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review 2018-10-05 23:50
Alice in Wonderland meets Gotham..
Alice - Christina Henry

 

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~BOOK BLURB~

Alice

Christina Henry

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In a warren of crumbling buildings and desperate people called the Old City, there stands a hospital with cinderblock walls which echo the screams of the poor souls inside.

 

In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blond, hangs in tangles down her back. She doesn’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place. Just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood…

 

Then, one night, a fire at the hospital gives the woman a chance to escape, tumbling out of the hole that imprisoned her, leaving her free to uncover the truth about what happened to her all those years ago.

 

Only something else has escaped with her. Something dark. Something powerful.

 

And to find the truth, she will have to track this beast to the very heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice.

 

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~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~

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A very dark, twisted and decidedly adult twist on Alice in Wonderland.  It really reminds me of the TV show Gotham.  All, or at least some, of the usual suspects, were there including the Jabberwocky.  Some of them have variations of names like Hatcher instead of Hatter.   While I didn't like this as much as The Mermaid or Lostboy, it was a decent story, except for that anti-climatic ending.  The most disappointing aspect of this was the narrator, most of the voices she did for other characters were sadly pathetic.  The narrator is supposed to put you in the story...not take you out of it.

 

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~MY RATING~

3.5STARS - GRADE=B-

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~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

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Plot~ 3.8/5

Main Characters~ 3.7/5

Secondary Characters~ 3.2/5

The Feels~ 3/5

Pacing~ 3.7/5

Addictiveness~ 3.5/5

Theme or Tone~ 3/5

Flow (Writing Style)~  3.7/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 3.7/5

Originality~ 4/5

Ending~ 3/5  Cliffhanger~ It has closure, but it does end sort of abruptly.

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Book Cover~ Meh…

Narration~ 2 for Jenny Sterlin

Series~ The Chronicles of Alice #1

Setting~ The Old City

Source~ Audiobook (Scribd)

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I used this for Gothic Square in Halloween Bingo 2018

 

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review 2018-09-23 19:13
A disappointing ending to one of my favorite series...3.5 Out Of 5 STARS worth
The Lost Codex - Heather Lyons

 

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~BOOK BLURB~

The Lost Codex

Heather Lyons

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Allies, once inseparable, splinter until they break apart. 

An insidiousness carves its way through Wonderland, challenging the land’s very existence. 

Battle lines will be drawn as pages, long languishing in darkness, are finally illuminated. 

Swords will clash, blood will be spilled, and lives will be lost. 

For what is written can still be erased.

 

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~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~

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I wanted to love this…I have loved the first three books in The Collector's Society.  This has always been a uniquely told book series, but this one was just too out there in left field and left me feeling confused and sadly disappointed.  It felt like it dragged a lot of the time and was the longest 411 pages ever.  I've adored these characters and I have been fascinated with the premise, so I tried to let that reflect in my rating.  I guess, overall I just wanted this play out differently…and that ending…well, I guess ultimately that ending left an opening for this story to play out differently...

 

I actually finished the last half or so of this book with the Audio version, because I was being plagued by migraines and couldn't continue reading.  I did not care for the narration of this at all, though.  Heather Lyons, in my opinion, this series could have benefitted from a different narrator, in fact adding a male voice would have been worked much better for Finn's parts and for the print version, you really need to have someone proofread it.

 

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~MY RATING~

3.5STARS - GRADE=B-

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~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

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Plot~ 3.2/5

Main Characters~ 5/5

Secondary Characters~ 3.8/5

The Feels~ 3.7/5

Pacing~ 3/5

Addictiveness~ 3/5

Theme or Tone~ 4/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 3.7/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 4.3/5

Originality~ 4/5

Ending~ 4/5 Cliffhanger~ This is supposed to be the last one…but it could be continued…with the way it ended.

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Book Cover~ It's fairly cool…

Series~ The Collector's Society #4

Setting~ The Institute, Antarctica, Wonderland

Source~ I own Kindle eBook

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I used this for Relics and Curiosities Square in Halloween Bingo 2018

 

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review 2018-09-18 11:33
‘Dark Descent’ gives Elizabeth Frankenstein a voice, in a retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic, now 200 years old
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein - Kiersten White

It has been two hundred years since an eighteen-year old Mary Shelley gave life to one of the most haunting novels of all time and the first true work of science fiction, so Kiersten White’s retelling of ‘Frankenstein’ couldn’t come at a more perfect time. To think that the original book was written when a young girl accepted the challenge of writing a ‘ghost story’, and she originally didn’t lay claim to her own work.

