The Romanov Sisters Review

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This post is something I haven’t ever done on this blog. I’m going to review a non-fiction book. I don’t do read non-fiction like biographies as much because it takes more concentration than I have most of the time. But I found a copy of The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport on day. The Romanovs are people that I’m vaguely interested in. I read this book in little portions because that’s how I could handle it. I generally read this book between books. It made it a lot more manageable for me. For reference, right now, this isn’t going to be a fun post. It’s going to be one of those that talk a lot about historical events and people.

The author says in her notes at the beginning that there’s not going to be anything about the women who said they were Anastasia. I’d read books about them though I realize why they aren’t in this book. That would be a lot more work/research for Rappaport and it would make the book a lot longer. And the imposters were mainly Anastasia imposters and this is a book about all the sisters. This book didn’t include a lot of the last 2 weeks, the deaths and disposal of the family because she already wrote a book about it and that disappointed me because that was the interesting part for me. Yes, I know. I’m a little morbid because I wanted to know more about their deaths.

In my head, there is a stereotype of royal families. In my head, they’re raised to be in the eye of public. They have an element of socialness like they like to be around people to a degree but also like to keep things private. I feel like, after reading this book, that the Romanovs were extremely private. I don’t know if this is true for all royal families or not. For example, the parents kept their romance quiet at the beginning. Also, it felt to me, that they ran from everything public like public outings. But that might be a Russian thing? Or something that has developed with media? I’m not sure but it does make sense to me that the Russian people were discontent with the royal family if they seemed to be not around. I mean if I never saw the Obamas or heard what they were doing, I’d be frustrated too. But I do have to give props to Queen Victoria (Alexandra’s grandmother) for calling how Russia was going to be in trouble. That does make me think that what was going on in Russia and the discontent was noticeable. And if it was noticeable than why wasn’t anything done by the Romanovs? Were they self-involved to the point they couldn’t see what was going on in their own country? I did wonder how the Romanovs would deal with the paparazzi today. But at the same time, they were in the public eye. Everyone knew that the older two girls worked as nurses. Everyone knew about and talked about how there were four princesses and then finally a boy and breathed a sigh of relief. Everyone talked about Olga’s marriage possibilities. So there was some time in the public eye.

Let’s talk about Alexandra. She was in the book a lot. More than I thought she would be in a book about the girls. But as a parent, she would be. I admired that she aspired for her daughters to be more than wives. But at the same time, she was overprotective not giving her daughters the skills to survive as single women. Am I expecting too much from the time period and from a woman who was sick a lot? And for her being sickly, she had huge babies. If I had five kids I hope they’re not as big as those kids. I found it interesting that Nicholas and Alexandra never seemed to freak out over having 4 daughters before a son. The son was the one that carries on the family profession. Being heir is a very male dominated thing and they didn’t freak. Maybe cause the rest of the country did. And Russia’s a big country. But looking at Alexy, he was the center of their world when he came. Especially Alexandra’s. But as a mother, that’s normal. And I do think she repressed her family some. I think how she wanted her daughters to be something more than wives led her to her not letting explore some. In my head it makes sense. I know that how I worded it isn’t great.

Sometimes I forget that politics and religion aren’t or weren’t always two separate things. There are countries today that they go hand in hand and they did in Russia at this time. (I don’t know how it is now.) I don’t want to get into my opinion about it but Mysticism and the occult and superstitions were huge things at this time. And I wonder if that was because of the education level of the masses. Not that educated people can’t be into Mysticism, occult or superstitious but I feel like what people believe is affected by their education. And how much of that revolution was directly to what people believed and were convinced were true? There’s a lot of questions. Too many for this blog.

Let’s talk a little about the book itself. I liked that the chapters were mostly under 20 pages. It made life a little more enjoyable. I liked the pictures. I know that sounds young of me but it’s nice to put the faces to the people. And the size of the book was actually surprising. If you took away all the endnotes and stuff, it’s under 400 pages. That was nice because there was so much that the author could have done I’m sure to make it longer. And any mention of Kiev makes me think about The Fiddler on the Roof. I hated them talking about the new and old time. Some people it’s a big time but to me it’s not. If something was never said and they went with the one time, I wouldn’t have known any better. But there was the different times and the what not. It was a lot. And Rappaport writes dates like a European.

