Midnight Sisters by Sarah E. Boucher

Midnight Sisters: A Retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses by [Sarah E Boucher]
Do not meddle with the Master’s daughters.The words rattled around Jonas’ head. What was the punishment again? Death? Dismemberment? Jonas, the newest addition to the gardening staff, can’t recall the exact penalty for breaking the rule. What does it matter anyway? He would never dream of meddling with the Earl of Bromhurst’s haughty daughters. Until he comes face to face with Lady Ariela, the eldest of the Master’s daughters. Her elusive smile and open manner cause him to question his convictions. In no time, he’s drawn into Lady Ariela’s world of mystery and intrigue, a world where she and her sisters will do anything—including leaving twelve empty beds at midnight—to escape their father’s strict rules.Only Jonas can uncover the truth and save them from their father’s wrath and their own folly, if he is willing to risk everything he’s ever worked for.Midnight Sisters is a reimagining of the classic fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses that will win the hearts of readers of all ages. (taken from Amazon)

 

Once Upon a Time…there was a reimagining of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I really liked that fairy tale when I was a child, so I thought I’d give this book a go. It looked to be a far cry from the other recent retelling of this tale, so I was curious about the direction the author would take.

The reader grabs her trusty bookmark and is ready for adventure. The story-line was relatively close to the original tale, with minor changes here and there. The main character is a gardener named Jonas. He has the misfortune to fall in love with one of the king’s daughters, the one thing all the staff is warned against. As he gets to know the princess better, he starts to think he is the only one who can save all of the princesses from both their father and themselves.

There are dangers ahead.  Unfortunately, I had a bit of an issue with the main character. Jonas seemed forever surprised that the princess had the ability to be both attractive and intelligent. A misogynist hero isn’t quite to my liking. He was also kind of a jerk to his fellow gardener who was in a similar situation. As for his fellow gardener: he vacillated between using any female who seemed to find him attractive and being a decent guy. He was the most likable character in the book, however. I suppose that sort of says something about the characters.

Magic abounds. While it took a while to get flowing, the story settled into a nice pacing. It was obvious that the author is a fan of the original fairy tale and she carried some of that wonder over to Midnight Sisters. The setting felt very real and was well thought out.

They lived happily ever after? To be entirely honest, this book fell a little flat. I place the blame on the characters. It’s hard to enjoy a book when the characters are so difficult to read about. I don’t mind having a character that’s a little rough around the edges, or even a character that’s a jerk, as long as they aren’t all like that. If you don’t mind wanting to smack each character multiple times throughout the book, Midnight Sisters might be enjoyable for you.

Why is Sherlock Holmes So Popular? It’s Elementary

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Every once in a while, a book character comes along and changes things. Not just for one reader (although that is also a huge accomplishment), but for society in general. This character moves from the page to everyday culture. This is what has happened with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.
Phrases like, “The game is afoot,” and “no s***, Sherlock” are ubiquitous. Almost everyone at least knows who Sherlock Holmes is. Now, the question is: why? Sherlock himself is actually a very unlikable character. He’s too smart for his own good, is constantly making everyone else look less-than-competent, and is less demonstrative of his feelings than others often are. So, what makes this unlikable character so darn likable?

I think a good chunk of his charm is the way he was written. Arthur Conan Doyle was fantastic at bringing his characters to life. He could also craft a mystery like no other. Even though some of the conclusions Holmes comes to border on the impossible, Doyle makes the reader want to suspend disbelief. We like thinking that there is someone out there who can solve the difficult problems and can bring the bad guy to justice. Of course, it does bear mentioning that literary Holmes did not, in fact, solve every case. That only serves to make him an even more interesting character. Contemporary mysteries almost always end with “good” prevailing. Seeing know-it-all Holmes be wrong every once in a while only serves to make him a more three-dimensional character.

Whatever the reason, Doyle’s famous detective has given birth to many books, movies, plays, and TV shows that all aim to do one thing: show their love of Sherlock Holmes. There are books that are at least partially inspired by Holmes, such as Jackaby by William Ritter and A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro; books that include their own versions of the actual characters, such at the Young Sherlock Holmes series by Andy Lane and Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (although, I would never have thought of Mycroft in the way he’s written); and of course, more TV and movie adaptations than you can shake a stick at. Basil Rathbone’s version, and the incredible BBC TV show happen to by my favorites on screen.

At any rate, I’ve noticed something rather odd: it seems that more people are enjoying the things based on Sherlock Holmes than reading the original itself. Honestly, though, I think it’s important to read the original Conan Doyle stories. Aside from the fact that they are fantastic, they will bring a deeper appreciation to the other versions that we all enjoy. If, like me, you have a love of the one and only Sherlock Holmes, I’ve listed a few new takes on the famous detective below. However, if you haven’t read the original Sherlock Holmes, I implore you to give them a go.

