Book Review: The Devil’s Picture Book by Arabella Seymour

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Genre: Suspense, Drama

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Four women, friends from their school days, have grown apart with distance and time, until one of them puts in motion an ambitious plan for a reunion – at a country house health spa which – unknown to any of them – has a history of murder, intrigue and bad luck all it’s own.
There is Rhiannon, determined to find out who her real parents were; Alexa, desperate for time to herself away from her controlling husband; Alice, whose husband treats her with contempt; and tragic Sunny, whose promising new life has suddenly come crashing down in ruins when she discovers she has a terminal illness.
Across their path comes Andrea, the unhappy and neglected wife of ex SAS officer Roddy DeVille, tipped for New Year Honours glory, desperate to regain her fading beauty and his love along with it.
The women meet without realising that this reunion will change each of their lives in ways none of them could possibly have imagined.

Intriguing is the best word I can come up with for this book. It’s very intriguing. Almost from the first page I kept wanting to read more. It’s well written and a nice change of pace from the books I’ve mostly been reading now. It’s very intricate and complex with great characters, mostly. And I couldn’t have asked for a better ending.

So why the mediocre rating?

Simply because practically all of the men in this novel sucked. The only one who didn’t was Lexi’s old boyfriend. And while I know this wasn’t a romance or anything, there couldn’t have been at least one marriage that was happy? There are more ways to complicate a woman’s life than to be stuck in a miserable marriage.

Granted, Riannon’s main problem wasn’t her marriage. It was finding out who her parents were. But in the end, her husband, Stephen, turns out to be selfish and mean as well. He starts out nice, but it’s later revealed that he actually believes a girl was asking to be raped because of her clothing and has no problem betraying his wife to save his job. Yeah, so great.

Lexi’s and Alice’s husbands are both controlling, just in different ways. Their storylines are actually so similar that I had a hard time of telling them apart, which really irritated me. Because, again, crappy husbands aren’t the only way to make women unhappy. On top of that, Alice gets conned by a man, confirming her husband’s claim that she’s naive.

Furthermore, the conspiracy with Roddy DeVille feels more like an afterthought than the main story. While a good portion of the story does revolve around Roddy and Andrea, the book could have held its own just fine without them.

And, speaking of afterthoughts, Sunny was barely in the story, despite being one of the main characters. Which is too bad, because she could have had an interesting, if tragic story.

So because of all that, this story is only a three star. However, if you want a well-written suspenseful drama, then I definitely recommend The Devil’s Picture Book.

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Meg Cabot’s Abandon Series: Underworld

underworld-mediumEscape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera isn’t dead.

Not this time.

But she is being held against her will in the dim, twilit world between heaven and hell, where the spirits of the deceased wait before embarking upon their final journey.

Her captor, John Hayden, claims it’s for her own safety. Because not all the departed are dear. Some are so unhappy with where they ended up after leaving the Underworld, they’ve come back as Furies, intent on vengeance…on the one who sent them there and on the one whom he loves.

But while Pierce might be safe from the Furies in the Underworld, far worse dangers could be lurking for her there…and they might have more to do with its ruler than with his enemies.

And unless Pierce is careful, this time there’ll be no escape.

You want to know what makes me saddest about this book? It told me that I’m getting older way more than my high school diploma ever did.

Any girl between the ages of twelve and seventeen will probably love this book. I know I would have if I was a little younger when I read it.

As a retelling of Persephone and Hades, it’s great for the Greek mythology geek. And like Meg Cabot’s other books, it’s perfect for the high school outsider.

However, you’ll probably like it less if you’re older than seventeen.

Here are the good points:

  • Meg Cabot is a fantastic storyteller, no matter what
  • Pierce is a really relatable character
  • John Hayden is a great love interest who is moderately mentally stable
  • the Greek mythology is awesome

Here are the bad points:

  • A lot of angst
  • People have misplaced priorities
  • A lot of irrational decisions made by both Pierce and John
  • A lot of Meg Cabot’s usual flair and humor seems to be missing

Despite all of the bad points, I really was drawn into the plot. Pierce’s cousin, Alex, is in trouble, and we learn about John’s background and how he became lord of the Underworld (gotta love the antiheroes). I’m not joking when I say Meg Cabot can tell a great story. Even though this book didn’t make me laugh like The Princess Diaries series and I’m not cheering on a kickass heroine like in the Airhead series or in Teen Idol, I still got sucked into the story.

