My Rating: 5 Stars
If you’re like me and never cry with books, I will tell you now there’s a first time for everything.
Set in the Age of Heroes, The Song of Achilles re-tells the story of one of the most famous names of the time, Achilles, told in the eyes of Patroclus, Achilles’ best friend and lover. As a young prince, Patroclus is exiled to the court of King Peleus, where he trains and studies with prince Achilles. Despite being completely different, their friendship grows through the years until it develops into something deeper. The kidnapping of Helen of Sparta sets in motion a series of events that test the lovers in ways they never expect and will change their lives forever.
I must begin by saying I felt a lot, too much and intensely the story of Achilles and Patroclus. If you read or know the outlines of Homer’s Iliad, you will remember that the story doesn’t have a happy ending. Even so, Madeline Miller, while staying true to Homer’s work and the known Greek myths, created a masterpiece that traces perfectly the evolution of a young friendship into a soul-binding romance. She gives depth to the characters, creating the perfect and solid backstory of Patroclus and creating a more human image of the demi-god Achilles.
The style of writing is lyrical and Homer would be proud to read it. Miller writes elegantly yet simply. You flow through the story from beginning to end without missing a single detail. As you read, you have the feeling you hear a harp and a soft voice narrating the novel. The descriptions give colour and detail to Ancient Greece from its palaces to its wars. Miller doesn’t forget the historical details either. They’re perfectly mixed with the fictional story; the typical traits and societal behaviours during the Trajan War period they strengthen it the story and make it more real.
The characters, as I mentioned before, are close to perfection. Achilles, the hero known for his brutal nature and arrogance, is presented in a completely different way. Yes, he’s a spoiled brat, in the beginning, not forgetting his royal heritage and situation, but he grows up to be a man divided between his heart and his duty. Yes, he’s ruthless and hot-headed, but at the time, he’s gentle and it’s clear in his actions that he truly cares. Patroclus is the complete opposite of Achilles. He’s far from being a war machine like it was fully expected at the time, to be someone that cares deeply about others and manages to put others before himself. He thinks with the heart and together with his innocence, he manages to catch the attention of Achilles from the very beginning. On the other hand, his need to end the suffering of the people and to protect them becomes his downfall. His relationship with the demi-god is perfectly developed and the way they grow together both physically and emotionally grows on you from the beginning to the end.
A masterful work of art that will stay in my heart for a long time. This novel book sheds a new light on the famous story of Achilles, and the many layers of the story will surprise you and mark you. I can’t recommend this novel highly enough.
Rating: 5 Stars
A top novel with a top, refreshing story.
Riley Ozaki was once a normal teenage girl trying to survive high school. When misinterpretation of her school paper turns her calm life into a hell of bullying, both in reality and online, and public-shaming, Riley decides to join a competition in a deserted island with 19 other teenagers for a chance to turn the negative national attention she got into a positive and fix her broken reputation. A secret, priceless treasure might just do the trick. In a cursed island setting, surrounded by competitors that will do anything to win the big price, Riley is thrown into a world of lies, betrayal and love where everything, including her life, is at stake.
I was convinced in the beginning that this would be a repetitive teenage-drama novel somehow and was pleasantly surprised to discover otherwise. The mystery of the treasure, the laboured tasks and the growth of the main character left me glued to the pages.
The plot is very well thought and developed leaving no loose ends. Emotions run high throughout the book and the pace of the story grows with each turning of the page.
The setting is almost like the Survivor series: an island in the middle of nowhere, filled with trails, challenges and traps growing in difficulty. The descriptions provided by the author make you want to get in there and do it too but at the same time question what your actions while faced such challenges. Series as Big Brother and Survivor gives a pretty good image of what can happen in a reality like this but Tiffany Brooks makes it look like something completely new.
The style of writing is compelling, using simple language and descriptions to bring the island and the characters to life. More than the place, Brooks takes her time in developing the characters and their relationships. Even though there is romance throughout the story, it never takes the front-stage completely; it runs in the background almost. Your focus remains on the mystery and not on chemistry and developing romantic relationships between characters. Even so, it definitely adds spice to the story and it becomes something to look forward to in addition to everything else. The description of the challenges is brilliant to the point you could see yourself participating in them and feel the adrenaline and the cold sweat of the risky tasks.