 

Kiersten White has chosen to write ‘Dark Descent’ as a retelling from Elizabeth Lavenza’s perspective, a feminist retelling if there possibly can be one, set in a time when women were taught to be objects to be acquired.
In Shelley’s story, Elizabeth Lavenza (later to become Frankenstein) is a ‘gift’ given to Victor Frankenstein, a socially awkward child, and she is taken in by the affluent Frankenstein family in Geneva, saving her from her own mother and a life of destitution. Young Elizabeth tries desperately to win the favors of the volatile Victor, and to secure her place in the Frankenstein household, and soon brings in another young girl, Justine, much like herself, saving her from a life similar to her own. Justine Moritz is brought into the home as a governess to the other Frankenstein children, a calling that she is a natural at, and she and Elizabeth become fast friends. Much of this background is given to the reader by way of flashback interludes, as are the times that Elizabeth and Victor spent together back in Geneva before he leaves.

 

‘Dark Descent’ traces Elizabeth’s and Justine’s footsteps as they travel to Ingolstadt to find Victor - and his friend, Henry - which is where he went to continue ‘his studies’, but recently haven’t heard from. Following clues that are found in his letters home, they don’t have much to go on, but Elizabeth fears Victor’s obsessions and fevers have overcome him, and only she knows how to help him.
She also comes to the realization of what his experiments really signify, and wants to protect them from being discovered.

 

Without going further (maybe there are some people out there who don’t know the Frankenstein tale), what I will say is that this is a captivating, dark, and tragic story; times were bleak for many, and even more dismal for women, and this is made painfully clear in this retelling. White has made sure to paint a vivid picture of the ugly prospects that women had in the times of Elizabeth Frankenstein: the choices she mulls over in her head constantly are framed by how society judged women’s place in society and expected them to behave. None of that was science-fiction, and it provides a fascinating historical perspective, and leading questions into feminism. It’s not by coincidence that Shelley herself was the daughter of radical social philosophers, with her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, being a writer of one of the most important founding works on family structure and women’s education in the eighteenth-century.

 

*It’s worth noting too, that the backstory and tumultuous early life of Elizabeth mirrors that of Mary Shelley (brought up by foster parents, suffered a lot of losses in her life). I find this fascinating, and feel that this permeates the writing of the original novel, and White tries to reflect this shadowing of tumultuousness, particularly in the flashbacks.

Initially I found the book slow to get into, but I later likened it to the slow discoveries that Elizabeth was making, and how the travel at the time must have felt, and I realized that this is the type of novel that I didn’t need to rush through after all. That said, at about half way, the pace picked up considerably and I didn’t want to put it down. Once the ‘monster’ comes into the story, everything seems to happen almost too quickly, and I had a lot of overwhelming emotions in the second half of the book that made it a weightier read as it went on, descending further into grief and desperation. The title is incredibly apt in that respect. I also especially love that the tone and prose feel in keeping with the period; Kiersten did an excellent job with this.

 

Few works of fiction can garner the status of crossing so many genres (horror, romance, sci-fi, literary fiction), have affected pop culture and so many types of media, for so many generations, and with one mention of the title, conjure up so vivid images and visceral reactions to its central story. Kiersten White has captured those images and the emotions effectively inside her version, without the cartoonish depiction of the modern monster, returning him to Shelley’s imagining. Upon reading, there is a sense that Elizabeth and the monster have much in common, and the misunderstanding from the world around them is palpable. There is a distinct uneasiness at the end though, and much like the end of the ‘Frankenstein’, and even ‘Dracula’, you’re left with the feeling that things are unfinished, and that the myth will continue. It’s a feeling I relish. If you have a taste for dark, gothic, or classic fiction, give this one a read; it’s also a fabulous pick especially for lovers of classic horror and science-fiction. Thank you, Mary Shelley!

 

*Kudos as always to Regina Flath for her brilliant design of the cover. Stunning.