There is a lot of angst in this. Again, maybe I’m getting older and noticing more, or maybe it’s different from the others. But Pierce can be full of melodrama and sometimes she just seems so clueless. Why would a kid who is clearly from nineteenth century know what a cell phone is, for instance? Or did Pierce really think that only pomegranates trapped a person in the Underworld? Yeah, that’s what Persephone ate, but all of the versions of Persephone and Hades that I read clearly said food from the Underworld, and I’ve had to read several versions throughout middle and high school. You would think someone dating the lord of the Underworld would bother to actually read the legend.

John’s crew irritated me as well. They don’t really care when Pierce tells them that her cousin is dying. Granted, they are in the Underworld and Pierce has her priorities a little topsy-turvy too. I mean, her cousin could be dying but she didn’t want to inconvenience a little kid by making him go get John? Really? But the crew seemed to think it was absurd for John to save Alex, even though they thought it was perfectly natural when he saved a woman from getting her purse snatched. The misplaced priorities are irking.

The irrational decisions I can actually forgive. Every teenager makes dumb decisions at times and Pierce thinking her parents are better off with her missing isn’t the craziest idea ever. And even though John thought trapping Pierce forever in the Underworld and away from her family wouldn’t upset her was absurd, I can understand why he took her there. He didn’t think there was a way to stop the Harpies, after all, and he was scared out of his mind that she would be hurt.

Actually, John is a pretty stable love interest for a teen romance. I don’t think he and Pierce have the healthiest relationship, but he’s not controlling, easily jealous, or misogynist. Without a doubt he’s crazy about Pierce and if she had actually expressed wish to be left alone, without changing her mind an hour later, I think he would have.

And even though nineteen is too old to really get into the love story, the Greek mythology and storytelling can still be appreciated. Greek nerds and teen girls alike will love the Abandon series, and Underworld will not disappoint Meg Cabot’s die-hard fans.

Pick up this book at your favorite local bookstore.

 

 

 

23 BookWorm Problems You Can Relate To

  1. When you need to go to the bathroom, but you’re comfortable and at a really good part in the book.
  2. When your friends are like “Why do you read so much?”we-are-not-friends
  3. That moment when you know how the entire plot will play out by the second chapter.
  4. When you’re in a public place and you’re at a really emotional scene6d5c35f4372d1307bfdcec8c600cf2ab7a05198f6faac0eb0b9a276cbcd80be3
  5. Those times when you have to put down the book to work, or sleep, or clean.
  6. Book Hangovers. Enough said. book-hangover
  7. When you finish all of the published books and you need to wait a year before the next one comes out.
  8. When you read a really sad book and you feel depressed for like a month after that.
  9.  When friends invite you out to dinner but all you want to do is read a book and eat your leftover pizza.10-01-mean-girls-gif
  10. When you’ve read your new favorite book but you can’t talk about it because none of your friends have read it.
  11. The endless search for the Perfect Reading Positiondsc_1695
  12. Choosing which books on your shelves to get rid of (when you want to buy more books)
  13. Bills getting in the way of your book-shopping addiction
  14. That moment when your English teacher insults one of your favorite book. 200_s
  15. When you want to read the next Outlander book, but you’re not sure you’re ready for that kind of commitment.
  16. When people mess with your reading system.
  17. When you can’t find a real bookmark anywhere, but you need to put the book down for some reason. kindle-used-as-bookmark
  18. People who say “Just watch the movies.”
  19. Also, people who say they don’t have time for reading.
  20. The morning after an all-night reading session. brain-out-of-order-sign
  21. When you want to marry the characters and your  S.O. doesn’t understand.
  22. When everyone is always talking about their celebrity crushes, but you only crush on book characters.
  23. When you get spoilers.

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Fantasy Novel Review: The Silent Queen

Red Ribbon on BlackQueen Phoibe is crowned Queen by Zeus himself before her world changed forever.

