Inked Brownies

Inked Brownies

Where books meet brownies

Review
2 Stars
The Reflections of Queen Snow White
The Reflections of Queen Snow White - David C. Meredith
2.5 stars for now. It wasn't bad, but it just wasn't my cup of tea I guess. Letting it ponder for a little while. Full review to come when I get back from my break!
Review
4 Stars
Chains of Blood and Steel: The Saga of Thistles and Roses (The Warrior Queen, #2)
Chains of Blood and Steel: The Saga of Thistles and Roses (The Warrior Queen, #2) - Karen  Gray
I blew through this one in a matter of days. Busy days as well. Full review coming in due time.
Review
3 Stars
The Telling
The Telling - Alexandra Sirowy
This is my last review for the next couple of weeks *plays the world’s smallest violin*, and unlike the title of this book, I don’t really have a lot to say about it. Which is why this is probably going to be the longest review ever anyways…

The blurb sounded so promising. I haven’t read many YA thrillers, so I was wondering how scary it would be compared to a regular thriller.
I have to admit, a couple of scenes had me on the edge of my couch with some half ass attempt at hyperventilating, but I also have to admit to skimming through a lot of paragraphs because I was bored out of my mind.

This is the story of Lana, told in the first person by *drum roll*…Lana. She lives on the island of Gant (a fictional [?] island near the coast of Seattle) with her dad, stepmom, and stepbrother, Ben. Ben’s name is being mentioned 873 times in the book. Maybe this isn’t just the story of Lana eh? Or maybe, Lana’s just slightly obsessed with Ben. You can’t really blame the lass because Ben was stabbed and thrown off a cliff practically right in front of her eyes. All Lana (and the police) knows is that the culprit was a man with a red painted face.

While everyone’s determined (a.k.a. slacking the shit out of the actual investigation) to find out who Ben’s killer is, another person is found dead on the bottom of a river: Maggie, Ben’s ex-girlfriend. The one who also happened to be present when the man with the red painted face dragged Ben out of his car.

mudder

So while this still sounded promising to me at around 10% into the book, this is what happened next:

Lana: “Ben, Ben, Ben, yadayada, Ben!”, “I feel so awful.”, “I feel so amazing.” “I’m a bad person, somebody should spank me.” The girl just couldn’t make up her mind about anything, which made it very hard to relate to her. This is quite a problem for me if it’s the protagonist we’re speaking of.

The other characters: horrible teenagers + matching dialogues: I have no problem with YA and YA drama most of the time, but this was just toe cringing.



http://i.imgur.com/MBlzcTf.gif

The plot: Just like Carrie mentioned in her review here, from the get-go, it’s pretty obvious who the killer is. So you’d expect it not to be that person. Nuff said there apart from it being a bit of a disappointment in the end.

The length of the book: Somebody edit this, please. It could’ve had a 100 pages less, easily (and probably would’ve been a lot better too then).

Why am I still giving it 2.5 brownies? Because I’m a sucker for the Scream formula in which victims are picked off one by one and where everybody’s a suspect. The edge of my couch, people!

Just because I didn’t really like it doesn’t mean you won’t either. If you’re into YA thrillers and don’t mind reading about some Mean Girls type of teenagers, this might be a nice summer read for you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwKWiZAuHoQ

Thanks to Simon & Schuster for providing me with a copy of this book via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest opinion!
Review
5 Stars
The Summer That Melted Everything
The Summer That Melted Everything - Tiffany McDaniel
“What a housebound woman fears is not the knife in the kitchen drawer. It is the outside being better.“

Holy shit, this book is SO intense…

This book is mostly set in the '80's.
I grew up in the '80's. I still love everything from the '80's: the music, the TV series, the movies. Probably because it all reminds me of my childhood, though. Everything regarding the '80's seems to be a big pink cloud of fluffiness in my memory. You know how old people say "Back in my time, everything used to be so much better!". Heck, I already started saying that ten years ago, referring back to those wonderful '80's. This book was a massive wake-up call, making me remember again that it wasn't all unicorns farting rainbows. Racism, when it comes to people with a different skin colour. Discrimination, when it comes to people who fall in love with someone from the same sex. Ignorance. Aids. INTOLERANCE.

Obviously, this doesn't simply restrict itself to the '80's. It's just astounding how one can block out all of that darkness, and focus on the light as if the darkness never existed. Especially while it's usually the other way around when it comes to human psychology! Only while (and after) reading this book, did I think again of movies such as Philadelphia  (1993), which is inspired by the life of a real attorney who got fired after his employer found out he had AIDS in 1987.
Another movie, Boys Don't Cry (1999) was based on a transgender man who was raped and murdered by two male acquaintances in December 1993. I can never watch either of these two movies without crying or balling my hands into fists.

"So what about the damn book, isn't this supposed to be a review?!", you might be thinking by now.
The Summer That Melted Everything felt like watching both of these movies, together with, let's say, American History X. It touches those dark sides like nails scraping a chalkboard.

The story starts off and centres around Sal, a 13-year-old coloured boy with the greenest eyes, who claims he is the Devil himself. He has the scars to prove it, and a use of language which more suits an ancient zen master instead of a 13-year-old boy in frayed overalls. Add the fact that they can't find the boy's parents and hence, know shit all about his true identity, and you know it: there's definitely something off about him. 

Fielding Bliss, the actual protagonist, becomes best friends with this so-called Devil and strange things start to occur. Is it Sal's fault? Or is it the smothering heat that has been pestering the town of Breathed ever since Sal made his first appearance there?
I didn't know where this was all going, but I knew one thing: read on I must!

The story is claustrophobic, heart wrenching, and scary at times. Being confronted with the darkest corners of a human's soul. The language, oh god, the language is so gut-punching and intensively spot on. It's beautiful and poetic, but with none of that pretentious shit. It just is.

