intended to bring awareness to the issue. I love that idea, and even though it may be painful to read or you may want to judge and say "how could so and so do this" you have no idea what it would feel like to be a victim of human trafficking, the constant abuse and rape, etc. Especially for as many years as Nahlia and those around her.

I was pissed about the ending, but I'm over it...I just felt it could have been executed better. I would have liked it to be a little more spaced out--it felt rushed. I felt like one character was just included to keep tensions high. I don't know. That was the only reason I wasn't sure whether to rate it 3 or 4 stars. Ultimately, I think now that I've had time to digest it, the ending didn't ruin the book.

I would recommend this book for older readers of Young Adult and people who enjoy New Adult and even Contemporary [all inside a hugely fantastic and unique mythological world].

A Thousand Pieces of You

A Thousand Pieces of You - Claudia Gray Review and Giveaway on my blog @ Dee's Reads

*I received a couple of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

During a time of my life when I am beyond overwhelmed and have zero time to read, this book lured me away from grad school apps, working full time, and family issues-- just so I could dwell in it's amazing multi-dimensional glory.

The cover of this book is what initially intrigued me. Immediately I shelved it on my "cover-lust" shelf on Goodreads and then once I read the blurb I felt I NEEDED to read it. The topic of alternate dimensions is one that fascinates me. Although it may be common in the adult sci-fi genre, I feel that within YA it's scarce. This is perhaps because it's such a difficult thing to pull off. All the inevitable questions that come from creating a world where the MC jumps between dimensions need to be answered without taking away from the story. To be able to address these questions and set up a world where the feasibility of it is less sci-fi, more "advanced tech" is something that Claudia Gray actually pulled off.

The beginning was the "slowest" part for me. I saw slow only in comparison to the rest of the book. We jump right in to a familial situation at the peak of despair. The main character, Marguerite, is dealing with the sharp grief of losing her father. Sharper still, he seems to have been murdered by a close member of the family (one of their live-in interns). The suspect, Paul Markov, seems to have done the deed and jumped to another dimension to escape. Despite this set up, the book doesn't have the cold and clinical atmosphere that sci-fi often leaves with me.

Marguerite joins Theo, the other intern that her parents took in years ago to help them with their research. Theo and Paul are like brothers, but Paul's betrayal cuts too deep and leaves Theo with the determination to chase him across dimensions and demand and answer and then-- Paul's death. Marguerite catches him and demands to go with him, her youth showing when she doesn't think to leave a note or explanation to her grief-striken mother or sister, Josie. Although, her mom, a brilliant physicist figures it out pretty quick. Marguerite is the black sheep of the family. She is an artist among physicists; but she is far from ordinary, far from unintelligent.

Each universe was incredible. The detail and atmosphere was conjured up so quickly by Gray that within a single page I already had a picture of what Marguerite was seeing. It was such a wonderful escape to travel to these alternate dimensions with Marguerite. She went from her own dimension (aka our world now) to a society extremely more advanced than our own. I loved the cool tech in this one, and how you could talk and receive messages by pushing a button on your ring and a screen would show up in front of you. My initial concern: what happens to Marguerite of that dimension when our Marguerite jumps into her dimension? Gray explains this fairly easily and believably (at least, I thought so) by saying how that dimensions Marguerite would simply be "asleep" and would wake up when she jumped out. Any action or consequence that occured while she was checked out-- well, Marguerite of that dimension would have to deal with whatever was done.

My favorite parts of the novel occured when Marguerite follows Paul to Tsarist Russia. There she is actually a princess because her mother didn't marry her dad. Instead she married a Russian man and became royalty. Marguerite has completely different siblings, and her life as a princess is ...different. Paul is her guard in that dimension. Paul Markov in the Russian dimension was very dreamy. I felt their romance developed naturally.

I also need to add that I had read some reviews that criticized the book because Marguerite is hunting down her father's killer and hopping dimensions only to fall in love. That the romance somehow took away from the book. I feel I need to respond to this: I am not a big romance reader. More than once I have been known to dislike a book where the romance plays too dominant a role, but only when the plot suffers. I think it's important to say that this is not the case with this novel. The plot is only further enriched by the romance. As for those of you with concerns this is a love triangle book. DO NOT FRET. I can't say anything more, but it's not that type of thang. It makes sense when you read it. Marguerite is a smart young woman who braves the unknown to find out exactly who killed her beloved father and why. Along the way she really does discover what was hiding in her heart.

I can't wait to read the sequel. I have no idea what the premise will be, although I'm betting on the alternate dimensions and that the Firebird will be involved. I recommend this novel to anyone who finds the theory of alternate dimensions fascinating. Those of you who want a brilliant novel that centers around a smart and independent woman, with a historical and also futuristic feel-- you need to read this book.

