Book Review #5: The Historian

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I love a good Gothic novel. Ever since reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in college I have loved the writing style and the eerie feel to the descriptions used in these books. The Historian is such a novel. Written by Elizabeth Kostova in 2005, I finally got around to reading this book that had been sitting on my shelf for two years.

Blurb on the Back:

The Historian is the story of a young woman plunged into a labyrinth where the secrets of her family’s past connect to an inconceivable evil: the dark fifteenth-century reign of Vlad the Impaler and a time-defying pact that may have kept his awful work alive through the ages. The search for the truth becomes an adventure of monumental proportions, taking us from monasteries and dusty libraries to the capitals of Eastern Europe – in a feat of storytelling so rich, so hypnotic, so exciting that it has enthralled readers around the world.

As you can see, it’s about the search for Dracula. Well, its a search for the truth that leads to the search for Dracula, er go, I had to read this book!

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What more can be said about The Historian?

Well, it starts off with a teenage girl who has a very close relationship with her father. However, he keeps secrets and goes away on a lot of secret trips. Then he disappears. This prompts the young woman to go searching for him. Through a series of letters, she finds out more about her father, mother and her father’s mentor – who is the reason this search began in the first place.

There are many stories being told within the main story but the main story actually has four stories in one. Try saying that five times fast, ha ha! The young woman, her father, mother, and her father’s mentor. They are all historians in search for the truth.

The mentor, Professor Rossi, starts the adventure through basic historical curiosity that leads him down a dark path. He disappears. There is a book left for the father, Paul. He follows the bread crumbs which lead him to meeting his future wife and mother to the young woman. Together, they go looking for the professor, traveling around most of Europe and down the rabbit hole of evil.

My take on The Historian:

While I generally enjoyed the book, there are some things I didn’t enjoy about it. The story itself is amazing. I felt like I was reading a tamer version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The writing however, reminded me a bit of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (a book that is mentioned a few times). It was kind of dry in certain parts. There were too many descriptions. Even the various monasteries described in the book were too long and I often found myself getting distracted by the descriptions that I forgot where I was in the context of the story.

Describing a great scene is pivotal to storytelling in my opinion but too much description takes away from the story and I found my mind wandering several times throughout the book. Telling a story within a story is challenging.

I have been writing a story about four vampire siblings for ten years now and am still struggling with telling the stories without boring the reader. So, I like that Elizabeth did this. What I didn’t like though was in the first part of the book, the stories are swapped so much that again, I found it difficult to follow at times. This may be a hard read for some.

The writer puts a lot of real life historical facts into the book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I learned more about the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria then I ever thought I would even like to. The Historian was more than entertainment for me. It was learning.

She also did this with Vlad the Impaler. I know a lot about the man but a lot of the history of who he really was and his achievements (and atrocities) are still a mystery to this day. So I really enjoyed learning more.

Dracula is a character who everyone loves to write about because he was a real person. Kind of like Robin Hood. At one point in history a real Robin Hood existed yet the legend has been told differently throughout the ages. He has become more fiction than fact. The same is said of Dracula and people love to write about the legend.

All in all I really enjoyed reading this book. I have made it a point to make reading a part of my bedtime routine so that I can get more reading in. I am looking forward to writing about the different books I plan to read in the coming year.

I hope you enjoyed my book review on The Historian!

Thanks so much for reading!

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Ode to the Books of My Childhood

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2018 is the year I make books more of a priority in my life. Right before Christmas, actually, I started reading a book as part of my night time routine to get myself ready for sleep. I’ve been reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. I will write my own review on it next week. Anyway, it got me thinking about my history with reading. While Music has always been my first love, I can say that reading was always my second.

Music and books did something wonderful for me. They allowed a lonely and unwanted little girl to escape the realities of her life and enter into new worlds. So I’m going to go through and talk about each book that held significance in my young life and why two of them are still so prevalent for me today.

Where the Wild Things Are:

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I was 7 years old when I saw this book at the library at my school. Smokey the Bear was visiting our school that day with several firemen and it was held in the library. It was 1983 and I was living – to put it nicely- in my father’s house. A lot of bad happened there. This book helped me deal.

I remember how much I wanted to be like Max and escape to another world where the monsters felt more human to me than the humans I was under the “care” of. Those monsters seemed like a lot of fun and they loved Max. I thought, “Could they love me too?”

Of course, I wouldn’t go without bringing my little brother along. We would ride in our own little boat across the ocean to where the wild things are. This book encouraged my imagination to soar but it also allowed me to see a different world where children were valued and loved.

Years later when I had my own kids, this was one of the first books I bought. Of course they never had the appreciation for it that I do but it still sits on my bookshelf with pride. Now I look fondly back on a book that helped to keep me from drowning in darkness.

