Library of Souls, Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

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Back Cover Blurb:

A boy with extraordinary powers. An army of deadly monsters. An epic battle for the future of peculiardom.

The adventure that began with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and continued in Hollow City comes to a thrilling conclusion with Library of Souls. As the story opens, sixteen-year-old Jacob discovers a powerful new ability, and soon he’s diving through history to rescue his peculiar companions from a heavily guarded fortress. Accompanying Jacob on his journey are Emma Bloom, a girl with fire at her fingertips, and Addison MacHenry, a dog with a nose for sniffing out lost children.

They’ll travel from modern-day London to the labyrinthine alleys of Devil’s Acre, the most wretched slum in all of Victorian England. It’s a place where the fate of peculiar children everywhere will be decided once and for all. Like its predecessors, Library of Souls blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reading experience.

BOOK REVIEW:

I’ve now finished the third installment of the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Trilogy.  Once again the book thankfully picks up where book II had left off. This book was much more interesting than the second. I found the writing similar to what was in Book I and my love for this trilogy was renewed.

Character development was even better, especially with the Protagonist. Even Miss Emma was not quite as annoying as she was in the second book. However, the way she seem to rock back and forth from being domineering to placid had me wondering what the author was attempting to do with this secondary character and if he truly understood what goes on in a woman’s head (okay, okay, no one understands what goes on in a woman’s head).  I found her bordering charming and more believable. As I had said earlier, the Protagonist’s arc was much better and written clearly showing the ongoing battle and emotional complexities going on in his head. It was finally a relief to see his own abilities come about instead of watching him pictured as a weakling who couldn’t seem to make up his mind.

The battle scenes were well-written too. I loved the love-hate relationship the Protagonist had with the horrible hollows and why. I loved the character, Sharon, but wondered why it took the third book to bring him in?

The idea that this Library of Souls existed and came about in the third book alone, was a bit perplexing considering it was the theme of the third book, but the author handled most of the story-telling regarding the Library of Souls fairly well. Again, I found a whole bunch of new characters thrust at me and again couldn’t help but wonder why they were addressed even in passing, throughout the first and second books, but I suppose this may have crowded the books too much with mundane characters that would distract from the unfolding story.

With the way the book ended, and it ended extremely well, I can’t help but wonder if the author is going to add to this trilogy and make it into a series. Would this be a good thing? I’m not sure such a strong pace of story-telling and vintage photos can keep up to a lengthening plot. I suppose like other authors, Ransom Riggs could begin the next section by telling the story from a different POV. However, I think that might actually hurt the series rather than help.

Setting description in the third book was by far much better.  I think it would have been more interesting to hear a bit more about the Library than what was said, just to hook the reader’s curiosity further, but I really can’t complain.

As far as a fantasy series, this was bang on. I felt the language was not too juvenile and would be enjoyed by all ages. The hollows involvement in the trilogy was focused on more and the interaction between the main characters and the hollows was also well written. The author nailed how the Protagonist could see and hear through the hollow’s senses (spoiler).

Check out my overall review on the series for more comments. Feel free to leave your comments below, or any questions you might have. I’ll do my best to answer them.

For this book, I give:

4_stars_gold1

Haunted Ground, by Erin Hart

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Book Back Cover Plus:

A dazzling debut — already an international publishing sensation — combining forensics, history, archaeology, and suspense.
Introducing Erin Hart, who brings the beauty, poignancy, mystery, and romance of the Irish countryside to her richly nuanced first novel.

When farmers cutting turf in a peat bog make a grisly discovery — the perfectly preserved severed head of a young woman with long red hair — Irish archaeologist Cormac Maguire and American pathologist Nora Gavin team up in a case that will open old wounds.

Peat bogs prevent decay, so the decapitated young woman could have been buried for two decades, two centuries, or even much longer. Who is she? When was she killed? The extraordinary find leads to even more disturbing puzzles. The red-haired girl is clearly a case for the archaeologists, not the police. Still, her tale may have shocking ties to the present, and Cormac and Nora must use cutting-edge techniques to preserve ancient evidence.

And the red-haired girl is not the only enigma in this remote corner of Galway. Two years earlier, Mina Osborne, the local landowner’s Indian-born wife, went for a walk with her young son and never returned. Did Mina simply decide to disappear, or did mother and child become lost in the treacherous bog? Could they, too, be hidden in its depths, only to be discovered centuries from now? Or did the landowner, Hugh Osborne, murder his family, as some villagers suspect?

Book Review:

Wow! Oh my giddy aunt!

A wonderfully written debut novel for this author. The writing is meticulous and detailed and filled with Irish lore and song, history resonating through the ages.  Fascinating accomplishment for an American author writing about Irish history. She did her homework!