– A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Thodora Goss (I haven’t read this one yet)
-The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes edited by John Joseph Adams
Moriarty by Anthony Horrowitz
Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Jackaby by William Ritter
– Young Sherlock Holmes by Andy Lane
Sherlock Holmes- The Improbable Prisoner by Stuart Douglas

Which ones have I missed that I need to read?

Prozac Monologues by Willa Goodfellow- ARC Review

Amazon.com: Prozac Monologues: A Voice from the Edge eBook ...
She was going to stab her doctor, but she wrote a book instead.

Years later, Willa Goodfellow revisits her account of the antidepressant-induced hypomania that hijacked her Costa Rican vacation and tells the rest of the story: her missed diagnosis of Bipolar 2, how she’d been given the wrong medications, and finally, her process of recovery.

Prozac Monologues is a book within a book—part memoir of misdiagnosis and part self-help guide about life on the bipolar spectrum. Through edgy and comedic essays, Goodfellow offers information about a mood disorder frequently mistaken for major depression as well as resources for recovery and further study. Plus, Costa Rica.

· If your depression keeps coming back . . .

· If your antidepressant side effects are dreadful . . .

· If you are curious about the bipolar spectrum . . .

· If you want ideas for recovery from mental illness . . .

· If you care for somebody who might have more than depression . . .

. . . This book is for you. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available for purchase on August twenty fifth.

This is a tough one for me to review, and I don’t know if I can give an honest opinion without giving a little background. I have bipolar disorder. I have a different kind than the author of this book (I have type 1 while the author says they have type 2), but they are two sides of the same coin. I have personal experience with both mania and hypo-mania, and I can say with absolute certainty that this book captures the essence of mania perfectly. I can also say that, due to the nature of the beast, this book is very difficult to follow.

First of all, I want to commend author Willa Goodfellow. Being unflinchingly honest, especially about a misunderstood mental illness, takes an incredible amount of bravery. I think that people who have gone through manic episodes will feel a sense of camaraderie, and that his book can be very beneficial.

Mania heightens emotions and sensations. It denies you sleep and makes thoughts run wild. Everything you do when in that state reflects it back later on. Things are more vivid, but they make less sense. The author’s writings during their hypo-manic episodes are fascinating from a “I’ve been there” standpoint, but- true to bipolar form -they are also frenetic. I’ve read several books about bipolar disorder that detail manic episodes, but never one written mainly during mania.

If you are reading this in search of a better understanding of bipolar disorder, be aware that this book will be challenging. It is also a valuable tool, but I would suggest reading An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison as well, just so you can get a more complete picture of the entirety of bipolar. I do think that the author achieved what they intended when writing Prozac Monologues, which was to give an accurate view of what bipolar mania is.

The switch between the entries written during a manic episode, and the information the author provided afterward, was often jarring. At times, it was difficult to follow the timeline and I had to go back once or twice to make sure I hadn’t missed something. However, that could have been an intentional choice, to assert the differences in thinking patterns when someone is having a manic episode.

The information itself is fascinating. I already knew a good chunk of it (I believe strongly in knowing as much as I can about a medical condition I have), but there were a few new bits of information that I’m glad I learned. One thing that was mentioned is how very long it often takes to get a correct diagnosis of bipolar. I honestly thought my diagnosis took much longer to figure out than was normal, but I guess it’s actually common to have several misdiagnoses and take years to get the right answer.

Would I suggest this book? Yes, but go into it knowing that at times it will be confusing and hard to follow. Basically, understand that this book is mania in a nutshell.

The Ultimate Book Tag

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I saw this great tag on both Way too Fantasy and the Irresponsible Reader’s blogs, and just had to do it myself. Check out their answers: they’re fantastic. Here’s mine. I’m sure I’ll ramble, so brace yourself.

Do you get sick while reading in the car? Nope. Well, I did when I was pregnant, but pretty much everything made me sick, so I don’t think that counts.

Which author’s writing style is completely unique to you and why? The first name that comes to mind is Chuck Palahniuk. His writing is flat-out bizarre. Although, I recently read an excellent book called You Favorite Band Cannot Save You by Scotto Moore that also had that Palahniuk vibe (that’s a good thing). So…I’ll probably go with Luke Arnold’s The Last Smile in Sunder City. I’ve seen movies with that Sam Spade-type narration, but I’ve never read a book with it, much less a fantasy. My husband has informed me that I have to read Dashiell Hammett, who created Sam Spade. Either way, Luke Arnold is a fantastic author. I definitely suggest reading him.

