Monday, March 18, 2019

Review; The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

Title: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein
Author: Kiersten White
Publication: September 25th 2018 by Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Horror
Purchase it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Google Play | Kobo
Rating: 3/5

Elizabeth Lavenza hasn't had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her "caregiver," and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything--except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable--and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.

But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth's survival depends on managing Victor's dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.


I'm not gonna lie and say I'm not a little disappointed with The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein. I did enjoy it for the most part but it's rare for me to rate a Kiersten White book with only three stars. Of course this isn't a bad rating but with her I'm used to four and five star worthy books and this one just wasn't, unfortunately. I also feel like I should say that I'm also not a big fan of the original Frankenstein book. It's just not a favorite classic of mine.

My favorite thing about this book was the beautiful writing. If I had to rate it for the prose alone I probably would've given it five stars because it really was amazing and I literally have nothing negative to say about it. I could've read the gorgeous descriptions over and over again. Another thing I liked were the flashbacks. You either love those or you don't but I always enjoy flashbacks in books for some reason. I thought it was nice to see some of Elizabeth and Victor's past as they grew up together and their dynamic. 

But I have to be fair because a book isn't just about the writing no matter how beautiful it is. Most of my issues were about the characters and the story itself. I just didn't like any of the characters, even the nice ones. I don't think they were writting to be liked exactly, especially Elizabeth, but personally I have to like the characters I read about at least a little bit. And other than that I didn't think the story was the best. I liked the first part the best and the second also but the third part was a little messy in my opinion and of course I had guessed some plot twists very early on which also caused me to enjoy it all less, sadly enough.

Another possitive thing about this book was that it's a really fast read. It only took me a little over a day, which is super fast but it also isn't a very long book so it makes sense. I was definitely hooked with the story and the ending was pretty good I have to admit but it just wasn't that good, you know? For me it was a nice book to read once because I'm a fan of the author but it definitely isn't re-read worthy in my opinion. It had good qualities for sure but in the end I had expected a little more.

About the author:
Kiersten White is the New York Times bestselling author of the And I Darken trilogy, the Paranormalcy trilogy, Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, Slayer, and many other novels. Kiersten lives with her family in San Diego, California. Visit her at www.kierstenwhite.com.
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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Review: Ten Caesars: Roman Emperors from Augustus to Constantine by Barry S. Strauss

Title: Ten Caesars: Roman Emperors from Augustus to Constantine
Author: Barry S. Strauss
Publication: March 5th 2019 by Simon & Schuster
Genre: Nonfiction, Ancient History
Purchase it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Google Play | Kobo
Rating: 4/5

Bestselling classical historian Barry Strauss tells the story of three and a half centuries of the Roman Empire through the lives of ten of the most important emperors, from Augustus to Constantine.
Barry Strauss’s Ten Caesars is the story of the Roman Empire from rise to reinvention, from Augustus, who founded the empire, to Constantine, who made it Christian and moved the capital east to Constantinople.

During these centuries Rome gained in splendor and territory, then lost both. The empire reached from modern-day Britain to Iraq, and gradually emperors came not from the old families of the first century but from men born in the provinces, some of whom had never even seen Rome. By the fourth century, the time of Constantine, the Roman Empire had changed so dramatically in geography, ethnicity, religion, and culture that it would have been virtually unrecognizable to Augustus.

In the imperial era Roman women—mothers, wives, mistresses—had substantial influence over the emperors, and Strauss also profiles the most important among them, from Livia, Augustus’s wife, to Helena, Constantine’s mother. But even women in the imperial family faced limits and the emperors often forced them to marry or divorce for purely political reasons.

Rome’s legacy remains today in so many ways, from language, law, and architecture to the seat of the Roman Catholic Church. Strauss examines this enduring heritage through the lives of the men who shaped it: Augustus, Tiberius, Nero, Vespasian, Trajan, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, Septimius Severus, Diocletian and Constantine. Over the ages, they learned to maintain the family business—the government of an empire—by adapting when necessary and always persevering no matter the cost. Ten Caesars is essential history as well as fascinating biography.

I'm gonna jump right in and say that I highly enjoyed Ten Caesars: Roman Emperors from Augustus to Constantine by Barry S. Strauss. I randomly decided to read it when I saw it available to read on NetGalley because I craved some ancient history nonfiction. And I'm really glad that I did because I almost couldn't stop reading it. I'll even go as far to say that it's one of my favorite books of 2019 so far, especially in the nonfiction genre. 

