Epiphany- The Golding by Sonya Deanna Terry

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It is midnight, and you are sleeping.
I am here at the table with a candle at my elbow, penning the most difficult letter I have ever had to write.
They are coming for me. Samuel Withers saw them in the village…

Edward Lillibridge is writing a farewell letter to his son. The controversial author faces trial for heresy after revealing, in a book, the true beginnings of money.

…six months before the Global Financial Crisis rocks the economy. Lillibridge’s Our True Ancient History, published under the guise of fiction, is out-of print, available only at antiquarian bookshops and largely overlooked.
Until now.

Rosetta Melki, an idealist whose hope of starting a worldwide charity has been crushed by her sole-parent struggles, is enchanted by Our True Ancient History. Lillibridge’s tale about a gold-obsessed kingdom (and the sprites they enslave: elfin clan dwellers whose currency of choice is kindness) has ignited a memory Rosetta cannot explain.

Rosettta’s website surrounding the reading group she’s begun with friends has inspired the emergence of other Lillibridge book clubs. Her own Sydney group meets fortnightly at a vintage bungalow, the rental home she secured to escape a gruesome intruder.

In a more affluent part of Sydney, finance executive Matthew Weissler (polished, successful, admired) has been questioning his slave-to-the-dollar existence and his marriage to a tantrum-throwing shopaholic. And now he’s questioning his sanity after finding he’s been followed by an elf. 

Rosetta’s intruder still lurks in the shadows, but who could the stranger be? A prowler from the suburb Rosetta and her teenaged daughter fled…or a traveller from the past, determined to suppress an ancient memory that will change the world forever? (taken from Amazon)

                Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Dear Epiphany The Golding,

It’s not you, it’s me. You are wonderful, with a unique and intriguing premise. You’re well written, and your storyline is very complex. You’re just not what I need right now.

I did read you cover to cover. I don’t know; maybe I was hoping you’d share your secrets sooner, or that I’d be drawn in. I kept finding my head turning at other books, though, which just isn’t fair to you. You deserve more than that.

You deserve a reader who is sucked in and fascinated, not someone who was confused by large parts of your writing. I honestly didn’t love your hippie new-agey romance, and I found you to be a heavy read.

Maybe it’s just not the right time for us. Maybe we should consider this a break and I’ll try again in a few months or so. I think you need what I can’t give: a reader who has uninterrupted time to devote to you, not someone who is also busy with family and homeschooling.

I wish you the very best, Epiphany- The Golding. I know there are readers out there who will love you. I just can’t be that reader right now. I hope you understand.

Your Faithful Reader

In all seriousness, though, give this book a try. It really is just a matter of the book not fitting the reader.

Blogger Influences: Books I’ve Read Thanks to Blogger Recommendations

I know that lately there have been many bookbloggers who feel like they aren’t being read, or that their voice doesn’t matter. I think it’s easy to look at follower stats, or compare the number of comments on a post vs. what is on someone else’s . I wanted to add my two cents’ worth, in the only way I know how: by listing just a few of the books I’ve picked up and enjoyed, all thanks to the recommendation of a wonderful bookblogger.

Take heart, friends! Your opinions are needed!

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I credit The Irresponsible Reader for this one. I picked it up based on his fantastic review (I did read them out of order, though: sorry).

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I picked this up thanks to an awesome review by Paul at Pauls Picks. It’s one of my absolute favorites of this year.

Image result for two like me and you This is another book that I read thanks to Paul.

Image result for middlegame   Middlgame is a direct result of an excellent review by Beth at Before We Go.

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I saw reviews for this one floating around on several different blogs, prompting me to pick it up. I loved it.

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Last, but most certainly not least, I’m currently tearing through this book. I’m well aware that I’m going to be incredibly emotional at the end of this one (there have already been a few sniffly moments). Jeez, guys!

These are just a few of the books that I’ve read thanks to you awesome bookbloggers. I’ve got many, many more on my to be read list that I’m excited to dive into. I hope this post encourages you to keep on doing what you love: reading and writing!

**There are so many other book blogs that I love reading. I can’t include all of you in this post because it would turn into a novel, but a few that come to mind at this particular moment are:
Off The Tbr
Devouring Books
Hooked On Bookz
The Tattooed Book Geek
Way Too Fantasy
Fiction No Chaser
The Orangutan Librarian
First Book Love
Like Herding Cats
Grimdark Dad

Little Big Nate Draws a Blank by Lincoln Pierce- ARC Mini Review

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Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. It’s available on September third.

