Marked – My Thoughts

I haven’t done a “book review” in a while. I put that in quotes because I don’t consider it a review. I don’t really go through the good and the bad of books that much. I simply share some thoughts about books. I don’t consider myself a book reviewer, but if you are an author and have self-published some books, reach out to me because I am willing to help other Indie authors. I know how hard it can be to get reviews.

Alright, Marked is the first book in the Hous of Night series by PC and Kristin Cast. I started reading these in high school when a friend of mine let me borrow her copy. She was also the one that told me I should read it considering my other literary interests (Twilight).

Unfortunately, I only get to the third or fourth book when I couldn’t go any further. See, my friend had lent the books to another student as well, but that student had one of the books and then moved to Las Vegas taking the book with her. So, 10+ years later, I mentioned these books to my mom and she started giving them to me for Christmas. (I love my mom, for she enables my book addiction.)

*SPOILERS ARE BELOW*

The House of Night series gives a new take on the world of vampires. A young woman, Zoey Redbird, is marked with a crescent moon on her forehead, which immediately causes her to become an outcast amongst her family and friends. She has to get to the school, otherwise, she will die, but her step-father and mother want to pray the vampire away.

She escapes and goes to her grandmothers, and long story short winds up at the House of Nigh school with a gash in her head and her mark already colored in. This makes her stand out amongst her new classmates.

This entire book takes place over just a few days, the days leading up to Samhain. She easily makes friends with what would probably be considered the outcast group, but she also, sort of, forced into joining the dark daughters.

Of course, any good book has to have an antagonist, and that would be the leader of the dark daughters, Aphrodite, or as Zoey’s group of friends so lovingly call her, “Hag from Hell.”

The Zoey is determined to fix the problems within the school because Nyx has chosen her. She also wants to knock Aphrodite down a peg, which does accomplish, to an extent, by the end of the book. There are plenty of other problems that she will have to face, I’m sure, but she is off to a great start.

I’ve read a few reviews on this book, it has a four-star rating on Goodreads, but some of the most negative ones talk about the way the book is written. People seem to have a problem that the style of the book is very informal. There are “asides,” colloquialisms, and slang throughout the book. I suppose, for some, that might be a problem, but that’s part of the reason why I love the book so much.

I can’t speak for other authors, but I like writing because I can break the rules. I like to take liberties that some people may find as wrong, but there is nobody saying that you can’t. That’s what draws me into the writing of the Cast’s. It is very easy to get lost in their book, at least for me. The books are meant to be young adult, and I think that writing plays very well into that genre.

Anywho, I think you should give it a read. I will be doing one of these for each of the books. But FYI, the book I am currently reading is Psycho, so that will be the next “My Thoughts” post.

“You know how it is with cats: They don’t really have owners, they have staff.”
― P.C. Cast, Chosen

FYI:

Make sure you grab your copy of Loved by Death here. I am going to make it available, soon, on other sites as well.

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Series of Unfortunate Events – My Thoughts

I’ve not done a post about a book in a while, so to make up for it, this book will talk about all 13 books in the Series of Unfortunate Events book series. Don’t worry, this won’t be a long post, but there may be spoilers.

Now, I had read these books when I was younger. When Netflix came out with their series for the books, I decided to re-read them so that I could refresh my memory. I didn’t allow myself to watch the series until I had finished reading the books, so that was fun.

For those who are not familiar, these books are aimed towards younger/middle age children. I don’t typically care what age group books are aimed at. I read what I want.

The first book, The Bad Beginning, starts out with the three Baudelaire children being told by Mr. Poe that their parents had perished in a deadly fire. This is just the start of the children’s unfortunate lives.

One thing you will quickly notice about the books is that Lemony Snicket enjoys alliteration. He also tries very hard in every book to convince the reader to stop reading the books, or to turn their attention to something different.

In The Grim Grotto, which is the 11th book, he repeats information about the water cycle. While it may sound like these diversions from the main story would be annoying, it really isn’t. (At least not to me) To me, I think they are fun and make Lemony a character. It is meant to be a retelling of a story, so it makes sense that Lemony would get to have his own attitude.