I do have to admit that before starting to read the book I was a tiny bit apprehensive about it because in each chapter one of the ten Roman emperors that are featured in this book is highlighted and the reason why that worried me a little is that most books like this (at least the ones I've read) don't go as deeply into the people or topics as much as I like. But I was actually pleasantly surprised with how the author tackled each emperor and I wasn't left disappointed in that way at all.

As the synopsis says, the emperors featured in the book are: Augustus, Tiberius, Nero, Vespasian, Trajan, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, Septimius Severus, Diocletian and Constantine. As a huge ancient history fan I knew a little about most of these men but after reading this book I feel like my knowledge of them and the ancient world in general has grown so much more and that's exactly why I enjoy reading this kind of nonfiction. I just can't seem to learn enough about ancient history and the ancient Romans were so very fascinating.

My favorite chapters probably were the ones about Augustus, Tiberius, Nero, Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius. Why? I'm not entirely sure. I've always been pretty fascinated by these particular emperors and reading this book only made my interest in them grow. I also liked that, even though Caligula didn't get a chapter dedicated to him, the author did mention and talked a little about him in another chapter. 

This review is getting quite long by now so I'm gonna round it up now but I also really wanted to say that at 432 pages this isn't a particularly short book but even so it didn't take me that long to read it and I found most of the chapters going by really fast because the way Barry S. Strauss wrote the book made it pretty easy to read and honestly it was just a great book that was really enjoyable. I definitely want to check out his other books as well. Also, I really want to buy a physical copy of Ten Caesars now. I need it on my nonfiction shelf!

About the author:
Barry Strauss is Professor of History and Classics, Bryce and Edith M. Bowmar Professor in Humanistic Studies at Cornell University, and a military and naval historian and consultant. As the Series Editor of the Princeton History of the Ancient World and author of eight books on ancient history, Professor Strauss is a recognized authority on the subject of leadership and the lessons that can be learned from the experiences of the greatest political and military leaders of the ancient world (Caesar, Hannibal, Alexander among many others). These lessons apply to the corporate leaders of today who are faced with complex issues that are both challenging and often defy easy solutions.

Professor Strauss has spent years of researching and studying the leaders of the ancient world and has written and spoken widely of their mistakes and successes. He is also a widely acclaimed military and naval historian whose analyses of the strategies and campaigns of some of history’s great commanders reveal the successful rules of engagement that were true on the battlefield and resonate in today’s boardrooms and executive suites.

He is a former director of Cornell’s Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, where he studied modern engagements from Bosnia to Iraq and from Afghanistan to the streets of Europe. Professor Strauss is an expert on geopolitics including the Middle East, terrorism, Europe, the Mediterranean and US alliances. He is currently director as well as a founder of Cornell’s Program on Freedom and Free Societies, which investigates challenges to constitutional liberty at home and abroad. He holds fellowships from the American Academy at Rome, the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, the German Academic Exchange Program, the Korea Foundation, the MacDowell Colony and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among others, and is the recipient of Cornell’s Clark Award for Excellence in Teaching.

He is the author of eight books on ancient history, including “Ten Caesars” (now available for pre-order), “The Death of Caesar” (2016), “The Battle of Salamis” (named one of the Best Books of 2004 by the Washington Post), and “The Trojan War: A New History” (2006). Writing in the Washington Post, Tom Holland hailed his “The Spartacus War” (2009) for having “all the excitement of a thriller.” Books & Culture named it one of its favorite books of 2009. His books have been translated into 14 foreign languages, from French to Korean. Professor Strauss holds a B.A. from Cornell University and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University.
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Monday, March 11, 2019

Review: In the Full Light of the Sun by Clare Clark

Title: In the Full Light of the Sun
Author: Clare Clark
Publication: February 28th 2019 by Virago
Genre: Historical Fiction
Purchase it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Google Play | Kobo
Rating: 5/5

In the turbulent years between the wars, nothing in Berlin is quite what it seems.

Not for Emmeline, a wayward young artist freewheeling wildly through the city in search of meaning. Not for Julius, an eminent art connoisseur who finds it easier to love paintings than people. And most definitely not for Frank, a Jewish lawyer who must find a way to protect his family and his principles as the Nazis begin their rise to power.

But the greatest enigma of them all is Matthias, the mercurial art dealer who connects them all. Charming and ambitious, he will provoke a scandal that turns all of their lives upside down.

Inspired by true events, this brilliant, humane novel peels back the cherished illusions that sustain us to reveal the truths beneath. A book about beauty and justice, vanity and self-delusion, it asks: do we see only what we want to see? Even in the full light of the sun?