Overall it’s a good book. There’s a lot of information and it can be tedious but that’s how these books are typically.

Dorothy Must Die Review

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If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I have this super weird relationship with The Wizard of Oz. I probably dramatize it a little but there definitely has been fear of the 1939 movie version of the book and a generally creeped out-ness of the 1992 television movie of Baum’s life. I’m sure a lot of this is just in my head now but it doesn’t help my random obsession with reading retellings/watching movies. The most recent is Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige. There will be spoilers in this review because I go off on little rants.

I’m not quite sure I understand the love for this book. I’ve read a few reviews and people love this book. It’s an interesting concept. It brings up good points but I feel like the writing could have been a little bit better. There were times that I felt like nothing was really happening. I knew that there were things going on and I should be paying more attention to them but I didn’t. At times I felt like there were things going on but they weren’t fleshed out right. It was weird to me. I don’t know it was about the writing but it just got to me.

There’s two things that I feel like we have to pay attention to on a moral scale. There’s the obvious good versus evil and then there’s the conventional versus the unconventional. You have the wicked witches versus the good witches and neither are what you think they should be. I feel like this book does a good job of creating gray. There isn’t a clear black or white. Not everything is what you think or have grown up believing, not everyone can be trusted and that’s a big point in the book. Amy is told that time after time. And I feel like this is important for young people to remember. Not everyone is to be trusted. They bring up the PermaSmiles a decent amount. That’s a good example of the gray. It could be misleading if it didn’t look so creepy. Overall, there’s a question of what’s right or wrong or good or evil. Then you have the conventional versus the unconventional. We see Dorothy as the girl she was when Judy Garland played her. Perfect hair and the gingham dress. Then you put that up against Amy’s pink hair. It’s not conventional. Then you start to think about who should really be the hero. This book does a very good job of making you think of where you stand. It also makes you think if it’s a generational thing. The original book was set in, I think, the late 1800’s or maybe the very early 1900’s. Dorothy would have had been a model of that era when she went to Oz and if Amy was supposed to be a model of now, pink hair and how she acted wouldn’t have been a big thing.

And since we’re talking about appearance, let’s talk more about that. I wonder if Paige was going to over-sex the world and then pulled back. You look at the description of Dorothy and Amy’s training uniform and you’re convinced that it is going to be over-sexed and then there’s nothing else. I also thought it was weird how they talked about Dorothy’s hands being old like. Like couldn’t magic control that? And yet the Tin Man is in love with her. And talking about the original group, I thought that there would be more of the lion and the scarecrow. I mean they were a big part of the book but not there very much. They also didn’t talk about Dorothy controlling the clock either. It was mentioned when it was convenient.

Let’s talk about Glamora. I’m not sure what her deal is. I don’t trust her. Am I right in thinking so or is she supposed to be amazing. I don’t get it. And of course she cries diamonds. It’s her curse. I shouldn’t be surprised. And when she cried I didn’t feel emotion. I didn’t feel emotion a lot in this book. Leading me to wonder about the author’s writing skills because I didn’t feel anything when Gert died either and neither did Amy or any other character except Glamora. And Amy was supposed to be close with her.

I also did not like Amy and Nox’s relationship. This goes back to not feeling the emotion. Like you could tell that they were flirting but there was no chemistry. One or both of them are to put some effort in flirting or kiss the other right? I mean, I assume but who am I to know. I can’t flirt. I have hair Tourettes when a good looking guy starts talking to me. Yes, this was recently proven. I didn’t want to flirt badly. It just happened. Anyway, back to the book. I feel like none of these characters had real emotions. They couldn’t flirt badly if they wanted to. Wait. They did.

One last thing about the appearance thing. We have to talk about Pete/Ozma briefly. If I remember right, Ozma in the original book was disguised as a boy and didn’t know it and in this book she did. I feel like I should have figured out what was going on there. There had to be some tie to the books with that.

