Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge – Lisa Jensen [BOOK REVIEW]

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One of my favorite books while I was growing up was the Beauty and the Beast. I usually love retellings,as they show me a different side of the story that might be, that I have never considered before. This book, however, almost ruined it all for me. The only reason it didn’t was because I wouldn’t let one bad retelling to ruin my childhood favorite!

The story is about Lucie, who is a servant in Jean Leup’s palace. Through Lucie’s story, we see Jean Leup as a horrible person who only cares about money and the respect he received from his aristocratic community. He treats the servants badly and doesn’t even bother to look at them.

Lucie likes the thought of him. He is a very handsome man, and all she dreams about is for him to notice her. And one day, he does. And something really bad happens. Jean Leup does something horrible to Lucie.

[SPOILER – PLEASE CONTINUE CAUTIOUSLY]

He rapes her. And not only that this scene was very disturbing, it was also three pages long, with broad descriptions and it made be cringe badly. It made me hate everything and this was the part where I almost quit on reading this book]

[SPOILER FINISHED – YOU CAN CONTINUE READING]

beast: a tale of love and revenge

After this big spoiler scene, the first reaction Lucie has is to kill herself. I am aware that this was a huge trauma for her, and people react differently, but if the author gives me this as a solution to her problem, do I want to continue reading? Is this really the lesson she learns?

With a bit of help of magic and wisdom words, she decides that now she wants for Jean Leup to suffer, and she wants to be able to see this happen. Suddenly, wish becomes a reality and the next thing we know, she is a candle that can’t move, and Jean Leup has turned into a Beast.

Do you get the Beauty and the Beast reference now? We see the story from the candle’s point of view, who is Lucie.

Well – not really!

Because here’s the twist – the Beast doesn’t remember what happened before. He doesn’t know he was Jean Leup. He doesn’t know he was bad in the past. The Beast is good by default, and a bit sad that he’s alone in a big castle. So I have to ask again – Where is the lesson? Where is the punishment? If he can’t remember he was bad, he’ll never learn why he is a Beast.

To continue and shorten the story – Lucie (the candle) can talk to the Beast through her mind. The Beauty (Rose) comes to the castle and the story goes on. Lucie decides that she is in love with the Beast, and I won’t reveal the rest, in case you want to read the book and see for yourself.

Now – I know that the author’s point wasn’t the lesson that the Beast learns as in the original story. Her point was to tell the story of the Beast, and Lucie, and how this tale can have a different plot, and ending, and back story. But I really believe that this was the wrong way of saying it, and it didn’t leave a clear message.

The writing was poor, and it went from one moment to another, leaving me there in the middle, wondering what happened. One scene begins, and another starts before anything is finished. It was disorientated, and I felt lost in the first 40 pages.

This is a no from me, and I will give it 2 stars because I managed to finish it.

Thanks to Candlewick Press for providing me with an ARC e-copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Fawkes – Nadine Brandes [BOOK REVIEW]

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Fawkes by Nadine Brandes is one of those books that draws you into a world, enlightens you with its magic, and then sends you back to reality, so you can enlighten others while you glow!

Nadine used the history of Guy Fawkes and the failed attempt to blow the parliament as a base to her story, that follows Guy Fawkes’s son, Thomas, into an incredible magical journey.

‘’A foundation of truth represents what life was intended to be.’’

Thomas is about to get his mask, that is supposed to make him control one colour. He also happens to be affected with the plague, that turns his face into stone. His family are all Keepers, and he, by default is a keeper too. But things are never that simple. What will happen when he might not get his mask, and the plague is about to kill him?

We follow the journey of Thomas through a first – person perspective. He feels incomplete when he has the plague, and all his life he is waiting to get his mask, and to be able to control a colour. Any colour, even though he prefers Grey.

Only with my mask could I bond with a color.

But on the day when he is about to receive his mask from his dad, he learns that his father is in London, and is not willing to come.

Scared for his life, and angry at his father, he goes into an adventure to find him. His father is Guy Fawkes, a Keeper that is involved in a Gunpowder plot, which will kill the whole parliament, and most importantly, the king of England, who is the cause of the plague!

Thomas joins the plot, knowing that this is the last chance for him to survive the plague! If the king is dead, the plague would be gone. But will it?

I never imagined a single moment of acceptance could reverse a year of bitterness and prejudice.

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Through Thomas’s eyes, we see a war between the Keepers and the Igniters. It might be a metaphor for the Catholics and Protestants, but I won’t go into this now. The Keepers were loyal to one color only, and Igniters wanted to control all colors. Igniters used the White Colour as a source to control all power. But White Color doesn’t obey like other colours do – the White Color makes people go crazy for power and glory. Something similar to the ring in Lord of The Rings.