Book after book, the children have to face Count Olaf. Each time they discover who he is right off the bat, yet no other adult in the books ever recognize him. It becomes frustrating at how dense the adults are.

If anybody reading these books ever think that maybe things will change for the Baudelaire and that they will get to live a happy life, you are sadly mistaken. Lemony Snicket even assures you that nothing is going to change for them.

Guardian after guardian is killed by Count Olaf. They get accused of murder. They have to run around the hinterlands and hitchhike with strangers. Sleep in an unfinished hospital wing. Sail in a broken down submarine. Get separated from each other. And almost thrown down a mountain. Those aren’t even the worse things that happen to them.

But, finally, you make it to The End. A small glimmer of hope shines inside of you. “Maybe,” you think to yourself, “Things will change for the Baudelaire children.”

Well…

You wouldn’t be completely wrong, but you won’t be right either. Count Olaf is there and some dumb adults that don’t think for themselves. The island turns out to be a safe place for the children. They believe them about Count Olaf. They even lock him in a cage on the coastal shelf.

Yet, something is fishy about the island and Ishmael, and it’s not just the ceviche.

Ish turns out to know everything about the children and he claims that everything he does is to “protect” the villagers. The children could stay as long as they “don’t rock the boat,” but they are Baudelaires and they can’t stand injustice. So, of course, they rock the boat.

They get themselves isolated on the coastal shelf with Olaf and stranded Kit Snicket.

Oalf manages to enact one more crazy plan and releases a deadly poison on the island. The children find out that the apple tree on the island can help, but they can’t get all of the others to believe them. Instead, they ship out with Ish.

I won’t go into any more detail. I will say, the exact outcome of the Baudelaires or any of the other characters that didn’t die aren’t shared. You’re left to wonder how things worked out for them. If they were about to go back into the world without being chased by the police. Or if they joined VFD. Of if they found the Quagmire triplets.

This seems to be a problem for some people. I update my Goodreads when I finish a book. When I added The End, I noticed there were a few people who didn’t like how he ended the series. They didn’t like the mystery that was left. They wanted it wrapped up in a pretty little bow, and that the kids lived happily ever after.

I get that, but, I also understand why it was wrapped up the way it was.

Lemony Snicket never hid the fact that the Baudelaires’ story would be a series of unfortunate events. (It’s the name of the books.) Plus, the books are supposed to be written by a person sharing what he has learned. I feel the way the last book wraps things up fits in with the whole premise of the books. Diaries and journals are rarely wrapped up into pretty little bows, and that’s basically what these books are supposed to be.

I love these books. I always have and always will. When I have children, they will read these books. They may seem morbid to some, but I think they also teach a lot of valuable lessons for adults and children alike.

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Make sure you keep an eye on Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles. You never know what kind of sale you might find.

Angels and Demons – My Thoughts

I stopped with the Dollenganger series for a bit and finished up a book I had been working on for a bit. I’m bad for starting a book, getting bored with it, and then starting another book. In fact, I had actually started the third book in the VC Andrews series when I decided I want to take a break, but I digress.

I know, all the book reviews I have done so far have been on books that have been published for a while. It will probably stay like that for a while, too. There are a lot of books I haven’t read, and once I do, I like to share my thoughts. As always, there may be spoilers, so if you haven’t read this book yet, or you plan to, you have been warned.

I had started this book a couple of years ago but stopped reading it because I couldn’t get into it. About a month ago, I decided I would try to finish it. This time something had changed. The book caught my attention and I had it finished in no time. I don’t know what happened, but I’m glad it did. Angels and Demons is a book written by Dan Brown and introduces the character of Robert Langdon that shows up in four subsequent books. It all takes place with a single day and deal heavily with symbology, the Illuminati, and the Catholic church.