I found the writing even paced, building the suspense in an methodical way that brought a climatic conclusion to a head with an intense feeling of satisfaction for the truth being revealed. Emotions are prodded, both with happy results and sad, and a deep desire to find out more about the head of the woman found in the bog is nurtured right up to the end.

To think that there could actually be remains dating as far back as indicated in this fictional story makes one truly wish to go to Ireland and excavate the bogs. Oh, the mysteries they would provide. I love how the riddle of this woman was solved and the plot twists surrounding one mystery tied in to other sub-plot mysteries that were written clearly and precise. A great whodunit unfolded in such a classic form of story-telling that I was so happy  that I picked this book up to read.

At times, and very few ones at that, the story stalled, but then quickly picked up again.

I highly recommend this story to anyone who likes a good mystery.

For this read, I give:

4_stars_gold1

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, by Terry Pratchett

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Carnegie Medal Winner * New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age * VOYA Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror * ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults * Book Sense Pick.
The Amazing Maurice runs the perfect Pied Piper scam. This streetwise alley cat knows the value of cold, hard cash and can talk his way into and out of anything. But when Maurice and his cohorts decide to con the town of Bad Blinitz, it will take more than fast talking to survive the danger that awaits.
For this is a town where food is scarce and rats are hated, where cellars are lined with deadly traps, and where a terrifying evil lurks beneath the hunger-stricken streets….
Set in Terry Pratchett’s beloved Discworld, this masterfully crafted, gripping read is both compelling and funny. When one of the world’s most acclaimed fantasy writers turns a classic fairy tale on its head, no one will ever look at the Pied Piper—or rats—the same way again!

BOOK REVIEW:

I loved this book.  The 28th book in the Discworld series but his first written for children. A wonderful fantasy story with quirky and lively characters.  This book was interesting and should be read by everyone because of his expertly penned animals that could talk and their interactions with human characters.

Discworld was a notable comic fantasy series up to the point of this book, which differs from the rest of the series by surprisingly being divided by chapters.  Back in the day when Pratchett began this series in 1983, the target audience was actually young adult when there really wasn’t a clear definition of a YA genre.  Since this was the first of the series to use chapters, it set the precedent for others to follow in the series, such as The Wee Free Men.

The plot is ingenious and a clever remake on the old fairy tale, The Pied Piper. There’s a nasty town with a rat problem, a super rat king with mental powers, fighting rings, a young lad, a girl, a group of intelligent and talented rodents with wonderful names such as Dangerous Beans, and of course, Maurice.

The Protagonist is Maurice who challenges the super rat king, death, and other rats not so nice, not to mention rather devious rat catchers. Maurice begins as a selfish, self-centered egotist and gradually moves to becoming a more selfless, compassionate egotist.

The book is funny and quirky, and I couldn’t stop reading it. A classic example on how to write a wonderful story about animals that exhibit human-like characteristics, including the ability to talk, feel and hurt. It’s a great adventure filled with twists and turns and scary bits that will hold the reader to the very end of the book. Excellent read for a YA audience as well as a tween age readership.

I give this classic:

4_stars_gold1

Hollow City,Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

Book II of the All Souls’ Trilogy

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About:

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was the surprise best seller of 2011—an unprecedented mix of YA fantasy and vintage photography that enthralled readers and critics alike. Publishers Weekly called it “an enjoyable, eccentric read, distinguished by well-developed characters, a believable Welsh setting, and some very creepy monsters.”

This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.

Complete with dozens of newly discovered (and thoroughly mesmerizing) vintage photographs, this new adventure will delight readers of all ages.

Book Review

I’ve now finished the second installment of Ransom Riggs All Souls’ Trilogy, Hollow City.

I really found the cover of this book fascinating. It makes you wonder about the little girl on the cover; is she real, was the photo a trick of some kind. Ransom Riggs was a genius to come up with this concept.

As I opened the book, finding that the story began where the first book left off was something I enjoyed very much.  With the story still fresh in my mind, the journey continued and the momentum of the story remained consistent.

The POV seemed to jump around a bit more in this book compared to the other one, with the characters moving from one year to another, one place to the next. I was able to keep up, but at times, I had to go back and re-read a paragraph and even once, an entire chapter.

With that said, I still can’t say I didn’t enjoy the story. It was just as entertaining as the first by way of plot, and sub-plots. Even the twists were exciting and very unexpected at times. The photos were a wonderful addition and fit right in with whatever was happening.

