Category Archives: Books

Cry Wolf: A Review

Since I’ve talked a few times now about Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series, and recently reviewed the prequel novella, it’s time for a review of the first book. Cry Wolf is the first book in the series, excluding the Alpha and Omega novella (which is considered a prequel) and the This is my favorite of the series and is the book I have read the most.

Disclaimer

While this story doesn’t go into graphic detail, it does touch on some sensitive subjects. Mainly referenced trauma and violence against Anne while she was in her previous pack.

Synopsis

The story picks up some time after the events of Alpha and Omega. Anne is the mate of Charles, the first and only born were wolf and son of the pack leader Bram, who is trying to get acclimated to the new pack. As she tries to adjust, she and Charles go to a funeral for a pack member, she meets Asil, a downdraught with a drinking habit. Due to Anne being a rare Omega, who’s role is to be a soothing presence in the pack, she .

Positives

I think this book set up the world pretty well. Since it does it’s own thing, away from the Mercy Thompson series, this is something it would have to do to keep it as it’s own separate thing. And I think it does it pretty well. It might feel a bit more contained since it does focus a lot on Anna, Charles, their pack, and the few people they do interact with, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I see this series as really focusing on building the relationship between Anna and Charles alongside their relationship with the pack and how they handle situations that they are needed for.

I also think it sets up a number of characters really well. The dynamic between Anna and Charles is a bit different when compared to Mercy and Adam. Which I think is kind of important since they are the couple readers are following in this series. Individually, Charles

I also think that how they set up why two werewolves cannot have kids and the dangers of trying. That might seem like something that feels a bit like a trope, but I don’t think it’s set up in a way that feels bad. Plus, it also helps further explain why Samuel, Charles’ (half) brother, thought having kids with Mercy, a Coyote shifter, would be potentially safer had they gotten together. Basically, it would be very high risk and the mother would die because of it. They mention this in Alpha and Omega, which devastates Anna, who had always wanted kids even prior to her changing. And again here when explaining how Charles’ mother, who Bran changed in order to save her life, had died giving birth to Charles. So it kind of explores why it’s avoided from two different perspectives.

Negatives

Having read this book as many times that I have, I won’t say it doesn’t have flaws. I’ve narrowed it down to common tropes, some of the characters, and how Asil seems to be the only one with first hand experience with Omegas.

While not always a bad thing, it does have some of the typical tropes you would expect from the genre. Like how urban fantasy a lot of times will focus on vampires, werewolves, witches, and fae. Or how Charles is essentially the enforcer for his father, who is the head, the North American werewolves, which would probably fall into a subcategory of supernatural enforcers. Though, typically, Charles is sent to check in on or handle other werewolf packs as needed as opposed to all of the supernatural creatures. The only time he does is if his father needs him to, but usually it’s to keep the werewolves in line.

I would say this may also hit the Chosen One trope but to a lesser degree. What I mean is that Anna could be considered a “chosen one” type character because she is an Omega, which in universe is a rarity. The only reason I think this is the least offensive of the tropes is because she isn’t made out to be someone that everybody wants because of it. Some members of the pack are interested, but once Charles officially steps up as her one and only, it gets dropped. Plus, the only reason Asil is interested is because his late wife was an Omega as well and Anna reminded him of her.

Now tropes aren’t necessarily bad. I just know that what tropes people are fine with and may find annoying may depend on the person. However, these tropes I don’t think were terrible to the point of being overbearing. Granted, I also don’t read a lot of Urban Fantasy either, so I haven’t really read enough to be that annoyed with it in this series. These are simply tropes that may be common in this genre and I know that can be something that might annoy people.

Going back to Asil for my next criticism, him being the only one with information on Omegas kind of feels odd. On the one hand, from a story perspective, I can get why. He’s a lot more closed off after the death of his wife and is at odds with Charles for a portion of the book. So Charles going to him to make some kind of amends and get help for how to approach Anna makes sense. However, I would like to think that there would have been a record or something about Omegas because he had first hand knowledge. That way, when he dies, there would be some way to access the knowledge he has, should Charles, Bran, or any other werewolf encounter one after he passes. That might not be necessary at this moment, but something I think would be a consideration.

There may be other flaws that I have that I’m not thinking about at the moment. However, these are two that I feel this book has.

Conclusion

I would probably give this book an eight and a half out of ten. Overall, I think this was a solid enough first book in the series. I feel it sets up the world and characters well enough. Though it does fall into some of the tropes Urban Fantasy is known for as well as how they handle Asil and his knowledge on Omegas to some degree. And while not all of the characters or parts of the story land, it’s still a nice little guilty pleasure read for me.