Only minutes after she is crowned, the gods declared war on the humans, enraged that the Oracle of Delphi closed the bridge between Earth and their world. It’s Phoibe’s job to stop the gods and protect her people and she plans to do just that with the help of her two patron gods, Thanatos and Artemis. But first she needs to survive the terror raining down from the heavens.

I enjoyed this story for the most part. I thought it was a little slow starting and because it’s so short there wasn’t enough time for a lot of character development, although there will be a lot more of that in the books to come. This is part one of a series, after all. For the time being, though, Phoibe is a bit of a bland character. She’s a fourteen-year-old with all of the angst and none of the smart-ass remarks. I don’t understand why she has to be so young, either. Her character is way too mature for it to be believable. She’s probably the least relatable fourteen-year-old ever. Her entire character is like a Greek statue: dignified, beautiful, and inhuman.

Lantos, however, is fantastic. As Phoibe’s former childhood friend and a demigod, he is not to be trusted even though he saved her life by warning her of the war being declared. He has a smart mouth to be sure and I really wish he had a more prominent role in the story. About halfway through he is pushed out of a helicopter, though. (But he’s a demigod, so technically he’s still alive. My guess is he’ll show up in future books and eventually be the love interest).

While the writing isn’t bad, Lizzy Ford could take a couple of grammar lessons. She used one of my biggest pet peeves of all time: she used infer when she should have used imply.  Ugh. It took me a couple more paragraphs to actually get back into the story. This slip-up is really unforgivable because it’s Phoibe’s voice Lizzy is talking with, and it’s already been established that Phoibe is highly educated: she was born to be a queen after all. This really shows Ford’s incompetencey.

However, in all 10 thousand plus words of the story, there isn’t another error that glaring, so  with all said and done, the book is actually put together really well. And the story flows along smoothly. While I think some fantasy fans would enjoy this book and this series, I’ll probably not buy the next book. As much as I like the plot, the characters are too flat for me to really get into the book.

If you enjoyed my review, then please share it with your friends, or connect with me on Twitter. And if you’ve read The Silent Queen, then I would love for you to leave your opinion in the comments below. Thank you!

…And of the Son by John Skinner, Jr. (My Dad’s Book!)

Thomas “T.J.” James, Jr. finds himself wondering about that very thing. When his past and his present collide in a horrific set of circumstances, T.J. has to work out the details of the situation and finds himself in the middle of an investigation that brings his past nightmares back to life.

Hi, guys. I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted on here, and you might be disappointed about how short this post is. But this is a really important post for me. My dad has just published his first book on Amazon. That’s right. It came out a little earlier today. I’m not doing a review of this book, because that would obviously be a potentially biased review. Also, I haven’t actually finished it yet… (ahem).

What I have read of it, I really liked. And I (and my dad) would love it if you guys checked it out. It does have strong content that isn’t suitable for all audiences, so reader discretion, everybody.  Here’s the Amazon link  if you want to check it out.

 

Book Review: The Medium Path

 Ruby is sick and tired of being a ghost. All she wants to do is move on like all the rest of the ghosts she needs to deal with. But being a spirit guide, it’s not that simple. Passing on her life force doesn’t work for her like it does for regular ghosts and until she figures out how that works, she’s just stuck transporting spirits to the afterlife. Life after death is pretty much the same old same old. That is until someone starts stealing souls. And she starts falling for a medium named Michael. Then life gets a little bit more complicated.

It took me a little bit (read: four months or so) to get into this book. Indeed, the beginning with Ruby helping this sad excuse for a teenager named Lucy did not really interest me and I was easily distracted b Continue reading

Book Review: Ariah by B.R. Sanders

 

Ariah has lived a sheltered life in a condemning and narrow-minded world. Elves, sexual promiscuity, and those considered of lower class are looked down upon while corruption is everywhere in the government. Elves with specific magical powers called shapers are looked down upon and considered a threat because of their ability to read people. But a whole new world opens up for him when he travels with his mentor, Dirva beyond the Empire where everything is upside down for Ariah, but he starts to wonder if he even belonged in the Empire at all as he Continue reading