When you look at the title of the book and read the synopsis you get an idea of what’s supposed to happen. It’s not a surprise that there’s going to be some destroying. I read a review where someone was upset that the plot twist was on the back of the book. I mean seriously? You didn’t read the whole book expecting that information to be handed to Amy at some point? I don’t even want to call that information a plot twist because I knew what was going on the whole book. I was surprised when I realized that she didn’t know earlier in the book because I read it and knew that Amy had to destroy the three friends first. Again, it’s said on the back of the book and it’s freaking common sense. Be smarter than the y.a. book.

I know that I’ve been tearing into this book quite a bit. But it depends on how you read it. If you want something easy, you want something that’s Wizard of Oz inspired then this is the book you want to pick up. I just can’t read this book without pointing at the holes.

The Mermaid of Brooklyn Review

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Ugh. I hate when books don’t work out. Let me explain. I tried reading The Mermaid of Brooklyn by Amy Shearn. It did not work out. I stumbled upon this book and the first thing I thought was MERMAIDS! If you haven’t been around for a while, you would know at one point, I had a blog rant that went on for days a few years ago. Blame it on that documentary. Then I read the synopsis. That brought on the thought that it was a really interesting premise. Then I tried to read it. I couldn’t do it.

Now let me say something. I have had some emotional stuff go on and it has led to me physically hurt with emotion so maybe in the future, when I don’t hurt as much, I’ll try this book again. I feel like I’ve been blaming my emotional drama a lot lately but it’s true. It’s affecting my life. It’s going to be a long time, if ever, if I trust people fully again or be emotionally okay. But with the book, I got to about half way through this book and I couldn’t even any more. How am I supposed to relate to the main character? I am single, no really close friends (I do better with books), no children and not living in Brooklyn. The main character is married, has a few friends, has 2 friends and lives in Brooklyn. I know that’s no excuse but the author made her unobtainable for me. I know what it’s like to have others kids around that annoy you but that’s not the same with your own kids annoying you. But that’s a big thing for the character.

There was only one real note I took during the half of book I did read. I wrote that I didn’t mind the writing but there seemed like there was some disconnect and would probably be better as a movie/television series than a book. I just couldn’t get through this book. I mean have a mermaid in your head that makes you more bold is one thing but crap. I understand I don’t have any idea what’s like to be in that situation so I don’t know how you would get through it. I just didn’t like the character. That’s what this boils down to.

Throne of Glass Series Books 2 and 3 Review

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I read two more Sarah J. Maas books. I may have to keep reading her. Just so I know what happens. And I do like her books. And they’re easy reading so I can read something deep and then go back to her. So I decided to do books two and three together. Why not right? It is a series and I can do them together. There will be spoilers.

I liked Celaena in the second book. She held her feistiness and her strength and then in the third book I felt she turned into a child. She felt things differently in the second book. But then the situations between the second and the third are pretty drastically different. I loved her with Chaol in the second book. I loved her that happy. She was like a cute, little kid, she was happy. And then it got ruined. Nehemia dying and Celaena started flipping out. There were times I when things were coming to fruition that I stopped and thought about who Nehemia was working with. She wasn’t a delicate princess. I knew she was a rebel and I had a moment, just a slight one. And when Nehemia called Celaena a coward and it followed Celaena killed me. I know how much things people say follows you. It’s not fun. I can see why Celaena freaked out when someone called her a coward. I didn’t like Celaena as much in the third book. I feel like she regressed some. I feel like she was way more of a teenager in the third book than in the second. Celaena did mature through the book. What she did for Rowan at the end of the book was pretty noble. And then there were times were I felt that Celaena and Rowan were going to have a thing (which they didn’t) and I was upset and I was like Celaena, you whore, you are supposed to be with Chaol. But I liked them more together, as friends, after Rowan starts opening up to her. I did like her talking about her past.

There were a lot of new characters in the third book. I’m undecided on how I feel about that. I was comfortable with how things were working and then Celaena was in a new country with stupid people/not people, there’s witches. I understand why new characters were introuduced because if you didn’t have new characters the story would go stale. It’s understandable. I just don’t deal with change very well. I did like some of the new characters the cook and Celaena’s counterpart in the kitchen I liked. I like they got protective of her. Every girl, assassin or not, need friends like them. And what’s with the witches. I know it was because of the king they were in there but are they going to have more of a presence in future books? They must. I didn’t like those parts. The witches and their beasts kind of remind me of what I know of Game of Thrones and Daenerys and her dragons.

