Book Review – The Juliet

Book: The Juliet – Author: Laura Ellen Scott

Genre: Adult, Adventure, Western?, Treasure Hunt

Description from Goodreads:

During Death Valley’s great wildflower bloom of 2005, retired cowboy actor Rigg Dexon gives a rootless woman a gift that will change her life forever: the deed to The Mystery House, a century old shack long thought to be the hiding place of a legendary emerald known as The Juliet. Willie Judy remembers Dexon from cereal commercials she watched as a kid, but now she’ll spend the next seven days searching for the truth about him, the house, and herself, as the history of The Juliet reveals the American Dream’s dark side—one that is corrupt, bawdy, and half insane. (see listing here)

My Review:

Where to start…

This was an odd one. Though the description above focuses on only two characters, the book itself is more about the history of the jewel and ALL of it’s owners, not just Rigg & Willie. The entire lifetime of the Juliet is shown, along with all the despicable things people did to each other in order possess the gem.

I will say, the novel hopped around quite a bit in the Juliet’s history, going back and forth between all the owners’ stories at once, instead of running a direct timeline. This made sense in the context of the story, but it was somewhat difficult to follow. The author DID include the dates at the beginning of each section, but I still had some trouble remembering who lived in which year, though not enough to throw me out of the story.

It helped that I really liked the author’s writing style. All the characters seemed completely believable, which, considering the wide variety, was pretty impressive. Even though most of the characters were all similarly greedy, the author managed to imbue each of them with their own sense of purpose and individuality. And, as easy as it would have been to go overboard with the ways in which the characters obtain the Juliet, you never have to throw on the “suspension of disbelief” switch in this novel. Even the most unbelievable of twists seemed entirely believable with this cast of characters.

The author also managed to encapsulate the time periods in which she was writing fairly well, without falling into the common pit of overdoing the accents & dialogue or focusing too much on historical details. The scenes in older time periods were just as easy to follow as the modern ones and, though there was some description of the locations/clothes/etc, the focus stayed where it should, on the Juliet and her devotees.

I ended up really enjoying this book. Putting all the bits and pieces of the story together into one cohesive storyline made me feel like I was also on a treasure hunt, the treasure being the Juliet’s history rather than the stone itself.

Similar Book(s):

Yyyyeeeaahhh…I got nothin’. So I’m just going to list the author’s other works. 😉

Death Wishing & The Mean Bone in Her Body

 

Whatcha Readin?

Hi all! I am in the middle of a few books, so I don’t have a full review for you today. Instead I thought I’d do a little promo for the books I’m currently reading. They are so good!

The Juliet (Laura Ellen Scott)

29511753Description: During Death Valley’s great wildflower bloom of 2005, retired cowboy actor Rigg Dexon gives a rootless woman a gift that will change her life forever: the deed to The Mystery House, a century old shack long thought to be the hiding place of a legendary emerald known as The Juliet. Willie Judy remembers Dexon from cereal commercials she watched as a kid, but now she’ll spend the next seven days searching for the truth about him, the house, and herself, as the history of The Juliet reveals the American Dream’s dark side—one that is corrupt, bawdy, and half insane.

Thoughts: This one is a bit odd, but I’m really enjoying it so far! I plan to do a full review of it when I’m done, so I won’t say too much here. Suffice it to say, if you like a little bit of mystery, a touch of thriller, and a lot of The West, you should enjoy it! 🙂

Ireland (Frank Delaney)

90360Description: One evening in 1951, an itinerant storyteller arrives unannounced at a house in the Irish countryside. In exchange for a bed and a warm meal, he invites his hosts and their neighbors to join him by the wintry fireside, and begins to tell formative stories of Ireland’s history. Ronan, a 9-year-old boy, grows so entranced by the storytelling that, when the old man leaves abruptly under mysterious circumstances, the boy devotes himself to finding him again. Ronan’s search for the Storyteller becomes both a journey of self-discovery, long unspoken family secrets, and an immersion into the sometimes conflicting histories of his native land.

Thoughts: I’m really loving the storytelling vibe of this one. I’m doing the audiobook, which is the perfect medium for this type of novel, especially since the author contributes his wonderful Irish brogue which only enhances the tales. If you love history, Ireland, or even just listening to someone tell you a good story, this one is for you!

Up Next:

The Shack (William Paul Young)

1812457Description: Mackenzie Allen Philips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his “Great Sadness,” Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever.

Thoughts: This one was chosen by my Book Club to be our next read. I’ll be honest, even being Catholic, I get a bit leery about “religious” books, but the story line sounds thoughtful and hopefully a bit inspiring, so I’m gonna give it a go.

Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery (Kurtis J Wiebe, author & Roc Upchurch, artist)

20299683Description: Who are the Rat Queens? They’re a pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire and they’re in the business of killing all the god’s creatures for profit. Meet Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief.

Thoughts: The description goes on to say the book is “like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack”…how could I resist that?!? 😉 Honestly, this sounds like a fun series and the artwork is really cool, so I’m going to cross my fingers and dive on in!


So how about you guys? What are you reading right now?

T5W – Summer Reads

Hi all! This week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is “Books That Remind You of Summer”. Now, I don’t really have a lot of books that remind me particularly of summer itself, but I can think of a few that would be great to read in the summer!

This book actually does take place in the summertime, so let’s start with it. 

Where Things Come Back (John Corey Whaley)

12162432The summer before Cullen’s senior year turns into a season of loss and rediscovery. Just as the town is celebrating the reemergence of a bird thought to be extinct, Cullen’s little brother Gabriel goes missing. — I don’t want to give to much away, so I’ll leave it at that, but this was an interesting book. The secondary story, about a missionary in Africa, gets woven into the tale in such a way that you aren’t sure what’s going to happen until the end. I wasn’t a huge fan of the jumping POVs, but it worked ok within the narrative. I’d recommend this one for people who like a little mystery in their ‘coming of age’ tales.

I seem to be reading a lot of “life journey” type books lately, which meshes well with the idea of summer to me. I’m not sure why, it just feels like summer is a good time to find yourself (or others). 

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper (Phaedra Patrick)

34532251After Arthur’s wife passes away, he finds a charm bracelet in her closet that he didn’t know she owned. Curious about what the charms mean, he goes on a journey of discovery to find out more about his wife’s life before they met. — I really enjoyed this book. The idea was an interesting one: how well do we REALLY know the people we think we know the best? Finding out about Miriam’s life alongside Arthur was fascinating and watching Arthur coming back to life after his wife’s passing was touching.

The Last Voyage of Sigismund Skrik (Karstin Flohr, John Brownjohn translator)

24965065Sigismund Skrik is the “master hairdresser of the seven seas”. Plying his trade on a transatlantic ship called The Liberty, he meets and chats with quite a wide variety of people, from a circus strong woman to a concert pianist…even some monkeys! — This was a quirky little book. The tale of how Sigismund came to be a hairdresser on a ship is interspersed with the backstories for all the characters he meets. I’d recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun, lighthearted read with a nice ending.

Gone Tomorrow (P.F. Kluge)

3409917Upon the death of campus legend George Canaris, fellow professor Mark May becomes his executor. Expectations abound on whether or not he will find the infamous, never-published novel that Canaris has supposedly been working on for decades. Finding a kind of memoir instead, we get to follow along on May’s discovery of Canaris’ life. — This book was really interesting. It follows the life of an author who was expected to be the next coming, but instead spent his life as a college professor. Not a great description, I know, but if you enjoy life-story novels, especially about fellow book people, this one would be a good one to pick up.

And now, for something completely different. This was the first book I stayed up all night to finish, so it always reminds me of summer, not because of its content but because of when I read it first. 😉

The Death & Life of Superman (Roger Stern)

110918This book is the novelization of one of the greatest story arcs in the Superman comics. It runs from the death of Supes at the hand of Doomsday (not a spoiler, it’s right there in the title 😉 ) through the aftermath and the rise of the pseudo-Supermen. — I will admit, I’ve never been a big Superman fan (too much of a boy scout for me; I’m a Batman gal all the way), but the story line and the writing of this novel kept my attention well enough for it to become my first ever binge read! I highly recommend it to fans of comics and especially Superman fans.


What books or types of books shout “summer” to you?

Mini-Reviews – Graphic Novels

Hey guys! I thought I’d do another session of Mini-Reviews because I managed to snag a couple of really good graphic novels the other day! 🙂

Saga, Volume 1 Brian K. Vaughan (Writer), Fiona Staples (Artist)

Description from Goodreads:

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.

My Review:

I didn’t quite know what to expect coming into this one. I hadn’t actually read any reviews for this series other than a few comments from friends on Goodreads which basically all said “Where has this been all my life?!?” Seeing that it also has one of the highest ratings I’ve ever seen on GR, I decided to add it to my list.

Man, am I glad I did! This was one of the most exciting graphic novels I’ve ever read. I’ll admit, I haven’t really branched out of the ‘superhero mainstream’ before in physical comics, so I was delighted to find a full-fledged story with amazingly fleshed out characters.

Apparently not one for shying away from action, the author begins our story with one of the main characters in the midst of childbirth and ends the same scene with a gigantic firefight. What a way to jump into the middle of things! It works really well in this instance, though, by pulling you directly into the story without having to worry about too much setup. It also helps set the tone for the series by letting the reader know upfront how much danger our main duo is in.