The characters are a big part of what makes this book so good. Brooks manages to write about teenagers without the stereotypical behaviour that you’re expecting for a YA novel. On the other hand, each character fits into the typical high-school categories that we can find in other books: the jocks, the nerds, the popular and the outcasts. For me, that didn’t make a lot of sense considering the competitors come from all over the country and they all a different life story and different experiences. If Brooks had explored this aspect better, it would have brought more colour and it would have made the story more interesting.
Riley is a strong main female protagonist but she’s also flawed which makes her a believable character. Brooks explores this character beautifully and the depth of her feelings and reactions make her look like a real person. Together with the solid storyline and heart-stopping setting, Riley completes the novel with her strength, determination and wittiness. Even though she comes from a rich family, she’s not spoiled but she has a very squared view of life until she starts “playing”. Riley adapts quickly to the challenges and her quick thinking make her journey worth following until the end. She’s very rational and logical as a character. Even though you can see that she feels lonely and how loyal she becomes to the people she begins to call allies, she manages to put their interests before chasing her crush and knows when to step back and just observe. Any idea of superficiality goes out the window when you realise that she puts others over her need to rebuild her social reputation.
A brilliant novel that I will definitely buy in paperback version! I highly recommend it to the fans of adventure, mystery and YA all mixed perfectly together!
Thank you Xpresso Book Tours and the author Tiffany Brooks for allow me to participate on the book tour of Reality Gold.
My Rating: 3 Stars
An entertaining novel by Elizabeth Peters, but not one of her best works.
Elizabeth Jones works in a publishing house. After saving money for three years, she’s finally able to take her dream holidays. But things don’t go as planned. In fact, things start going downhill when she recognises the famous historical writer, Margaret Rosenberg taking the same flight. When the plane arrives in Copenhagen, an unfortunate accident renders Margaret without a secretary. Elizabeth introduces herself and volunteers to work with her during her holidays. As she introduced to the authors disagreeable and arrogant son, Christian, she thinks her life can’t get any better. When Margaret suddenly goes missing, they have to work together to unravel the motive and the mystery of Queen Margaret I of Scandinavia.
The novel takes place in the 80s and the setting and language match the plot and the characters. The language used is very similar to that of nowadays and the absence of technology was a breath of fresh air for me. As usual, Peters chose a great setting. It’s a European beauty, marvellously described and the plot develops in a great way in the streets of Copenhagen. I would though, classify this novel as a cosy-mystery more than a historical novel or even a serious mystery. Even though the idea of the plot is good, I got a bit lost in all the unnecessary turns the characters made and the constant abuse of the main male character for no reason.
The characters are likeable but I couldn’t really understand their connection. There is a lack of depth to the characters, at all levels. Elizabeth, the female lead, is a funny, feisty young woman dedicated to her job and her dreams. She’s witty but there were times that I actually doubted her logic. She would just stand there and do nothing. Christian, the main male lead, is the typical handsome, arrogant man with a mean mouth on him. My main problem with these characters is that, firstly, I can’t figure out how they got romantically attached. All they do is fight, argue, put flaws on each other and then suddenly Elizabeth realises she has feelings for him. I couldn’t see a solid development of feelings anyway, they just appeared there, out of the blue. I couldn’t connect with the main characters and I failed to follow the growth of their feelings if there is one. Secondly, there isn’t a good reason for the male character be like this, not a single one. Yes, his mother is a bit crazy, but the abominable way he treats people is inexcusable for me. Additionally, the way he treats his mother as a crazy teenager that has no idea of what she’s doing is going a bit overboard. There’s a lot of whining, a lot of snobby comments and points of view on the events and places, like the small fair and the carousel. There was a lot, but not of anything that actually mattered.
I’ve read several books of Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters and I’m a big fan of her works. Because I know what she’s capable of with Amelia Peabody and Vicky Bliss, I can say that this novel doesn’t fit in that level. This one didn’t leave a positive impression.