Langdon is contacted by the director of CERN, Max Kohler, for help in a murder case. This is due to the fact that one of the scientists at CERN was found dead with the ambigram Illuminati burned into his chest, and Langdon is well versed in Illuminati history. They quickly discover that the killers used his victim’s eye to gain access to his lab and steal his newest creation, antimatter. This substance is more powerful than any bomb man has created. Leonardo Vetra, the deceased, daughter shows up, Vittoria. She and Langdon a whisked away to Vatican City where the canister of antimatter has been located by camera. They don’t actually know where the canister is, but they have less than 24 hours to find it before it destroys the city.

As the story progresses, they discover that the four Preferiti have been kidnapped just before conclave was to begin. Robert believes the Illuminati is to blame and he leads Vittoria and the Swiss Guards on a chase around Rome to find the Hassasin.

I’m not going to go into every little detail of how the story goes, you can read it for yourself, but I will tell you that they don’t rescue a single Preferiti. Robert almost saves the last, though.

The symbology and history of the Illuminati and the Catholic church are interesting enough to make you not want to put down the book. Then the actual suspense of not knowing if they will save the Vatican as well as who the identity of Janus is will make you stay up all night to finish. I honestly believed that it all had to do with the Illuminati. I never thought that the person behind it was a man of religion.

Camerlengo Ventresca seemed like such a nice guy. He was willing to bend a few rules to give Robert the ability to find the kidnapped Cardinals. Then it turns out he was completely crazy. He hated science so much that he killed the pope, and then had another angry man kill six other people, attempt to kill Robert, and nearly rape Vittoria. And he did this all in the name of God (really?)

I knew there had to be a person on the inside because there were too many things that happened inside Vatican City for an outsider to do it all. I honestly thought it was Commander Olivetti because he fought Robert so much.

Once I got within the last 100 pages I seriously didn’t know how many more twists and turns the book could take, but damned if that wasn’t where all the twists happened. I followed along with Robert better than I have ever followed the main character. It felt like we were one.

I do really want to go to Rome now and see all of the statues and obelisks that were written about in the book. Before you wonder, I haven’t watched the movie, but I wouldn’t mind seeing it see how well they kept to the book.

I really don’t have too much more to say about the book other than you should read it if you haven’t. It’s a really great book and extremely entertaining.

Petals on the Wind – My Thoughts

I’ve got another review for you all. I have finished the second book in the Dollanganger series Petals on the Wind. Like I warned with my first, if you haven’t read it and you want to, then proceed with caution. There may be spoilers ahead.

This book is just as a good as the first. It also sends you on just as much of an emotional roller coaster, if not more so. It made me cry at one point, and there was one character that I wanted to rip his head off.

So this book picks up right where the other left off. The kids are trying to head south. While on a bus heading through South Carolina, Carrie starts trowing up. Everybody starts fussing about it, but this lady, Henny, goes to the kids and helps them. She then tells the bus driver to go to the place where she works and lives, which was not on the bus route. Henny introduces them to Dr. Paul Sheffield.

I’m not going to walk you through the whole books step by step, so, to make a long story short, Paul takes them in, makes them all better, and becomes their legal guardian when their mother doesn’t come after being sent a summons (shocker).

I had to keep reminding myself that these books took place in the ’60s and not in modern times. There were things done and said that annoyed be based on how things are now. But back 50 years ago, they were completely normal.

Chris and Cathy really become their own person. Carrie, not so much. She never really got over Cory’s death, and she couldn’t overlook the fact that her growth had been stunted because of the three years and four months they had spent in the attic. She pretty much stayed in a deep depression who whole life, even if she did put on a facade of a happy face. Unfortunately, she was a little too good at acting.

Paul gave the kids everything they ever wanted and made sure that they were happy. Chris became the doctor he wanted to be. Went to Duke University, had an internship at the Mayo Clinic. Cathy got to become a ballerina. She didn’t quite get to be a prima ballerina, but she did get to dance in New York and travel the world. The biggest thing that held her back was the fact that she wouldn’t let go of revenge against her mother and grandmother. This ended up with her having two sons by two dead men.

Now, she did get involved with Dr. Paul and eventually married him. She also married a ballet dancer Julian who was an utter ass, but that had more to do with the way his parents raised him more than anything.