The Power of the Dog: The Book vs The Movie

Believe it or not, it has been about six months since I last talked about the novel and Netflix Oscar Nominee The Power of the Dog. While I had a few ideas for possible posts, motivation and ideas had stagnated. However, if there was one thing I hadn’t considered doing at the time, despite having read the book not long after seeing the movie, was doing a comparison between the book and movie. Because while the movie did keep pretty close to the book, there were a few differences between the two.

Similarities

Starting off with similarities between the two, as an adaptation, the movie does hold true to elements of the book its based on. There’s the story, characters, and the relationship between said characters.

As for story, it does follow the book pretty faithfully, save for the events behind the death of Rose’s husband and Peter’s father, which I will get to momentarily. It still tells the story of two brothers who are quite different and how George ends up marrying Rose after the death of her husband. And Phil’s torment her throughout is still a prevalent factor.

There’s also how Phil treats Peter throughout the movie. Starting out with picking on/tormenting Peter to the slight shift where he decides to take Peter under his wing (which to some degree was kind of a ploy to isolate Rose). Then it gets to where Phil seems to see a lot of Bronco Henry, a man Phil looked up to and was close to, in Peter.

The characters were pretty consistent from the novel to the movie. How opposing Phil and George are is still there. As is how Rose and Peter react to them.

The focus put on the mountain range, how Phil views Bronco Henry, and the eccentricities of Peter that were pretty accurate. And while the movie has some areas where it has quiet pauses, I think that body language could be used in place of some of the introspective the book had.

Overall, The Power of the Dog as a movie was a pretty faithful adaptation. It kept the characters consistent from the book to the movie, kept the interactions and relationships intact, and it followed the story pretty faithfully minus one or two scenes. However, for how faithful it was, I do feel that it had one or two key differences between the two.

Differences

The main differences would be the details behind the death of Rose’s husband, how that might effect Peter from the viewer’s perspective, and how it uses the third person perspective the novel.

When it comes to the overarching perspective from Phil’s point of view, there are a few instances in the book where it feels like there is more of a focus from Phil’s point of view. Now, the book is written in the third person, so it can lend itself to not having to worry about focusing one character. However, there are a few instances of Third Person Limited perspective, which is where it feels like it focuses mostly on one character.

It does this in two different ways. The first few chapters, where it focuses on Rose’s family and her husband. There it sets up what readers will come to expect with Rose’s family. There’s also a period where it focuses on everybody, or who the scene may call for, like when Rose is moving in with George. Then, at some point, it does feel like this limited third perspective falls on Phil, later on in the book. An example being towards the climax when Peter and Phil are in the farm working on the rope, where it has him reflecting on the last time he was close with anyone (excluding his brother).

In the movie, viewers get a general third person perspective. Some scenes will focus on George and Phil, George and Rose, Rose and Peter, and Phil and Peter, depending on what the scene calls for. If I had to give the movie a character it might have given more of an overarching focus on, it would be Phil. Because, regardless of the fact that Phil is inherently the antagonist of the story, it seems like he is a driving force and focus of what goes on as the story progresses.

Also worth mentioning is the Native American family. If I recall correctly, it was a father and son or grandfather and grandson duo. In the movie, they do have a few scenes, the one where Rose gives them the leather, which Phil was adamant about not selling to them, being the important one. This family does have a few more scenes in the book, with this aforementioned exchange happening as well. I thought I should include that, because while this Native American family does show up, they did have a little more development in the book.

The biggest difference does come in the form of Peter’s father and how that might affect how people perceive Peter in the movie. In the movie, viewers will learn that Peter’s father took his own life. This event shown and is only mentioned in a conversation he and Phil have.

This conversation still happens in the novel. However, the novel addressed this within the first few chapters of it. It sets up who his father is and how he was a doctor and what the motive behind his death was. In the novel, we learn that he does worry about Peter, who at the time wasn’t as healthy as he could be, and was a target of Phil’s jokes. Which was something that had been prevalent in the book later on as well as in the movie when Peter and Rose are living with George.

Without spoiling too much, Peter’s father was worried about Peter, and comments about Peter being a “sissy” were something that really bothered him. And like it was referenced in the later scene in the book and movie, Peter was the one to find his body.

The reason I say that this can effect how viewers might breakdown Peter’s character. I had seen a case made that Peter might have been something of a sociopath and/or having a hand in his father’s death. In the case of him being a sociopath, I’m not entirely sure if that was the case, since I feel like what he did later on in the story could have been a form of trauma response and wanting to protect his mother, who didn’t really stand much of a chance when it came to Phil’s torment. However, that may depend on who you talk to.