My Rating: 5 Stars
A brilliant mystery novel with a fantastic par of main characters! Unfortunately, I skipped the first book, which is already ordered! I can’t wait to see how this all start.
Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson don’t find that domestic life is up to their standards. After five years away from an Egyptian adventure, the only thing or person that makes that all better is their son, the abnormal intelligent ‘Ramses’ Walter Peabody Emerson. When Lady Baskerville comes to them fearing the curse that killed her husband on an expedition, the Amelia and Emerson travel to deep into Egypt and continue to work on the excavation Sir Henry left behind. However, as they make progress, people around them start dying. By curse or not, a lady dressed in white floats spreads fear and death.
For this one, I have to start with the main characters.
I can’t love a fictional couple more than do Amelia and Emerson. Amelia, the main female lead, believes she’s the smartest person in the room, observant of the details and connections missed by the normal eye. She’s this incredible Victorian woman with a mind and beliefs way ahead of her time that prefers to face ancient curses, camels and extreme height to tea parties with the neighbours. At the same time, she uses communication to get her way even without others noticing it, especially Emerson. I just love how she handles him. While she enjoys being a mother, she’s very happy to be able to escape the boredom of London with her handsome husband. She’s not afraid of admitting she needs a break from everything. Emerson is a grumpy, arrogant man that thinks he’s always right, but he has a soft side for Amelia and Ramses. His love for Egyptology is bigger than himself and sometimes even his wife but his heart is in the right place. They complement and challenge each other at each turn; they make the other stay on their toes. Their relationship is incredible and it’s hard not to enjoy the sparing between them. They make a great team.
Ramses, their son, takes after both of his parents both in the level of intelligence and wittiness. While a normal child likes to hear fairytale bedtime stories, Ramses prefers the History of Egypt. Even his parents don’t know how to react to some of Ramses comments or deep vocabulary. He’s only 4 and a half years old!
As for the other characters, Elizabeth Peter’s does a great job in developing them in depth. Everyone has a purpose and she manages to engage every single one of them in the story, both in the murder investigation and the daily life of the group of explorers.
The plot is engaging and complex. Peters masterfully brings up the Victorian and Egyptian life and completes with detailed historical facts which shows the passion of the author on the subject of Ancient Egypt. At the same time, she makes everything fit and the reader doesn’t grow bored with the history lessons. A simple yet intriguing and engaging style of writing is an essential part to achieve such a thing and Peter’s is the queen of it! I actually learned a thing or two about some pharaohs and their accomplishments. The murder storyline is also complex. Peter’s gives includes a considerable number of characters which a respectful list of suspects. The best part is that the author makes everyone look like a suspect with both motivate and alibi. I was able to figure out who the killer was before the end, but even so, the story was explored very well.
This is was the perfect novel for me. I can’t wait to see more of Amelia and Emerson in the next instalments! I recommend this novel to fans of archaeology, Ancient Egypt and a complex murder mystery with a dash of romance.
My Rating: 5 Stars
The type of novel take gets you hooked from page one. A mesmerising, captivating, suspenseful narrative that will keep you from putting it down.
Anne Chatham desperately needs a new start. After losing her family to Influenza and almost dying herself, Anne is ready to start a new chapter of her life as a typewriter with the Wellingtons family. But her almost-death experience gave Anne a unique gift: she can sense spirits. On her arrival, she’s introduced to the owner of the manor Henry Wellington, confined to a wheelchair, his two sons and the unpleasant wife, Lavinia. Anne soon discovers that the family hides a dark and terrible secret and that wondering spirit she senses in the house may hold the answers to the mysterious disappearance of Henry’s first wife 40 years before. Together with the less favoured son, Owen, they try to solve the mystery of what really happened to Eleanor Wellington. But someone isn’t happy with these meddling. During a masquerade ball, death strikes. Anne slowly becomes aware of the dangerous road she’s taking and the price of getting closer to a horrifying truth. Can she and Owen get out alive?
Highly addictive, captivating and impossible to put down. It’s a real page-turner.