"What do you think he looks like?"
"Like a cotton swab, thin and white with too much hair on his head and too much hair on his feet. Wouldn't that be funny? A cotton swab? Kind of makes ya think twice about stickin' a Q-tip up your nose, don't it? Though, thinking 'bout it now, maybe if we left a swab in our ear, we'd start behavin' differently. Havin' God inside our ear just might make us all, I don't know, a little...more.""Also make you a little more dead with only one ear whose hearing is not sacrificed by a plug of cotton."


You kind of know a little about what's going to happen because the story is being told by Fielding as an 80+-year-old, yet you still don't know anything at all.

The characters are all extremely well developed, each of them struggling with their own demons and angels. Some of them quite dysfunctional like the vegetarian dwarf with vampire teeth, bearing the name of Elohim, the Hebrew word for 'gods' or 'deity'.

"We are told it's a cross, so surely it must be a cross. But what if it isn't? What if we're wrong? What if this whole time we've just been hanging lowercased t's on our walls?"



Every time I picture Elohim, I have to think of this scene from Twin Peaks (and not just because they are both little people!): tumblr_maz7fl1f4A1rhegvro1_1280

While I was reading, I kept feeling like this wasn't a new book, let alone a book that still needs to be published next week. It wasn't because of the going back into history; it was because this book feels like it's a classic. And I think that in 10-20 years from now (I don't know how much time it takes for a book to be allowed to be called a classic) this book should be considered as one. It should be up there with John Steinbeck and J.D.Salinger. THAT's how good it is. And let's not forget this is a fucking debut novel, making it even more impressive!

It's why it's definitely getting five brownies from me. It won't be a book for the tender soul; if you're expecting a YA plotline, there isn't one. It's a deep search into the soul (or spirit as Pearl Kirkby recently reminded me), religion, and all that's yin and yang. Every chapter opens with a quote from Milton's Paradise Lost. If you've read the poem, you know what kind of story you can expect of The Summer That Melted Everything...

As a final note: there's also a touch of magic realism to the story, which is something that usually annoys me to no end, yet in this book, it works bloody brilliantly.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

A big thank you to Tiffany McDaniel for providing me with a copy of her book in exchange for an honest opinion! I'm hoping to do a Q&A with her somewhere around the publication date, so stay tuned!
Review
5 Stars
Lucky Strikes
Lucky Strikes - Louis Bayard
Okay, to be completely honest, I requested this book because of its cover. I mean, of course, I also read the blurb, but the cover is what really tickled me bloomers: gorgeous! Thankfully, after having read the book, I can say the same for the actual story as well.

I think this might be the first time I only made one note on my Kindle while reading. I wasn't even searching for things to criticise because I was too damn busy with reading. I know right?!5VL2VD9.gif
And now that I'm done, I still can't think of anything negative, or anything that I would've liked to see differently at all. Which means this book is damn well near perfect.

I cried twice. TWICE! One time in the beginning, when Amelia's mother died (it's no spoiler if it's in the blurb, right?) and then another time near the ending (which I did could not have predicted to play out the way it did).



It's 1934 and 14-year-old Amelia, better known as Melia, runs a gas station together with her mother. She also has two younger siblings, Earle and Janey, who help out when they can, but are more focussed on being 'regular children' and going to school.

I LOVED that both Melia and her mother are self-made car mechanics. They can simply hear what's wrong with a car and then fix it. Wearing car mechanic matching overalls and taking care of shit the same way a man would do is very impressive, especially because this is set in 1934 when women were still supposed to wear dresses, and cook and clean for the menfolk. Well, as Melia could've said: "Ain't nobody got time for that!".

The story is told in the first person by Melia, and she writes the way she talks:

"I set there just in case she did"

"...and they come right into my bedchamber..."

It only took me two pages or so to get used to that. It's not like you have to try very hard to decipher those kinds of phrases.

It's a good thing Melia's such a strong character because after her mama dies, she has to take care of her siblings, keep the gas station running, and fight off the evil Goliath figure,  Harley Blevins, who wants to claim the gas station and add it to his gas station collection.

When Hiram Watts, an old and smelly hobo, literally comes falling out of a truck onto one of the gas pumps of Brenda's Oasis (the name of the gas station), Melia decides to take him in and convince the outside world that Hiram is her daddy. It's going to be a challenge to do so because that outside world is rather judgemental, having called Melia and her family the 'Gas Station Pagans' (which is also the original title of this book if I'm correct) because they refused to go to church and whatnot.

But guys, this book....it has everything you could wish for! Or maybe I should say that it has everything that I could wish for. It has dysfunctional characters, a strong heroine (who's far from perfect, mind you), a little bit of awkward romance, unconditional love, suspense, heartwarming actions, and gut-punching moments.
The writing is superb, I was totally convinced of the characters and the world surrounding them. Even though at times, nothing happens at all, I wasn't bored for a single second during these 320 pages.

Remember I was talking about the only note I made while reading? I bet you've been dying to read about it, skimming through the boring parts to get to it. OR, you just scrolled up again to look for it because the thought of it already left your brain again. Either way, here it is:

"Fuck me, this is like Little Women with gas pumps in Virginia!

And it sort of is! A book with strong female characters yet still leaving room for the male heroes to shine as well. Melia would be the Jo of this story, abbreviated name included. Brilliant. I'm giving this one 5 shiny brownies and a firm recommendation for basically anyone. It's targeted at young readers, and anyone who's over 12 years old should be able to enjoy it!

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!
Review
2 Stars
The Dragon Round
The Dragon Round - Stephen S. Power
Well, well, well. Loved the cover, loved the premise. Swashbuckling adventures and dragons? YES SIR THANK YOU SIR!! You can probably feel it coming, though; the dreaded ‘but‘…

I’ve been thinking for a couple of days on how to review this one. Eventually, I decided to divide it into three sections: Part One and Part Two in this review correspond to Part One of the book. Part Tree here corresponds with Part Two of the book.

