Review: The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer

Pegasus Books expected publication date: January 2, 2018

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

Wow – what a book! I know I will be mentally processing this one for a while – thank heavens for Kindle highlighting. I did a lot of highlighting during the course of reading this book, not because the concepts were difficult to understand or follow but because they were so meaningful. Ian Mortimer, as many know, is a wonderful historian, and he doesn’t disappoint with this work. The Outcasts of Time is indeed a work of fiction but is replete with very specific historical details; it runs through every element of the story.

Although there is a ‘time travel’ in this story, I wouldn’t classify it is science-fiction or fantasy. The only ‘magical’ element is the fact that the main character is, as he puts it, ‘skipping across time like a stone across water’; all other elements of the story are realistic. The time travel element allows the author to delve into a cultural examination of place through the passing of time that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. In a way, this reminds me of the format of Octavia Butler’s, Kindred; where time travel is similarly used to examine cultural changes over time.

Mortimer truly digs deep into society and how the workings of that change over time due to things like increased wealth, better living conditions, changes to transportation and the invention of more powerful and devastating weaponry. A phrase repeated throughout the work, ‘homo homini daemon’ – man is devil to man, speaks to the heart of some of the issues taken up in this work, that seems just as much a philosophical treatise as a work of fiction. A couple of my favorite lines being, “The man who has no knowledge of the past has no wisdom” and “…you must see what you mean to others to know your true worth.” The last paragraph practically made my heart explode as the narrative came to its resounding conclusion.

I am so glad that I had the opportunity to read this book – thank you to Pegasus Books for providing me with a copy. I would definitely recommend this book to history lovers of all kinds!

Review: A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

This weekend I finished up with a few books, one of them being A Whole New World by Liz Braswell.  This is the first book in the Disney Press Twisted Tales series. I would give this 3.5 stars as I definitely liked it but it didn’t really blow me away.

The first part of the book is written exactly like the beginning of the movie, Aladdin – even some of the dialogue is exact. In this story however, Aladdin doesn’t awaken the genie, Jaraf does. The consequences of that, as you can imagine, are not good. The second half really picks up with Aladdin, Jasmine and friends teaming up to defeat Jafar and free Agrabah from his demonic rule (which includes an army of the dead). In parts it was a bit too simplistic for my tastes but there was a lot of action and overall it was a quick, fun read!

The second book in the series is, Once Upon a Dream, which is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty – the tagline for this one is, “what if Sleeping Beauty never woke up?”  I own this one as well so plan to read it in the Spring.  I love retellings and these ones are interesting as they just change one of the details (albeit an important detail in each one) and go from there – it’s amazing how much one action or decision can change a whole sequence of events that follow it.

Do you enjoy retellings? Which are your favorites?

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

I went into this book with all sorts of assumptions. Well, you know what they say about those. I learned about this book (and the author) through the bookstagram community on Instagram. I was seeing it everywhere! Finally, I caved. I bought my very own copy of the book and began to read it pretty much right away once I received it. By the time I was 100 pages in, I had ordered the next two books in the series.

The protagonist, Celaena Sardothien, is an 18-year old assassin. Sure, we don’t have much in common but I love her. I find her very relatable and the whole time I am just cheering for her to succeed. There is fabulous world building in this book and the cast of characters if vivid with plenty of people to love and people to hate.

Celaena is tossed into a competition where she is up against some of the strongest, most dangerous men in all the land. She certainly holds her own and then some. I love when there are competitions in books – to me, it speeds up the pace and provides a whole Team Us versus Team Them atmosphere. There are also mystical elements to this book that were very well done.

I am very excited to move on with this series and so happy that ‘bookstagram made me buy it!’

Review: Paintbrush by Hannah Bucchin

Happy Monday bookworms!  I hope you all enjoyed your weekend -the week of Thanksgiving is finally upon us.  I am certainly hoping to get a lot of pages read over the Thanksgiving holiday.  I have been so sick lately so also hoping some additional rest will help to kick this cold to the curb!  I hope the early Autumn has been treating you all a little better.