The setting of the novel is amazing and one of my all-time favourites: an English haunted house in 1922. The atmosphere is that of a gothic novel, dark with several characters that slowly begin to reveal themselves as no so pure people. The pace is very steady and builds up suspense and thrill throughout the story. Clues and crucial information are given in a smooth way and it keeps you on your toes. There are enough twists in the story to keep you guessing the identity of the killer. The ending is completely unexpected but the author gives all the necessary pointers and leaves no loose ends.
The style of writing is captivating and the language is brilliant. Phyllis Newman was able to captivate the dark and mysterious atmosphere typical of a gothic novel. At the same time, it was some cosy mystery elements, like the romance line between Anne and Owen, which was perfectly in line with the mystery. The descriptions are perfect as they give a clear image of the setting and the actions of the characters. The best part is that you cannot get bored with them; with the style of writing runs like soft, dark music running in the background. Additionally, Newman introduces the social problems of the period in a way that gives depth to the story and the characters. The main issue is the class distinction, a characteristic from the 20th century. A young woman loses everything, she doesn’t have any rights and she has to find a way to survive. Finding a job was the only way not to end up in poverty. Newman also integrates supernatural elements just at the right times and the right places which creates spine-chilling moments in the story. I enjoyed every single one of them.
The characters are fantastic and very well developed. Anne is an intelligent young woman that even after going through traumatic events in her life keeps her head up and takes on the challenge life put in front of her. I loved her reasoning and her courage. She’s like a ray of light in that house and to the character that lives in it. Anne isn’t governed by fear, which isn’t surprising considering that she stared at death right in the face. However, she’s not reckless, she follows a logical approach and preserves herself from the people she doesn’t fully trust or understand. All this while being “ladylike”. I loved walking with her through this dark adventure.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel: the romance, the suspense build-up and the moments of pure horror. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
Thank you, Phyllis Newman, for reaching out and sending me a digital copy of your book in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: 4 Stars
A great adventure novel about Roanoke Island and the legend of the Lost Colony.
The bizarre and unexplained event of the sudden disappearance of the 114 island inhabitants remains in the memory even 400 years later. When in the present days, 114 of Roanoke disappear without a trace, everything points to a re-run from the legend of the Lost Colony. It’s up to Miranda Blackwood and Grand Rawling to find them before they are gone for good. Between the police, dead alchemists and unrevealed secrets, the teens will race against time to stop history from repeating itself.
I finished this book in two days; it was hard to put it down. It mixes YA, supernatural, mystery with a touch of historical facts in a great way and the style of writing puts a nice ribbon around the whole thing.
The storyline is exciting and complex, full of suspense and action. It’s also very easy to follow and to understand. There are two different points of view, which makes the reader go deeper into the story. There is a steady build-up of the mysteries, details are giving along and each is important to the story. The level of research that was used for the novel was the right amount; it wasn’t a lesson in history, but it was enough to make the story believable.
The style of writing is simple, addictive and easy to follow just like the storyline. Gwenda Bond describes the settings just enough to let the reader an idea of it, which works fine for me.
The characters are very well developed and explored in depth. Miranda, the main female character, has a history of being the “bringer of bad luck” and tries to be invisible as much as it’s humanly possible. She’s bullied and the centre of merciless teasing at school. She really tries to keep her nose in her business but every time she tries to do something nice, everything falls apart. These events bring out empathy and they connect the reader to Miranda. She proves, however, she’s not a victim. She throws herself into the quest, risking her life to protect the people she loves and the ones that and actually manages to have a good relationship with the main male character, Grant, even after he publically humiliated her years before. He’s a good male lead and I enjoyed reading how his relationship with Miranda slowly evolved into the story without being in the centre of it. The other secondary characters are easy to follow and easy to memorise their roles and correspondent stories.
I fully enjoyed this novel, how this world is built and the slow rise of tensions and suspense. It blends YA, mystery, history, romance and the supernatural. I highly recommend it!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Switch Press and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
A great, fresh novel with a gripping storyline that is on the level of Hunger Games.