‘’Igniters believe that for each Keeper that dies, one person is cured of the plague’’.

We see Thomas caught between two sides – the keepers want to be free of oppression, and the Igniters want to be free to use color speech as they wanted. On such a crossroad, Thomas wants to find the truth for himself. But there is no time, and not many people that he can trust.

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‘’You’ve given me your truth. I have to find it for myself for it to become mine. And curiosity is the first step’’.

On his journey, his relationship with Emma becomes stronger. She is an Igniter, and they share  different beliefs, and she also knows he has the plague. But she is still around, and she accepts his as he is. And Thomas, taught to always hide his face, because otherwise he would be killed by the Igniters, is able to relax around Emma. This will teach him to accept Emma as she is, once she tells him her secret.

I loved the character of Emma. She is a strong person, but unable to show her true self due to the fact that she is not like the others, that she is not the same. In this book it is also shown quite well how women were underestimated in the 17th century. How they were thought to be unworthy. The only bit I didn’t like about Emma is that, even though such strong character, she would have never fought for herself if Thomas wasn’t there to ‘’save’’ her.

This book is a lovely story about Thomas, and how he finds his true self, how he is not afraid to stand up for the things he believes in, how he learns that he shouldn’t be hiding his true self anymore and embrace his fears, as they might turn out to be the best things that ever happened in his life.

‘’Take a breath, Thomas. There has always been fear. There will always be fear. It’s up to us to stand tall, even when the fear demands we bow to it.’’

So yes, my lovely readers, I loved this book so much! I loved the magical moments, I loved how it turned out to be an amazing plot, based on real history events. I loved Thomas’s character, and I loved Emma. I loved Guy Fawkes as well, especially in the end of the book.

If you happen to love these types of books, please get your copy as soon as you can. You won’t regret it at all!

I have received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Falling Short – Lex Coulton [BOOK REVIEW]

When I first found out about Falling Short, written by Lex Coulton, the blurb promised to be ‘’fresh, funny and life-affirming’’. I am sorry, but no. That is not correct. This book was none of those things. It wasn’t bad at all, but I would prefer describing it as a slow-paced, and confusingly complex in an unsatisfying way.

About the book:

Frances Pilgrim’s father went missing when she was five, and ever since all sorts of things have been going astray: car keys, promotions, a series of underwhelming and unsuitable boyfriends . . . Now here she is, thirty-bloody-nine, teaching Shakespeare to rowdy sixth formers and still losing things.

But she has a much more pressing problem. Her mother, whose odd behaviour Frances has long put down to eccentricity, is slowly yielding to Alzheimer’s, leaving Frances with some disturbing questions about her father’s disappearance, and the family history she’s always believed in. Frances could really do with someone to talk to. Ideally Jackson: fellow teacher, dedicated hedonist, erstwhile best friend. Only they haven’t spoken since that night last summer when things got complicated . . .

As the new school year begins, and her mother’s behavior becomes more and more erratic, Frances realizes that she might just have a chance to find something for once. But will it be what she’s looking for?

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My thoughts:

I am usually good at explaining why I don’t like a certain book, or why I feel the way I feel, and believe me, with this one, I have spent two days and 6 sittings in front of this draft (now published post) to try and write about it. So I am doing my best now…

First of all, there has to be something about a certain book to make me want to read it. With this one – there were two things:

  • I love romance and intrigue, and the blurb promised two people not really talking to each other, but sparks flying around… so yes, that got me

  • The Alzheimer’s disease – as a person that has worked with people suffering from Dementia and Alzheimer’s, this subject is very close to my heart. I couldn’t miss this book for this reason.

Now – the romance part disappointed me, as there was no romance. No romance at all. Unless, of course, you count as a romance a person in their mid-forties sleeping around with drunk teens, and is then too complicated of a character to even realise who he loves, and why, and the moment he does, he still has no idea what to do with that information.

The other disappointment I had was that I expected to read about the Alzheimer’s, and not only that they weren’t there, but also some of the symptoms mentioned were not correct at all. There were only sex relationships and sex scenes, and that was supposed to define their relationship in the end. Not realistic at all.

Even though it seems that we follow Frances’s story throughout, we actually follow Jackson’s story as well. Their characters were too complicated and confusing for me, and it let me to now feel nor care about them at all. I honestly cared about Frances’s dog the most in this book.

The plot wasn’t perfect – there were times when the information given didn’t match

[SPOILER ALERT]

The scene how Frances searches on Google to find the address of her dad. We are then told that she found out his address through Jean. Which one is it, then?

[SPOILER FINISHED – SAFE TO CONTINUE READING]

I am actually quite sad that I didn’t enjoy this book, but I will still be curious about new works from Lex Coulton, because, somehow, I really liked her writing style, despite all the flaws.