Today I wanted to mention a book I finished a couple of weeks ago.  Paintbrush by Hannah Bucchin. I received this YA-Contemporary novel as the book in one of my Once Upon a Book Club boxes. The first thing I was struck by was the cover – it is absolutely beautiful. After reading the synopsis, I knew this wasn’t the kind of book that I would generally seek out for myself but I am so glad that it was included in the box. It is a coming-of-age story; a story of first love. It was well written and the characters vibrant and well imagined. I was really impressed with this young author. She should be really proud of her work here. I don’t read ‘sweet’ books a lot so it was a nice change of pace for me. The setting at Paintbrush, the living community the two main characters are a part of, seemed to take on a life of its own within the pages; it almost became one of the characters itself. If you are looking for a nice tale of young love and the tribulations that go along with that, you should definitely check this one out.  This may also be a good book to gift to a young woman in your life for the Christmas holiday!


40th birthday King Project

Sooooo, my 40th birthday is next year.  September 18, 2018 to be exact.  I have been thinking about a King project to commence on that date.  I have only mentioned it to one other person (a friend of mine on Instagram) and I am pretty nervous about it.  It is a huge undertaking should I wish to proceed.  Well, I am ready to reveal it now to the universe.  Once you put it on social media, you know it’s true!  My plan is to read all of Stephen King’s published novels in order of publication date (except for The Dark Tower series, which I am reading currently and is an entity unto itself).

A lot of these will be rereads for me as I have read 33 of his books and I am sure I will be reading more before the 9/18/18 date.  I haven’t decided if I want to include short-story collections in this read.  I would use his website, “The Library” section, organized by publication date to get the correct order.  First up, of course would be Carrie and that would be a reread (as a matter of fact, the first 8 books would be rereads but they’re some of the best so who cares!?).  The way he writes, this may be a project that lasts the rest of my life!  I hope he continues working as he has been the past few years – although how he is doing it without using a body- or brain-double, I have no idea!  A lot to think about between now and then – I just wanted to get the idea down somewhere to mull over further!

Cheers to the weekend, booknerds – I hope you get a lot of pages read this weekend!

Side note: the photo above is one that I took for my bookstagram page featuring four vintage King paperbacks from my collection and my tarot cards.  I just love how it came out – nerdy pride for that one.

Review: Peach by Emma Glass

Expected Publication Date: January 23, 2018

I received an early release copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Unfortunately, for the book, that is what I am going to be – honest.  I gave this book two out of five stars on Goodreads. This is unusual for me and frankly, hurts my heart a little bit.  I usually at least ‘like’ a book, finding some reedeming qualities within its pages. This book however was very disappointing and I cannot think of one compliment to give it.

The description sounded interesting and powerful; it is the story of a young lady who it appears is sexually assaulted. It wasn’t only the stream of consciousness writing style that I found let the story down, I understand there are times when that writing style can be very impactful, but you should still be able to piece together what is actually going on. This book was so strange that you couldn’t tell what was real and what was imagined by the main character, Peach. The other characters in the story were all so strange it was laughable.  The ending was so bizarre with the most insane BBQ happening, I am still shaking my head about it.  Luckily, it was very short so I made it through the whole thing. Overall, I found it confusing, disturbing and utterly pointless. I cannot imagine to whom they are going to market this book. I wish them luck.

The Glory of The Hunger Games

Happy Friyay Bookstaverse!!!  I recently began a reread of The Hunger Games.  By this point, pretty much the entire globe has either read the books, watched the movies, or both.  I read the series for the first time not long after it was published and really enjoyed all of the movies.  By far one of the best adaptations from book-to-screen for a series I have ever seen.

I wanted to reread them in order to refresh my memory as to how close the movies actually are to the books.  I am about a quarter of the way into the first book and it is blowing my mind all over again!  The introduction to the country of Panem, the way it is all controlled by the capital and meeting our kickass warrior princess, Katniss Everdeen (that’s how I think of her anyway) – it is just a delicious reading experience.  I think we all take for granted now how cutting edge this story truly was when it was published in 2008.  It was unique and grabbed people’s hearts and minds, young and old alike.

My favorite aspect of the stories is the competition.  I love stories that have some sort of competition (hency why Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is my favorite in the series); newer examples of this would be Throne of Glass or Warcross.  There is something about it that just makes a story seem that much more harrowing; your favorite hero or heroine on the brink of losing or worse losing their lives in some sort of action-packed death match!

One thing I had forgotten since my first read was the strain in the relationship between Peeta and Katniss going into the Games.  I had forgotten they were not really friends in the beginning and that Katniss feared early on that Peeta had betrayed her to the career tributes.  Reading it again, all I can picture is Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson (and of course Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks) – they did a really exceptional job casting the movies.

