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review 2015-07-19 08:16
Excellent tale of Cleopatra as a young priestess
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

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text 2015-05-08 19:32
A Madness So Discreet - Mindy McGinnis

4/5 stars


** e-Arc provided by Edelweiss **


This being my first book by Ms. McGinnis I was not sure what to expect. And I must admit A Madness So Discreet took me by surprise. It started off slow, I was about a quarter of the way through before I found the rhythm of the story. But once I did I was sucked right in.

This book never raises its voice, it never yells or screams. No demon, vamp, or zombie ever shows their head. Oh, no, A Madness So Discreet whispers in your ear, the shadow that moves by itself, the fingers running down your spine. It shows that monsters can walk in the light. They can smile and fade into a crowd, or worse, they can sit across the dinner table.

A slight Sherlock Holmes/Watson dynamic is woven into the two main characters, Grace and Thornhollow, but it was done well. It also paying homage to Jack the Ripper. I really liked the characters, even the secondary ones were fleshed out.

Darkly gothic the plot uses the victorian era to perfection. Mixing their concept of modern medicine and old world remedies; winding the two into a wonderfully gruesome tale.

The only thing that really bothered me was the ending. Wrapped up too neatly, too quick and easy. I found it somewhat unsatisfying. It keeps this from being a 5 star book.

That being said, I would gladly go on another adventure with Grace and Thornhollow. And look forward to reading some more of Ms. McGinnis' books

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review 2015-04-20 12:41
Review - Brother Frankenstein by Michael Bunker
Brother, Frankenstein - Michael Bunker

I enjoy Michael Bunker's writings, so I jumped at the chance to read this novel (an e-ARC of this was sent from the author for an honest review). I was not disappointed! I will be purchasing a copy when it is officially released as this novel is a keeper.

 

This novel encompasses all I believe science fiction to be- a prophetic look at what our future holds, what makes humanity tick, and our responses to new ideas and ideals. That, plus a rollicking good tale.

 

Go pre-order!

 

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review 2015-03-06 11:06
Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert Martin
Tabula Rasa - Kristen Lippert-Martin

Title: Tabula Rasa
Author: Kristen Lippert-Martin
Publication Date: September 23rd 2014 by Egmont USA
Rating: ★★★★
Amazon // Book Depository // Goodreads

Synopsis

The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this heart-pounding debut.

Sixteen-year-old Sarah has a rare chance at a new life. Or so the doctors tell her. She’s been undergoing a cutting-edge procedure that will render her a tabula rasa—a blank slate. Memory by memory her troubled past is being taken away.

But when her final surgery is interrupted and a team of elite soldiers invades the isolated hospital under cover of a massive blizzard, her fresh start could be her end.

Navigating familiar halls that have become a dangerous maze with the help of a teen computer hacker who’s trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, Sarah starts to piece together who she is and why someone would want her erased. And she won’t be silenced again.

A high-stakes thriller featuring a non-stop race for survival and a smart heroine who will risk everything, Tabula Rasa is, in short, unforgettable.

 

Tabula Rasa somehow reminded me of Scarlett Johansson’s recent movie, Lucy. If you’ve seen the movie, you probably know about Lucy’s ability to access her brain’s functions fully because of the drug that has been absorbed by her body. Here in the book, it’s a bit like that. The main character, Sarah, basically has advanced skills developed from a drug.

 

The book started pretty amazing. Sarah cannot recall her memories and she’s being held at a special kind of hospital. One minute she was just taking some lab tests, then few pages after she’s being chased by soldiers just because she has “green eyes”. That fact has been one of the major anchors in the story. After she managed to escape the hospital, she met Thomas and they helped each other to basically reach their goals.

 

The characters were very intriguing, in general and I love the way they were written. Sarah and Thomas’ chemistry was very adorable. I loved every single scene of them together., which means the bulk of the book. Hahaha!