*********

Add heading (1)

We are introduced to Jeryon, captain of the Comber, and pretty much the rest of his shipmates, plus the rowers of the ship. The point of view shifts between the characters fast (sometimes during each paragraph) and we get to see certain events happen from several of those points of views. For example:

POV 1: “Oh no, it’s a dragon to me left!“
POV 2: “Dear Lord, there’s a dragon to me right!“
POV 3: “Lard Thunderin Jaysus, there’s a dragon right below me!“

(This is obviously not how it went exactly, but you catch my drift eh?)

At one point, I thought it was at least something different and it showed that the author wasn’t afraid to experiment. Sadly, it kind of read like a movie script (especially because everything was written in the present tense as well), quickly turning the whole thing into a snoozefest for me. But then, a dragon attacks! Okay, still a bit of a snoozefest…but then!!

Add heading (2)

Jeryon and his ladyfriend, the apothecary of the Comber, wash ashore onto a deserted island and try to make a living there. This is where it got interesting because the other creatures on this island are just incredibly creepy! When Jeryon and the poth stumble upon a dragon egg, it gets even better because when the egg hatches, they have their own baby dragon!

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They decide to try and train it in the hope it will be able to take them off of the freaking island in the near future. Of course, training a dragon comes with a lot of challenges and it doesn’t go as smoothly as they wish for. Nevertheless, they make it work somehow and this is where the book basically turns into a bit of a grown up version of How to Train Your Dragon. I’m saying grown ups because there’s quite a bit of gory stuff going on when it comes to that dragon, which makes this look adorably cute in comparison:

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The writing here is colourful, the story believable (and scary) and I was extremely thankful that the romantic scenes were pretty much non-existent. I mean, you put two people of the opposite sex on a deserted island = sexytime, usually, but not in this one.

The part of the two (or three) of them living on the island could’ve lasted a bit longer if it were up to me, but then, Jeryon rather abruptly decides to finally get his revenge at sea. Adventures ahoy!

Add heading (5)

This part starts at 63% into the book. It’s narrated from the point of view of a totally unknown character named Isco, in a town we’ve heard of, but haven’t actually visited yet: Hanosh.
And this is where the book goes to shits. There are way too many characters (some with very similar names) in which I could not invest at all. The political plots, the mysteries (which, in the end, are still unresolved to a certain extent); it could’ve been good if it was less drawn out and with way fewer details.

I have to mention there’s a little suspense here and there which made it possible for me to finish the book, yet then, the ending…

Orange-Is-The-New-Black-image-orange-is-the-new-black-36059663-500-280

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If you look at the three parts, it’s like the author couldn’t make up his mind where to go with it. On the other hand, it does form one story (one of exaggerated revenge mostly), which is quite cleverly done, yet still sucks balls at the same time. Savvy?

If the book would’ve existed of just a tiny bit of Part One, Part Two in its entirety, and basically a wholly different Part Three/ending, it would’ve been very cool! Alas, the way it is now was pure torture for me at times. I’m giving it two brownies because Part Two was pretty alright. And also because this scene was sort of in there:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiMhue3iSd4
Review
4 Stars
A Reaper of Stone
A Reaper of Stone - Mark Gelineau, Joe King
It's that time of the month again! Not the one which involves Ibuprofen and men having to go down to the old pub instead, but that time where Cindy and I are teaming up again for a double review!*
aplausos
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What were your thoughts/expectations before reading this book?


Cindy: Hm.. I try not to do a lot of thinking lately (fatherly advice), but the cover seemed awesome and I really liked the blurb. So when Anne gave this book as an option for out buddy read, it was not a difficult choice to make :’) I’ll never get enough from fantasy, NEVER.



Anne: I can't remember ever having read something by a writer duo, so I was quite curious how that would turn out  (EDIT: I read Weis&Hickman *facepalms*). The cover and the blurb made me think this was going to be awesome as well. The girl on the cover kinda looks like Daenerys Targaryen. With a huge sword. *makes heart with fingers*

Who is the main character and what did you think of him/her?

Anne: The main character is Elinor, the King's agent, lieutenant and/or Reaper. The term Reaper made me think of souls and, well, death, but being a Reaper of stone literally means being a reaper of stone. Keeps and castles in this case. Although there's also a slightly more magical meaning to it in this story, but I'll let you find that out for yourselves. So yes, back to Elinor. Wow, she is one bad ass chick! There are different varieties of bad ass chicks, though. You have the ones who are bad ass, but don't feel any empathy or are terribly arrogant. And there are the ones who know how to fight like a true warrior but keep whining about their emotions constantly. Elinor is neither one of these. She has empathy but doesn't whine like a baby. And her fighting skills are excellent, but she never becomes arrogant about it.

TL; DR: Elinor is the perfect bad ass chick! Someone I'd like to be and definitely someone I'd like to read more about.

Cindy: Anne... you’ve said it all... girl... leave something for me okay! But, just to give my opinion, Elinor was really awesome :D

What about the other characters?

Cindy: Yeah what about them? Well, first of all, they were there, and second of all... yeah they were actually there. No, just kidding. Even though this is a short story, there was character development and a great set of minor characters. Each of them had their own personality and even though there wasn’t a lot of time to get to know each other, they were well worked out. They made this short story, along with other aspects, not feel as a short. I loved the mystical kind of old character that was put into this story. Read the book and you’ll know what I’m trying to say.
I also really liked the ‘realistic’ feel, as far as fantasy can be considered realistic of course. The characters really did show how that world was ruled by the aristocracy, in a way they contributed to the world building.

Anne: There were definitely other characters there *nods*. And yes, the mystical character *whooooooos*, I loved that one as well!

What did you think of the plot and the world building?