Thank you to Netgalley and John Murray Press for providing an ARC copy of this book to me, in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.

Cryptid – MIchael Kott [BOOK REVIEW]

Cryptid by Michael Kott is the second book of these series. It is a sequel to the Piasa, and you can find my review on that here. I have to admit and say that I didn’t enjoy Cryptid as much as I would like to, and you’ll find out why soon.

About the book:

Cryptid continues to tell the story of Sara, a girl that survives a car accident, when all her family dies. While in the first book she meets Mike, who gets her a job as his assistant in his adventures, in this book we will see Sara still maintaining that position, but a little bit from the background. When a few cats that look like leopards will appear at the museum, people start to get scared, and the police wants to shoot the animals. Then Mike and the team come to the rescue, to try and identify what the cats are, and save them from dying.

Review:

In Cryptid, we will be introduced to a couple new characters, some of which I happened to be very fond of (Hi Xenia!). The good thing for me was, that I could get a bit of a break from all the Sara moments. The thing I didn’t like was the fact that their background was too short and untold, and they kept making decisions based on the past that we didn’t know (I will mention Shannon’s decision here).

My favourite moments of the book, were, of course, those where Sara wasn’t there. Followed by my previous review of the Piasa, I sometimes like the character of Sara. But I  also couldn’t agree with her. I couldn’t understand her character, behaviour and decisions. Maybe it is because of my own childhood. I mean, luckily, I haven’t lost any of my family, but I have lived without both parents in those crucial years, raised by grandparents, while having a little sister to look after, and having an aunt similar to Pamela to guide me through my worst. But I was never this arrogant, self-centered and desperate for ME-ME-ME attention like Sara. Whoa, that lady really can push my limits sometimes.

The same goes with everyone around Sara that constantly tries to please her, and make sure she’s not upset.

And what is the reason that all of the characters are losing their shoes somewhere?

Unlike Piasa, in this book the focus is only on one big event, at two main places – the park and the museum. Apart from a few places in the introduction, the whole story keeps us around these places, which I particularly didn’t mind, but some people may or may not find it boring.

I was a bit sad because I really like Mike, and he wasn’t as present with his story as his was in the other book. I expected to see and learn a bit more of him.

Not to be all negative though, there were a few moments that I really enjoyed! I loved to read about the sisterhood of Pamela and Xenia, and the beginning of the book was fantastic. Xenia is also such an incredible character, and I really admired her. I also loved the explanations on the different kinds of cats and their latin names and meanings.

All in all, I am a bit sad to say that this will be a 3 out of 5 stars. Especially because the author, Michael Kott, is a dear friend of mine, and I greatly enjoyed the Piasa. I may have expected a bit too much of this book, that left me disappointed. But I do believe that some of you might greatly enjoy it! If you like Young-Adult fiction, and stories about mystery animals and cryptids, you will definitely enjoy this book!

Thank you Mike, for sending me a copy of the Cryptid, in exchange for an honest review.

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The Camelot Shadow – Sean Gibson [BOOK REVIEW]

‘’I can either tell you my tale, or I can respond to your feeble witticisms. I cannot, in my mildly inebriated state, do both.’’

This is not your usual story related to King Arthur, Merlin and Camelot. This will, in fact, be quite different story and not only unusual, but one of a kind.

We go back in time when Queen Victoria was ruling over England. In a time when the author really liked to point out the fact that the characters are using trains. It was pointed out so much, that I had to do a bit of research to see if trains existed in that time. They did – apparently England had the oldest rail transport in the world. And Queen Victoria was one of the first royals to use that form of transport too.

Now, I am not even sure why I kept going on about trains… Back to the story…

The Camelot Shadow covers the story of Lord Alfred Fitzwilliam, a man whose wife is ill from an incurable illness. When an opportunity arises, giving him the chance and hope that he might save the life of his lover, he goes on a mission to find an object from the time when King Arthur was the ruler of England, and Merlin was his companion.

With a help from a group of people, Alfred digs the history and the stories of the past, only to discover that not everything he believed in was true, and not everyone that he trusted is his ally.

A story that reminded me of Dan Brown’s work. Quite similar in the sense of clues, history, what is a myth and what is a fact, though also quite distinctive, as it covers people’s characters so well, describing their personalities in a powerful way.

‘’Wealth. Status. Happiness. A perfect life. All built on an ephemeral foundation, an impossibility masking a lie that, if exposed, if openly acknowledged, would bring it all crashing down around our heads.’’

When a great disappointment comes around, and all hope is gone, people change, and people feel things. A person starts to wonder what they did wrong, what could they have done differently, what if… Alfred is one of the people where we will see his change over the chapters. For better or for worse, I’ll let you decide.

