Monthly Wrap up – September 2021

Ah, September! My favorite month is coming to an end. As October approaches all I can think is “where has this year gone!?” It has certainly been an eventful and emotional one for me. But that’s not what we’re talking about today.

September was a good month for me in terms of reading. I finished 3 books (one of which was nearly 800 pages) and am working on a fourth. I also accepted several free review copies of books and I started blogging again after a nearly year long hiatus.

So, what’s in store for October? Well, first I’m going to finish the book I’m currently reading. Then, as I mentioned above, I should probably get into those review copies I accepted. I’m trying to keep a balance between the review copies and the books I currently own. Things rarely go as I plan though.

In terms of the books I currently own, I have no real plan of what to read next. I certainly don’t lack for choice and maybe that is part of the problem. I have so many books that I don’t quite know where to start. More than likely it will depend on my mood at the time what I decide to read. No matter what, I hope to keep the good momentum going.

How was September for you? What’s your October looking like?

As always, thanks for reading!

Miranda and Caliban – By Jacqueline Carey – Book Review

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

A lovely girl grows up in isolation where her father, a powerful magus, has spirited them to in order to keep them safe.

We all know the tale of Prospero’s quest for revenge, but what of Miranda? Or Caliban, the so-called savage Prospero chained to his will?

In this incredible retelling of the fantastical tale, Jacqueline Carey shows readers the other side of the coin—the dutiful and tenderhearted Miranda, who loves her father but is terribly lonely. And Caliban, the strange and feral boy Prospero has bewitched to serve him. The two find solace and companionship in each other as Prospero weaves his magic and dreams of revenge.

Always under Prospero’s jealous eye, Miranda and Caliban battle the dark, unknowable forces that bind them to the island even as the pangs of adolescence create a new awareness of each other and their doomed relationship.

Miranda and Caliban is bestselling fantasy author Jacqueline Carey’s gorgeous retelling of The Tempest. With hypnotic prose and a wild imagination, Carey explores the themes of twisted love and unchecked power that lie at the heart of Shakespeare’s masterpiece, while serving up a fresh take on the play’s iconic characters.

Jacqueline Carey is one of those authors that I absolutely adore. When she writes a book, I buy it, no questions asked. She has never disappointed with her novels and she continues to live up to the pedestal I have placed her on in my mind.

I, personally, have never read The Tempest, the Shakespeare play this novel is based on, but I don’t think it’s necessary to have done so before reading this book. I did look up a summary of the The Tempest so I had some idea of what to expect. A part of me wishes I hadn’t because it gave away much of the story.

Anyway, this novel begins when Miranda is only 6 years old. She has been living on the isle with her father and several elementals that act as servants to her father. Except for a random wild boy that sometimes leaves gifts for her, there is on one else on the isle. When Miranda’s father summons the wild boy and essentials binds him into servitude, the plot truly begins.

Caliban, the wild boy, has lived alone on the isle since the death of his mother. He is unable to speak until Miranda begins teaching him. For the first time, Miranda has a friend and companion to spend her days with. As they grow up together, it is only natural for them to form a strong bond.

Jacqueline Carey captures the essence of a Shakespeare play without actually using the same type of language his plays were written in.

I loved Miranda and felt a great deal of compassion for her as she grows up knowing only obedience to her father, who is quick to punish any kind of disobedience with physical pain. She is little more than a pawn in her father’s plans with no real choice in what her life will become.

Caliban is also an interesting character. Seeing through his eyes as he learns how to speak and comprehend and more and more is amazing. Prospero, Miranda’s father, I feel, is the true villain of the story even if Caliban is made out to be so at certain times. If someone bound you against your will, forced you to do all the chores and punished you for the slightest infraction, you’d probably want to kill them too.

I particularly felt for Miranda when she got her first period. She had absolutely no prior knowledge of what to expect and of course was alarmed when she suddenly started bleeding. Even thinking that she was somehow bleeding internally. It was a very stark contrast to the current time when girls are educated about puberty and what to expect to happen to their bodies. I try to imagine not knowing that such a thing was perfectly normal and then have it happen. It would be a terrifying experience to say the least. The description of Miranda’s confusion and symptoms were so very apt.

The ending felt a little vague, perhaps leaving it open for a sequel. I would love to read one if one was ever written. It was also rather bleak, as you don’t know what might come next. My imagination could certainly fill in a few dark happenings afterwards.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and give it a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. I would recommend it to anyone who likes Shakespeare retellings, fantasy novels, and well, anyone who just loves good books.