Anne: As for the plot, I thought it was grand. The prologue started off with a bang and it didn't disappoint afterwards anymore either. The story was fairly original, emotional, violent and just all-around cool.There were some surprises. No OMFG, WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED?!-ones, yet nevertheless: surprises. I think with the Goodreads blurb and all the other information in this review, it would be a shame to tell you more about the story because it's only a novella and you're supposed to discover it on your own.

What I can say is that the world building was pretty neat. It soon became apparent that the world of Aedaron has magical/mythical elements in it. Like these giant killer worms that live underground and come up and devour you if you make too much noise/movement. Something like this....
Massacre-Wurm-MtG-Art.jpg
...yet with a less rocky scenery. The ones in this book live under fields of grass. The whole system of law and order was also intriguing. But...MEGA GIANT KILLER WORMS!!! 

*quietly passes the mic to Cindy*

Cindy: *silently screams* yeah, so there’s that. And since Anne already told you guys about everything we are allowed to tell you in this review, I’ll just sit and wave.

Anne: Ahaha :') *goes off to a quiet corner and lets Cindy do all the talking (and waving)*

Cindy: No, but really, the plot was great. At first, I expected it to go one way, then something altogether different happened and I was quite amazed. Unlike Anne, I did experience OMFG WTH moments (giant killer worms... come on... who could have thought).

This book is #1 in a series and also #1 in something like a Saga called Echo of The Ascended. All the books/stories take place in the same world. Knowing that, how badly do you want to read all the other parts in the series now?

Cindy: Consider me sold. I’m a sucker for these kinds of things.


Anne: Badly might be a bit of an overstatement, but I've put them all on my TBR-list.

What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Anne: A big bowl of sauerkraut?
Cindy: My soul, and oatmeal.

If you could be transported into this world, would you like to go there and what kind of role would you play in it?

Anne: I would, but as with any other medieval kind of setting, only if it's a return ticket. I'd be terrified if I was trapped in the past, let alone in a world with huge flesh-eating worms! If I could go there (and back again), however, I would want to be a kick ass fighter like Elinor for sure. I mean, I'd usually go for something like a herbalist/healer but not with this one; slashing up evil worm jaws with my broadsword of justice it is!

Cindy: Yes *nods fervently* Yes I would. I’d probably be terrified, pee my pants (I don’t do dresses really), and try to run away screaming, but I would definitely go there. My role would probably be an engineer of some kind, I love building and destroying stuff.


Anne:  Oh dear, remind me to Cindy-proof my house if you ever come this way...:')

Cindy: You’ll be fine! I only destroy things of people I generally dislike :P So I guess you're safe ^_^ (or are you…)

Anne: *shifty eyes* Let's move on to the final verdict then!

1drumroll

Cindy: 4 stars, I had expected more pages, though, so I was a bit disappointed there. But nevertheless, it was a great short that had everything I’d ever hoped for… IN A SHORT?! I’d never expected to be so happy after reading this.


Anne: I'm totally agreeing with Cindy here (what else's new) and giving it 4 brownies. I wish it had a 100 more pages. I know, I know, it's a freaking novella, but still! And Cindy's right (again) about there being so much detail in here for such a short story!

We'd like to thank the publisher for giving us a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion.
Review
4 Stars
Paper and Fire
Paper and Fire - Rachel Caine
Where to start? After last week's fangirling over the first book, I guess the first thing I'm going to mention here is that this one doesn't have the same quality as the first one. It's still a great read, but not one that gets the full 5 brownies from me.

The story picks up about 3-6 months after the ending of Ink and Bone.


Jess and Glain are both in the service of the High Garda. Khalila and Dario made it to being Scholars, and Wolfe is hauled off to someplace 'safe' because the Artifex and Archivist still want him dead. Morgan's a prisoner in the Iron Tower, waiting for the dreadful 'mating ritual' to create more Obscurists.

When Jess and Glain go on a training mission, something goes seriously wrong. Jess is also determined to revenge Thomas by killing the Artifex, or at least by trying to change the Library.


This book is mainly about the quest of turning the Library into a more open and less evil institution. This is not just your any day kind of quest: it's a David vs.Goliath kind of fight. A small group of teenagers and two adults against pretty much a world-dominating power.

Paper and Fire is a lot darker than Ink and Bone. You can feel the bleak despair and complete iniquity is dripping from the pages.
There's more blood, more heartache and it seems like you can't trust anyone at all.

"The Brightwells weren't a family. They were a business -first, last, always. "



While the worldbuilding is still amazing, there are some things in the story which made me stroke my chin. I've been wondering this entire time what language everyone is speaking. Something which keeps being mentioned (also in the previous book) is that people have accents. Sure, they all come from different countries with different languages, but in which language do they have the accent? Should we naturally assume they're all speaking English all the time? Then, I bumped into this sentence:

"...switched from Italian to the more standard Greek that was the common Library language"



So they've been talking Greek to each other the whole time?? Not clear = not cool.

Another example is when it becomes clear that going to a certain place is a trap. Two pages later "Where are we going?" "To that certain place!". Not to outsmart the trap or anything, nope, but because it seems like the most logical thing to do. That kind of stuff is just completely doing my head in...

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Back to the good parts again! While the action started off kind of slow (or, at least, that's how I experienced it), the pace picked up eventually and the story became a rollercoaster of events. Could the automata possibly get any scarier? The answer to this is: yes, they bloody well can. I had nightmares about The Terminator, really. Or Blade Runner. But with clockwork robots here. Someone, please turn those fucking things off!! 

Yeah, still scared the crap out of me.

The ending left me cursing out loud (a thing I always like to prevent). Not because it was that bad, but because I have to wait a year (?) to read book 3. I can still definitely recommend this series. Paper and Fire gets four brownies!