‘’It was Guinevere’s infidelity that brought down Arthur’s Camelot’’ – he said, wiping a trickle of Scotch from his chin with the back of his sleeve. ‘’It was God’s cruelty that brought down mine.’’

A book that explains good and evil in the unusual way. I thought I could explain good and evil, but sometimes my evil can do you good, and your good can do harm to everyone. And power… oh what people are capable to do for power…

‘’Power, Arthur had taught him, was not something to covet, but rather something to treat in the same manner one might handle a wild mastiff – with considerable respect, constant vigilance, and a trace of fear. ‘’

If you are a fan of history fiction, and stories about Arthur and Merlin, you would definitely want to dive in into this book and get lost into the world. And that is not the only thing that this book covers… It covers hope, faith, loss, love, good, evil, power, guilt and everything in between. Get ready for an adventure. One full of bravery and magic. And maybe… maybe some hope.

A huge thank you to the author, Sean Gibson, who was kind enough to give me an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Gunshots & Goalposts: The Story of Northern Irish Football – Benjamin Roberts [BOOK REVIEW]

For the lovers of football and history – this book will be of your interest. If you happen to have any connecting with Northern Ireland as well – this book is made for you!

I don’t think I fit in the description above. I love watching football – but I am not a football maniac, that knows who plays where, the club’s managers and who is on top of the Champion’s League this year. I love me some good sports matches, and I know a lot of players by name or face, but that’s about it.

Now – Gunshots & Goalposts: The Story of Northern Irish Football – the book that covers the stories of many football players in the past century in Northern Ireland.

While it covers so many stories, I wasn’t able to connect to any of the characters, and I choose to blame this on the way the book was written.

Which – is not a bad thing at all. Why? Because, this book is not meant to make you fall in love with the characters. It is instead, meant to show you the real picture of their lives, the politics that were ongoing in that time, and give you a brief history lesson of what you happened to miss in high school. All related to football, of course.

For me, it was very useful to learn a bit about the politics and history. Before I started the book, I knew NOTHING about Northern Ireland’s history. I knew NOTHING about their football history. This was a great first book for me to dive into the waters of the history of Northern Ireland’s football.

The author, Benjamin Roberts, has done a wonderful job in the description and research. It covers a lot of the history period from the First and Second World War, the protestants vs catholics, the unionists vs nationalists, the east vs the west.

This book reminds me a lot of a movie that has been made in the country where I was born – Macedonia. The movie was called ‘’The Third Half’’ and deals with Macedonian Football during World War II, and the deportation of Jews from Macedonia. It reminded me a bit of this, even though in this book we don’t connect with the characters, or dive into their stories too much.

This is a three-star book for me – for the sole reason that this is not a book that I would usually read, and I wouldn’t read books similar to this one either. I enjoyed it, at times, but wouldn’t re-read it. However, I would definitely recommend it to people that love both football and history. I just prefer books where I connect with the characters.

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Quarry’s Climax – Max Allan Collins [BOOK REVIEW]

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Quarry’s Climax is the 14th book of the Quarry series, and even though I only had the chance to read this one, the rest of the books are certainly something that I have put on my TBR list!

The plot is simple – until, of course, it gets complicated:

Quarry is a Hitman – he kills people for pleasure, I mean, money! He works for this guy ‘’the Broker’’ and his new mission is to protect a chairman of an underrated Porn magazine and strip club – The Climax. When this task might seem easy, suddenly everyone hides something and everyone has secrets. And then our man Quarry – who usually goes on the spot and just kills whoever he needs to, now has to play the role of a detective, find out what the hell is going on in this rat hole, and eliminate any danger.

Now – first things first – I am not usually a person that reads these types of books – Pulp fiction, hardboiled fiction, entangled harsh noir stories, but this book pleasantly surprised me with its light reading experience and admirable description of the characters.

Quarry – now that’s one interesting character! Quarry is what happens when you mix a Cowboy personality, with a bit of witty humour, no respect for ladies and egotistical appearance. I happened to actually kind of like this guy!

Though the part I didn’t like it how he treats women and talks about them as they are a piece of meat with no brain whatsoever. I am not a feminist, but I mean – you couldn’t have tried harder, I guess. He would just go to a scene, let us know how irrelevant and thick this lady is, he would sleep with her, never call her again, and then continue with his life as nothing happened. Wonderful, isn’t it?

This is one of a kind book for me, and even though I wouldn’t put it on my favorites pile, it has a special place in my heart. I greatly enjoyed it, and it made me smirk at times. I will definitely explore this genre in the future, and I am sure that Quarry’s Climax was a great beginning for me on that.

I received this book by winning a Goodreads Giveaway from Max Allan Collins and Hard Case Crime.