Dorian and Chaol are weird without Celaena. Their relationship was strained. And why wouldn’t it? They went after the same girl and one got her heart and then he sent her away. Chaol was trying to deal with leaving his post and Dorian was just hurt. They got it together at the end of the book though. I wondered at one point if this was supposed to be the end of the book and then Maas or the publishers decided it was going to be 3 more books because everything started tying up nicely and then it leaves you knowing there’s going to be more. Yes, you would call that a cliffhanger but it’s no more a cliffhanger than book 2. I don’t consider it a cliffhanger because I wasn’t yelling at the third book wanting to know more. No one was literally hanging off a cliff. Anyway, at the end of the book, I liked the way that Dorian and Chaol kind of came back together. I think it was because Chaol knew how it was losing a loved one.

Dorian and Sorscha were convenient and fast but I liked it. When they started sleeping in the same bed together I was pretty sure she was going to be a pawn of sort. She seemed like a good fit in the book. I really liked Sorscha and wish she could have stayed around more. Dorian and Sorscha were a good fit. I felt like it could have been a good marriage and that it could have been stable. But then Sorscha’s head.

And here’s my random thing I don’t like: the covers. I’m obviously not too old for the books since I’m reading them and pretty much enjoying them but too old to enjoy the covers. How does this work? They fit the books, they fit the world but I’m sitting here picking them apart. I’m thinking how unrealistic the hair and the skin is and then accepting what’s on the page. I’m a hypocrite. I know. No need to remind me.

 

The Ultimate Book Tag

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I decided it was time for a book tag. I haven’t finished a book to review yet and I hate not posting for a long time because I like blogging. So I found the Ultimate Book tag. Weather it’s ultimate or not, we’ll see.

1. Do you get sick while reading in a car?
Typically no but I don’t usually read in the car. 99% of the time, I’m driving myself. I’ve tried when others are driving but I’m distracted. I want to look out the window if I’m not talking.

2. Which author’s writing style is completely unique to you and why?
I’m not entirely sure. Who’s straightforward and let’s you imagine stuff. I tend to leave out stuff because it’s in my head and isn’t everyone in my head?

3. Harry Potter Series or the Twilight Saga? Give 3 points to defend your answer.
Harry Potter. 1. no one sparkles. 2. The world is better developed. 3. The females. Females are more independent and don’t always depend on the males.

4. Do you carry a book bag? If so, what is in it (besides books)?
So yes? My purse usually has a book in it.

5. Do you smell your books?
No. But my nephew used to.

6. Books with or without little illustrations?
Depends. It depends on what age group the book is for. Adult fiction I will only accept it if it’s like something in a James Rollins novel where they’re intricate and showing you something that’s found.

7. What book did you love while reading but discovered later it wasn’t quality writing?
The Twilight series. I had professors rolling their eyes at me.

8. Do you have any funny stories involving books from your childhood? Please share!
I really don’t. I had a minor obsession with Amelia Bedelia when I was younger but nothing really funny.

9. What is the tiniest book on your shelf?
Of Mice and Men.

10. What is the thickest book on your shelf?

Either my Complete works of Shakespeare or my literary criticism college textbook.

11. Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself in the future as being an author?
I’m definitely not an author. I will take notes for blogging purposes or future purposes, depending on the book.

12. When did you get into reading?
I liked bedtime stories but then lost interest until I broke my wrist when I was 11. Then I was off and running.

13. What is your favourite classic book?
Jane Eyre. Please. was there any question?

14. In school what was your best subject?
English or music or history.

15. If you were given a book as a present that you had read before and hated, what would you do?
I’d give it away or sell it.

16. What is a lesser known series that you know of that is similar to Harry Potter or the Hunger Games?
I hate this question because I don’t compare books generally. With books like HP and HG, they’re so iconic that you shouldn’t compare. It’s not fair for anyone to compare.

17. What is a bad habit you always do while blogging?
Getting distracted. Or forming really bad sentences.

18. What is your favorite word?
I had my kids in Hungary ask me what my favorite Spanish word was and I panicked and I said cinco. I think my favorite word is concupiscence. Just cause it’s fun to say.