Initially I wasn't planning on reviewing this book because I just didn't know what to say about it. But I decided to give it a shot anyway because I consider In the Full Light of the Sun to be my favorite book of 2019 so far. It was a phenomenal read!

I came across In the Full Light of the Sun on Instagram (shoutout to sissireads!) and as soon as I read the description I just knew I had to buy this book and read it as soon as possible because I really enjoy most books set in this time period and it somehow involved Vincent van Gogh's paintings + the cover is gorgeous as well. Buying and reading a book from a recommendation is always a shot in the dark so I'm really happy it turned out as amazing as it did. 

The story takes place in Berlin, Germany over the course of ten years from 1923 to 1933, between the first and second world war. It's divided in three parts, each part in the point of view of a different character. Part one was about Julius, an art connoisseur, part two was about Emmeline, a young artist and part three was about Frank, a Jewist laywer. I really loved how the book was set up like this because I always enjoy multiple points of view more than when it's just one. So that was probably one of my most favorite parts along with the beautiful prose. Each character was very different and unique in their own way. I loved this.

As the synopsis says the years between the wars it's set in were very turbulent and this really shows in the story. My favorite point of view was probably Frank's because with him you really see as Nazi Germany begins to rise, how quickly things got bad for Jews. And honestly, we need books like this one so we won't ever forget all of this happened. It wasn't a happy book, it actually was quite hard to read at times because of the topic and setting but it was also one of the best books I've ever read. I know it will be a favorite read for a long time to come.

Overall, In the Full Light of the Sun was outstanding. The writing was exceptional, so beautiful and the story really took my heart and soul. I would very highly recommend it.

About the author:
Clare read History at Trinity College, Cambridge, where she was a Senior Scholar. She graduated with a Double First.

Her first novel, The Great Stink, was published by Viking in 2005 after a five-way auction: critically acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic, The Great Stink was long-listed for the Orange Prize, won the Pendleton May First Novel award in the UK and the Quality Paperback Book Club New Voices award in the USA. It was a Washington Post Best Book of the Year. Since then The Great Stink has been translated into five languages.

She has since published three more books: The Nature of Monsters; Savage Lands, which was long-listed for the Orange Prize in 2010; and Beautiful Lies. Her most recent two novels were published by Harvill Secker, part of the Random House Group, in the UK and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the US.

Her fifth novel, We That Are Left, will be published in the UK in March 2015 and in the US in the fall. Only weeks after completion, it has already been snapped up by publishers in Germany and France.

She is a regular contributor to the Guardian’s literary pages, reviewing both fiction and non-fiction, and writes for several other broadsheet newspapers, both in the UK and the USA. She works as a tutor on the Creative Writing MA at City University.

She lives in London with her husband and two children.
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Thursday, March 7, 2019

Review: Trailblazer by Michelle Diener

Title: Trailblazer
Author: Michelle Diener
Series: Verdant String #3
Publication: March 5th 2019 by Eclipse
Genre: Science Fiction Romance
Purchase Link: Amazon
Rating: 4/5

He's on a mission . . .
She's running for her life . . .
And if they get off-planet alive, she'll have to trust he won't reveal her darkest secret.

Tally Riva is not what she seems, and even she's not happy about it. Infected, invaded, she's not quite sure how to describe it, but on a disastrous mission to a ghost ship, something burrowed its way into her body. Into her mind.

When her commander decides the best cure for what he thinks is Tally's trauma is to send her on the famous Veltos Trail, Tally goes without revealing what's really behind her mental anguish. Anything to be seen as normal again, anything to ignore what she's afraid is happening to her.

But Veltos isn't the safe place it seems. The chosen military personnel lucky enough to be offered the chance to walk the Trail are supposed to be the only people on Veltos. But Ben Guthrie, a captain in Arkhoran Special Forces, knows they're not. He and his team have been on Veltos for a month already, tracking suspicious enemy activity, and he's gone undercover on the Trail in search of a satellite his superiors are sure has been shot down.

When Ben's worst fears become reality, and they find themselves hunted by a cunning enemy through the thick forests of Veltos, Tally and Ben fight together to survive. And Tally has to decide if accepting the changes inside her will save them both, or be her doom.

TRAILBLAZER is a standalone novel, and the third full length book set in the world of the Verdant String.

Books in the series are: Interference & Insurgency (Two Novellas of the Verdant String), Breakaway, Breakeven, Trailblazer.