Setting seemed sketchy at times and could have used more development. I know as a YA fantasy, spending a lot of time on setting is often frowned upon. The rule of thumb dictates that too much world building in a story such as this tends to slow the pace of the story down, causing the reader to become bored or uninterested in the book. However, because the scene moved between time and space so quickly, without some further setting development to help anchor the reader to a particular place and help identify with the character’s surroundings better, I found the lack of setting confusing, losing me often and making me frustrated with the story.  This could have been avoided by the author with an additional paragraph here and there to help.

In this book, you get to know the characters better, their peculiarity was explained more and used in their journey throughout London. The instant introduction of certain wights that you never really heard about until the second book was hard to follow, especially since a few of them seemed very important to the story plot.  Miss Peregrine’s brother’s (spoiler) appearance and what he was, was an excellent plot twist but needed more backstory.

My biggest disappointment was the character Emma and where her character arc was developing by the end of the second book. I really didn’t like this character too much, I found her annoying.  I love strong female characters, but they have to possess softer sides too to be realistic, and the author did attempt to show her softer side, but always with tears. This bugged me, unfortunately, because compassion isn’t necessarily all about tears for women.  I suppose the author wanted Emma to be strong and bossy and argumentative and brash and bold, I could go on, because there was a need for a ‘leader-like’ character in the story besides the Protagonist?  Sadly, by this point the Protagonist seemed to diminish beside this strong secondary character and the focus  wrapped around her ‘saving the day’ with her peculiar power. Of course, the secondary character’s job in a story is help push the Protagonist toward their goals and a certain degree of strength of character is needed for this, especially in this particular type of story, but the effort to display this, in my opinion, fell short of the mark.

It was great to see the Protagonist finally develop a spine towards the end of the book, but, wow, it sure took a lot of effort to see it and I was exhausted by the character’s doubt and inability to make a decision up to that point. And then, there was Emma leading the way.

Nonetheless, I was still hooked on the story. I was determined to like it because it was unique. I really tried hard to like the plot of this book and did like it in most cases, but there were times I was turned off by the appearance and explanation of certain story concepts (talking animal peculiars? Ummm) the author suddenly introduced without warning.  One moment there was a squashed hollow, the next there was a dog with a pipe (spoiler) who could talk, and… well, I don’t want to spoil it for you.

My thoughts about a trilogy, if it’s to be a true trilogy, is that characters introduced and used throughout the first book, must either continue through the second book, or be introduced and then killed off in the first. Otherwise,  something in the second book, must be hinted at or vaguely introduced briefly in the first to connect the books and continue the pace and flow of the story without losing the reader.  For example, if being peculiar isn’t limited to humans but extends to animals too, even if not really introduced until the second book, there should be something about this mention in the first enough for the reader to connect the dots when it is suddenly thrust upon the reader in the second book.

On any good day, animals that talk and project human quirks and behaviors must be written very carefully in order to be believable, or you’re going to lose your audience regardless of how they fit in the story. At this point for me, the story genre dropped from YA entertainment to middle grade. Shoving them into a story concept as far along as halfway through the second book of a trilogy is too big a risk to take with your readers.

When I’m reading a book and something like that happens, I would normally not finish a story because it completely lost me at that point. The saving grace for this particular author, was how well the story telling was in key spots. Sure there was an annoying bossy girl and animals that talked, but the rest of the story, especially the Protagonist’s growing relationship with the hollows was expertly written and held my attention. I love how the Protagonist came into his own near the end of the book.  I was even rooting for the talking animal at that point too.

I can only hope at this point, now that I start to read the third and final segment of this series that the author starts to tie-in loose ends and finish the development of several of the characters’ arcs.  I hope I don’t see them simply killed off because they were getting too complicated because this would be disappointing. With the use of a circle of secondary characters, simply cutting them out of the story would not serve their purpose and role very well and could affect the development of the Protagonist’s character arc. The Protagonist’s goal(s) may not effectually be reached if the author fails to use the secondary characters properly. Emma is not the only one who is affecting the Protagonist in this story.  So we will see. My expectations for the third book is very high.

I suppose trying to imagine how a being in a child’s body but who has lived (spoiler) for many decades would feel ending the life of something or someone, is difficult at best. However, the author in this series tends to portray children meant to be felt sorry for because of who and what they are and how they’ve been treated by ‘normal’ people, as methodical machines without feelings. It’s a fine line that can make or break a story when creating children that sometimes appear ruthless and unemotional, and appearing incapable of caring about the life they’ve taken while using “god-like” powers. A lack of responsibility in using their ‘gifts’ isn’t address initially in the first book so much as it is in the second and I can’t help but wonder if this may make the children more inhuman to the reader and unlikable? Perhaps, this is the author’s goal in making the peculiar secondary characters so inhuman that you love the Protagonist’s regular humanity more.   I’m certain this could be debated forever.

