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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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!

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

5 Reasons Why Legacy Will Make You Cry

The authors behind #30Authors come together for the anthology Legacy where each author write a story about what the word “legacy” means to them. Legacies are passed in many ways, through recipes, quilts, loved ones, and even in the words we say to one another. You will read about different legacies in every story. And you will cry like I did.

5 Reasons Why You Will Cry

1) You will realize the grandmother was not a loon in Forget Me Not.

Continue reading

Dark Secrets and Batshit Families

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Most kids see college as a huge adventure, and the last milestone before entering the “adult” world, or the last time they can have fun before they have bills to pay and they need to pay their dues in their fields. But for Paige Alexander, it’s just something to get through before she can disappear with her girlfriend Jess and escape the clutches of her affluent, tyrannical, and batshit crazy parents. It doesn’t help that she now needs to take therapy as long as she was in school, thanks to a suicide attempt and a promise to Jess. While trying to keep her homophobic roommate from knowing her secret, and trying to help her best friend who is stuck in an abusive relationship, Paige needs to come to terms with the family secret that had made her attempt suicide in the first place.

I wasn’t sure how much I would like this book because stories about teen suicides and suicide attempts can sometimes make me uncomfortable, but this story still had a lot of humor which lightened it up some (even though some of it was dark humor) and made it an enjoyable read. The characters were awesome. I think Jess was my favorite one. Being very outgoing, and into nights out at hole-in-the-wall restaurants and meeting people, her character was great contrast with Paige’s more awkward character, and the love story between her and Paige was very sweet. I would totally want Jess as my best friend.

I liked Paige mostly. The strong loyalty she has to her friends and even to her roommates makes her really likeable, and I like her sense of humor a lot too. However, I didn’t like her nearly as much when she decided to use Tom as straight cover. It annoyed me that she led him on like that, especially when she knew he was a nice guy and it seemed like he genuinely liked her. But that storyline got resolved quite nicely in my opinion, and I still like Paige a lot. I thought the storyline over all was very good and well-written, and I’d definitely recommend this book to anybody.

The Freedom Writer’s Diary

In the nineties racial tension soared in Long Beach, California after the Rodney King riots. A young teacher named Erin Gruell knew that going into her job at Wilson High School, but she still wasn’t totally prepared. Not only did the students judge each other by race, but the teachers did as well. They would stereotype and discriminate against their own students because of race and wealth. Also, there was a status quo at Wilson High School among the teachers. New teachers didn’t get to stay with their classes for four years, nor were they allowed to organize field trips. But Erin was willing to disrupt the status quo, give up her nights, and even work two extra jobs if it meant helping her students in Room 204. Together she and 150 students made a book compiled of journal entries that told their stories during all four years of high school. A lot of stories are moving, and many tragic. Several of these students went through hell and for one reason or another ended up in the “dumb” class. But they ended up proving everyone wrong, though, including themselves. This was a very powerful book and is definitely a must-read for everybody. It’s hard to believe some of the things the students went through, and it’s amazing they were able to do so much, even getting the audience of the Secretary of Education and going to Anne Frank’s house. I think everyone should read this book because it has such a powerful message, and is extremely well written. Make sure you order it from your local bookstore: IndieBound

(Netgalley Review) Running on Empty

River Daniels knew it wouldn’t end well when she agreed to get in a car with her controlling boyfriend to protect her friend, Justice. She just didn’t think it would end with him murdered and her on the run with her two best friends.

When you grow up on the wrong side of the town and you murder a rich football star in Texas, you know you’re not going to get a fair trial. So River and her two best friends run to Vegas to escape the law and make a plan. But as the police look for them, they know their time is running out. They need to find a way prove River’s innocence.

For the most part I liked this book. I liked the friendship between River and her friends, and I liked the love interest, Justice. But River irritated me a lot. She made quite a few stupid decisions and she jumped to conclusions a lot. I understand why she went with her boyfriend, even if he was really controlling, but it was stupid of her to actually believed he loved her. Also when she saw a letter from her dad to her mom saying that he missed her because he was at college, she jumped to the conclusion that she was just an unfortunate accident and her father never really wanted her, which didn’t make any sense to me because I just got the impression of a man in love. However, I thought her friends were pretty awesome. They were able to keep River moving forward and none of them thought twice about helping her. This book definitely deals with a lot of serious issues, but it’s still a fairly light read, all things considered. River’s character aside, I thought it was a light and entertaining read that’s a great gift for just about any teenage girl.

You can get a copy of Running On Empty from your local bookstore here: <a href=”http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781939392800?aff=KaraSkinner”>http://www.indiebound.org/book/</a&gt;