Welcome to The Beck, a society divided into several sectors: Agriculture, Sustenance, Development, amongst others. In the Assessment, everyone gets assigned to their factors or, if they fail, sent to the Clearance, the darkest place in The Beck. Life there is very simple: follow the rules, always obey your orders. One infraction and you’re sent to the Clearance. Governed by tight laws and regulations, everything is controlled to the maximum, including human touch and interactions. Quinn has only known the Agri Pod, where she and her friends work in the fields. However, she thirsts for something different, something that can make her feel alive. When Quinn makes a decision, it will change her life forever. When Quinn discovers the terrible truth about the system, she realises that her choice comes with a high price.
A great storyline with brilliant characters! The story has a steady pace to it and the reader is slowly introduced to the world of The Beck and its dangers though Quinn’s eyes. It’s a brutal reality and Clare Littlemore gives the reader glimpses of hope through the interactions and the emotions of and between the characters. There is friendship, truth, violence, oppression and the difficult choices one has to make to change their lives. Every piece of information that the author gives it important and is part of a bigger picture. There is also a bit of romance in the story, it builds up nicely but it’s not in the centre of the novel, which is perfect for me. A few surprises and twists kept me connected to the story from beginning to end.
The style of writing is captivating and engaging. The language is simple, easy to follow and to understand. Littlemore gives enough descriptions and details for the reader to imagine this world but leaves the details open to interpretation and design.
The characters are very nicely constructed and developed in depth. They are all very likeable and it’s easy to feel the connection they have with each other. Quin is a great main leading female character: she is compassionate, determined but kind and very down to earth. She knows her limits and he’s not afraid of going for a change that feels like a jump into the unknown. Nonetheless, she takes the leap and even when things don’t go as planned, she keeps going while motivating the others. Cameron, the main male character is still a bit of a mystery but his relationship with Quin was a very addition to the story and I’m curious to see what happens next with them. Quinn’s relationship with the other characters, Cassidy and Harper was a treat to follow. They share a very strong connection and the reader can both see and feel it throughout the novel. I hope the author will reveal more about these characters in the next novel.
This novel is a breath of fresh air for the fans of dystopian novels. I highly recommend it!
I want to thank Clare Littlemore for reaching out and sending me a free digital copy of her novel in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: 4 Stars
A fast, fun, comic read filled with supernatural characters and creatures. The life of Cassandra McKenna isn’t in a good phase. Duncan, her ex demon-hunter is back and determined to make her life very difficult. Not only he broke her heart over two centuries, he hunts Demonoid sorcerers like herself and also baths naked in her river every day. What’s a poor sorceress to do? Things take a sudden turn for the worse when a werewolf attacks Cassie. When Duncan comes to her rescue, they discover that other evil things are on the loose and more are about to come out. Can they stop evil from taking over? Can Cassandra forgive Duncan for his past mistakes?
A cosy fantasy novel filled with romance and many supernatural creatures. It’s not usually my type of reading but it was a good story to just enjoy the ride.
The plot is simple and easy to follow. There are some twists which keep the story interesting and the constant action peaks are an addition to the quick narrative. Lexi George did a great job with the chemistry between the main characters. Their unfinished business of more than two centuries old is a big part of the story and their interactions go hand in hand with the evil mojo. There is humour, funny moments but also heated passion and moments of true friendship. It’s not your typical teenage romance. These characters are mature and as adults, their interactions take a different turn.
The style of writing was acceptable even though there were moments where I struggled to get the meaning of certain phrases and was forced to re-read them several times. Even so, there is a certain charm to it.
The characters are very likeable and it’s easy to enjoy their interactions and individual adventures. The main female character, Cassandra is great: she’s strong, intelligent and doesn’t take hasted decisions, she thinks things through. She can also hold a grudge though. She’s feisty protective of the people she loves and will do anything to protect them. Duncan, the main male character, is, of course, a very handsome devil with two very different faces: the playful and tensing but also the cold warrior with an iron determination. He will anything to mend his relationship with Cassie after he broke her heart and left her to deal with a monster herself. The secondary characters add colour and humour to the story. Jeb is great, he definitely brings out fun times even when the reader doesn’t see him coming. The albino Sasquatch named Sugar is just something else.
An enjoyable cosy, mature, fantasy/romance book a bit different from most but still recommendable.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Lyrical Press and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
This book can only be described as pure magic, for several reasons. It resonates with the soul.