Have you read Miranda and Caliban? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

The Princess of Elsseria – Legends of the Blue Forest #1 – Leslie G. – Book Review

Synopsis: She is the heiress of the throne, the guardian of the blue forest, the princess of Elsseria, and a creature of darkness.
Liah does not know her origin, or what type of blood runs through her veins. Suffocating in a court that perhaps expects too much from her, she embarks on an adventure to find her own self, although what she might discover scares her more every time.
This book will take you to a world of magic, threatened by a legendary enemy. Where a different kind of princess tries to find her place, and a young Captain falls in love with the wrong person. A world that its inhabitants will defend with fury, rescuing old alliances and forging new ones. A place to dream.

My first impression of this book? Wow! The way the author describes things is so mysterious and beautiful! It drew me in right away and didn’t let go!

This book follows Liah, the Princess of Elsseria, as she tries to find her place in the world and figure out who she is. She already knows she is different from everyone else. Her increasing thirst for blood and inability to control her growing power force her to run away, convinced her people think her a monster.

I loved the way the author described things. It made the forest come alive in my mind, making it easy to fall into the story. Liah is a great character. She’s unique, not only in her appearance but her personality as well. She’s not a pampered princess. She’s knows how to defend her self not only with a sword but her hands as well. Yes, she’s going through emotional turmoil, but who wouldn’t if they thirsted for blood and shot green fire from their hands when they got upset?

Other characters were definitely secondary and not as fleshed out. Except for Derek, the captain of the royal guards. Derek comes from another kingdom to serve as part of an age old agreement between the two kingdoms. He’s instantly enthralled with the beautiful land of Elsseria and it’s beautiful princess. Derek knows that as a mere captain of the guards that he can’t possibly be worthy of Liah, but he can’t help falling for her.

While I really did love this book, I felt that there were a few things that were lacking. The development of the relationship between Derek and Liah was a big one. They’ve barely met and already think of each other like they’re known one another for years and been slowly falling in love over those years. I really think the development of that relationship would have benefited greatly from more interactions between the two before the plot really got rolling.

The dialogue also left something to be desired. The book was originally written in Spanish so I wonder if something was lost in the translation. The pacing was a bit quick. There were a few things that happened “off screen” that I think would have been beneficial if they’re been written in.

I don’t read a lot of YA anymore since I’m no longer a young adult myself, but I was offered a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review and I’m glad I accepted.

My rating for this book is 4 out of 5 stars and I would recommend it to anymore who enjoys YA fantasy looking for a quick and fun read.

Have you read the Princess of Elsseria? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

The Redemption of Althalus – Book Review

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

Althalus is a young thief and occasional killer known for his skill and incredible luck. A number of capers end without much monetary reward for him, until he stumbles into a shrine built to the fertility goddess Dweia. Soon afterward he meets with the wizard Ghend, who hires him to steal the Book, a magical tome that can be found in the bizarre House at the End of the World. There, Althalus discovers Dweia in the form of a black cat and learns that she has chosen him to aid her in a war against Ghend and her evil brother, the destroyer god Daeva. Together Althalus and Dweia use the power of the Book and gather together a small team of questionable heroes who must battle Ghend’s supernatural forces and armies. The thief Althalus can only hope his luck holds out for this one last task, since the very fate of humanity is at stake.

What to say about this book? Well, first, this book is fairly long, clocking in at just under 800 pages and is actually a stand alone novel, which is a bit unusual for a fantasy novel. (if you know of others, I’d love to know too)

The tone of this book very much has a feel of when it was published. First released in 2000, it reminded me of other books published around that time that feel heavily influenced by Lord of the Rings. Of David Eddings’ other books, I’ve only read his Dreamers series, which I don’t remember much of, so perhaps this is simply his writing style, I’m not sure. I don’t really know how to describe the feel I got from the tone either.

Anyway, at first I felt like the pacing of this book was a bit off. There seemed to be a bunch of stuff at the beginning that didn’t really matter to the story overall and it would jump ahead in time fairly often. Turns out that in the end, it all mattered, so that changed my feelings about the start of the book.