Harry Potter or Twilight? Give Three Reasons Why? With apologies to all Twilight fans, Harry Potter:

1. I thought Twilight was a trilogy and didn’t read one of the books, either the second or the third one. It made zero difference to the story, which says a lot about its importance (or lack thereof). I still haven’t read whichever book it was.
2. It was very much a romance, which isn’t my bag. Also, it was an icky romance.
3. The whole werewolf imprinting on Bella’s kid thing is just weird.

Do you carry a book bag? If so, what’s in it? I don’t carry one anymore. Anytime I do use a purse, it has to be big enough to fit a book. My favorite purse looks like a copy of Alice in Wonderland. It’s pretty perfect.

Do you smell your books? (*Sniff* ) I’ll never tell.

Books with or without illustrations? It depends on the type of book. I’m a big fan of children’s fairy tales, and I’m a sucker for any book with dragon art in it. If it’s a novel, though, I’m partial to maps.

What book did you love while reading, but discovered later didn’t have quality writing? The Mortal Instruments and the Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare are pretty poorly written. I wouldn’t say that I discovered that later on,though. I was pretty much aware of that from the beginning. I love them anyway. They’re my guilty pleasures. I blame Magnus Bane.

Do you have any funny stories from your childhood involving books? I was around twelve years old or so, and it was Christmastime. I was sitting in a chair next to the tree, completely engrossed in my book. I still remember what I was reading: Kindred Spirits by Mark Anthony. The tree slowly toppled over and encased me in a cage of pine needles and ornaments. It wasn’t funny at the time, but it cracks me up looking back on it.

What is the thinnest book on your shelf? Um, not counting the many picture books we have floating around? Probably Queens of Fennbirn by Kendare Blake, or Hollow Men by Todd Sullivan. By the way, both of those books are good and you should read them.

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What is the thickest book you own? War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy is pretty hefty. It’s a good one, though. The Tanakh is also big, as is The Light of All that Falls. Which book do you think wins “thickest book” title? Please ignore my horrible photography skills.

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Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself becoming an author in the future? What, writing for a blog doesn’t count? Psshaw! As for writing a book, if I ever have an idea that I feel needs to be written, I’ll go for it. Right now, though, I’ve got nothing.

When did you first get into reading? I can’t think of a time when I didn’t have my nose in a book. I remember trips to the library being amazing expeditions when I was young. Before the pandemic, my husband and I would take our kids to the library every weekend. I really miss it. They do too.

What is your favorite classic book? Oh, that’s a hard one! I think I’ll go with The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas. Excellent book. Read it.

If you were given a book as a present that you’ve already read and hated, what would you do? I would thank the person. How I felt about the book is unimportant; that someone thought to give me a gift will always be appreciated.

What is a lesser known book you know of that is similar to the Harry Potter series and the Hunger Games series? I can’t really think of anything similar to the Hunger Games off the top of my head, but the Magisterium series by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare is very similar to Harry Potter. They’re meant for middle-graders. School for Psychics by K.C Archer is an adult series that reminded me a bit of Harry Potter as well.

What is a bad writing habit you have? I have an unfortunate penchant for parenthesis. I use them way more than any one person ever should.

What is your favorite word? Exacerbate. There’s a story behind that, involving dragging someone into a bookstore to prove that it was, in fact, a real word. What’s more, I did this while on a date. My date is a glutton for punishment: he married me.

Are you a nerd, dork, or dweeb? Yes. Oh- I have to pick one? I’m most definitely a nerd, and I’m proud of it.

Vampires or faeries? Why? I like vampires in theory, but I can only think of three vampires I like: Lestat (of course), Armand, and Spike from the Buffy tv show. Faeries, on the other hand, have a broader range: they are rich in variety, from the mischievous to the regal, to the downright dangerous. There is a lot that can be done with them, and I love reading the origins behind the different variations.

Shapeshifters or angels? Why? I love skinwalkers and changelings, and I once played a were-jaguar in a D&D campaign, so that’s the answer right there.

Spirits or werewolves? Um…I guess I don’t really have a preference. I read more books with ghouls and ghosts than I do books with werewolves. I’ve noticed that werewolves mostly live in romance novels, and I am not a fan of that particular genre.

Zombies or vampires? Why? Vampires, of course. If I wanted to see a dead, shambling, drooling husk of a human, I’d just look into the mirror before I drink my coffee.

Love triangles or forbidden love? I don’t love love. In books, I mean. I prefer forbidden love to love triangles, I suppose. Just keep it buried under tons of fantasy violence, and I’m good to go.

Full-on romance books or action-filled books with a little romance? I’m pretty sure my answer to the question above also answers this one. Give me some background romance and I’m fine, but I find myself rolling my eyes if the romance takes center-stage.

Wowza, that was a long one! I’m not tagging anyone here, although I might nag a few people on Twitter. If you do it, please link back to me so I can see your answers.