19. Are you a nerd, dork, or dweeb? Or all of the above?
I’m a nerd. I didn’t grow up with the words dork or dweeb being overly popular.

20. Vampires or Fairies? Why?
Fairies I guess.

21. Shapeshifters or Angels? Why?
Angels because that’s what I believe.

22. Spirits or Werewolves? Why?
Spirits because of the creep factor? I don’t know.

23. Zombies or Vampires? Why?
Zombies? I don’t have an opinion on this.

24. Love Triangle or Forbidden Love?
Generally neither. But if I had to choose it would be the triangle and then the third person quickly pushed out.

25. And finally: Full on romance books or action-packed with a few love scenes mixed in?
Action.

Okay, it got kind of lame at the end. Sorry.

 

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel Review

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Recently I made a shopping trip to Bismarck because I needed a place with better groceries and I needed to get my glasses fixed. But because it’s me, I made a trip to Barnes and Noble. I was with someone so I couldn’t stay as long as I had liked. But I did find one book that I did find interesting. It’s The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy.

I had the hardest time with this book. It’s a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, not my favorite folk story, and its set in World War 2, one of my favorite wars. But from the get go, I didn’t like it. A lot of people do, not me. I always make an excuse for why I don’t like a book. Like life issues or it wasn’t the right time for me to read this book or conflict of interest or something of that sort. I could do that for this book. But I won’t. Just a warning, there’s going to be spoilers.

From the start of this book, I had a hard time believing it. I know war makes you do drastic things but it seemed the father seemed way to easily convinced to abandon his children and then the stepmother be like go by Hansel and Gretel and the kids be like okay, let’s leave breadcrumbs to leave a trail. I wouldn’t have taken that at that age. By the way what is with that marriage? I didn’t like it. She had too much power over him. The stepmother just seemed like an altogether horrible person to me. She didn’t even tell the father where the kids were. I know it was for protection but still not a likable character.

So the kids. I feel like I’ve said this a lot but I was confused on ages. They say early on how old Gretel is but Hansel I couldn’t figure out right away because he seemed quite a bit younger but said the word penis quite authoritatively but then questioned what the circumcision is. But maybe I’m expecting of him. Maybe he hadn’t been fully told what a circumcision was. It’s totally possible. I thought there was a lot of pressure on him at the end to take care of him and Gretel and she was messed up. He did show his age when he got jealous of the baby and I appreciated that.

I questioned the priest because he wallowed in his own self-pity and drank because of it. I kind of always hate that character that wallows in self-pity. But then he redeems himself by killing Nazis then openly sat with the blood on him. Did he want to get caught so he would die and end his self-hate? How should I feel about him? I’m not quite sure. I also wondered how many of the clergy lost their faith during that time because there was so much strife during that time. And you see a lot of strife in the book. Side note: there are a couple other characters in the book but I don’t want to talk about them.

Magda saved the book for me. She’s the reason I gave this book a three on GoodReads and not a 2. I really didn’t enjoy this book. But then there’s the scene where she dies and I loved it. I hated to see her die but loved how it was written. I liked her snarky lines. Magda could not do any wrong in my eyes. I think she had a line at the beginning about Christians acting like the Christians they bragged to be. I liked that. I also like she was gypsy. I feel like if you weren’t Jew in WWII, you were forgotten and there were a lot of groups that were persecuted. This book showed that and I appreciate that.

Random thoughts. I found it was interesting that you didn’t know any of their real names. It bothered me and I really liked it at the same time. I always thought you were going to learn their names at the end but you didn’t and I was almost okay with that. Little disappointed though. I get the kids were too young and traumatized to remember so I get it. I also kept thinking of the movie that Heath Ledger was in about the Brothers Grimm.

Blood Infernal Review

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Recently I found a site called Book Outlet and they have super cheap books. I recently got my first order from them and with that I got Blood Infernal by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell. This is the last book of the Order of the Sanguines trilogy. The cover says series which generally means more than 3 books but with how this book ended, there can’t be more. Historically I have loved James Rollins. (I haven’t read any of Rebecca Cantrell so I don’t know.) And also have loved this series. This book did not disappoint. It’s my favorite. The only thing that I have against this book is that it’s taller than the other copies I have of this series.