Thanks to the publisher who generously provided me with a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!
Review
4 Stars
Folded Dreams - the Beginning
Folded Dreams - the Beginning - Pearl Kirkby
I have to admit; it's pretty hard to review this one because it's a strange little book. However, it captivated me from the get-go.

In the beginning, I thought it was going to be about a little girl growing up amidst domestic violence or some other horrible circumstances. That wasn't precisely the case...apart from the horrible circumstances? After a couple of chapters, I was reminded of one of my all-time favourite movie characters, Carol Anne Freeling, and I was particularly reminded of this scene with her in it:
(yes folks, I can't say the greatest acting skills are being displayed here, but *shrugs*, I love this movie anyways)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1bL2wrhIjo

Just when you think Folded Dreams is also all about a girl with supernatural powers (which it seems like during the first few chapters), it isn't really. Not in the conventional sense, at least.
What this story is really about, is life, and death not being the end of it.

I consider myself to be pretty down-to-earth, but when it comes to the afterlife, I like to believe anything is possible. What I loved about Folded Dreams was that it doesn't just address paranormal spirituality, but it also discusses Einstein and the lovely Richard Feynman. I once read a book about quantum physics and Buddhism (my husband's going to roll his eyes again when he reads this) and thought it was really fascinating.
Not all too long ago, people still called certain forms of science 'magic'. I'm sure that a lot of things which can't be explained yet in 2016, will eventually be explained throughout the means of science. A quote from Folded Dreams:

"Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist."



And I believe that wholeheartedly when it comes to certain things.

It's because of this and because of Pearl's writing skills (I was too scared to finish the book before going to bed), that I'm giving it four brownies. If you want to try something quirky, scary, and thoughtful, I can recommend this one for sure. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea but isn't that the case with all books anyways?

Folded Dreams - The Beginning is originally a novella, but Pearl is working on turning it into a full novel as we speak. Or she considers the novella to be more of a prequel to the actual novel. You can find the first five chapters of that one for free here on Goodreads!

A big thank you to Pearl Kirkby, for giving me a review copy in exchange for an honest opinion!
Review
3 Stars
Giovanni Goes To Med School (The Med School Series Book 1)
Giovanni Goes To Med School (The Med School Series Book 1) - Kathy Bryson
This was a fun little story! It doesn't involve zombies as in mindless flesh-eating creatures The Walking Dead-style but more of a 'Oops, I died, came back to life and have no idea I'm dead yet (apart from the fact that I'm decomposing for some reason)'-zombie. There's plenty of humour in this one, but don't be mistaken; I still got goosebumps a couple of times due to the creepy vibes.

The writing was good. I kept wondering what was going on exactly and if somehow, Giovanni wasn't going to wake up at some point and realise it was all just some silly nightmare (and maybe he does in the end, who knows hmm?). The whole layer of mystique felt very much like The Twilight Zone or a David Lynch movie

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One thing I didn't like was that we never really get an answer to what's going on exactly, and why, and how are all these people involved??! Basically, that's the same as with a David Lynch movie again, except it's less frustrating for me with images somehow.

Another aspect I didn't like was Giovanni's character. He's the protagonist, so it would've been nicer had I liked him more. He just seemed like one of the kind of careless assholes I dated a long time ago. Maybe it's because he got annoyed with the dog so often. I mean, he's babysitting a huge dog, Rufus, and huge dogs really float my boat. Gio's not a total dipshit, though, because he does take care of Rufus and takes him along pretty much everywhere he goes, but meh, his reactions just don't make him seem like a truly friendly person.

Needless to say, I loved the slobbering bits
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and the little old lady who turned out to be quite the troublemaker.
(I know Rufus is a mastiff and this is a picture of a Newfoundlander but it's the thought that counts right?)

I can recommend this as a quick fun read, yet I do hope things will be explained a bit more in the second novella perhaps? I'm giving this one three brownies, meaning I liked it.

A big thank you to Kathy Bryson for providing me with a copy of her book in exchange for an honest opinion!
Review
4 Stars
A Journey of Temperance (The Adventures of Ichabod Temperance Book 9)
A Journey of Temperance (The Adventures of Ichabod Temperance Book 9) - Ichabod Temperance
When I first heard of this series and Googled it, I couldn’t help but being pulled in by the colourful covers with Victorian and mythical elements on them. Then, when I read it was steampunk fantasy with a good dash of humour, I was sold. After finally getting to reading this book, I noticed that the entire story was written in dialogue, exactly like the synopsis up here…

You’re probably thinking…”What the flying horse cadaver?!” right now (or something alike). That was exactly what I thought (or something alike). Always having finished every book apart from Finnegans Wake so far, I feared this was going to be a loooong ride.
However, to my utter and pleasant surprise, it wasn’t!

A Journey of Temperance is actually book #9 in The Adventures of Ichabod Temperance series. I’m not one for starting halfway into a series. It never works. So if an author comes to me with book #9, it means I would have to read the previous eight to get up to speed with the story. Needless to say, I have not read the previous eight books in this series. The author assured me this book was functioning just fine as a stand-alone novel, and for once, I decided to take the plunge. The author was right.

So back to the dialogues! My initial reluctance wore off after about one chapter. Another chapter later, I hardly even noticed it anymore. The surroundings and actions are described throughout the dialogues and it bloody works?! All I could think once I got into it was that this was very cleverly done. Each character has a couple of specific words which greatly help to define who’s talking when. Then there are the personalities and accents; I was hardly ever wrong in understanding which character was speaking.

The main characters are Mr Ichabod Temperance, a brilliant engineer from Alabama with poor social skills, yet who’s always helpful and polite. Especially when it comes to the secret-but-not-so-secret love of his life, Miss Persephone Plumtartt. Persephone is the daughter of the late super scientist Professor Plumtartt. She has inherited a good portion of her father’s scientific skills and insights. Together, Ichabod and Persephone make a great team when it involves coming up with solutions and inventions. Or fighting evil creatures.