SHERLOCK HOLMES The Hound of the Baskervilles (Dover Graphic Novel Classics) (Dover Graphic Novels)

The Hound of the Baskervilles - John Green,  Arthur Conan Doyle I'm a known graphic novel lover. I love the mix of a good story with brilliant illustrations. I also recently read Sherlock Holmes for the first time, and loved it. So I was eager to read this form of The Hound of the Baskervilles when I saw it, because hello, graphic novel! I figured the amazing drawings could make a great story even greater. Unfortunately, for me this whole thing fell short in pretty much all the ways it matters.

*The Text - The text was EXTREMELY simplified. Something was lost when they tried to edit it down to size. I realize this is a difficult thing to do. However lately I've read a lot of really great graphic novels based on classics/long stories and they seem to do it effectively and seamlessly. *shrug*
*The Graphics- Big problem here, people. Code Red, abort! Abort! Seriously though, this was very "meh" for me. Admittedly, I'm one for color in my graphic novels. This is actually why I don't often read Manga, I miss the color. So maybe part of this is due to my preference for color, but that's only part of it.
*The Graphics (again)- The graphics were also just very blah and boring. Sherlock and Watson were drawn very stylistically old fashioned and in a way they have been depictred for, like, a hundred years. *yawn* If you want kids or whoever to pick this up, you got to put a spin on this a little bit. Do SOMETHING different (anything!) with the looks of the main characters. If I wanted to see this story drawn in the way it's always been drawn I would pick up a battered copy with illustrations (they have those, you know). It would look the same.
*The Ending - The ending seriously moved this from 2 stars to 1. That's a lot, and it's because it was as serious WTF moment for me. The last page had more text than any of the other pages had. It was rushed. It was confusing. It was clearly there to quickly tie the story together to fit the allotted page number or whatever. It made the novel even more choppy.

So those are the reasons I didn't care for this graphic novel version of The Hound of the Baskervilles. Save yourself some time and read the original version while watching the BBC version played by the glorious Benedict Cumberbatch.

-Review also seen on my blog, Dee's Reads

*A copy of this graphic novel was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Wicked + the Divine Volume 1

The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 1: The Faust Act - Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie I had super high expectations for this.

UNFORTUNATELY
I did not understand it at ALL. I triple checked, it's Volume 1. If it's Volume 1, I don't understand why we just jump in the middle with NO explanation WHATSOEVER.

Had to DNF. I just didn't understand what the heck was going on. The only good thing about it was that it had great illustrations. But due to the extreme lack of comprehensive dialogue and no introduction of characters..ugh I just was very sad to have to DNF this.

(I received a copy of this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review).

The Complete Persepolis

The Complete Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi Brilliant. Emotional. Review to come, I need to get my thoughts together.

Messenger Of Fear

Messenger Of Fear - Michael  Grant Full Review on my blog @ Dee's Reads

One of the genres I rarely read are thrillers; but a thriller with a supernatural element? Messenger of Fear had me interested because of the unusual braid of genres and the really cool cover (I love that color blue). I guess it doesn’t take much for me to step out of my comfort zone. Add a little of a genre I tend to love and a color-pleasing cover and I’ll try you out! But seriously though, I’m so glad I did.


“Yes, Mara,” he said with a sense of finality, as though now we could begin to understand each other, though I yet understood nothing. “I am the messenger. The Messenger of Fear.” It would be a long time before I came to know him by any other name. -Loc 229


Michael Grant is a pretty well-known author when it comes to thrillers and such in young adult. I’ve never read any of his books before but did recognize the name because I see it around on Goodreads and in bookstores and stuff. That sort of thing really doesn’t influence whether I request/download the eARC, but after reading this book I can understand why he’s a popular author.

Messenger of Fear started off really good and I remember thinking, “this is an amazing premise for a book. If it delivers, it will be fantastic.” Although it wavered at times, the ending was so strong I definitely feel it fulfilled it’s ambitious premise of a supernatural thriller that kept me guessing until the end.

What was I guessing about? So here’s the thing, let me tell you a little bit about the book (don’t worry—no spoilers!) We open with Mara waking up in a coffin. Of course a pleathora of questions are spued forth by her, is she dead? Is she alive? What happened? Why can’t she remember anything? While we don’t get clear cut answers, she does figure a few things out pretty quickly. She meets “the Messenger.” He’s a mysteriously handsome guy who is the only one that can see and talk to her. Slowly she is shown the life, death, and in between of a teenage girl named Samantha Early.

Full Review on my blog @ Dee's Reads
(Sorry but I couldn't copy the whole thing, computer problems!)