I am pleased how the second book finished and immediately grabbed the third book to start reading if not simply out of curiosity to see how the author deals with some of the issues I’ve mentioned.  So far, I’ve encountered even more characters that are new, a few more setting changes and a bit of confusion about some of the characters. Emma is continuing to tick me off and the talking animal that seems to know all, is really annoying.

I’m already half-way through it and expect to provide a final book review of the third installment of this series shortly. At the same time, I will also give an overall series review and rate the third book individually, and then rate the series afterwards.

For now, I give this book:

3-5_StarRating-3

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

BOOK REVIEW

For this post, I will be reviewing book one of the trilogy, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children.

Back Cover:

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

This is the first book of the three book series written by Ransom Riggs. The cover of the book grabs you right away where it depicts a young girl dressed in vintage clothing hovering above the ground a few inches. The theme of these vintage pictures continues throughout the series and absolutely adds to the magic contained within its 382 pages.

Ransom Riggs is an excellent story teller. His creative use of old vintage photos he searched everywhere for to use in his series, is aspiring. Considering the great lengths he went to realize his vision is astounding.  Without spoiling the contents of the book too much for readers who are wishing to engage in this series, I will add that Ransom Riggs background was part and parcel to the success of his trilogy.

There are many differences between the movie and the first book and I recommend everyone who’s seen the movie to go out and get their hands on the book and read it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved the movie and I expected the novel to resemble it, however, after halfway through the book, I realized many subtle differences right up to the end.  I won’t list them because I do not wish to spoil the book for you.

In my opinion, the benefit of seeing the movie first is that you get a visual of the actual villain and monsters. So when it’s mentioned in the story, you’ll have a nice visual in your head of what they look like.

Book one is a page turner, filled with subtle tensions and creative dialogue. It is unique in its construction let alone how the story-line develops. With a backdrop of WWII (spoiler), one would think we’ve seen alllllll the WWII story twists, but you won’t see this one coming.

The characters are inspiring, also unique in their descriptions without a tremendous amount of woo-ha placed on the children’s powers, but enough to make them peculiar.  I love every one of them, this being accomplished with the added vintage photo that fits right into their descriptions, developments, quirks, oddities and strengths. Reading along with Ransom’s visual aids (thanks to his learned and established background prior to writing the series),  you have no trouble identifying with the characters as their arcs develop throughout the story. They feel realistic and because their differences were encapsulated in a child’s body, this makes you cheer for them when they were winning and worry when they were not.

I am sad that the movie version picked a different peculiar to be secondary to Jacob (BIG SPOILER).  But both versions are entertaining, however the book, mores so for me.

The author could have focused a bit more on setting development. I would have welcomed more information about the big house. However, that is just my preference of visualizing character’s during their struggles.

As for the Protagonist, he’s fantastic, a typical teen with a problem. Sure, the problem is outer worldly, but he’s different. No, I won’t spoil that for you, you’ll just have to read all about it yourself.

I give this book:

4_5_StarRating

 

Discovery Witches, by Deborah Harkness, All Souls Trilogy

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It’s the story of Diana Bishop, a young scholar at Oxford who is a descendant of the Salem witches. When she accidentally unlocks an enchanted manuscript, she is compelled to embrace the magic in her blood and enters a forbidden romance with charming 1,500-year-old vampire Matthew Clairmont.

MY REVIEW:

I’m going to review the first installment, “A Discovery of Witches,” of Deborah Harkness’ historical fantasy trilogy that sold over 3.5M copies around the world.

Where to begin… When I first read this book, I was very excited because of all the hype I heard around it.  Again, as I’ve said many times before, I’m not the biggest vampire story lover. I think all the angles have been done and overdone.

Since Harry Potter surfaced, I believe all the witch angles have been done and overdone, but not as much as vampires and werewolves. Thankfully, in Harkness’s first book, there aren’t any shape-changing wet dogs.

First off, I commend Ms. Harkness on her historical writing. Her research into many areas approached in her books is done well.  I do think, she went a bit overboard with all the different avenues she introduced in this first book: Alchemy, Greek Goddesses, DNA, Lineages, etc., etc. I can only hope that she will elaborate on their uses as the series progresses.

Her Protagonist was unfortunately annoying. I understand the use of character arcs and how the character must develop as the story progresses, and as an author I hope this is what Ms. Harkness is attempting to achieve. Diana is just not written well, her character arc is sporadic and misleading at best but she is also conflicted, contradictive, whiney and hard to follow.

