The Immortal City by Amy Kuivalainen (ARC Review)

The Immortal City by Amy Kuivalainen

About the author

Amy Kuivalainen is a Finnish-Australian writer that is obsessed with magical wardrobes, doors, auroras and burial mounds that might offer her a way into another realm. Until then, she will write about fairy tales, monsters, magic and mythology because that’s the next best thing. She is the author of The Firebird Fairytales Trilogy and The Blood Lake Chronicles series that mash up traditional tales and mythology in new and interesting ways.

Blurb

In the heart of Venice, a woman is sacrificed to a forgotten god, sparking a mystery lost for thousands of years.

Dr. Penelope Bryne is ridiculed by the academic community for her quest to find the remnants of Atlantis, but when an ancient and mysterious script is found at a murder site, she flies to Venice determined to help the police before the killer strikes again.

Penelope has spent her entire life trying to ignore the unexplainable and magical history of Atlantis, but when she meets the enigmatic Alexis Donato, everything she believes will be challenged. Little does she know, Alexis has spent the last three years doing his best to sabotage Penelope’s career so doesn’t learn the truth—Atlantis had seven magicians who survived, and who he has a duty to protect.

As Alexis draws her into the darkly, seductive world of magic and history, Penelope will have to use her heart as well as her head if she is to find the answers she seeks. 

With the new MOSE system due to come online, and Carnivale exploding around them, Penelope and Alexis will have to work together to stop the killer and prevent dark magic from pulling Venice into the sea.

Review

Thank you to NetGalley and BHC Press for granting me an advanced copy of this book for an honest review.

I was so happy that my request on NetGalley was granted for this book and a couple of days ago I started the book and to be honest finished it in a matter of hours, I simply could not put it down. Even though the book has not been published yet I am desperate for the sequel to be published.

I found the story to immediately hook me in and wanted to keep reading, the idea of a forgotten language and god suddenly arising after thousands of years was fascinating. I also thoroughly enjoyed the idea of magicians existing in the world for thousands of years hidden from mankind but one human has managed to get through to them and that person is Dr Penelope Bryne.

Penelope has always loved the mystery of Atlantis and even though people make fun of her she never gives up trying to find it and prove that it exists. I loved her drive and passion in the book, she is a massively strong character but also has her weaknesses but she knows how to control this using her yoga and meditation practises. I have never had much time for yoga but reading this book has made me want to try it again.

The setting of the book was beautifully chosen, what better place to choose than Venice? I would love to visit Venice because it always strikes me as a magical place especially when Carnivale is taking place. I hope in the next books Venice will feature heavily and we get to see more of the catacombs and hidden parts of Venice.

The seven magicians were brilliant as they all have their own individual characters which comes through their magic. So each magician engages their magic differently depending on how their magic is formed and created. They all reminded me of Greek Gods and by their descriptions they look like Greek Gods as well. Although they also seem like teenagers when left unattended by a responsible person for too long. All in all it seems like a fun place to be when they are all playing around.

I loved this book so much I have actually pre-ordered the hardback of the book to read again and hopefully one day will have a hardback sequel to add to the collection. I highly recommend this book to fantasy and history lovers. I give this book a massive 5 out of 5 Dragons and cannot wait to read it again.

To Purchase
Amazon
Waterstones

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Star Sullivan by Maeve Binchy (Review)

Star Sullivan by Maeve Binchy

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About the author

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Maeve Binchy was born on the 28th May 1939 in County Dublin and was an Irish novelist, playwright, short story writer and journalist. After a short spell as a teacher Binchy became a journalist with the Irish Times, for which she wrote feature articles and columns. Her first novel Light a Penny Candle, was published in 1982, and from then she has written more than a dozen novels and short stories. Several of her novels have been adapted for cinema and television. She was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award at the British Book Awards in 1999. She sadly passed away in 2012 at the age of 73.

Blurb

Molly Sullivan said that the new baby was a little star. She was no trouble at all and she was always smiling… so she became known as Star.

Star Sullivan just wanted everyone to be happy- her father to stop gambling, her mother not to work so hard, her brother to stay out of trouble, her sister to stop worrying about every little thing she ate. Then Laddy moved in next door – and everything began to change, until Star was no longer the sweet, thoughtful girl everyone loved and no one worried about…

Review

I’ve never read a book by Maeve Binchy and when I saw this in the book pile at church I thought I would give it a try as it was only a quick read of 106 pages. I must admit I read it in one sitting but shouldn’t have started it so late at night because I ended up going to bed at 1am. Not good when you have work in the morning.

I really enjoyed Binchy’s style of writing and I will definitely read more of her books. I liked how real life the story was and how well it all flowed. I also appreciated how Binchy fit a good story into such a short space without the story suffering.