The Vampire of Kaldenstein

The Vampire of Kaldenstein - Frederick Cowles I didn't realize I had already read this years ago. Good but the movie made in the 60s or 70s was better :)

Stormbringers

Stormbringers - Philippa Gregory Full Review seen on my blog @ Dee's Reads

I am a fan of historical fiction, but it’s something that I feel I always forget about. I am also a big fan of paranormal and fantasy and they’re like the older and louder siblings in the genre family of my tastes.

So while in the past I have read a few of Philippa Gregory’s books, and really enjoyed them I might add, I don’t always get to delve deeper. When I saw she was writing a YA series of historical fiction with bits of magic in them, I leaped. I mean, I love that combination of genres! The first book in the Order of Darkness series, Changeling, was one I read last year. I’ve had the sequel and the third book sitting on my TBR for many months, and I’m so glad I finally picked it up.

Stormbringers was definitely more interesting than its predecessor, Changeling. I think I gave Changeling 2-3 stars, not because it wasn’t good (it was) but because it had a bit of a “meh” factor going on. I knew the series had a lot of potential though, and sometimes first books have a hard time because they have so much to develop. I’m glad I went with my gut because it definitely paid off. Stormbringers was much better than Changeling, and had a lot more of everything I love. There was more action, more historical elements, more romantic tension, and definitely tons of character development.

Frieze was not really one of my favorite characters in the first book. In this book, we really learn more about him and I am surprised to say I completely changed my opinion on him. He’s hilarious and made me LOL several times. He’s also sweet and his way of animals is super endearing. There’s something about a man with a fondness for kittens that has me weak in the knees…*sigh*

Luca also developed a lot in this novel. We see more of his past, what happened to his parents, and ultimately what led him to live in a monastery and take up in the Order in the first place. Luca is definitely split between his duties. He really likes Isoldeand doesn’t really know why he’s pledged to become a monk. Like any young man, he’s got NEEDZ, YO. I found the sexual frustration hilarious and at the same time pretty realistic.

Ishraq was always more fascinating to me than Isolde. She’s well read, versed in many languages, she’s from the Middle East but is stuck around all these Christians who call her a Pagan or heretic and she still holds her head high. Not to mention, she’s got all the men respecting her including Father Peter which is no small feat. Her upbringing is unique, and I believe historically accurate which I found fascinating.

“My mother was a woman from Acre, where Jesus is honored as a prophet but they’re certain he is not a God. ..[They] called it Conviviencia—living alongside each other in harmony, whatever their beliefs. For the enemy is not another person who believes in a god. The enemy is ignorance, and people who believe in nothing and care for nothing. You should know that by now, Brother Peter.” Page 89

Gregory spun a wonderful tale full of mystery and suspense. I have to say, it’s not often I see historical fiction that takes place in 1453. It’s a fascinating time period. I feel like Gregory did an impeccable job making it feel like it was 1453 but that things were basically the same as far as young love, fear, and religions clashing while prejudices reign.

There were some things I didn’t really care for in the novel. The main thing was how long it took me to finish it. I’m not sure this is the novels fault, but it did seem to lag a bit in the beginning. Before the plot really started unfolding , it was hard for me to keep picking it up. Also I have to mention that I’m super busy working and studying nonstop and haven’t had much time for reading, this may be the reason it took me so long to finish. I’m not sure, but I do know that if it was a true five star read I would have foregone sleep, which I didn’t do here. Besides the pacing and the lagging in the beginning and the first part of the middle, I don’t’ have many other complaints. Isolde was annoying at times, in the way she prescribes to all the ideals that men have set upon women and how she let her jealousy goad her into a fight with Ishraq was disappointing.

The Fall

The Fall - Bethany Griffin Full review with Gifs on my blog @ Dee's Reads

Partial Review:
When I saw Bethany Griffin had a new release, I was intrigued. Then I saw it was another Poe retelling, based on the famous Fall of the House of Usher and I was shrieking and jumping up and down in my seat. I was overexcited to read this novel..because I just know Griffin can do a mean Poe retelling in YA format. She doesn’t try to lighten up Poe’s dark and moody work. She makes it work, and boy if she didn’t succeed once again in meeting my expectations.

Since I am obsessed with Edgar Allen Poe, I have read all his works. The Fall of the House of Usher is a very good short story. I have long since wanted to read a full novel exploring it from Madeline’s perspective. When I think of the story though, I don’t think of only the text. I also think of the movie starring Vincent Price made in the 1964. I grew up watching all of his movies and his Poe movies were my favorite. The Tomb of Ligeia, Fall of the House of Usher, and The Raven were my favorites. So as I started reading The Fall, I imagined the characters as they appeared in the Vincent Price movie, only a bit younger. I imagined the house as it was in the movie, and all the creepy portraits and coffins/vault and cobwebs quickly filled my imagination.

Thus, as I attempt to review this book I find I cannot review it without sharing some of the images that came to mind while reading Griffin’s gorgeous retelling.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde, Camille Cauti Amazing. Review to come.