 

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/2305950033
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review 2018-09-13 19:08
The fairy tale you thought you knew...The story of the Sea Witch, the villainess from Hans Christian Anderson's classic tale The Little Mermaid.
Sea Witch - Sarah Henning

 

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~BOOK BLURB~

Sea Witch

Sarah Henning

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Ever since her best friend Anna died, Evie has been an outcast in her small fishing town. Hiding her talents, mourning her loss, drowning in her guilt.

Then a girl with an uncanny resemblance to Anna appears on the shore, and the two girls catch the eyes of two charming princes. Suddenly Evie feels like she might finally have a chance at her own happily ever after.

But magic isn’t kind, and her new friend harbors secrets of her own. She can’t stay in Havnestad—or on two legs—without Evie’s help. And when Evie reaches deep into the power of her magic to save her friend’s humanity—and her prince’s heart—she discovers, too late, what she’s bargained away.

 

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~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~

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This wasn't exactly what I was expecting…at first its girls dancing with boys and "wouldn't it be fun if we got together with cousins, what fun we would have, oh la".  Ugh.  There was a little bit of darkness and witchiness lurking in the story at that point.  Then about 60% into it…BAM…the story takes a twist down the dark & nasty…

 

Overall that turn made this, by far, a better story than it was shaping up to be.  So if your willing to hang in there through the less than worthwhile parts of the story, I think it will end up being a mostly satisfying read, as long as you don't pick apart its inconsistencies. And especially, if you like the Little Mermaid, although it's more of a backstory than a retelling.

 

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~MY RATING~

☆3.5☆STARS - GRADE=B-

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~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

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Plot~ 3.7/5

Main Characters~ 3.5/5

Secondary Characters~ 3/5

The Feels~ 3/5

Pacing~ 3.5/5

Addictiveness~ 4/5

Theme or Tone~ 4/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 2.8/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 3/5

Originality~ 4/5

Ending~ 4/5 Cliffhanger~ Well…

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Book Cover~ It's super gorgeous…love it.

Narration~ 3.5 for Billie Fulford-Brown, she was okay…I just had a difficult time with her accent.

Setting~ Havnestad, Denmark

Source~ Audiobook (Library)

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I used this for Fear the Drowning Deep Square in Halloween Bingo

 

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review 2018-09-05 19:20
Not the Cinderella story that you know...
 All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother - Danielle Teller

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~BOOK BLURB~

All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella's Stepmother

Danielle Teller

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We all know the story of Cinderella. Or do we?

 

As rumors about the cruel upbringing of beautiful newlywed Princess Cinderella roil the kingdom, her stepmother, Agnes, who knows all too well about hardship, privately records the true story…

 

A peasant born into serfdom, Agnes is separated from her family and forced into servitude as a laundress’s apprentice when she is only ten years old. Using her wits and ingenuity, she escapes her tyrannical matron and makes her way toward a hopeful future. When teenaged Agnes is seduced by an older man and becomes pregnant, she is transformed by love for her child. Once again left penniless, Agnes has no choice but to return to servitude at the manor she thought she had left behind. Her new position is nursemaid to Ella, an otherworldly infant. She struggles to love the child who in time becomes her stepdaughter and, eventually, the celebrated princess who embodies everyone’s unattainable fantasies. The story of their relationship reveals that nothing is what it seems, that beauty is not always desirable, and that love can take on many guises.

 

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~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~

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Take the story of Cinderella and take out all the fantastical elements and you'll have an idea of what this story is about.  This is not fantasy…it's more like historical fiction.  This is all the harshness and unfairness of the medieval times with a Cinderella twist.  Told from the point of view of Agnes…the so-called wicked Step-mother.  Her story is decidedly poignant and I totally empathized with her.  Despite having some slow spots in the beginning, I thoroughly enjoyed this, and by the halfway point, I was totally invested. 

 

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~MY RATING~

4.2STARS - GRADE=B+

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~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

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Plot~ 4.2/5

Main Characters~ 4/5

Secondary Characters~ 3.8/5

The Feels~ 4/5

Pacing~ 3.5/5

Addictiveness~ 4/5

Theme or Tone~ 4/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 3.5/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 4.3/5

Originality~ 4.7/5

Ending~ 4.5/5 Cliffhanger~ Nope.

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Book Cover~ It's okay…

Narration~4 for Jane Copeland, was admirably done.

Setting~ Some sort of Shire and a royal court, it was hard to decipher.

Source~ Audiobook (Library)

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