My oldest loves the Big Nate books. He’s read all of them. So when I saw a little reader version, I just had to grab it to read to my Toddler Tornado.

This book is cute. It’s very simple: each page has an illustration of something little big Nate thinks to draw, but then changes his mind about, and the reason why (“A Penguin? Too chilly”). The pictures are fun and engaging. This is the sort of book that’s perfect for encouraging communication from your little one.

Short and fun, this would be perfect for one and two year olds. Pick it up, and while you’re at it,  grab one the older kid counterparts for big brother or sister.

Fairy Tales for Fearless Girls by Anita Ganeri- ARC Review

This inspiring collection of 15 stories from around the world showcases narratives that celebrate strong, independent women. These heroines aren’t reduced to being wives or witches! They run free and possess the qualities we would hope for in our daughters and friends: self-confidence, strength, wits, courage, fearlessness, and independence. They live freely, happily ever after, without restraint or narrowly defined roles. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion.

I adore fairy tales. I grew up on them, and firmly believe that you’re never to old for them. So, of course I was excited to read this collection. Some of the stories I already knew, such as Feng Mian, the Head of the Family, but many were new to me.

Alas, while I liked this book, I didn’t love it. I think the reason I enjoyed it but don’t feel the urge to gush is simply the arrangement of the stories in the book. The first two or three are incredibly similar, which diminished my enjoyment a bit. If they’d been spread out among other, different types of tales, I would have liked each one much better.

There were a few tales that I felt were much more interesting than others: Unanana and the Elephant being one. It follows a mom, first of all, and she’s both clever and determined. I could relate to her willingness to do anything to protect her kids. I also really liked Tatterhood and Dacia, which teaches a lesson about the importance of personality over looks.

Where this book really shines is in the gorgeous illustrations. After I finished the book, I went back through just to see them again. Khoa Le captured the feel of each story in a fascinating and original way.

Even though I didn’t love it, this book is still a worthy addition to any fairy tale collection.

The Oddmire book 1: Changeling by William Ritter- ARC Review

With this book being released on the 16th, see what I think of it.

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub

Image result for the oddmire book oneMagic is fading from the Wild Wood. To renew it, goblins must perform an ancient ritual involving the rarest of their kind—a newborn changeling. But when the fateful night arrives to trade a human baby for a goblin one, something goes terribly wrong. After laying the changeling in a human infant’s crib, the goblin Kull is briefly distracted from his task. By the time he turns back, the changeling has already perfectly mimicked the human child. Too perfectly: Kull cannot tell them apart. Not knowing which to bring back, he leaves both babies behind.

Tinn and Cole are raised as human twins, neither knowing what secrets may be buried deep inside one of them. Then when they are twelve years old, a mysterious message arrives, calling the brothers to be heroes and protectors of magic. The boys must leave behind their sleepy town of Endsborough and risk their lives in…

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A Pilgrimage of Swords by Anthony Ryan- ARC Review

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                ENTER THE EXECRATION, WHERE THE DAMNED AND THE DESPERATE COME TO PRAY TO THE MAD GOD… It is two hundred years since the deity known as the Absolved went mad and destroyed the Kingdom of Alnachim, transforming it into the Execration, a blasted wasteland filled with nameless terrors. For decades, desperate souls have made pilgrimage to the centre of this cursed land to seek the Mad God’s favour, their fate always unknown. Now a veteran warrior known only as Pilgrim, armed with a fabled blade inhabited by the soul of a taunting demon, must join with six others to make the last journey to the heart of the Execration. Allied with a youthful priest, a beast-charmer, a duplicitous scholar, an effete actor and two exiled lovers, Pilgrim must survive madness, malevolent spirits, unnatural monsters and the ever-present risk of treachery, all so that the Mad God might hear his prayer and, perhaps, grant redemption. But can sins such as his ever be forgiven? Set in a world where demons and gods walk the earth, A Pilgrimage of Swords is a dark and exciting fantasy adventure from the New York Times bestselling author of the Raven’s Shadow and Draconis Memoria trilogies. (taken from Amazon)  

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be released on September 30th.

Wow! Reminiscent of Tad Williams or Sean Russell, this book has everything I look for in an epic fantasy. The world building- especially the religious beliefs and how they’ve affected everything over the years- was masterful. It was well-thought out and delivered, without turning into the dreaded information dump. I loved the idea of the Mad God granting one prayer if you can survive the Execration. The stakes are high; the Mad God will only answer the prayer of one person.