Star, the main character of the book, in my opinion has been let down massively by her family. She is a beautifully kind soul who worries about everyone, she worries so much that she doesn’t notice or care about her own wellbeing. She is very naive and her parents and older siblings do not try to help, teach or really notice the poor girl. Everyone is wrapped up in their own lives and worries that they do not nice Star worrying about everyone else and not growing up herself.

The other element I do not understand in this book is why they turn on her? When I read the blurb I thought it was going to be a typical tale of good girl goes bad because of bad friends etc. However that is not the case, Star still remains her good natured self just trying to help her family and friends.

I also did not understand Laddy at all especially at the end when he turned on Star’s family. The whole thing was rather a mystery to me as was Kenny’s sudden turn of character.

Overall I enjoyed the book and was pleased with the ending, although I was a little confused in places, may be the confusion is just me though. I think Star was very let down by her family and friends but thankfully rose above all this and turned into a mature, hard working adult, who didn’t worry so much about others. I gave this story 3 out 5 Dragons and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants a quick little read.

To purchase

Waterstones

Amazon

Kindle

Lady Book Dragon

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Waterstones Challenge: Walsall

So on an absolutely miserable day with rain and freezing cold temperatures we decided to get another Waterstones ticked off the challenge list. So off we went to my old university stomping ground, Walsall.

I loved this store! Mainly because I found all three books I wanted to buy straight away and Telford had let me down recently.

I also loved the building it was very spacious and full of books, the only down side was it was a little shabby in places especially the stair carpets but all the books made up for that.

The three books I bought were:-

Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

My husband also found a very novel bookmark that I ended up buying.

 

Very excited to get reading these books and using my new bookmark.

So this is another Waterstones ticked off the list. Hopefully over Easter I will manage to tick off some more stores from the list!

Lady Book Dragon.

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The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy by Tim Burton (Review)

The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories by Tim Burton

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About the author

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Tim Burton was born in August 1958 and is an American filmmaker, artist, writer and animator. He is famous for his dark, gothic and eccentric horror and fantasy films. He often works with Johnny Depp and Danny Elfman.

Blurb

Twenty-three illustrated gothic tales from the dark corridors of the imagination of Tim Burton. Burton – the creative genius behind Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow and Nightmare Before Christmas, among others – now gives birth to a cast of gruesomely sympathetic children: misunderstood outcasts who struggle to find love and belonging in their cruel, cruel worlds. His lovingly lurid illustrations evoke both the sweetness and tragedy of these hopeful, yet hapless beings.

Review

When I saw this book in the bookshop a few days ago I grabbed it and immediately had to buy it. I love all the work of Tim Burton but I did not know he had done a book. I was so happy to find this book and very excited to read it. Yesterday I finally had time to sit down with a mug of tea and read it.

This book is a collection of short tales illustrated by Tim Burton himself, what is not to like? All the tales feel like children’s stories with the short little paragraphs and illustrations, however this is far too gothic and gruesome in places for children so Young Adults and upwards is a must.

The book is depressing, gruesome, gothic but most of all hilarious but naughty hilarious because you feel like you should not be laughing at these tales. I found The Melancholy Death of the Oyster Boy to be very depressing, I felt very sad about the fate of the Oyster Boy and I was rather shocked about how he died.

Another element that surprised me was how many tales contained parents who hate their children. It made me wonder what Burton feels about his own children to be honest. I am not complaining though as it made for good reading.

Nearly all the tales are my favourites but a few are my absolute favourites. Stain Boy is one because this reminds me of some of my nephews who no matter what get dirt everywhere and clean clothes do not stay clean for long. Sue was another favourite, the idea of someone walking around with a tissue attached to their face made me giggle.

I loved everything about this book, the illustrations, the stories everything is just brilliant. The book took less than half an hour to read, I found I wanted it to last longer. I definitely plan on re-reading this on halloween. This book has a massive 5 out 5 Dragons.

Purchase this book from Waterstones

Amazon Paperback

Lady Book Dragon.

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The Inner Voice of Love by Henri J. M. Nouwen (Review)

The Inner Voice of Love by Henri J. M. Nouwen

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About the author

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Henri Nouwen was a renowned priest and author, respected professor and beloved pastor of the L’Arche Daybreak Community in Toronto. His many bestselling books include The Return of the Prodigal Son, Home Tonight and Bread for the Journey. He died in 1996.

Blurb

The Inner Voice of Love is Henri Nouwen’s ‘secret journal’. It was written during the most difficult period of his life when, following the breakdown of a close relationship, he lost his self-esteem, his energy to live and work, his sense of being loved – even his hope in God.

For a long time Henri felt that what he had written during this time was too raw, intense and private to share. Instead he produced The Return of the Prodigal Son, in which he expressed some of the insights he had gained during the crisis. However, as time went on his feelings changed due partly in response to the persuasion of friends who asked ‘Why keep your anguish hidden from the people who have been nurtured by your writing? Wouldn’t it be a consolation for them to know about the fierce inner battle that lies beneath many of your spiritual insights?’