As far as Peter having a hand in his father’s death, I can see how that could have been assumed or considered in the movie. Because of how his father’s death is addressed and Peter’s actions later on, along with the theory that Peter might be a sociopath, I could see why some viewers might have deduced that he could have been responsible. That’s not necessarily the fault of the movie, but because viewers never got to see what happened to his father, it could leave itself up to interpretation. Had the movie included a scene addressing his father, be it a scene at the beginning with a time jump to when the movie actually starts or a flashback, I think it might have helped explain things just a little more.

In conclusion, the major differences in the film include how the third person perspective seems to be used and the scene expanding on what happened to Peter’s father. As well as a scene or two more with the Native American family.

Conclusion

Overall, as an adaptation, I would say 2021’s The Power of the Dog Netflix adaptation was a solid and faithful adaptation. It followed a lot of the core elements of the novel it was based on. And though it might not have included some of the context behind the death of Peter’s father, I don’t think that hurt the movie. Though it could lead to some differing interpretations of Peter. All in all, though, I would say it was a pretty faithful adaptation.

Almost There by Farrah Rochon: A Review

The thirteenth book in the Disney Twisted Tales series, Almost There asks the question: What if Tiana Made a Deal that Changed Everything? A question that this novel looks to answer.

When I first heard that this book was coming out, I was intrigued. Though 2009’s Princess and the Frog didn’t catch my interest when it was initially released, it is one that I have revisited and really enjoy. The art and music were really good and the direction it took the story was interesting. This is also the movie that introduced us to Tiana, Disney’s first black princess. All and all, I would say that The Princess and the Frog was a solid movie and deserves the appreciation and enjoyment it has received in the years since its release.

Almost There is the thirteenth book in the Twisted Tales line and was the one I had the most curiosity for after the last two books. Go the Distance was a nice one and What Once Was Mine wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for when I read it (loved the concept, wasn’t fond of certain decisions). And while I had an inkling for what they might have gone with in terms of twisting the story (Tiana taking the deal), how it was executed was neat.

And having just recently finished the book, I thought it was time to review it. Note: I will try to avoid as many spoilers as possible, but as always, Possible Spoilers Ahead.

Synopsis

The story begins with a few scenes from Tiana’s past. A lot of it being about her father and establishing moments from the movie and built off of it. Readers then jump to the present where Tiana makes a deal with Dr. Facilier that will give her her father back in exchange for an elixir his friends from the other side want her to use.

When she agrees, with one little detail missed, she gets what she had always wanted. Her friends safety, her own restaurant and her father. However, when eerie things begin to change. And when Dr. Facilier comes back a year later to collect and follow upon that missed detail, Tiana finds herself thrown into a world of trouble, and it’s up to her, Charlotte, and Naveen to reverse what the Shadow Man created.

Positives

What I thought was really good about this book had to do with the story, some of the characters, and the setting. It was also interesting to see how it worked off of the established connection Tiana had with her father and their love for cooking. It was also really nice to see these two bonding and how it eventually dealt with Tiana’s love for her father and the grief that comes along with it.

For the story, the direction they went with made sense. I did speculate that Tiana would take the offer Dr. Facilier gave her, but where such an offer would go, I wasn’t sure. That said, it does feel like a logical direction for it to go the way it did, and I think it was executed well for the most part.

As for characters, I did enjoy how this story developed Charlotte a bit more. While Charlotte would be a sort of iconic character in the movie, she only had so many scenes. Here, readers get to see more of her and Tiana’s friendship and Charlotte having some development. Naveen also got a little development too. Like him reflecting on possibly going back to Maldonia after receiving an invitation back, and what that would mean for him. Of course, Tiana got quite a bit of development as the protagonist, which includes how she handles Facilier and the restaurant. As well as how she approaches Naveen now that everyone is back to “normal”.

The setting of the story is also pretty neat too. It still takes place in 1920’s New Orleans which is nice. And while holding onto the music, food, and character the movie had while set in this time period, it does have a moment where it seems to address (if only in an implication sense) about the climate at the time in regards to race. While the movie has that scene with Tiana and the investors at Charlotte’s party with how they present her not getting the building she had her sights set on, Almost There has a scene involving Charlotte and Tiana at a clothing store where one of the workers states Tiana isn’t allowed to shop there (Charlotte does try to defend Tiana in this situation to her best ability while Tiana doesn’t want to start a conflict because of it).

Negatives

As for negatives, while I wouldn’t want to say it feels like it is formulaic, but I suppose the ending could have been a little different. On the one hand, I did like how it was a sort of psyche out. On the other, I kind of saw something a little different (like Facilier “running out of time”). But that’s just me.