I wouldn’t call the story particularly original. The basics of the plot are the basics of most high fantasy novels: an likely group of individuals come together to fight against evil in order to save the world. The people making up this particular band are a bit stereotypical. You have the charismatic thief, the warrior, the priest, the beautiful girl with a special gift, a young noble woman, and a smarter than can be believed kid. Leading this group is the maternal and loving goddess, Dweia.

There’s only one race in this fantasy world: humans. As for magic…there is magic, but only Althalus really uses it and not even that much. It’s more like divine power from a Knife and a Book.

There were a few things that bothered me about this book. One was Leitha’s insistence on calling Althalus “Daddy.” Yes, he establishes the group to be a “family” and as the male leader he takes on the role of the father, but why “daddy?” It felt ripe with sexual innuendo and I cringed nearly every time she said it. The tampering with time also bothered me. That’s a really difficult thing to pull off without thinking through every little detail and I don’t think it was.

What did I like? Well, considering how generic I thought the basic plot was, there were actually a few surprises that I didn’t see coming. I couldn’t for the life of me think how everything was going to be wrapped up by the end of the book and not have a sequel. Well, it all came together nicely and you could probably tack on a “happily ever after.”

Overall, this wasn’t a bad book. I didn’t stop reading it, though I didn’t spend long periods of time on it. I wouldn’t say it was bad either. My rating for this is 3 out of 5 stars. I’d recommend this to people who are maybe just getting into the Fantasy genre and just want to dip their toes into without getting into a long series. Also for fantasy fans that don’t want to get in to a long series, this could be a good read.

Have you read the Redemption of Althalus? What did you think? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading!

Adventures in TV – American Horror Story – Murder House

I know I’m very late getting on the American Horror Story train. This is a show I’ve long wanted to watch but didn’t have access it, until I recently discovered that it’s available on Star through Disney+. Discovering this, I immediately started watching. I devoured it in two sittings. I probably would have gone through all 12 episodes in a single sitting if not for the annoying fact of having to sleep and go to work.

The plot of the first season of American Horror Story is a fairly typical one. A family moves into a new house for a “fresh start.” Naturally, the couple is having marital problems and their teenage daughter is unhappy and bullied at school.

Although this is a fairly common premise for a horror story that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good one. From the first moment, I felt drawn in to the story and engaged. We start off knowing that the mother of the family, Vivien, has recently had a miscarriage and her husband, Ben, was unfaithful. The dynamic between the two as they try to rebuild their life is really interesting. Vivien’s struggle to forgive her husband and let him back into her trust is very real. Vivien wasn’t a character I could immediately relate to, having never been in a situation like hers but I could empathize. As the story moved along, I felt for her more and more and was rooting for her until the very end.

Ben was not a character I liked. I don’t think the audience is meant to sympathize with him over much. He made a lot of stupid mistakes and brought on a lot of the things that happened to him all on his own. Violet, the family’s teenage daughter, isn’t the most unique character. She’s moody, and angry with her parents and the world, much like a typical teenager. That’s not to say I didn’t like her. She had her purpose in the overall narrative.

Over the twelve episode run, the history of the house is slowly revealed in flashbacks, showing all the unspeakable tragedy that the house has been host to right from the original owners. The show doesn’t shy away from showing a fair amount of gore, so anyone who doesn’t like to see that kind of stuff may wish to steer clear of this particular show. That being said, the gore isn’t really gratuitous. There’s a good mix of mystery and horror there that leaves room for the audience’s imagination to run a bit wild.

There’s a few good twists that I didn’t see coming that will keep you on your toes and have you eager to get to the next episode each time one ends. Once the season ends, there’s lots to look back on and think of that will have an even harder impact the more you think about it. Like any good horror, this one will stay with you long after you turn off the TV.

Overall, I really enjoyed this show. There isn’t much that I can think of to name as a flaw or something I really didn’t like. 5 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this to any lovers of horror out there who haven’t already discovered this show. I can’t wait to start the next season.

Have you watched American Horror Story: Murder House? Let me know what you thought in the comments! Thanks for reading!

Narcissistic Abuse and Trauma Recovery: 10 Steps to Heal from Hidden Abuse – Book Review

This review is going to be short and simple.

Everyone should read this book. The information in here is good for everyone to know regardless of who they are. The best way to prevent this time of abuse is to know the signs

If you or someone you know is suffering from narcissistic abuse, this book can help you get through it.

At around 200 pages it is also a fairly quick read.

4 stars.