I don’t like books that show a woman in this day and age as submissive and willing to take abuse, especially one who unrealistically likes it. Again, I hope this is part of the character arc that Ms. Harkness is trying to show. Throughout the beginning of the book, Diana is willing to endure Matthew’s abusive, controlling and aggressive behavior because of love.  Seriously?  My first thought was that he was brain-washing this solid, independent woman. As the book progresses along, her demeanor seems to change a bit as her abilities begin to surface and solidify, but with him, she’s still submissive. However, being “married” because he said they were, doing what he says because he commands it… if the storyline is about discovering witches, I would think by the end of the book, Diana would have spoken up and made a point of being strong enough to deal with such a bore.

Yes, there is a Twilight similarity here and there, again in an annoying fashion, but I think if Ms. Harkness wanted her novel to be more of a success she wouldn’t have introduced so many sub-plots in the first book; it made following the storyline hard to do at times.  What she calls “secrets” in the story usually resulted in yet another sub-plot coming to light. I cringed every time I read this.

Vampires who drink wine, love nuts and berries, architecture and do yoga… I suppose for the Lagosi crowd, this would seem ridiculous; but, for the Twilight crowd, with all the quirks about the Cullins, perhaps, this isn’t so far fetched. The continuous sniffing thing and the results of knowing everything about Diana because of the sniffing thing… okay, it was just plain too much.

It’s an interesting approach to use a DNA connection to the creation of Daemens, Witches and Vampires. And how it was introduced was done well.  I’m still not sure why Diana is supposed to be this super witch. The reason seemed drawn out and I wished the author had elaborated on this a bit more.

Drawing out Diana’s whininess and “I’m not a witch!” argument was overdone. The moment where she finally grows a spine leaves me wanting for more. It just wasn’t climatic enough.  I also wish that her use of witch fire was explained more.

The relationship between Matthew and Diana is not the worse I’ve read about over the years, but it is somewhat perplexing in that she is submissive to his wishes, what about hers? They seem to be constantly denied. I get that the author is trying to create this macho guy who’s in charge and protective and guards her as vampires seem to do in this story version, but he comes across more pompous and arrogant and self-serving than intriguing and sexy.  Diana is portrayed in the beginning as a no nonsense kind of girl who is straight-minded, academically inclined and doesn’t like men looking down on her because of her sex, yet with Matthew, she’s just that. This puts me off her character.

The idea of something cold in bed lying next to her is ridiculous. The last thing anyone wants when they’re toasty warm is to have something cool snuggle next to them. I guess the author failed here in making this relationship convincing and character development. I’m worried how these weaknesses and contradictions are going to damage the next book in the series. A strong Protagonist, one that the reader falls in love with is necessary for any story to succeed. The Secondary character’s job must help the Protagonist reach his/her goals and the part they play must compliment the Protagonist in some way. Sure Matthew does this in other aspects of their interactions, but not very well in the actual relationship the author is trying to write them into.  This weakness gives the reader an unrealistic feel for the storyline which may damage their desire to finish the series.

The complete idealizing the ‘undead’ is hard to swallow in any given story, but add a warm-blooded being who is suppose to love this dead fleshed creature is hard to understand. The author’s job in this case, should have included a very creative section that explained why this attraction began out of fear and wariness. Instead of passing over their first meeting so quickly, there should have been a stronger lead-in, followed by a lot more of an explanation.  If sworn enemies, love at first glance just doesn’t cut it.

Trying to humanize Matthew by making him love wine and yoga…  Then turn around and discuss his ‘sniffing’ and keen sense of hearing, makes him sound like an animal. He can’t be both–or can he? Perhaps, with a bit more about the vampires in this story prior to their meeting might have helped.

He’s still undead and the results of the images formed by these additives just makes the character comical and ridiculous. I hope when it comes time to read the second book of the series, Matthew’s character is strengthened and made believable. Frankly (spoiler), when Diana gives Matthew her blood almost killing her, and she asks Miriam to change her into a vampire, I found that the most believable part of their relationship.  I was disappointed when this didn’t happen, but rather, she received an IV and rest and that saved her???

My biggest pet peeve: Sorry Deborah, but she was his wife because he said so… UGH! Explain yourself please!

I followed everything else the author was trying to convey with little difficulty, but since the relationship that bothers me the most happens to be between the Protagonist and Secondary Character, I fear for the rest of the series. Fingers crossed that my next review will show this weakness in the storyline has not continued into books two and three.