I was immediately drawn in to the desolate feel of the setting, and the desperation of the characters. It was hard to really pick a favorite character because they all had their own, valid to them, reasons for the journey. Pilgrim was fascinating, complex and multi-faceted. His character was filled with conflict; was he a monster, or a man?

Seeker was also fantastic. She had a hyena companion! That is by far the most original animal sidekick (for lack of a better term) that I’ve read in any fantasy book. In fact, each character had something that set them apart from those in other fantasy books.

The book sucked me in; I finished it in a day. I highly recommend this book. I know I’ll be checking out other books by this author since I enjoyed A Pilgrimage of Swords so much.

Tempest Blades: The Withered King by Ricardo Victoria – ARC Review

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Thank you to the author and Shadow Dragon Press for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available on August 20th.

This book is centered around Fionn, wielder of the sword Tempest Blade. He has kind of dropped out of life after his past fills him with loss and an overwhelming sense of guilt. He gets a chance to set things right when his friend, Harland asks for help finding a missing person. Fionn has unique abilities that make him an invaluable asset, especially where magic is concerned.

Fionn was a fun character. He had that self-loathing part of him, but he was also well aware of his abilities and how useful he could be. It was a good juxtaposition, one that was balanced skillfully. On his own, Fionn might have been too much, but the addition of two other characters- Alex and Gaby made the story work. Alex was well written  but Gaby is the one who stood out. Her skills at butt-kickery made her a blast to read. It’s always a pleasure to read a character like that.

The story read a bit like a video game- and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It was a fun, fast book, full of action beats. It was also surprisingly introspective and deep. As entertaining as it was, this is ultimately a book about second chances. I found it highly enjoyable.

Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire by Ganesh Nair – A Buddy Read

Thank you to Ganesh Nair for providing me with a copy of this book, in exchange for my honest opinion. All guffaws are my own.

When Ganesh Nair emailed me, he assured me that Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire was witty, sarcastic, AND a book. He was correct on all counts. He did, however, fail to mention the choking hazard from laughing too hard. I could have died. I feel like there’s a law suit in there somewhere.

I’m so excited to be doing my first buddy read post with Beth from Before We Go. We had a blast talking about this brilliant book! I’m pretty sure Mr. Nair must have recorded conversations between Beth, myself, and our respective spouses before writing his book. I know my hubby has mentioned adding a door to a cubicle on at least three occasions.

This book follows Duckett, your run of the mill average Joe, who works his butt off with very little to show for it, although some of that is due to his roommate, Stephanie Dyer. Stephanie is the sort to enjoy the fruits of everyone else’s labor- she does add a certain something, though. I’m thinking the certain something is trouble.

Duckett finds himself fielding cases for the detective agency he runs with Dyer. The problem is, they don’t run a detective agency. Things quickly go sideways, and they find themselves hopping through multiple universes, trying to solve a mystery, or- in Duckett’s case- get back to the status quo.

As Beth mentions in her post, we’ve both had a Stephanie in our lives. We also found ourselves trading stories about our horrible first apartments. If you replace Duckett’s missing apartment brick with a front door that would randomly trap me inside, you’ve got my first apartment.

Quippy, and completely bonkers, this book was an epic mash-up between comedy-noir and the weirdest sci-fi you’ll ever read . I loved every wacky moment of it. I only have one complaint: the sequel isn’t out yet.

Check out Beth’s fantastic review here.

Conversations with Authors- Suzie Plakson

The absolutely wonderful book, The Return of King Lillian, is being released on July 9th. When reading it, this lovely story found a place in my heart.

Imagine my happiness, then, when I was fortunate enough to be able to interview author Suzie Plakson.

How did this world, these characters, and this book come about? **

“Decades ago, when I was in a place of frustration and despair, I first saw Lillian in a flash of a dream, galloping uphill on a big chestnut horse, disappearing into an archway of giant trees. And from that moment on, over a period of many years, the story and the world grew through dreams, trials, errors, and, finally, collaboration.”

You mentioned being in a state of frustration and despair when Lillian was conceived. Was writing this book a therapeutic process?

“Perhaps it was, in a subconscious, soul-level, decades-long sort of way! I had a series of flash-dreams about it over a span of years, all along trying and failing and failing and trying to find the form. And then, once the form was found, it’s been processes within processes within processes. So, therapeutic? Likely yes, in countless untraceable ways, I imagine- kinda like Life!”