The author is really great at making all of the characters seem believable too, which can be difficult in a sci-fi, where you can have anything from spider-women to ghosts. I love that, by the end of Vol 1, we’re already starting to get some backstory for all the main characters. I’m really becoming attached to some of these guys and finding out more about them and how they got into this situation is very interesting.

The artistry of the novel is wonderful as well. The diversity between the different species is very impressive and everything was really well executed. I did however, feel like I’d seen one character somewhere before…

2301482-saga5_web72
Left: Prince Robot IV (Saga, 2013), Right: The One Electronic (Rice Boy, 2006-2008)

Very probably a coincidence, but I couldn’t get it out of my brain. 😉

All-in-all, I’d definitely recommend this for sci-fi fans! I’ve already ordered the Volume 2; I can’t wait to get started!

Fables, Volume 1: Legends in Exile Bill Willingham (Writer), Lan Medina (Artist), Steve Leialoha (Artist), Craig Hamilton (Artist), Mark Buckingham (Cover Artist)

Description from Goodreads:

When a savage creature known only as the Adversary conquered the fabled lands of legends and fairy tales, all of the infamous inhabitants of folklore were forced into exile. Disguised among the “mundys,” their name for normal citizens of modern-day New York, these magical characters created their own secret society that they call Fabletown. From their exclusive luxury apartment buildings on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, these creatures of legend must fight for their survival in the new world.

My Review:

Oddly, it was the cover that originally drew me into this series (great job, Mr. Buckingham, lol). I literally went “Is that a flying monkey?” and then I noticed the title. I’ve always been a fan of fairy-tales, so I decided right then and there to give this one a go.

I love the idea of fairy-tale characters trapped in our reality. Seeing how each character has established themselves in our world puts a very interesting twist on the original tales. This story mainly focused on Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, and Rose Red, but the author did a great job of pulling in as many characters from different tales as he could. He even got Old King Cole in there!

The mystery in this novel “What happened to Rose Red?” was really interesting. I was pretty stumped as to what happened all the way up to the end. The author did a good job with the pacing of the story, so that the reader was intrigued, but not rushed to a poorly explained conclusion.

Having finished the novel, though, one has to wonder…just where did the creators of ‘Once Upon A Time’ get their idea? A dark force takes over fairy-tale land, leaving our heroes trapped trapped in the mundane world? That sounds awfully familiar…


So how about you guys? Read any good comics lately? Got recommendations?

Bookish Book Lover Tag

Found this on the Thrice Read blog and thought it looked fun!

Rules:

  • Use the original banner.
  • Answer the questions!
  • Use lots of book covers.
  • Tag your friends.

What book are you currently reading?

90360Ireland by Frank Delaney – This is a wonderful little book about a Storyteller in Ireland and the boy he inspires. I’m listening to it on audio, which is probably the best medium for this novel, since it makes you feel like you’re actually sitting and listening to the Storyteller and the boy tell you the history of Ireland.


What’s the last book you finished?

27883214Caraval by Stephanie Garber – I did a review that you can read here, but basically it’s a fun adventure/mystery about a girl searching for her lost sister within a magical treasure hunt.


Favorite book you read this year?

28449207.jpgStrange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – I ADORED this book!!! You can read my review of it here. I can’t wait until the sequel comes out! Unfortunately, since this one literally came out like a month ago, I think I’m in for a long wait.


What genre have you read most this year?

I’ve actually read a good mixture so far this year. Mysteries, fantasies, sci-fi, contemporary fiction, non-fiction…I’ve been all over the place. 🙂


What genre have you read least this year?

90160Western. I’m not really a huge fan of pure westerns (give me a steampunk anyday), but I managed to force myself to read Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey for my reading challenge. My admittedly biased review can be found here. 😉


What genre do you want to read more of?

I’ve been trying to get myself to read more contemporary fiction lately. I have a tendency to stick with mysteries, fantasy, and sci-fi, so part of my reading challenge this year was to branch out a bit. I’m doing pretty well so far.


How many books have you read this year, and what’s your goal?

I have completed 26 books so far this year and am about halfway done with Ireland. My goal is 60 books, which is pretty average for what I read in a year.


What’s the last book you bought?

I actually just picked up 6 book from local authors at a Book Fest last weekend:


What book are you saving up to buy next?

I just recently (finally) read Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fables Vol. 1 by Bill Willingham. I loved them both! I might pick up the second volumes of each this weekend if I happen to swing by my local comic store for Free Comic Book Day.

15704307


How many books did you check out last library visit?

Three. I went in for two, but got three. It’s an addiction, I swear.


What’s a book you can’t wait to read?