Of course, reading about the characters from their literary day one is always the best way to get to know them to the fullest. However, as I’ve already kind of mentioned up here, you really don’t need to read any of the previous books to dive into this one. I got acquainted with the characters and their relationships pretty darn fast.

The story itself is loosely based on LOTR, but also subtly takes the piss out of it (in a most respectful way). Miss Plumtartt, Mr Temperance and Mr J.P. Morganstern (a despicable businessman who hired Ichabod to create a means of faster travels for him) go on a journey in a steam-powered drill machine which accidentally goes off course and ends up in Middle O’Earthhe. Which is literally the centre of the earth, where apparently, there’s another smaller version of a planet; its own sun included. Evil lurks in the form of an ancient high elf who’s after an even more ancient artefact to take control of Middle O’Earthhe and introduce another Age of Darkness there.

The three companions encounter dwarfs, dragons, trolls, oreorcs (who must be quite appetising), wizards, fairies, and many other mythical creatures.

The journey also comes with a lot of goofy humour:

– painfully bad puns which had me laughing out loud
– hilarious interactions and observations

“Truth be told, Lord von Stratusbourne, I have never cared much for these Gothic Elves. I find their omnipresent black finger nail polish off-putting. Let us go and remove the mascara from their pale faces by cleansing fire.“

– characters who aren’t shying away from a good dose of self-mockery
– an elf named Legolamb

Besides the puns, there are also numerous references that will sound like music to the ears of the average geek. Examples are D&D, LOTR, Disney, the work of M.C. Escher, and the urban myth of The Brown Noise*.

All in all, if you’re in for something different, something goofy within the Fantasy genre, you might enjoy this as much as I did. I’m being honest when I say it’s definitely not for everyone. A tip to spice up your reading experience: let some unsuspecting person read it to you. Oh, and insist on them doing ‘voices’. A ferocious dwarf warrior has never sounded so feminine coming from the mouth of my husband.

I’m giving this four brownies because it was a lighthearted read and exactly what I needed last week.

A big thank you to Ichabod Temperance for generously providing me with a copy of his book in exchange for an honest opinion!

* If you were wondering what the urban myth of The Brown Noise is, I challenge you to put your speakers on max.and listen to this YouTube video (not safe for work unless you have come prepared yourself and want to try it on your coworkers).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hc2DbWGZmN0
Review
5 Stars
Ink and Bone: The Great Library
Ink and Bone: The Great Library - Rachel Caine
Loved this one! Full review also coming asap
Review
4 Stars
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper - Phaedra Patrick
I started this book with the expectation of it being a comfy read. You know, an older person going on an adventure and all? So I was baffled to find myself bawling my eyes out after just 5-10 pages. I mean, I never cry while reading. Heck, I recently even kind of boasted on here about not ever crying while reading, and then THIS happens. It was like the end scene from the fucking Notebook all over again…

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(I didn’t see that one coming either and think I cried for two hours straight while being totally embarrassed about it)

The book starts off with Arthur trying to make it through the day of the one-year anniversary of his beloved wife’s death. The grief is still fresh, the loneliness so palpable. I’ve seen it way too often. The situation where a spouse dies after having been together for so many years. Of course, (unless you’re the main characters of The Notebook) these kinds of situations are inevitable; you usually don’t die together, so there’s always the one person who’s left behind. I’ve never been able to understand how these particular people cope with it, but somehow they do because they have to live on. Unless they decide not to, of course.

I recently read an article in which a healthy woman got euthanised together with her terminally ill husband because she didn’t want to stay behind: her life ended with her husband’s last breath. After doing some more research on this topic, I also found out that you can request a double euthanasia in Belgium even if you’re both still relatively healthy, but just don’t want to deteriorate together or be left alone when the significant other dies before you. Then there are the so-called suicide pacts in which couples want to be totally in control of their own deaths. I also came across elderly couples who didn’t die together on the same day, but still relatively close to each other. My grandparents both died within six months while my grandmother really wasn’t that old or that ill. Having a broken heart might not be a metaphorical term after all.

So yes, all of this poured over me during those first pages of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper. While it wasn’t even that depressing; there was humour in those pages as well. But still, it got to me.

Anyhow, let’s move on to the first note I made:

“WTF?“

Arthur and Miriam have two children: Dan, who lives in Australia with his wife and kids, and Lucy, who doesn’t live all too far away from her parents in York. They were a loving family, there weren’t any fights or whatnot, and yet still, neither Dan nor Lucy attended their mother’s funeral…can I get a WTF from you as well for that? Later in the book, the exact circumstances and reasons are explained to us, but even though there are some good points there, they aren’t good enough for me to not go to your own mother’s fucking funeral.

The second note:

“What a dick!“

This was a reference to Lucy’s husband, who might as well have been called Dick anyhow.
A tiny spoiler here, but I promise it won’t ruin the story for you. This is what ‘Dick’ said to Lucy after she just had a miscarriage and her mother passed away:

“There’s been too much sadness. I want to be happy. I want you to be happy. But we can’t be with all the history between us. We need to be apart so we don’t dwell on it. I have to go.“



Red Foreman

I made the third note at the end of the book, so let’s look at the story and characters first:

Arthur finds a golden charm bracelet in an old shoe of his wife. There are eight charms attached to it: a tiger, a paint palette, a heart, an elephant, a thimble, a flower, a book and a ring. Because Arthur has never seen this bracelet before, he wonders where it came from and studies it more thoroughly. When he finds an Indian phone number and decided to call it, his quest on finding out the meanings of all eight charms starts. Apparently, Miriam lead quite the vigorous life before she met Arthur, yet never told him anything about it.