What are your favorite book-to-screen adaptations? I’d love to hear if you thought that they did The Hunger Games well or did you expect more?

Review: Sitting Murder by A.J. Wright

Publication Date: 10/12/2017

Good morning bookworms!  Well, I finished Sitting Murder last night!  (after staying up way past my bedtime in order to do so – I regret nothing!)

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Endeavor Press, in exchange for an honest review. The first thing that drew me to this book was the cover – it’s beautiful! Luckily, this book is a lot more than a pretty cover. When I started this book I was not aware that this is actually book #4 of a currently 4 book series. I didn’t realize that until about a quarter way in – I loved the writing and thought, why have I never heard of this author before? This is really good. I look it up on Goodreads and that is when I discovered it is actually a full series. I did not feel that not having read the first three books I was missing any information – I think you could easily read this as a stand-alone story or read the earlier ones out of order. I definitely plan on seeking out the other books in this series.

The setting is in a small village in Victorian times which is quite gothic -something I love. You can almost feel the cold streets, the flickering candlelight and the hardships of the characters. There is a girl acting as medium, seances, a murder – what is not to love about all that? This was a completely enthralling mystery, classic in the sense of Christie or Sayers, complete with strong, smart detectives cracking the case. My only slight criticism would be that I wish there had been a bit more character development for some of the main characters, particularly Brennan and Jaggery; that is but a minor thing however and perhaps that is something that was taken care of in the earlier books. I am genuinely happy that I had the opportunity to read this book – thank you to Endeavor Press – I would definitely recommend Sitting Murder to anyone who loves a good mystery!

What are your favorite mystery writers?  I am always looking to discover new series in this genre – there is so much to love about them!

Review: The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

Publication Date: May 2, 2017

Hey book babes!  This morning as I was getting ready for work, I was thinking about The Radium Girls.  Is this odd?  I mean, I finished this book in July!  Why am I still thinking about it?  Because it was incredible, that’s why.

This is easily one of the best books I have read this year; if not, the best. I am still not even sure that I can adequately express how much I enjoyed reading this story. Firstly, I am a huge science nerd but I do not think you need to be in order to enjoy this book; in the end it is a human story. The writing is so smooth, the story so unbelievable and heartbreaking that I would find it hard to believe anyone would not be intrigued by it. I think the author, Kate Moore, did a great service to these women by writing their stories and in such a way that their full humanity, suffering and indeed strength and courage soars through the pages.

I read a lot of non-fiction; I love it.  I love learning and books that provide a narrative feel to history or social issues are truly compelling to me but this book takes that to a whole new level.  It seems to me, a lot of books in this genre are written with more of an outside-observer approach.  Ms. Moore’s writing is full of empathy and true feeling for these women’s plight that one would think she knew them personally.  Reading this, one cannot help but think her research must have totally engulfed her; I cannot imagine how long it must have taken her to pull all of these facts together into such a gripping account.  If you have not read this one yet, you should definitely check it out.  Even if you do not normally read non-fiction, step outside that comfort zone and give this one a chance – it deserves it!

Review: The Wicked by James Newman

The Wicked. Oh how I love you! (I mean, look at this cover!) I finished this book yesterday and enjoyed it so much.  It is like nothing I have read in a very long time.

I received this book through my Nocturnal Readers Box subscription and I am so glad they included this. This book is true horror – the entire book teemed with the classic feels of 1980s horror. I grew up loving all things horror – watching movies like The Gate, Fright Night and Halloween over and over again, in addition to reading anything in the genre I could get my hands on.

In this one we have the classic tale of evil taking over and almost completely annihilating a small town- the pace of this book is very fast moving and the imagery is solid and disturbing.  Some of the deaths scenes….damn, that Moloch is harsh!  In the beginning I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy the main characters, as they are very different from myself, but I did grow attached to them and ultimately was really rooting for them to survive the bloodbath. My favorite character was this older gentleman named George who was really just a smart-ole’ battleax (these types of characters always tended to be my favorites in old horror movies as well). They provide a bit of humor and a sense of comfort, being older, and that they always know how to tackle a situation.

If you are looking for a true horror read, I would definitely recommend you check out this book, you will not be disappointed! *One aside, there are some strong sexual elements in the story so if you are a more ‘sensitive’ reader to that type of situation, you may wish to steer clear.