Review: Kiss of the Spindle by Nancy Campbell Allen

I adore fairy tale retellings and Kiss of the Spindle fit the bill. This had everything that made me happy. Witches, shifters, curses and swoony men. Can’t go wrong with that.

Isla Cooper has been put under a spell and she must do everything in her power to find the witch that cast it, even if it means blackmailing her way onto an airship. She basically sleeps like the dead every night. She’s running out of time. Soon the curse will be permanent. Her calling as a shifter empath has put her in the sights of a few who would like her to fail in her endeavor. So she must call upon her fellow airship occupants to help her, even though she’s used to doing things alone.

Captain Daniel Pickett was mot amused into being blackmailed. He’s a mission and he doesn’t have time to be messed around with. He has no idea what’s in store for him. Just when he’s content with his life, Isla brings a spark into it and draws him into her. He falls hard. But when he find out what’s happening to her each night, he does everything in his power to help her.

I love the slow burn of this romance. It kept me turning the pages. I was so excited to see where this was headed. I’m glad we got to see Daniel’s story. We met him in the previous story, Beauty and the Clockwork Beast. But this is a standalone, so don’t worry about missing anything.

I’m still fairly new to the world of steampunk. I’ve read less than a handful of them. But I gotta admit, they intrigue me. They’re like historical, and yet not. Kiss was no exception. I just have to reset my mind and jump into a world of gadgets and gizmos. I hope we get more in this series.

~Melpomene
Buy Kiss of the Spindle https://amzn.to/2tt4mUW

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Review: Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

I’ve had this novel forever and although my friends kept going on about how marvellous it was, I was still hesitant. Because I don’t read many blurbs (or reviews) for novels I was left thinking that this would be a story about a talking rat. Well, all I will say is it’s not! I also had no idea it was first written as a short story in 1959 and expanded on and published in the mid 1960’s. I thought it was written in the early 2000’s. Nor did I know anything about a movie (but I am not a telly type person). Don’t get me wrong, it’s not dated at all…except perhaps some terminology. I never considered me a real stickler for PC terms, but by golly, I sure felt like some Pollyanna type after reading this and being offended time and time again at times in this book when people referred to mentally challenged individuals.

I really loved this book. However, I find it difficult to find it inspirational and inspiring as many others did. I wonder if that is a flaw in me or if I am just stuck with being a pessimist and a realist.

AAMOF, not only was I not inspired I was a bit pissed off that people really couldn’t see Charlie’s worth until he became more intelligent and then started to decline in intelligence.

Sometimes I don’t mind feeling conflicted over books. On the contrary, I love books that challenge me and leave me struggling to come to terms with my feelings. This one however really bothered me. It wasn’t the story, it was society in general. It was for the Charlie’s of the world that never gain that intelligence and never realise how many of the world look at them. How worth is often weighed by that intelligence. How people are often afraid of people that are mental challenged. And the whole PC of all of it. I wonder if a book like this could even be written today just in case it upsets someone’s sensibilities.

I’m angry for Charlie. More angry than he ever was. I’m angry at so many characters in the novel. I’m angry at those that can only find amusement at other’s expense. At people that tear other’s down in order to only look out for their own interests.

I’m angry at a society that still, today, in many ways, refuses to find a place 0f acceptance for all people, regardless of where they fall in the intelligence spectrum.

Yea…I’m really conflicted. Charlie was a good person. Even before the “new and improved” Charlie showed up at the scene. That acceptance I speak of could have made a world of difference in his life before his operation. Instead the book ends with him felling even less worth as a person than he did at the beginning, which was too damned low to start with. I loved the book, but I find it near impossible to take away just good from this story. Or be inspired by it…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Review: This is Not the End by Chandler Baker

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What if, instead of dead actually being forever, there was a possibility of bringing your loved ones back to life?  Instead of losing those closest to you forever, you had the power to undo their death?  That’s exactly the premise in this chillingly semi-futuristic story.

In one instant, Lake’s world is shattered.  A tragic car accident takes the lives of both her best friend and her boyfriend.  Miraculously she survives.  But she’s left with an unimaginable dilemma.  You see,  technology has given people the ability to be resurrected.  Not just randomly and at will, mind you.  Instead, every person receives one resurrection on their eighteenth birthday to be used on whoever they choose.  That’s one resurrection, though.  And Lake can’t imagine making that choice.

To make matters even more difficult, her resurrection choice has already been promised to her older brother who was tragically paralyzed years earlier.  She’s not even close to her brother anymore, so she surely can’t imagine wasting this precious gift on him. Especially when the love of her life and her best friend have died.

Things aren’t always what they seem, of course.  As Lake struggles to come to terms with the accident, while also recovering from her own injuries, she discoveries that nobody is who they seem to be.  And then, of course, there’s a new guy to complicate matters.

This story is a lot of things.  It’s science fiction, for now at least.  It’s a romance.  It’s a teen drama.  And it’s a mystery with one heck of a twist at the end that I sure didn’t see coming.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  This is Not the End

 

Review: Gregor the Underland Chronicles

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As a teacher, I’m often asked for kids’ book recommendations.  And I’m always looking for great books to offer to kids.  One series that always gets top mention is the Gregor Chronicles.

Written by Suzanne Collins of The Hunger Games fame, this is a milder, gentler series for younger readers not quite ready for that world.  With Gregor as our hero, we are taken to a world hidden deep beneath the streets of New York City.  His adventures bring him into contact with giant rats, bats, and roaches among others.  There are legends to be followed, and destinies to be realized.