Nothing’s Fair in the Fifth Grade:

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I don’t know if any of you remember this book. My aunt found it at a flea market when I was 10 and it was perfect for me at the time because 5th grade was when I started puberty. I got teased quite a bit and felt very much like an outsider. I no longer have this book. I lost it a long time ago but it helped me feel better about my situation by reading about Elsie’s.

Dream Boy:

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This was my first romance novel. By the time I was 14 romance was my thing. I was a dreamer and wanted nothing more than to find a boy like Michael. I actually read this book twice, haha! Those days are long gone though but this book represents for me the girl I used to be. The romantic who wanted so much to be loved.

And finally, the book that gave a young woman hope that lasted for years. This book didn’t just touch the romantic in me. This book touched my tougher side. My stubborn and ambitious side that needed a push. 

Anne Of Green Gables:

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No other book has captured my imagination and my love as much as Anne of Green Gables. At 16 years old, I became obsessed with L.M. Montgomery books because of this stubborn and willful redhead who I identified with on every level. Anne was my hero! She represented everything I felt and everything I wanted to be in life.

While there were some differences between Anne and I she had become my fictional best friend. Anne suffered through a lot. She was lonely and felt unloved. Anne was teased at school and made an outcast by several narrow minded parents in town. A child who was immediately looked down upon because of her background. She was a girl who used her vivid imagination to escape. Exactly like I used to be.

However, Anne triumphed and gained the love and respect from everyone in her life. This fictional character filled me with hope for my future. It was almost like she was Alice and she gave me the looking glass. That looking glass allowed me to see beyond my hopeless present and look to a future full of possibilities. I even wanted to have five children because of her and I was going to name my first daughter Anne.

I owned every single L.M. Montgomery book for many years. Then during a flood in an old apartment, I had to throw them away but I will get them back. One by one I will add these precious books to my library again.

What about you? What were your favorite childhood books? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks so much for reading!

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Book Review #4: Lacey Patrick and the Wizard of Darkness

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For my fourth book review, I am writing about a slightly different kind of book. My friend Deborah over at My Random Musings is on fire with her novels! She continues to surprise me with her writing as she tries new genres and pushes the boundaries of her own style. This time she has delved into the fantasy genre with her latest book, Lacey Patrick and the Wizard of Darkness.

When Lacey Patrick dreams of a hot stranger, her whole world turns upside down.

What she learns fill her with dread – not only must she process her whole new identity, but she must also find a way to save herself and her loved ones from a dark force that is stronger than anyone has seen before.

Who can she trust? How can she stop someone so powerful?

Time is running out and Lacey has to find the answers to those questions, and quickly – before it’s too late.

That’s the blurb from Deborah Stansil’s latest book. Sounds pretty interesting right? I thought so which is why I volunteered to read it for this review. She didn’t let me down either. First, I loved the change in the genre. It is refreshing to read a fantasy book for a change.

What Lacey Patrick and the Wizard of Darkness is about:

Different from the usual horror and psychological thrillers I’ve gotten used to reading by my friend Deborah Stansil, this book goes in a different direction, aiming at the young adult fantasy genre. Even though it’s YA, I think adults will also thoroughly enjoy this book.

Ms. Stansil takes us on a journey of a young witch, who doesn’t know she’s a witch until that hot stranger arrives in her life. From there, Lacey will have to navigate finding a dark wizard among her classmates while navigating high school, new love, and finding out who her true friends are.

What I think of the book:

I loved this fresh take on a high school fantasy and I loved this unique look at witches and wizards. Lacey isn’t part of an “in” crowd so to speak but she isn’t entirely an outsider either. I don’t read many books with the middle guy/girl as the main character.

There are several different characters that I, personally, liked very much while others were a bit stand offish. For me, Lacey’s best friend, Kiera wasn’t my favorite character and Lacey’s feelings towards her friend in the end I completely identified with.

There is some predictability with a few of the characters but the end was a bit unpredictable in the way of Deborah’s writing. You’ll have to read it to know what I mean. I like the predictability though because I didn’t have to think too much. While I do love a good book to challenge me, I also love books that I can just sit back and relax with. This book did that for me.bookreview_laceypatrick_rockinrandommom

This book is great for reading while taking a hot bath or for reading at the beach. Now that it’s Autumn, though I can also see myself reading this during a quiet evening to myself with a glass of wine while sitting under some stringed lights and scented candles nearby.

In my line of work where self-care is essential after counseling those with trauma histories, reading a light-hearted fantasy book like this is perfect. It gets me out of my head and transports me to another world entirely. This is a great self-care activity that I enjoy and this book is going to be on my book shelf for a long time.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy but also to anyone looking for a new book to read. Are you ready to try something new? Try this book! Deborah’s book was just released this past Friday on November 11, 2017. So hop on over to Amazon and purchase her Kindle book today!