It’s lovely to see Arthur coming out of his shell of mourning and hopping from one adventure to the next with the help of Bernadette and her 18-year-old emo son Nathan. Bernadette is a cheerful robust lady who has lost her own husband recently and is now trying to help other ‘lost causes’ by visiting them, baking pies and motivating them into leaving the house. A lovely woman, really.

We get to learn more about Lucy (and why the hell she didn’t attend her mother’s funeral) and see her growing closer to her dad again. And that’s what this novel is mainly about: connectedness, love, and family.

This is great and all, and heck, it made me cry, but when you’re expecting adventures of an old man, you want action (or at least, I do). Somewhere around 60% of the book, the pace started to drag a little, and my reading slowed down considerably. Emotional bladeebla and whatnot, while I just wanted to find out about the next charm already!

Which is what note 3 is about:

“Pfff“

This refers to an overly dramatic scene which could’ve come straight out of a sappy sentimental movie. Arthus is screaming “Miriam!” at the sea. Maybe I’m a cold-hearted biyatch and all, but pfffffff.

Now, with all the crying and emotional stuff, this still isn’t a depressing book. In fact, I also laughed out loud several times.

“A tube of toothpaste was trodden into the mud. In the distance, a herd of goats stared at him. One of them seemed to be munching on a mustard piece of fabric. His bloody sweater-vest. Just then an electronic blast of “Greensleeves” rang out."

Seeing as this review is already WAY too long, I’ll just hop on to the rating part.
It was pretty hard to give it a proper rating because I obviously did enjoy the book, and it had an impact on me as well. Yet the dragging parts and the ending weren’t very satisfying to me. The ending isn’t horrible or anything, but it seemed to be an extension of the dragging parts. I just hoped it would’ve been a bit more adventurous. Finding out the stories behind the first couple of charms was one big adventure and then the last couple of charms just sort of fell out of the sky and had less of an impressive story behind it. I did like the last couple of pages again, though!

This could’ve been a fantastic 5-starred book, but because it fell a bit short to me, I’m giving it 3.5 brownies and a firm recommendation if any of the above sounds interesting to you (and you’re over 12 years old).
Review
3 Stars
Earthbound Bones: A Psychic Seasons Novel (Earthbound Series Book 1)
Earthbound Bones: A Psychic Seasons Novel (Earthbound Series Book 1) - ReGina Welling
Due to the worldly success we had last time, I’m teaming up with Cindy from MyBookfile again today (and on other random Thursdays in the near future)! If you’ve read our previous Double Review, you’re going to notice a slight angelical theme we’ve got going. Apart from us being two lovely angels and all (obviously), this is entirely coincidental. Our next book will be about swords and sorcery. I think. And a reaper of souls…*strokes chin* mkay.

What were your expectations before you started reading?

Cindy:Hm.. my expectations… do I ever have expectations for anything? Yes, actually I do, but that’s not the point. I probably expected that this book was going to be a chick lit/comedy kind of novel, but then with angels.

Anne: I honestly don’t know. The cover looked like this was going to be a Disney chick lit crossover, so I kind of expected something I could make fun of, I suppose?

What is this book about?

Anne: It’s about an angel, Galmadriel (seriously?), who falls out of heaven onto planet Earth and finds herself trapped there inside a human body. She still has a tiny bit of angelic power left, though, and manages to save her own life with it in the first chapter. Galmadriel (seriously) is then picked up by people who own a diner/lunchroom (desserts only actually) nearby. Pam, a 40-something woman is the owner of the place and takes Galmadriel (…)in so she can work for her food and accommodation, the accommodation being an old lodge in which Uncle Craig, Pam’s uncle used to live until he got Alzheimer’s. Galmadriel (who, thank fuck, is now called Adriel) slowly gets acquainted with the other people in the small wooded town, their history and…her own human body.

Cindy: Hahaha yes, seriously. I was so glad that they shortened it to Adriel! I was already dreading needing to read that name for the rest of the book. For some reason, though, my brain started to call her Ariel :’)

Did you find the story interesting? Did it take you by surprise or was the plot predictable?

Cindy: Okay, so no it wasn’t all that surprising or unpredictable, but not in a bad way. I wanted to finish this book and it was actually amusing to read. Some moments were more interesting than other’s (obviously) but overall it was fun enough. There were some things that I actually did not see coming, but that might be because we were so smart not to read the books before this spinoff :’)

Anne: It took me by surprise when it took a different turn than the standard romantic crap I expected. It does say it’s a Psychic seasons novel, though, so I should’ve been prepared for the psychic part… As for things being predictable, yes, a lot of it was. I wrote too many notes saying “Oh BOY, I wonder what’ll happen next?! or something of the like. Strangely enough, it didn’t bother me all too much either, though.

Who are the main characters and what did you think of them? Are they changing or maturing by the end of the book?

Anne: The protagonist is Galmadriel. My biggest issue with her is that she’s pretty darn stupid for a millennium old angel.

“She had watched civilizations rise and fall for reasons she found completely frivolous. She had watched over kings and paupers. Now, her biggest concern was remembering how many donuts were in a baker’s dozen.”

I mean, I get that she feels weird being in a human body all of a sudden (I don’t think angels take a dump like we do), but she doesn’t even know how to make coffee. You’d think she was around when coffee was discovered…

Thankfully, she gets her shit together by the end of the book. Maybe a little too much even, but hey, she’s supposed to be a powerful angel.

Another important character is Pam. When I read about Pam, this was the first image I got of her:

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Now rest assured (or be disappointed), Pam is younger, less violent, and altogether more sane and sophisticated than this lady. But, it’s the spirit that counts innit, and Pam sure isn’t someone you mess with. She is a woman in charge of her own business on all kinds of levels! Yep, definitely liked her the best. I also had a soft spot for little Ben with his bike from the ’70’s. Cute kid.