It’s not without violence, however, as there are deaths along the way.  However, I was able to read and recommend this series to second graders with no hesitation. And older readers have no fear. This is still one of my favorites to read MYSELF.

The boxed set makes an excellent gift and truly should only be bought that way as eager eyes are sure to zip through the first volume and immediately look for the next.  Happy reading!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Gregor the Underland Chronicles

Review: Beauty and the Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen

01 aclo This has to be the one of the most unique books I have ever read. Unique in the sense that I’ve never read Steampunk before. All the talk of gears and ray guns and such was just wild for me. Now toss in vampires, werewolves and ghosts and you have the making a crazy story. Not to mention romance, cuz of course I need romance in my stories. This was just plain fantastic.

When Lucy decided to visit her cousin, Kate, she thought she was there to merely help her get well. She had no idea that she was about to get sucked into such drama. From pushy relatives to ghost hauntings, she has more on her plate than she ever thought possible. Last thing she wants is to deal with a mean, yet handsome, man who seems to be everywhere she looks. I liked Lucy. She had spunk. She wasn’t going to let anything scare her off until she figured out what was making her cousin sick. Not even the big bad beast could move her along.

Miles was fun to watch. Yes, he had is secrets. Yes, he was brash. But he cared for his family and was trying to do the best for them. In the ways of the “beast” it was sweet to see him fall for Lucy, even though he didn’t want to. He tried to protect her and push her away, but she wasn’t taking any of his crap. These two were too stubborn to not connect with each other.

The best part of this book is that it’s clean. As with all Proper Romances, this story has nothing to hide. Teens to adult can enjoy this story without worrying about sexy scenes. I look forward to letting my daughter read this when she’s ready.

I’ll admit, I had no idea what I was getting myself into here. I have no idea what’s “traditional” steampunk and what isn’t. I still don’t know. But what I do know is that I completely enjoyed this story. And if all steampunks are like this one, then I know I found another genre to add to my TBR.

~Melpomene

Buy Beauty and the Clockwork Beast HERE.

Review: Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell

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I love it when authors put their own unique twist on classic stories and fairytales.  Bonus points if their version is even more dark and twisted than the original.  This is what you get with the latest from Lisa Maxwell.

We all know the story of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys.  The story from my childhood places Peter in the role of hero, saving all who are lost.  And the Neverland I remember was a magical place full of swashbuckling fun with a dash of danger thrown in.

This is not the story we grew up with.  This Neverland is full of deadly secrets at every turn.  There are more beasts than you can keep track of.  And death is a regular occurrence.  Oh and Peter?  He may not be what you remember.  This Peter is more sinister and conniving. And then there’s Captain Hook.  Because what would a Peter Pan story be without a bad guy?  But maybe Hook isn’t really the bad guy.  Or maybe he is.

This is what Gwendolyn has to decide for herself.  Her entire life has been spent moving from place to place.  Just as soon as she gets settled, her mom uproots them yet again.  She has a good reason.  They are running from monsters, after all.  To Gwen, this is just more of her mom’s eccentric behavior.  So when they end up in London, she doesn’t take any of the warnings seriously.  Keep the windows closed, don’t turn off the lights…

And when she doesn’t heed these warnings, bad things happen.  In the form of dark shadowy creatures who swoop in and capture Gwen along with her friend Olivia.  When Gwen wakes up, she finds herself on the ship of the infamous Captain Hook.  She knows the story, so she knows he’s not the good guy.  So she escapes and is rescued by Peter Pan.

Here’s where the story takes even more twists and turns.  Gwen quickly realizes that Pan may not be what he seems.   And it would appear that she holds the key to saving herself and Olivia.  Maybe her mom wasn’t so crazy after all…

This was such a fun book to read.  The author has a way with words and is able to create magical worlds that transport the reader.  While staying close to the original storyline, she still gives us a fantastical alternate version.  Add this one to your list!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Unhooked

Review: Sugar Scars by Travis Norwood

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Before your eyes glaze over at the word “apocalyptic” just wait.  It’s good. Really.  Yes, I know the genre has been way overdone the last several years. And I myself have strategically avoided many books described as such because I was just that burnt out on end of the world stories.  But this one caught my attention.

A virus has wiped out most of the population.  Only a handful (relatively speaking) of survivors remain, trying to forge their way in a new world.  But there’s no scavenging to be had in this story.  You see, humankind was wiped out so quickly that unlimited resources remain for the survivors.  Grocery stores are fully stocked, gas tanks are full, houses and cars are available for the taking.  But there’s one thing that isn’t as easy to come by…

“Sugar” is nineteen, without family, and a loner at heart.  So a world without people suits her just fine.  As a diabetic, however, a world without the insulin she needs to survive is a death sentence.  There’s enough for the immediate future, but what about after that?  So she sets out on a journey to save herself.  And she’ll need the help of others along the way.

Parts of this story, heck most of this story, were so unbelievable.  But isn’t that what fiction is?  If I’m being completely honest, the main character wasn’t even particularly likable due to her lack of emotion.  For some reason, though, I kept reading.  And at the end of the book I realized that it really was a pretty good story.

So go ahead, suspend your disbelief and your sense of rationality for the duration of this story.  It’s just different enough to be enjoyable.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Sugar Scars