I do have to say, Cathy got on my nerves some with her revenge plan. I won’t reveal any of that. I will let you read it for yourself, and you should. But she was a great mother. She doted on her children and made sure she was a better mother than her mother had ever been to her. And I felt really sorry for her at the end of the book. Death has plagued her life. She can’t help but feel responsible for all of them, even though she probably couldn’t have done anything to prevent most of the deaths.

While Chris kept telling her to forgive and forget, that God would exact the revenge on their mother when he saw fit, Cathy wouldn’t listen. She kept on with her plan. But, and I’m going to give you a little insight into my mind, maybe God (or whatever Universal power you want to believe in) was exacting his revenge the way he wanted, through Cathy. That what Cathy did is what she was meant to do. Just a little thought for you.

There is a lot more to this story. It fills the span of around 12 years of their lives. There is probably more death and heartache in this book than the first, but it’s definitely worth a read. It really makes you think about religion, society, and the stress that both of them puts on us. And if you’re wondering, yes, Cathy and Chris get to see their mother again in person. Trust me, it’s a great meeting.

Make this book series your next read. I can’t wait to get finished with the third.

Flowers in The Attic – My Thoughts

Yes, I’m talking about the V.C. Andrews novel Flowers in The Attic. It was published in 1979 and is considered a Gothic novel. There is even a Lifetime movie based on the book, and, no, I have not watched the movie., but the movie was the reason why I wanted to read the book. Just so you know, there will be spoilers ahead in this post. That means if you have not read it, and you don’t want anything ruined for you, STOP READING NOW. Thank you.

So, a quick little overview of what this book is about:

Four children and their mother go to live with their grandmother when their father dies. Their grandmother turns out to be a fire and brimstone woman, and their mother, at first, seems to be a sweet woman who is doing the best she can.

The children are forced to live in the attic until their grandfather dies because he didn’t approve of his daughter’s marriage, and he doesn’t know she has children.

The amazing thing about this book is that my emotions followed Cathy’s, the oldest girl and 2nd oldest child. At first, I was sympathetic to the mother and optimistic that things would work out. Then, as the story progressed, and the mother became more and more ostentatious in how the dressed and acted, the more annoyed I became with her. She broke promise after promise to her children, but if they said anything about it, she played the victim. She felt that if she brought them enough stuff and expensive things that they would forgive her. She believed that money could solve every problem. While money may help out with a lot, it can’t replace love or the knowing that somebody is looking out for you.

I’ve had to deal with people similar to this. No matter what happens in somebody else’s life, their life is always way worse. Or, nothing that happens to them is their fault, there is always somebody else to blame.

Chris, the oldest child, got on my nerves from time to time because of the way he was willing to stand up for their mother. I get it, though. He was trying to stay optimistic. Who wouldn’t want everything to work out in their favor? For them become rich and not have to worry about anything else.

Then their mother remarries. The man she marries doesn’t even know she has kids. By this point, they have been locked away for over two years, going on three.  She barely looks at the two youngest twins. Who, in their time in the attic, have only grown two inches between the ages of five and eight. She hasn’t even noticed that Cathy’s body has changed, and still brings her little girls clothing as if she were still 12 and not 14.

Cathy and Chris make the decision to escape the room, for the safety of the twins. Unfortunately, they don’t make their escape soon enough to help Cory.

They make a replica of the door key, and Chris would sneak out of the room on the nights their mother said she would be out with her husband. He would go to her bedroom and take some money. They do this until they have over $300. That may not seem like much now, but the book is set in the 60’s, so that would probably last them a good little while.

Now, I’m not going to go through every little detail here, I don’t want to give away the big realization. All I can say is, I was as devastated as the children when they learned about their mother’s secret.

If you love books that send you on a roller coaster of emotions, then this is definitely the book for you. I have yet to read the rest of the books in the series to see how the three remaining Dollenganger children survive, but I have the books and I plan on starting Petals on the Wind today.

This book really has everything: a mean God-fearing grandmother, a deceiving mother, innocent children, money, sex, incest, and arsenic.

If you’ve read the book, tell me what you thought.