Cindy: Anne already mentioned what is to mention about the main character, so I’ll cheat and start on the minor characters instead because I thought some of them were pretty damn amusing:

Rodeo Bill, an awesome oldish guy who ran away from home and joined the rodeo.
Callum, Ladies man who is supposed to hit on every girl in town, but he has a hidden fondness for a certain someone.
Ben, Pam’s brother, such a cute kid! He had humor… good kid.
And even though these characters are some of the minor characters, they change as well. Small changes, yet changes they are.

Earthbound Bones is a spin-off of the Psychic Seasons series. Do you recommend reading the series or can this one easily be read as a stand-alone novel?

Cindy: I already mentioned that this was a spinoff and so yes, I’d say that it would come in handy to have read that series first. It wasn’t all too bad not having read the Psychic Seasons, but there was not enough introduction to simply understand what happened before all this. There wasn’t even enough information about the group from Psychic Seasons series to form an image of them.

Anne: Yeah,the whole situation with Kat and Zack (who, you say? yes, that’s exactly what I thought) and what exactly happened to Galmadriel which made her fall is explained a bit messily in this book. You can still easily read it as a stand-alone, but I would’ve liked more of a proper introduction for some characters.

Was the ending satisfying to you? [If so, why? If not, why not…and how would you change it?]

Anne: Meh. The mystery is solved in the end, so that’s one thing, but the outcome was rather disappointing. I would’ve picked a different one with more meaning to the reader; that’s for sure. And maybe one with a more of a GASP!-moment.

Cindy: The ending was okay! Don’t go all meh. I nearly cried at the end… then again, I tend to cry a lot, so I guess that that doesn’t really count for anything haha. In the end, it is all okay; mystery solved and on to the rest, I’d say.

Anne: Wimp :’). Yes, it’s an okay ending, but the perp, Cindy! THE PERP!! I just wished it would’ve been someone else *shrugs*.

Would you recommend this book? If so, to whom?

Cindy: Yes, I’d recommend the book. I think it was light and fun at times. People who like a paranormal/mystery sort of thing should like this book.

Anne: Yes. What Cindy said.

It’s the final verdict!

Anne: I’m going to give this one three brownies. I did like it and enjoyed the psychic mystery part. It felt like watching an episode of The Ghost Whisperer; enjoyable emotainment which gives you a snug (and snotty for some people ;) ) feeling but it's nothing outstanding or anything.

Cindy:  Final verdict time already huh... okay well... yeah, I think I’ll give it three stars. It was okay and fun at times, but because of the lack of information concerning some of the minor character and the pace/interestingness, I’ll give the book three stars.

Overall Rating:

A joint 3 stars it is!

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We would like to thank CrushStar Multimedia LLC for providing us with a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion!
Review
4 Stars
Vivian Apple at the End of the World
Vivian Apple at the End of the World - Katie Coyle
Good stuff. Full review coming at some point this week.
Review
4 Stars
Devil and the Bluebird
Devil and the Bluebird - Jennifer Mason-Black
The story kicks off right away: at the crossroads where 17-year-old Blue is about to make a deal with the devil.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8PsUoWoFgc

(The synopsis reminded me of this great episode of Supernatural. Has anyone else seen this one?)

All she wants is to find her sister. When the devil (a gorgeous woman in a red dress) shares a passionate kiss with Blue, the deal is sealed: Blue now has six months to find her sister. If she finds her in time, both of their souls will be saved. If she fails, both souls will be doomed for eternity. What the devil didn’t mention before the saliva swap was that Blue is going to have to do this without being able to use her voice. So, packed with a pen and a notebook, a backpack, her mother’s old guitar, and a pair of magical, but painful boots, Blue sets off on a journey to find her sister.

The first 10% were so ridiculously good that I was dreading the usual: things turning to shite rather quickly after that. Guess what, though? It didn’t happen! 25% -> still good. 50%-> still good. 75%-> still good. I slept like shit for two nights because I could not put the book down.

Blue meets some fascinating people on her journey. Some of them are kind and helpful, others just downright nasty. There’s a gay homeless guy named Steve who travels together with Blue for a while. And somewhere along the way, the devil (who keeps showing up to remind Blue she needs to keep on moving) decides to spice up the pact again: Blue can’t stay with people who know her real name for longer than three days. If they don’t know her name, she can stay with them for a maximum of three weeks. If she surpasses the time limit, bad things will happen to those people. You might think this is easily doable, but if you read this book, you’ll see that it isn’t.

Without having any money for food, shelter or transportation, Blue’s journey is a very hard one. And then there are the psychos who are after homeless children. I felt so lucky never to have been in a situation where I had to sleep on the streets and just hope that no one rapes or kills me after dozing off.
This bit plus the race against time makes this story fast paced, exciting, and scary.

Then there’s the musical element which is firmly present in this book. Blue’s mother used to be in a famous band before she died, and Blue and her sister have inherited the music gene for sure. The guitar is so important to Blue that she would rather risk her life for it instead of losing it. There are many other musicians in this book and an underlining message of how music empowers the soul. Together with the music, there are some powerful emotions in here as well. Dealing with the loss of a parent, or the loss of a part of your life which you can never return to.

Homosexuality is also a recurring theme and while most of it comes across as something perfectly natural, there are also parts where it shows just how hard it can still be when it comes to being accepted for who you are and what you stand for.

While I was fangirling away and happy to finally give something five stars again, I reached 90% of the book and…

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I won’t go into this much because I don’t want to ruin anyone else’s reading experience with it, but JAYSUS, THAT WAS DISAPPOINTING!! I’ve noticed before that magic realism isn’t my cup of tea and this just proves that once more. Symbolism my arse. Luckily, it was only in the ending, so I’m giving this book four brownies and can highly recommend reading it (and skipping the last 10%).

Thanks to Amulet Books for providing me with a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Apologies for the hassle!