Can you talk about the importance of having a strong female protagonist? **

“Ever since The Epic of Gilgamesh- which was the first hero’s journey in Western mythology-the star of the show was always a fella, usually with a lot of “I am the conqueror” kind of energy going on. So, with respect to balance, I’m hoping it’s an auspicious time to tell the tale of a seeking soul from the other side of the psyche.”

Lillian has so many positive personality traits- determination, self-confidence, and honesty. Did you have positive role models that embodied those things in your life growing up?

“Well, in parts and pieces, I suppose, in certain people, and in certain fictional and historical characters. And I was always so inspired by the women in old movies, like Kate Hepburn and Rosalind Russell and Judy Garland.  I loved their moxie, and their innocent hearts, and their grace and their humor.”

I love that Lillian is mainly recounting her adventures to her Book, instead of having ongoing conversations. What made you decide to tell the story that way?

“One of the dreams prompted me to try writing the story in diary form. Amidst all the odd bits of material that I was accumulating, there was one file in which I played with Lillian speaking in direct address, very conversationally. Her voice came through fully formed, as if she’d always been there.”

I always want to ask authors: do you have favorite books that have helped shape you as a person?

“Wow. So many, and yet, in this moment, what leaps to mind is “Alice In Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass” (I’m more of a fan of “Through the Looking Glass,” actually). I suppose it’s the travelling through a world that feels fascinating but foreign and encountering seemingly mad creatures and belief systems and yet being unafraid to question any of it. Alice trusted the verdict of her own mind over anybody else’s. She was a powerful, polite, independent heroine.”

Finally, do you have another another book in the works (I ask hopefully)?

“Ahhh, well, thank you kindly for being hopeful, but after decades of getting this thing born, for the moment, the only thing in the works is a celebration and a nice, long nap. There is a character that wasn’t in the world of the book, who may well have a story to tell, but first…champagne.”

**Questions with asterisks taken, with permission, from the author’s press kit.

Stealing the Scream by Theodore Carter- ARC Review

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In 2004, masked thieves stole Edvard Munch’s The Scream from an Oslo museum. Norwegian police recovered the painting two years later but never explained how or where they’d found it. This 70,000-word literary-leaning, humor-laced, crime novel Stealing The Scream tells what may have happened.

Retired CEO-turned-painter Percival Davenport’s criminality starts when, fueled by insecurity, he hires a whiskey-drinking thief to break into museums and hang his paintings. If Percival can pass off his art as museum-quality, he will know he’s attained mastery. The “donations” attract the attention of Leonard, a Smithsonian guard and amateur sleuth.

As Leonard begins collecting the unwanted paintings and searching for the artist, Percival’s studies intensify. He develops an obsession with Edvard Munch’s The Scream and steals it. When Leonard and law enforcement agents come knocking at Percival’s door, his Tell-Tale-Heart-like anxiety causes him to turn his mansion, and the famous painting, into a roiling inferno. This forces the police into creative means of art restoration. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available on September 15th.

This book had a fascinating premise. The Scream has actually been stolen not once, but twice. True story! Having an entirely fictitious narrative woven around the little that we know about the 2004 theft is an awesome idea.

Let me first talk about the positive aspects of this book. Percival Davenport was a fascinating character. Having retired, he goes through a period of time where he’s really sort of lost. He doesn’t know what to do with his time. Eventually, he starts painting and discovers that, not only does he enjoy it immensely, he’s really talented. His hobby soon becomes an unhealthy obsession, however, which is what made this character so interesting. Reading about his shift into the shell of a person he becomes was both riveting and heartbreaking.

There were a few supporting characters as well: Lucinda, the house-keeper; Leonard, the security guard with an eye for art; and Red, the thief that eventually slips into the narrative. While they all added to the story, the only other character that really stood out to me was Leonard. He was very kind and honest, and just stumbled into something he never would have expected.

Now, let me move on to the negative aspects of this book. The grammar and spelling are atrocious. I kept being pulled from the narrative because a glaring error would pop up and distract me. I’m not sure whether I should be quoting any of these errors in an ARC review: suffice to say, they were both obvious and numerous enough to pretty much ruin this book for me. I dearly hope they will be fixed by publication time. It looked like it hadn’t been touched by either editor or spellcheck.

If the book is polished and the many mistakes are dealt with, then this is a solid read. Otherwise, I suggest reading the history of the theft online.