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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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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Book Review #1: Twisted Tales

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So when my good friend Deborah over at My Random Musings announced on her blog that she was publishing her first book, I was so happy for her. When she announced that it was a book about the dark side of human nature, I was elated and immediately offered to write a review for her. She was happy to let me read it for this review of her first book, Twisted Tales.

It is a book that contains 27 short stories about the dark side of human nature. From a battered person who still loves her partner, to a failed suicide attempt, to a stalker; each story explores the darkness that is within each of us… Whether we choose to admit it or not.

From short, one or two paragraph stories that get straight to the point, to longer stories containing a few short chapters, each story captures the imagination and makes one think. One of the first twisted tales that I really liked was Darkness. I love when the character writes that darkness is like armor. I immediately connected to that from my childhood when darkness, though terrifying, was a shield for me when I needed to hide. Darkness can sometimes be our friend.

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Blurb from the book

Date Night was another I loved because I love the surprise twist at the end. I love thinking I know who gets it only to be surprised by a sudden twist in the story. I thought I knew how the story was going to go. Even when I sort of got the feeling the original killer was someone else. At the very end there was yet another surprise.

Done Deal is another mystery that I didn’t think was such a mystery until the very end. As a mother I really connected with the character because she was put in a situation by the devil that made me sympathize with her. She did what she did for her child. No, I’m not going to tell you. You have to read it for yourself but oh boy, does it twist you up by the end!!

 

 

One of the last two of the twisted tales that I’m going to talk about is Gaze. This is the stalker tale that I like. I love how Deborah really takes us into the mind of the stalker. Some of what she thinks actually makes a little bit of sense. In this character’s own twisted mind, she actually believes what she is doing is right.

And last but certainly not least, the twisted tale that I connected to the most was Unloved. How many years went by in my childhood where I didn’t feel loved. This story actually hit very close to home for me but it’s my favorite. Without going into too much detail, it’s about a boy who killed his parents. Wait, though because that’s not the main part of the story. At least, not for me. It’s WHY he killed them. And I will leave it there.

These Twisted Tales actually started out as a writing challenge for Deborah. They are told in alphabetical order from A to Z. Despite a few minor typos here and there, the writing is detailed and imaginative. The characters are riveting and easy to connect with. The stories are easy to read while the content in some of the stories are vague enough to keep you guessing.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I hope you do too! You can purchase the book on Amazon FYI: If the link doesn’t work, you will have to copy and paste it. I have tried several times to allow you to just click on it but it isn’t working for some reason.      https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01H94D1MS

If you want to read Deborah’s blog, I have posted the link above. If you want to follow her you can do so below:

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Dragon Age Inquisition: Gettin’ My Gamer Girl On!

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So the past two weeks have been kind of a lazy, yet productive time for me. I got a few personal things done that I needed to get squared away but during this time I really needed to zone out by getting my gamer girl on!

It started out as me thinking of my future YouTube channel and mulling over the different reviews I want to do. Of course one of my first reviews will be my take on Dragon Age: Inquisition. Yeah, I know, for all you gamer geeks out there, I am coming into this a bit late seeing as how the game is almost two years old already and won game of the year.

dragonagegameofyear_rockinrandommomAnywho, So what started out as my attempt to refresh some of my memory of the game so that I can portray an accurate assessment of my opinion, ended up with me geeking out and playing the game for days on end, completely ignoring other things. Being aware of this flaw, I always made sure the things that needed to get done, got done before I started my gaming binge, as I like to call it.

I am lucky, too, that my boys are old enough now that I have a bit more freedom to play but I always make sure my babies are taken care of and on the nights when their dad had them, oh it was on like Donkey Kong baby! I rocked out in my jammies, drinking lots of coffee so that I could stay up as late as my 39 year old body could stand, propped up on my couch with three comfy pillows, only getting up when I needed to use the little girl’s room. This, my friends, is me getting my gamer girl on!

I also had my notepad and pen next to me to write down notes for my review. See, it wasn’t all wasted, ha ha! However, this was more than just me needing to jot down notes and prepare for a review. I needed this time to zone out from the world. I barely got online, with the exception of the occasional ding I would get on my phone when someone sent me a tweet, or check an email or two. Mostly, though, I stayed away from the internet. I even stayed away from Cable TV.

Yes, I have missed the last two episodes of Game of Thrones and three episodes of Outlander. I even missed three or four episodes of Fear the Walking Dead… That’s what DVR is for! I have a lot of catching up to do so no spoilers please! That’s another reason I’ve stayed away from Facebook in particular. I don’t want any spoilers of my favorite TV shows!

As I said earlier though, the past two weeks weren’t all fun and gaming. I finally got my student loan stuff worked out. I am also finally getting rid of my old car because it’s just too broken for me to fix it. There were some housing issues that I had to deal with. On the plus side, I finally got my resume looking pretty good! All is well but I needed a breather.

Back to my game. So, yes I use gaming as a way to escape this world sometimes. It doesn’t happen that often anymore as I have found several other ways to zone out. However, this time I had a date with my characters in Dragon Age: Inquisition. They gave me the solace I needed to help me hit that refresh button on my soul when the world just gets to be a little too much.

In Dragon Age: Inquisiton I can be one of four races – Dalish Elf, human Noble, Qunari Tal Vashoth, Dwarven Carta. Within these classes are races. I can be a warrior, a mage, or a rogue either male or female. I have two of every single character, both male and female! This game allows me to step into a new world where I get to fight dragons, use magical armor and weapons, have a romance (or two), and save the world! Below is the video that I absolutely love and sums up the game perfectly! The band who sings the song is called The Phantoms! If you like this song, be sure to check them out as well!

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