Thank you for reading my book review. I hope you enjoyed it!

I have two links below. One for America and the other for UK/Europe:

Amazon: U.S

Amazon: UK

Thanks so much for reading!

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Book Review #3: Parodies and Piss Takes by Deborah Stansil

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I have had another great time reading the latest Deborah Stansil book called Parodies and Piss takes! For those of you unfamiliar with her work, Debbie has written 5 books so far. She also has a blog called My Random Musings where you can read more of her writing. Parodies and Piss takes is her 6th book and I’m so glad to be writing this review. I have reviewed two of her other books which you can read here: Twisted Tales and The Joker

What Parodies and Piss takes is about:

Parodies and Piss takes is a collection of poems. They are lighthearted odes to different genres of fiction. As the title of the book says, A collection of poems that explore the tropes of some of the mainstream genres of fiction in a funny, light hearted way. 

What I think of the book:

First and foremost I loved her introduction. I know most people don’t really read the introductions but they are written for a reason. Debbie is honest about not being much of a poet and she lets her readers know that the word poem is used loosely. I love how she makes her audience aware that her “odes” are in themselves a piss take, poking a little fun at each genre she writes about.

parodiesandpisstakes_rockinrandommomI, myself, have never heard the words piss take before. As an American that’s not part of our slang vocabulary over here but I do like this word. I also love learning new slang words from other cultures. Yes, I may be a little weird about that but there it is.

Of course the first genre in Parodies and Piss takes that Deborah addresses is the horror genre. My favorite one. I immediately thought of Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees chasing down young and dumb blond girls in their underwear. Ah, now I’m remembering certain scenes and want to go on a Halloween and Friday, the 13th binge, haha!

Each poem is an ode to a genre. Like, An Ode to the Erotica Genre or An Ode to Non-Fiction:The Child-Rearing Genre. Some of the poems are pretty long, like An Ode to the Fantasy Genre. That one, at least in my head, was clearly about Harry Potter. Other poems are pretty short, like An Ode to Non-Fiction:The Self-Help Genre. All of them are easy to read though.

 

 

In Reviewing this book I really tried to find something that I could say needed improvement but the only thing I came up with were a few typos. Typos, though are all a part of writing. Even the best selling authors have some typos in them. Other than that, I, personally couldn’t find any fault with this book. While it didn’t make my stomach hurt from laughing, it certainly entertained me and I love that it is such an easy read.

So if you are in the mood to read something fun and lighthearted that you can get through in one sitting, Parodies and Piss takes is the book for you! Try it out! Coming out on August 6th, pre-order the Kindle addition on Amazon

Thanks so much for Reading!

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Book Review #2: The Joker

 

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My second book review, The Joker, comes courtesy of one of my favorite bloggers and one many of you know, Debbie Stansil. Any of you who don’t know her yet, she’s fabulous and is such a great writer! You may remember the last book review I wrote was on her collection of short stories. If you haven’t read that yet, feel free to check it out, HERE

A little backstory – The Joker is a supernatural thriller about a demon who possesses and ruins the lives of those possessed. He does what demons do best. The prologue starts in Ireland in 1973 and I highly recommend you read that to get a better understanding of the main story.

The main story centers around Kayleigh and her friends who decide to play with a Ouija board one night while drinking. Yep, you have probably already guessed where this is going. It opens a door and allows the Joker to wreak havoc on Kayleigh and her friends.

joker_rockinrandommomThere is so much more to the story though than just a demon possessing people. This is what I love about Debbie’s writing. You think you know what’s going to happen, then bam! A new twist is just right around the corner. The overall theme isn’t about the demon but about the darkness the main character is forced to face within herself. How does that play out? Well, you will have to read it to find out. If any of you have read her blog or her short stories book, Twisted Tales, then you know what I’m talking about.

Now, having read her last book, as well as being a regular reader of her blog, I didn’t expect her novel to add a little something extra in her storytelling. SEX! Yes, there are pretty explicit sex scenes in the book. Not too many but enough to want to make sure your kids are no where to be seen. I was caught off guard but pleasantly surprised by how the joker uses sex to push Kayleigh into questioning the darkness that she didn’t know she had. Debbie did a great job of telling the sex bits as part of the story and not just an added benefit for the reader.

That’s all I’m going to tell you about her book because I really want you all to read it. Especially if the supernatural is your thing as it is mine. If you want to read her book, it’s available on Amazon both in physical copy and for the kindle. I will be posting the American link below. If you are from another country, Debbie will have that one on her blog.

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Thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoy the book!!

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