Review: My Cousin Rachel

5604250My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Classics
Maturity Level: 3
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


I threw the piece of paper on the fire. She saw it burn …Orphaned at an early age, Philip Ashley is raised by his benevolent older cousin, Ambrose. Resolutely single, Ambrose delights in Philip as his heir, a man who will love his grand home as much as he does himself. But the cosy world the two construct is shattered when Ambrose sets off on a trip to Florence. There he falls in love and marries – and there he dies suddenly. In almost no time at all, the new widow – Philip’s cousin Rachel – turns up in England. Despite himself, Philip is drawn to this beautiful, sophisticated, mysterious woman like a moth to the flame. And yet …might she have had a hand in Ambrose’s death? 


What a unique love story! Even though I felt like I kind of knew what to expect (curse you movie trailer!!!!!), it kept going in directions that took me by surprise. However, I didn’t find the atmosphere quite as brooding and mysterious as I expected to, which was a little disappointing.

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Review: The Greyfriar

8140709The Greyfriar by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith

Series: Vampire Empire
Genres: Steampunk, Fantasy, Fiction
Maturity Level: 4
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


In the year 1870, a horrible plague of vampires swept over the northern regions of the world. It is now 2020 and a bloody reckoning is coming. Princess Adele is heir to the Empire of Equatoria, a remnant of the old tropical British Empire. When she becomes the target of a merciless vampire clan, her only protector is the Greyfriar, a mysterious hero who fights the vampires from deep within their territory. Their dangerous relationship plays out against an approaching war to the death between humankind and the vampire clans.


Note: This review was originally posted in 2013 on my personal blog, Opinionated and Unabashed, and can be viewed here. I solemnly swear that it was my blog and I am not ripping off anyone else.

Ever since the immense popularity of the Twilight Saga I have had a difficult time finding a Vampire novel that isn’t about romance. I have a particular fear of Vampires. My freshman year of college I read Dracula, and it scared me so badly that I had to stop reading at night. I was having terrible nightmares about bats at my window and terrifying fogs, not to mention the monster himself. So I have never particularly appreciated the notion that vampires might be good, or lovable. I prefer for them to be, well, frightening.

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Review: The Essex Serpent

32075861The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction
Maturity Level: 4+
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆


Set in Victorian London and an Essex village in the 1890’s, and enlivened by the debates on scientific and medical discovery which defined the era, The Essex Serpent has at its heart the story of two extraordinary people who fall for each other, but not in the usual way.

They are Cora Seaborne and Will Ransome. Cora is a well-to-do London widow who moves to the Essex parish of Aldwinter, and Will is the local vicar. They meet as their village is engulfed by rumours that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming human lives, has returned. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist is enthralled, convinced the beast may be a real undiscovered species. But Will sees his parishioners’ agitation as a moral panic, a deviation from true faith. Although they can agree on absolutely nothing, as the seasons turn around them in this quiet corner of England, they find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart.


The Essex Serpent was one of those books that was obviously trying to be “literature” and attempting to win awards, but I’m not sure it succeeded. Instead of feeling like beautiful prose, to me it came off as pretentious and contrived. I mean, it’s all right there in the description, isn’t it? “Two extraordinary people”. What’s so extraordinary about them?

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Review: The Blood of Olympus

18705209The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

Series: The Heroes of Olympus
Genres: Action/Adventure, Young Adult, Kids (Middle Grade), Fiction
Maturity Level: 3
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen—all of them—and they’re stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood—the blood of Olympus—in order to wake.

The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it “might” be able to stop a war between the two camps.

The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea’s army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.


I have mixed feelings about The Blood of Olympus.

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Review: The House of Hades

12127810The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

Series: The Heroes of Olympus
Genres: Action/Adventure, Young Adult, Kids (Middle Grade), Fiction
Maturity Level: 3
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆


At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy’s instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea’s forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?

They have no choice. If the demigods don’t succeed, Gaea’s armies will never die. They have no time. In about a month, the Romans will march on Camp Half-Blood. The stakes are higher than ever in this adventure that dives into the depths of Tartarus.


House of Hades continues stylistically and thematically where Mark of Athena left off. This book continues on a slightly darker path than the previous three. While Riordan’s trademark sense of humor is still present, it feel subdued compared to previous books. The whole thing feels a lot more serious than any of Riordan’s other books, probably appropriate considering the context of impending world destruction and a journey through Tartarus. Yet the story continues to be compelling, fun, interesting, and well researched, everything I have come to expect from Riordan. Continue reading

Review: The Mark of Athena

12127750The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

Series: The Heroes of Olympus
Genres: Action/Adventure, Young Adult, Kids (Middle Grade), Fiction
Maturity Level: 3
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆


In The Son of Neptune, Percy, Hazel, and Frank met in Camp Jupiter, the Roman equivalent of Camp Half-blood, and traveled to the land beyond the gods to complete a dangerous quest. The third book in the Heroes of Olympus series will unite them with Jason, Piper, and Leo. But they number only six—who will complete the Prophecy of Seven?

The Greek and Roman demigods will have to cooperate in order to defeat the giants released by the Earth Mother, Gaea. Then they will have to sail together to the ancient land—Greece itself—to find the Doors of Death. What exactly are the Doors of Death? Much of the prophecy remains a mystery…


I’ll be honest, the thing I was most looking forward to about this book was reading from Annabeth’s point of view. Annabeth has been my favorite character since the first book of the first series, and finally getting to read about her was a real treat, even if it did involve several rather frightening spider sequences. Continue reading

Review: The Difference Engine

337116The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling

Genres: Steampunk, Sci-fi/Fantasy, Fiction
Maturity Level: 2
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Rating: ⋆⋆


1855: The Industrial Revolution is in full and inexorable swing, powered by steam-driven cybernetic Engines. Charles Babbage perfects his Analytical Engine and the computer age arrives a century ahead of its time. And three extraordinary characters race toward a rendezvous with history – and the future: Sybil Gerard – dishonored woman and daughter of a Luddite agitator; Edward “Leviathan” Mallory – explorer and paleontologist; Laurence Oliphant – diplomat and spy. Their adventure begins with the discovery of a box of punched Engine cards of unknown origin and purpose. Cards someone wants badly enough to kill for…


I didn’t understand this book at all, which is unusual for me. I’m not sure if that’s because it was somehow over my head, or if just wasn’t that great of the book. Aside from that, the characters weren’t especially interesting, it wasn’t very exciting (maybe even *gasp* dull), there was very little fascinating Steam Punk technologies, and the dialogue frequently reminded me of the Roaring Twenties rather than Victorian England. However, I did enjoy the element of alternate history the Difference Engine brought by keeping the same major political players, but putting them in a completely different world. Overall I was disappointed, and this definitely isn’t a book I would read again.