 

The book was very fast-paced but it suited the story because it was action-packed and really thrilling. I really loved the way it was written because everytime you finish a chapter, you just crave for more. It’s very unique, fresh, compelling and captivating. It’s certainly a must-read for fans of action and science fiction/dystopia.

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review 2014-11-03 00:30
Review for Stand-In Star by Rachael Johns
Stand-In Star - Rachael Johns

This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews


Holly McCartney has never wanted fame or the media's attention.  That was always more of her sister, Daisy's mission in life.  But when Daisy dies unexpectedly, Holly travels to Tinsel Town to attend the Academy Awards to accept an award Daisy may win.  From the moment she arrives in Hollywood, things go far away from what's she's planned.  She is ambushed at the airport and then rescued by a handsome stranger.  Nate Devlin is that handsome stranger.  Daisy was his best friend and he is determined to confront Holly on why she never visited or kept in contact with Daisy before her death.  But the more he pushes, the more he discovers that things may not be what he assumes and the more difficulty he has fighting his attraction to her.  Can they figure out the past together or will Holly forever resent her sister for her wrongdoings?

Holly is a very understandable character in many ways.  She is very different from her sister, both in looks and personality.  They are like night and day, with Daisy getting the better looks and the desire for the limelight and Holly getting the curves and the penchant for research.  She's so far from comfortable with the paparazzi terrorizing her that it's not funny.  I'd be in a similar frame of mind, dying to get back home and into a good book and away from the crazies with cameras.  You can't help but sympathize with her plight, not only over her sisters death, but of the resentment she harbors against her.  Daisy was obviously the golden child and her parents favor and then she gets one thing all her own, and Daisy has to take that too.  She just wants to pay her respects and get back to Australia as soon as the planes can get her there, but Nate Devlin is making that taste impossible.  He keeps treating her like she is the bad guy in this scenario and as curious as she is to why, she doesn't really want to know.  She also doesn't want to be attracted to him. He's constantly being as ass.  

As for Nate himself, I really liked him.  Sure, he's a jerk to Holly in the beginning, but that doesn't last long and he has good reason for it.  He's total devotion to his family is admirable.  Not many people would rise to that challenge like he did.  Also, once he gets over his issues, he is quite charming.  He's determination to get Holly through this event, as well as his determination to show her how gorgeous she is was swoon-worthy.  We need more guys like that.

One thing I loved about this is the fact that Holly isn't a stick.  Though her actual size is never disclosed, it's made clear she has curves and is entirely self-conscious of her looks.  She doesn't feel attractive, at all.  I think it's a feeling we can all relate to.  I also just enjoyed the basic story line.  I like romance, especially ones where the characters have misconceptions about each other.  I love those confrontation scenes where they learn the truth and are stunned by it.  This is no exception.  When Nate and Holly finally have it out, I was in heaven.  They both learn how wrong they are.  

I only had a few issues with it.  The first being the sex thing.  I realize this is a romance novel and it's a fantasy and that's great, but listening to Holly go on and on about how each orgasm was better than the last had me rolling my eyes.  Yeah, we get it, Nate is very skilled.  Can we move on?  My other issue was Holly forgiving Daisy's past digressions.  This may be just me being biased because I am not the forgive and forget type, but I just can't understand how she can forgive Daisy.  What Daisy did was horrible and, for me, the reasons she gives doesn't excuse her actions.  Period.  Some lines cannot be crossed and some things cannot be undone.  

Beyond that, this was a highly entertaining romance.  When I listen to audiobooks, I usually just listen for half and hour or so per day during my lunch break.  By that method, it usually takes about a month to get through a decent audiobook because they are all so long.  That is not the case with this one.  I binged on it.  I started listening Thursday during lunch, listened more on Friday, and then spent a great deal of Saturday trying to complete it.  So it's good enough that I completely disregard my normal audiobook reading habits.  It's sweet, it's sassy, and it's completely heart-felt. It's all you can really ask for in a contemporary romance.  

****Thank you to Carina Press for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****

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