28208687I’m actually really looking forward to It Devours by Joseph Fink & Jeffery Cranor. It’s the next book from the Welcome to Night Vale universe and it sounds pretty interesting. 🙂


What’s a series you’d recommend to everyone?

22088245Hm…tricky. Depends on what genres you like. If you like fantasies (and especially if you like role playing games), then you’d probably enjoy the Spells, Swords, & Stealth series by Drew Hayes. I’ve only read the first book, NPCs, so far, but am looking forward to the next one.


Who’s an author you’re hoping writes more?

28517611Jackson Lear, author of Kingston Raine & the Grim Reaper. This was a fun little book where Death accidentally kills a fictional character who then flees into other books. It’s a bit hard to explain, but I tried my best in this review. It was funny and action-filled, and I highly recommend it, especially to book lovers.


A few books your heart adores?

Oh, this is a hard question! There are so many!…Let’s try, books I would try to save if my house was fire:

  • Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (the early years)
  • Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink & Jeffery Cranor
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman

What series’ coming conclusion makes you sad?

The Weird West Tales series by Mike Resnick. I LOVE this series. It’s a steampunk AU of the old west, complete with classic gunslingers, zombies, magic, dinosaurs (yes, I said dinosaurs) and more. I haven’t started the fourth novel yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s the last one. 😦

8253037


What books are on your wish-list?

27809678Way, WAY too many to list. I do want to pick up the Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling (I’m trying to get the full series). I’ve also been eyeballing The Spaceship Next Door by Gene Doucette, but I’m waiting for the price to go down.

 


My Tags:

I tag anyone and everyone that is reading this tag. I had a lot of fun and would love to see your answers.

Book Review – Caraval

Book: Caraval – Author: Stephanie Garber

Genre: Young Adult, Adventure, Fantasy

Description from Goodreads:

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

My Review:

I’ve seen my share of bad reviews for this book, but I actually really enjoyed it. The idea behind the game of Caraval is intriguing. It’s basically a giant cosplay-treasure hunt, where you can trade secrets and wishes for magical items and dreams. And at the end, if you solve the mystery, you may just win the prize of a lifetime. But don’t get TOO caught up or Caraval could become your downfall.

I’ll be completely upfront: the main character, Scarlett, is about as angst-ridden as you can get. Her father is a monster, her arraigned marriage is a mystery, her sister is missing, and then she starts falling for a guy who could be anyone. But somehow, she never comes off as annoying. I actually really liked Scarlett. I felt pretty bad for her situation and spent most of the book going “Come on, I know you can do this! You got this one, Scar!” I also really liked her sister, though she’s not in the forefront of the novel for very long.

The action in this one never stopped coming. I actually read the book in about 5 hours, which isn’t too bad for an over 400 page book, and most of that can be attributed to the fact that I spent about 85% of the book on the edge of my seat. The author really knows how to keep you guessing: Is creepy Dante really Master Legend? Or is Legend actually the mysterious Julian, the sailor who arrived just in time to carry the girls off to Caraval? Will Scarlett escape her father and will she ever find her lost sister? What is real and what is just the game?

This one was a knuckle-biter from start to finish. I highly recommend it to people who like adventurous books with a dash of romance thrown in (yes, I even liked the romance in this one 😉 ). I’ll definitely be checking out the sequel!

Similar Book(s):

The Night Circus – Erin Morganstern

Book Review – Six of Crows

Book: Six of Crows – Author: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Young Adult, Adventure, Fantasy

Description from Goodreads:

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first..

My Review:

I really enjoyed this novel. Bardugo managed to build an entirely original, yet realistic, world. I found myself trying to compare the countries with our own and, though there were similarities, there were enough differences that the world seemed completely new and exciting.

The diverse cast was very interesting. Having most of them be from different countries gave them each a very unique viewpoint towards the war and the mission itself. I don’t think there were two characters who came from similar backgrounds, even when they grew up in the same city, and it was their individual qualities that made them work so well as a team, even if they didn’t always want to.

I don’t usually like it when the POV jumps around, but in this instance I think it worked. I liked how the inner-thoughts of each character were used to lead into their history and how they explained the perspective of each character. It really helped me understand them all individually rather than just focusing on a single character or the group as a whole.

I will admit, as I have several times before, that I am not fond of romances, and so much of this book seemed to focus on the yearnings of the characters that it almost turned me off. The adventure and writing style of the book are what kept me going. I was truly curious as to what would happen during the mission and whether or not all of the crew would make it out alive. Bardugo has an easy writing style that allows you to read quickly enough that you can flow through the adventure almost as easily as watching a movie and, with an adventure this broad and exciting, that is a great thing.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA fantasy, group adventures…or just a good scoundrel. Be ready for some romancy-angst, though, and be aware that there is a sequel!

Similar Book(s):

Mistborn – Brandon Sanderson