The warm reception enjoyed by The Inner Voice of Love over the years testifies to Henri’s generosity and wisdom in sharing this difficult part of his journey. For everyone who is living through the pain of broken relationships or suffering from the loss of a loved one, this book offers new courage, new hope, even new life.

Review

A friend recommended this book to me and last year I started to read it, since then I have dipped into it and read a little occasionally. This book is made up of one to three page reflections, which are all under different titles.

At the beginning I enjoyed this book and found it useful but as it went on I found it rather repetitive and it started to drag. I realise this book was written at a very difficult time of Nouwen’s life but I think it should have been edited as certain parts are basically saying the same thing but are just under a different title.

I also disagreed to a certain extent with his advice about relationships and how breaking of relationships can be devastating. As a priest he has never experienced in my opinion the biggest relationship which is marriage. Marriage is sacred and in the eyes of God forever, and to cope with a marriage break up must be devastating but Nouwen has no true experience of this, yes he will have seen marriage break ups and experienced the end of friendships and loss of loved ones but in my opinion he can not generalise all relationships like he does in the book.

I also disagreed with the fact that most of his reflections seem to be based on Nouwen withdrawing from society. This I do not find to be beneficial to anyone, everyone needs help from friends, everyone needs to know there is someone there for them.

All in all I found this book a bit of a struggle as I did not agree with all of it and found it repetitive. As a Christian I agreed with a lot about what was said about God in our lives but not all of it. I gave this book 2 out 5 Dragons.

Purchase from Waterstones

Lady Book Dragon

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On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts by Thomas De Quincey (Review)

On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts by Thomas De Quincey

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About the author

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Thomas De Quincey was born on the 15th August 1785 and died on the 8th December 1859. He was an English essayist best known for Confessions of an English Opium-Eater.

Blurb

The provocative early-nineteenth-century essayist casts a blackly comic eye over the aesthetics of murder through the ages.

Review

So on to the fourth Penguin Little Black Classics book and this one really took me out of my comfort zone. I picked this book up thinking normally I would never dream of reading a book about murder being a fine art and to be honest after this I do not think I will read another book about murder being an art form.

I did struggle a great deal with this book and I really did not see the comic side in it that is mentioned in the blurb. I found it very hard to get into and very disturbing that people seem to enjoy studying murder. I also did not like the fact that murder was referred to as an art form. However it wasn’t all bad, I did find certain little stories inside it interesting, for instance the story about Descartes was very interesting.

I think it was a disturbing essay and it made me wonder what type of mind Quincey has to come up with this essay. However the essay was an eye opener about things that were happening in that point of history. However I didn’t really enjoy the book and wouldn’t read it again. This is why sadly I have only given the book 1 Dragon out of 5.

To purchase this book from Waterstones please click here.

Lady Book Dragon.

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The Endgame by Jeffrey Archer (Review)

The Endgame by Jeffrey Archer

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About the author

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Jeffrey Archer was born in England in 1940, he is a former politician and author. Archer was a member of parliament from 1969-1974 but did not seek re-election due to a financial scandal that almost bankrupt him. Facing bankruptcy Archer began to write and in so doing revived his fortunes. Archer’s political career has been filled with scandal and in 2001 he was sent to jail for perjury and perverting the course of justice, in 2003 he was released. All his life experiences influence his writing and make for interesting reading.

Blurb

Taken from To Cut a Long Story Short, Jeffrey Archer’s fourth collection of short stories, The Endgame is an irresistible, witty and ingenious short read.

After he becomes a widower, wealthy Cornelius Barrington decides to test the loyalty of his family and friends to himself, or his money, by declaring himself bankrupt, enlisting the help of his old friend and trusted lawyer, Frank Vintcent, to make the ruse authentic. Soon though, Barrington is left pondering whether blood really is thicker than water . . .

Review

Today I had a very gap filled day teaching so I thought I would read a short story in the little gaps. This made a nice change from the recent short stories by Jeffrey Archer that I have read as the recent ones have all involved men dropping everything to run after a young pretty woman.

This is a beautiful little story where the main character Cornelius needs to rewrite his will but first he wants to see who deserves his wealth. Cornelius has always suspected that certain members of his family and friends prefer his money rather than himself, so he decided to put his theory to the test.

When Cornelius pretends to be made bankrupt he watches his family and friends reactions to what has happened and finds out who his true friends are. As the story develops it is interesting to see Cornelius’ plan unfold and how each member of his family reacts and how his friends react.

This story shows how money can make people react differently, even act like crazy people and yet there are people out there who money does not touch and who remain true. I really enjoyed reading this short story and I was upset when it ended as I did not want it to end but for the story to develop further. Considering it is a short story there is a lot of content within it and there is never a dull moment. It just shows Archer’s talent as a writer to make a story work so well in such a small space of time. I gave this story 5 Dragons out of 5 Dragons.

To buy the complete book of short stories from Waterstones please click here.

Lady Book Dragon.