There’s an abundance of characters introduced in the first book and then the others, many of them are within the last two chapters of the first book. I found this tedious in trying to sort my way through them all. Here’s a list I found online that I tweaked and hopefully, it may be helpful. I just wish the author had included this list or something like it at the back of her books:

Characters
There are also a slew of appearing ghosts in the Bishop house and a cat that add an element of comedic relief or warnings that Diana seems to be able to talk to. Not to mention a house that seems to be alive and can create rooms and hide things until they’re needed. If I missed any minor characters, I apologize. They didn’t seem significant enough for me to recall them at the making of this list. Also, I’m certain there are a few spoilers that pertain to the other books in the series, and I’m sorry for those reveals, but I had to in order to put this list together.

Diana Bishop:

  • A historian of alchemy,
  • Teaches at Yale University,
  • Her alma maters include Bates College and New College, Oxford,
  • She prefers tea to coffee, prepared just a certain way,
  • Her favorite food is pizza,
  • She loves to row,
  • She is the daughter of Rebecca and Stephen,
  • According to Matthew de Claimont, she is his wife even though they didn’t have a traditional ceremony,
  • She also happens to be a witch, and a weaver,
  • She controls witch water,
  • She controls witch fire,
  • She loves Matthew and is willing to die for him.
  • She is wanted by the Knox to control and use to get his hands on the manuscript,
  • She is a killer and protector,
  • She uses yoga to control anxiety,
  • She is attacked often.

Matthew Clairmont

  • Also known as Matthew de Clermont and Matthew Roydon,
  • Matthew is the son of Ysabeau de Clermont
  • He is husband to Diana Bishop,
  • He is a doctor,
  • He is a geneticist,
  • He loves wine, berries, nuts, and hunting,
  • He is a vampire,
  • He is a self-proclaimed and accused killer,
  • He bares secrets,
  • He is cool to the touch,
  • He is pasty pale,
  • He is a Fellow of All Souls College at Oxford University,
  • He’s a brainiac,
  • He works in his lab,
  • He used to be a carpenter,
  • He used to be a mason,
  • He’s connected to the Templars,
  • He’s built many dwellings,
  • He’s bossy, arrogant, big, dark, has a nasty temper and likes fragile women,
  • He’s had many lovers,
  • He’s been married and had a son before Diana,
  • He is strange,
  • He enjoys reading books written by old friends
  • He collects wine.

Agatha Wilson

  • Australian daemon,
  • Fashion designer,
  • Congregation member

Andrew Hubbard

  • The ‘vampire king’ of Elizabethan London

Annie Undercroft

  • Young witch that Diana and Matthew adopt in 1591 (spoiler).

Baldwin Montclair

  • Matthew Clairmont’s brother,
  • He doesn’t like Matthew much,
  • He is the head of the de Claimont house,
  • He is formidable,
  • He was the favorite son of Philippe de Clermont,
  • He helps to save Diana from a witch,
  • He is a wiz with finances

Benjamin Fuchs

  • Matthew Clairmont’s son

Blanca

  • Matthew’s wife in the sixth century
  • He married her before he was made a vampire.
  • She gave him a son, Lucas
  • She died from a plague.

Bridget Bishop

  • Ancestor of Diana Bishop
  • Formidable,
  • She was hanged in Salem in 1692

Christopher Marlowe

  • English poet, playwright,
  • Also a member of the School of Night,
  • Marlowe is a daemon,
  • Matthew’s best friends in 1590-1591.

Christopher Roberts

  • Professor at Yale
  • Diana’s friend.

Davy Hancock

  • Gallowglass’s friend in 1591

Domenico Michele

  • Venetian vampire,
  • Feared member of the Congregation,
  • Wants to get his hands on Diana.
  • Brings first warning to De Clermonts.

Edward Kelley

  • English alchemist,
  • Lived inPrague in 1591.

Elizabeth I

  • Queen of England,
  • Monarch during Diana and Matthew’s time in England

Emily Mather

  • Partner of Sarah Bishop,
  • Can foresee things,
  • Is a witch.

Ernst Neumann

  • Husband of Verin de Clermont

Gallowglass

  • Son of Hugh de Clermont

Gerbert of Aurillac

  • Former pope,
  • Evil,
  • Wants to get his hands on Diana,
  • Created Juliette and ‘broke’ her,
  • Neighbor of the de Clermonts,
  • Congregation member

Gillian Chamberlain

  • Ordered to watch Diana,
  • First to tell Diana who killed her parents,
  • Is a witch
  • Classicist from Bryn Mawr,
  • Was in league with Peter Knox
  • Delivers a picture and pays for it.

Goody Alsop

  • The leader of Diana’s London coven
  • A weaver, like Diana.

Hamish Osborne

  • Matthew’s best friend
  • Former fellow of All Souls
  • Financial genius,
  • Gay,
  • Daemon,
  • Lives in a secluded chalet.
  • Matthew goes to his home to hunt.