Trailblazer was a highly addictive read. I flew through it in three days, which is really fast but I just couldn't put the story down. I was very hooked. It's the third book in the Verdant String series but you can easily read it as a standalone. And even though I've read the previous books I felt like in Trailblazer there was extra danger to this particular story and for its characters which raised the stakes even more and I really liked that since it made it all that more exciting to read. It's probably the main reason why I didn't want to put the book down.

The two leading characters, Tally and Ben were just so interesting to read about. I feel like I enjoyed reading about them both equally, which isn't a thing that happens a lot because I either like one character more than the other but in the case of this book I really couldn't pick a favorite. They were both great characters and I loved their chemistry as well. The romance isn't the main part of the story. This is a thing I love so much about these books. Yes, there is romance but it doesn't overshadow the plot or even the characters' personalities. They have jobs to do and lives to save and that's what's most important to them. This will always be a possitive thing for me and a big win in any book.

The author also has a great knack for writing secondary characters and making me care for them, even the antagonists in a way. Except Irwin. I fucking hated Irwin. Sorry. lol But yeah, the secondary characters were also awesome (as they always are) and I'd love to read more about them, maybe in their own books. Who knows, right?

I probably say it in all my reviews of books by Michelle Diener but I always highly enjoy her science fiction novels. Trailblazer was no different. It had a great cast of characters, especially the two leading protagonists. The story was action packed and the writing was fast-paced, never getting dull. The dash of romance, which was just the right amount for me was amazingly writting as well. What more can I say? I really love the world of the Verdant String. 



Author bio:
Michelle Diener writes historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction. Having worked in publishing and IT, she’s now very happy crafting new worlds and interesting characters and wondering which part of the world she can travel to next.
Michelle was born in London, grew up in South Africa and currently lives in Australia with her husband and two children.

When she’s not writing, or driving her kids from activity to activity, you can find her blogging at Magical Musings, or online at Twitter, at Google+and Facebook.


Check out my reviews of Michelle's other books:

{Science Fiction)
Sky Raiders (Sky Raiders #1) — 3/5★ 
Calling the Chance (Sky Raiders #2) — 4/5★ 
Shadow Warrior (Sky Raiders #3) — 4/5

{Science Fiction}
Dark Horse (Class 5 #1) — 5/5★ 
Dark Deeds (Class 5 #2) — 5/5★ 
Dark Minds (Class 5 #3) — 4/5★ 

{Science Fiction}
Interference/Insurgency (Verdant String #0.5)  4/5 & 4.5/5
Breakaway (Verdant String #1) 4/5
Breakfeven (Verdant String #2)  4/5
Trailblazer (Verdant String #3)  4/5

{Paranormal}
Breaking Out Part I (part of Entranced Halloween Box Set — 4/5★ 
Breaking Out Part II — 4/5★ 

{Fantasy}
The Golden Apple (The Dark Forest #1) — 4/5★ 
The Silver Pear (The Dark Forest #2) — 5/5★ 

{Fantasy}

{Historical Fiction}
The Emperor's Conspiracy (Regency London #1) 5/5
Banquet of Lies (Regency London #2) 5/5★ 
A Dangerous Madness (Regency London #3) —5/5★ 

 {Historical Fiction}

 {Historical Fiction}
In a Treacherous Court (Susanna Horenbout and John Parker #1) 5/5
Dangerous Sanctuary (Susanna Horenbout and John Parker #1.5) 5/5
Keeper of the King's Secrets (Susanna Horenbout and John Parker #2) 5/5
In Defense of the Queen (Susanna Horenbout and John Parker) 5/5



Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Cover Reveal: The Pawn and the Knight by Skye Warren

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The Pawn and the Knight, a must read new boxed set from New York Times bestselling author Skye Warren is coming March 21st, and we have the sexy new cover!
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A ruthless billionaire determined to get revenge.

A woman with more to lose than her virginity.
And a sensual game that will break them both.
Gabriel Miller has thirty days to do anything he wants with her body. He can enjoy every inch of her, but he can never let himself fall for her. No matter how sweetly she surrenders.
Author’s Note: THE PAWN AND THE KNIGHT is an exclusive duet including two USA Today bestsellers in the scorching hot Endgame series.

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Pre-order your copy today!
Add GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2ISdugV

About Skye Warren
Skye Warren is the New York Times bestselling author of dangerous romance such as the Endgame trilogy. Her books have been featured in Jezebel, Buzzfeed, USA Today Happily Ever After, Glamour, and Elle Magazine. She makes her home in Texas with her loving family, sweet dogs, and evil cat.

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