A young girl forgot part of an important memory of her childhood. Nineteen years later, Liesl is an under-appreciated girl that seems to be doomed to remain the ugly shadow of her beautiful young sister and her talent brother. She lives to care only for others, not caring about herself at all. Growing up with stories of the Goblin King, Lord of Mischief seemed just like any other fairytales, stories that in time stop being listened to. Everything changes when her sister is taken by goblins into the Underworld and the Goblin King himself sets a challenge: she has to rescue her sister and give her life in exchange for her freedom. As her relationship with the King grows, her life grows short. The wheels of fate and choice are set in motion: to stay and die or to live at the cost of her music?
This novel is a pure work of art. The writing style is breathtaking and slowly but surely it sings to the readers’ soul. The words are like music notes that play quietly in the distance and they bring out the longing and the nostalgia of memories that are half-forgotten. It’s like reading poetry but in verse. S. Jae-Jones revealed herself to be an enchantress of words.
The plot is unique and developed in a unique way. It’s a strange world where reality and illusion meet and, from the beginning, the reader isn't supposed to try and distinguish them. Wintersong is imagination, a vivid dream and it’s so well described that it pulls you in right from the first page. Everything that happens in the story and even the descriptions of rooms, the forest and Liesl’s home, they all mean something. The symbols are there so the reader can interpret them and the author leaves them that freedom. The scary part is that, in the end, everything just leads to the same ending. It’s a tale of remembrance, loss of innocence, sacrifice and acceptance, not only of the circumstances but also of one’s self and our individual value.
The characters are just as unique as the story. Liesl is an incredible heroine and she isn’t the typical fair maid that needs rescuing. She is a real, unpolished young girl that couldn’t be more of an opposite to her family and their ways. On the contrary of her sister that is known for her beauty and her arrogant, spoiled character, Liesl doesn’t mind staying in the shadows with her self-doubt, her jealousy and her desperate desire to be noticed. She isn’t pure, at times she’s cruel, but that’s the way humans are. She needs to be broken in order to find her true self, to go beyond social barriers, expectations and most of all, her own self-doubt.
The characters are good and evil, innocent and devilish, self-absorbed but selfless too. The Goblin King, the main male protagonist, is also a victim of a trick of fate and destined to be judged by a title he never desired. He’s a tragic figure, bond to live eternally alone, in darkness. There are no heroes and no villains in this story.
This book will mark its reader deeply, for its melody, its soul-felt story and beautiful characters. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
My Rating: 4 Stars
What a read! Unique, imaginative and very dark: what is there not to like?
The story takes place in 1910 where occultist and adventurer Ingrid Redstone travels to the City of Angels in search of the Aztec portal to the afterlife. She didn’t count on meeting Death on the side and get on a ride through the history of the city. As their relationship develops and grows deeper, Ingrid realizes that their worlds' weren’t meant to cross and in the end, she will have to choose between a life with the living or amongst the dead.
I admire the author for the work on the organization of the storyline; in the beginning, it was a bit tricky and complex to understand and follow but then it really drew me into the story. I think it’s the first time I read a novel that manages to mix dark fantasy with historical fiction, vintage times, mystery, supernatural and romance. It is a dangerous attempt but the author managed to successfully create a unique, refreshing and new style entirely. There is an exceptional view of the underworld, how it works, how time passes differently; details that built this dark world. The way the characters explore past times and meet several notables of the old days is a great idea. I wish I had the chance to sit with Alfred Hitchcock! The historical settings of the novel are also very well described and I really do enjoy a good story that takes place in the jazz days.
The characters are solid and their interactions are very human. It’s a love story but it’s not a fairytale either; they have communication problems, misunderstandings. It’s easy to see that Death isn’t used to interact with anyone, especially not with a human woman. I see Ingrid has a more quiet type and more hesitant when it comes to Death. She jumps into the unknown without thinking very much about it and how it actually might end for her but at the same time she lets him take all the initiative, which was a bit frustrating at times.
Overall, a great, unique, thrilling adventure that I recommend to all the fans of a more complex romantic fantasy.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Rocket Surgery Books. and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
Hope you find an idea for your next reading here.