Henry Percy

  • Earl of Northumberland,
  • An English aristocrat,
  • Matthew’s friend in 1590-1591,
  •  Henry Percy is not yet known as ‘the Wizard Earl’ when Diana meets him,
  • Percy is a man with a formidable education,
  • He has an impeccable lineage, and a generous heart.

Jack Blackfriars

  • Orphan that Diana and Matthew adopted in London in 1591

Judah Ben-Loew

  • Rabbi in Prague, 1591

Louisa de Clermont

  • Daughter of Ysabeau de Clermont,
  • Strong and outspoken,
  • Dies by the hand of a witch.

Margaret Wilson

  • Daughter of Sophie and Nathaniel Wilson

Marcus Whitmore

  • Matthew Clairmont’s son.
  • A physician and scientist.
  • Loves berries,
  • Faithful to Matthew.

Marthe

  • Companion and maid to Ysabeau de Clermont
  • Friend to Diana.

Mary Sidney

  • Countess of Pembroke,
  • English poet and alchemist,
  • Friend of Diana in 1590-1591

Miriam Shephard

  • Matthew’s scientific colleague in Oxford,
  • Helps protect Diana,
  • Works in the lab.

Nathaniel Wilson

  • Son of Agatha Wilson,
  • Marcus’s friend.

Peter Knox

  • Member of the Congregation
  • Wants to get his hands on the manuscript,
  • Wants to control Diana,
  • Strong wizard.

Philippe de Clermont

  • Husband of Ysabeau de Clermont,
  • Former head of the de Clermonts
  • Died at the hands of witches (spoiler)

Phoebe Taylor

  • Employee of Sotheby’s,
  • Romantically involved with Marcus Whitmore. (spoiler)

Rebecca Bishop

  • Diana Bishop’s mother. Married to Stephen Proctor.
  • Very powerful witch,
  • Died in Africa (spoiler)
  • Spellbound Diana (spoiler)
  • Could see into the future.

Sarah Bishop

  • Rebecca’s sister,
  • Aunt to Diana Bishop,
  • Partner of Emily Mather,
  • Can heal wounds,
  • Great castor.

Satu Järvinen

  • Finnish witch,
  • Captured Diana Bishop,
  • Tries to get Diana to fly, (spoiler)
  • Drops Diana in pit,
  • Works with Knox,
  • Congregation member,
  • Hurts Diana.

Sean

  • Librarian at the Bodleian Library, Oxford
  • Human

Sophie Wilson

  • Witch,
  • Nathaniel Wilson’s wife,
  • Mother to Margaret Wilson (witch),
  • Married a Daemon.

Steven Proctor

  • Diana Bishop’s father,
  • A weaver, like his daughter,
  • Strong wizard,
  • Killed in Africa (spoiler).

Thomas Harriot

  • An English mathematician
  • Matthew’s friend in 1590-1591,
  • He’s a member of a group of radicals and free-thinkers, the School of Night.
  • Like Marlowe, he is a daemon.
  • Harriot is interested in mysteries of nature–especially those found in mathematics and the stars.

Timothy

  • A latte-loving daemon
  • Has mis-matched eyes
  • Hangs around in the Bodleian Library.

Verin de Clermont

  • Daughter of Philippe de Clermont
  • Wife to Ernst Neumann

Walter Raleigh

  • English mariner,
  • Member of the School of Night,
  • Matthew’s close friend in 1590-1591,
  • A poet, historian, and adventurer,
  • Raleigh was one of the most admired–and envied–men of his time.

Ysabeau de Clermont

  • Mother to Matthew Clairmont,
  • Wife to Philippe de Clermont.

With all said, I enjoyed the cover of this book. I picked the large paperback to read and enjoyed flipping its pages into the wee hours of the morning. This book IS worth a read and despite a couple of bad character flaws, I am confident that the author has improved upon this with the next two books… we’ll see:

I give this book:

3-5_StarRating-3

 

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald

The Internationally acclaimed Best-seller, written by Katarina Bivald. Never being outside Sweden before was not the only challenge for 28 year old Sara. Her only form of traveling was through the many books she read.  Forming a relationship with pen pal, Amy, an elderly woman from Broken Wheel, Iowa, seemed to be the first chance to change her traveling history.  Arriving at Broken Wheel proves to be filled with unexpected surprises, strange characters and a very broken town. She builds relationships with the townspeople and realizes that Amy knew what she was doing when she encouraged Sara to come to Broken Wheel for a visit.  This book is full of self-help and romance and lots of humor, because Sara is going to open Broken Wheel’s first bookshop!

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MY REVIEW!