So before I talk about the ending because that’s all I want to talk about, let’s start with the authors and writing. First of all, they need to write more together. Then at the beginning, Rollins dedicates the book to Cantrell and she dedicates the book to her husband and son. I’m guessing her husband isn’t James Rollins. So that could be awkward. Wondered how that happened. Then they were talking about writing groups. What the hell is a wring group? I mean I can take an educated guess at what it is but someone needs to actually sit down and tell me for sure. Here’s the other question I have. In the acknowledgments, Cantrell mentions this weird thing about a cat. What? Is that an inside joke or is it something about the lion in the book? I don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t be looking so much into the acknowledgments. The writing in this book is fantastic. I like the crossover from other Rollins books that brought the time and date and pictures. It makes me more engaged. For me the only time that I could see which author was which writing was during the intimate parts with Erin and Jordan. Rollins isn’t that good at romance. He’s awesome at thrillers, not much experience with the romance. I did wonder how they split up the writing. Chapter by chapter or they did a detailed plan and split it up? It would be interesting to find out.

In my notes, I made a comment that everything is connected. In the book it says everything is connected to Bernard. I think nothing happens without a reason. This book is planned out so that everything does connect and come to an end. And since I brought up Bernard, let’s talk about him. He does know like everything. He is the reason for Rhun’s thing at the end that made me yell in my notes. Yes, I keep notes so I can blog. Don’t judge. If I didn’t, the blog would be less interesting. Also Bernard was cray with the legion. But so was Leopold. At the end, I really didn’t like Bernard. I wanted him to redeem himself but he didn’t. He got worse. Not like Legion possessed worse but I want to punch you worse. I wrote in my notes several times how he was sly. I mean I saw it coming but I was in denial at the same time. I mean, he’s from the crusades. He has to be sly right?

We also need to talk about Rhun and Elizabeth. They are what I am drawn to. Starting with the last book, I love Elizabeth. And I am using the “English” version of her name. The last book she became more motherly and feminine which countered Rhun. In my head, Rhun is super manly in a different way than Jordan. He’s the strong silent type. (he’s like that because of Bernard. All comes back to Bernard.) But there were many times in the book where I thought how much they loved each other. It took centuries for them to get really together. It surprised me when Elizabeth joined the church. It just hasn’t been her style up to that point and then it was okay, I want to survive so I’ll do it. Whatever. I guess it was noble. But their ending was perfect. Tommy was healed so they could get together because Elizabeth wasn’t distracted. (I did get concerned about what was going to happen with Tommy at the end but they got it.) And of course the thing with Rhun’s arm. Like of course it grows back. Why wouldn’t it? Why would I even question it? Elizabeth did talk about trading one curse for another, immortality for getting older. Looking at it and working at a nursing home, I get the getting older. Older people hate getting older. Immortality would get old too.

Let’s move to Erin and Jordan. I don’t have much to say on them because I saw their ending coming. But I did kind of bring up in my head that what are the chances that those two get together in real life? It’s one thing in literature, another in real life.

Other things that came to my mind. How many times do they really have to die in this book? It’s like they’re all cats. Does them dying so many times shorten their actual lifespan? It did get a little old how many times they all died and came back. The Faust house was amazing. I loved that scene and the scene where Erin talked to Lazarus. At the end when Christian sacrificed himself, I did cry out no. It made me sad. This ending made me feel things. And I’m a little bitter about it. Xao was creepy from the get-go. Hugh was different like a hippy but Xao you could tell that there was something weird about him. And then he goes crazy. There was another point that was made in the book that being ignorant hasn’t been a service to the church. Which is true. I can talk a long time about that. And it works to be said in this situation. But being ignorant isn’t a service to anyone in any situation.

Obviously, I loved this book. It was a great ending. I’m a fan.

Things I randomly wrote down:

TOMMY! Don’t trust that Priest!

It does make me sad when they talk about Europe places I’ve been.

Sophia=nun (I forgot a lot)

I want a pet lion.

Hugh is a cult.

Rhun’s leaving! Rhun’s leaving! Because Bernard is a sly fox!