Once again, I decided to go outside my comfort zone and read this book. What attracted me to it, was the cover! It is bright and cheerful and shows a picture of a young lady sitting on a chair surrounded by books. Her nose is buried in a book.

When I opened the book and started the story, the author immediately introduced me to the Protagonist, Sara, who was prim and proper and reserved.  She also seemed vulnerable to me with the way she waited for someone to pick her up and trusting she forced herself to be when Amy doesn’t arrive. When she learns about Amy, the way she reacts to how the town gobbles her up bringing her into their fold, is charming, and reminds me of times when things were not so busy and crazy in our world. Sara discovers the town is in sad shape and she’s determined to change this.

As the author moves me through time by referring to Amy’s letters to Sara and Sara’s to Amy’s, I begin to learn about the characters in town, and how life there used to be before big changes caused the town to become what it is today–broken. I learned a bit about Sara’s life back home, especially her relationship with her parents.  With the use of a lovely story-telling technique, I began to relate to the characters in whimsical ways, liking their oddities and crazy antics. I even found myself forming attachments with a few, like poor George, fierce Grace, and Amy’s guarded nephew, Tom.

As the story progresses, the characters begin to form their own relationships with each other, strengthening the bonds between them that small town living often does.  They seemed to have purpose again, thanks to Sara.  Even Amy’s old house began to bond with Sara, bringing her closer to Amy and her love of books that Sara shares.

This is a great “feel good” book, one I’d recommend to anyone wanting an easy read for the summer, one with a flowing plot, a few sub-plot twists and great writing. You’ll find yourself smiling at times and may even laugh out loud, once or twice.

I give this book:

4_5_StarRating

 

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The Christmas Box, by Richard Paul Evans, Book Review

il_570xN.699039079_44ybReview

ISBN 13: 0-684-81499-4

Bring a tissue box when you decide to read this one.

Richard Paul Evans self-published this book originally for his children.  Two years later, Simon and Schuster published it in its hardcover format where it became a best-seller.

I loved the characters in his story, especially Mary.  They were all described perfectly, right down to the little girl and felt very real and viable characters, and so wonderfully described Evans’ style. An easy story-teller, his voice carryied the plot forward smoothly to a wonderful end.  I remained a steadfast reader throughout the journey.

Bound in a lovely holiday book jacket of cream and wine colours, this book is not really that long, only 125 pages and would be a lovely Christmas read for a family during the holiday season.

Mary is a wonderful character filled with warm memories that she shares with the reader, a wisdom that she carries off well, and a beautiful personality that fills the pages.  She’ll remind you of someone very dear to your own heart as she has with me.

I can’t say enough about this story. It’s one of Evans’ best and I think this is attributed to the fact that he wrote it with his heart exposed to the world.  It’s one of those stories you read when you’re curled up with a blanket during a winter snowstorm close to the holidays to make you appreciate family and the holidays more. This story will never age.

For The Christmas Box, by Richard Paul Evans, I give:

5-Star-Logo-2825857.nbc-transparent-apple-2014

And the Golden Apple Of Achievement award. Well done!

 

The Christmas List, by Richard Paul Evans, Book Review

dd96176e85a2fa6823fa9f31fdb73fd2Review

ISBN 13: 978-1-4391-5000-9

Richard Paul Evens is such a fantastic story teller.

This particular book that I’ve read of his is a hardcover book with a book jacket. The presentation of this book is good enough to be given as a gift during the holidays.  It’s an easy read of 353 pages, in a smaller trim size than most of the pocket books that I read and review.  I can’t say enough about the foil green and red colours picked for the book jacket, a lovely design.

So this story of his is actually unusual and very entertaining. Roughly, it’s about a man, named James Kier (I find it interesting that Richard Evans wife’s name is actually Keri)who reads in the paper that he died, and everyone believes him dead, only it wasn’t him but someone with the same name, James Kier.  He’s ends up finding out what everyone really thinks of him and discovers a lot about himself and about the other James Kier. Where he is hated, the deceased James Kier was loved very much. I won’t say anymore out of fear of spoiling things, but it’s worth a read.

Evans’ character development is astounding, well formed and allows the reader to get into his head.  His voice is awesome transitioning from one plot twist and event to another smoothly leaving each chapter with the reader wanting to turn to the next to find out what’s going to happen next. Evans’ use of humor gives the feel of the book a warm and carefree depth for a good easy reading around the holidays or during any other time.

He’s written a magnitude of books in various genres and I encourage all readers to at least give him a try.

Check him out at: http://www.richardpaulevans.com

I give The Christmas List by Richard Paul Evans, a rating of:4_5_StarRating