One other thing I think they could have done was more scenes with Mama Odie. They do go to see her, but I feel like there could have been more scenes with her. Especially since there was a whole scene with Charlotte being perplexed that everyone but her knew who Mama Odie was. I just felt they could have done more with it.

Conclusion

I would probably give this book a 4.25 out of 5 stars. It’s certainly one of my favorite of the Twisted Tales series and I love how it approached the story. From the characters to how it addressed the plot and setting. I only wish they had done one or two things differently.

The next book in the series is one I heard might be a possibility. That being a Pinocchio set book. The title is When You Wish Upon a Star and is written by Elizabeth Lim, who previously wrote the Mulan Twisted Tale Reflection. When You Wish Upon a Star will focus on the Blue Fairy and asks: What if the Blue Fairy wasn’t Supposed to Help Pinocchio? and is expected to be released on April 4th 2023.

Atlas the Story of Pa Salt, the Final Book of The Seven Sisters Series: My Hopes and Expectations.

When The Missing Sister came out back in 2021, I initially thought this would be the last book in the series. Since each book focused on a sister and the seventh being based on the one that went missing, it would make sense. However, checking Goodreads, like I do, I found out that there will be an eighth book. From my understanding this was in the works prior to her passing and announced not long after The Missing Sister’s release.

According to an interview for The Missing Sister (https://lucindariley.co.uk/seven-sisters-series/the-story-of-the-missing-sister/q-and-a/), Lucinda Riley initially planned for this book to be seven books long. However, she didn’t feel like The Missing Sister could tie up all of the loose ends, feeling that she wouldn’t be able to do it justice. So she started on Atlas: The Story of Pa Salt to finish the series.

And while she did pass away a few months after the release of The Missing Sister, that doesn’t mean it will go unfinished. Since she already had passages and key notes on the story in the works, her eldest son Harry Whittaker, will continue, and finish, the story. According to Goodreads, the book has an expected release of January 2023, however, her website states that it has an expected release in Spring of 2023 (https://lucindariley.co.uk/seven-sisters-series/atlas-the-story-of-pa-salt/).

With that said, I thought I would take a moment to discuss some hopes I have for this book. As well as some things I am expecting. I suppose both are interchangeable, but I do feel some topics might fit more as expectations while others fit more so as thing I hope they include.

Honoring Lucinda Riley’s Memory

With this being not only the last book in the series, but the last book by Lucinda Riley, I feel like this book could be a ceremonial way to say farewell to the author. Whether that be in the form of an “in memory of” section” or some form of tribute to the author in the acknowledgements or notes at the end, I think there should be some form of way that the author is remembered. I’m sure there will be, and that’s not to say that Harry Whittaker shouldn’t get credit for his part, just that this book could be a way to honor Lucinda Riley’s memory.

Exploring Pa Salt’s Character

This is titles Atlas: The Story of Pa Salt, so it’s pretty much a given that it will be about Pa Salt. He had a presence throughout the series, but readers never really got to know the character on a personal level. Only how each sister remembers him.

My hope is that this book will give some closure with Pa Salt as a character. Since his character has been dead since the very beginning, I would hope that this goes over who he was as a person, exploring why he adopted each sister, and the lead up to his passing. Let his story be told in a way that works with the story and wraps it up with the sisters learning more about their father.

The Past and Present Storytelling

This might sound odd, but I would hope that it keeps up the tradition of it being told in the present as well as the past. Not only because the series is known for it, but because I feel that it has to. Again, with Pa Salt being deceased, readers won’t exactly be able to get a first hand account of the character. Rather, the sisters learning more about the man who brought them all together. That would be the present bit.

As for the past portion, it would focus on Pa Salt’s life. Here, readers would get to learn about who he was as a person, where he came from, how he became the man he was, and how he found each sister. And much like the other stories, it should go through a big part of his life. It can start with him as a child or young adult (preferably the latter) and go all the way up to his death.

As far as perspective, I could see this taking a slightly different approach. Normally, each book would be told in the first person for each sister and third for the person from the past. I believe The Missing Sister was the only book that told it from the third person perspective for both. Here, I can see it using solely the third person for both perspectives since it would be his story and D’Aplièse getting answers and learning more about Pa Salt. Alternatively, it could be written from third person for the present part and the first person for Pa Salt’s. That would be a nice change of pace while also utilizing something that the series was known for. There is also the chance that the present could shift a first person perspective for each sister, but I feel like that would be unnecessary and could get confusing.

Ending the Series on a High Note

Since this will be the conclusion to the series, I feel like it should end on something of a high note. That would include wrapping up the loose ends it didn’t get to in The Missing Sister, ending with each sister having learned something, show where each sister ends up, and ending the series on a good conclusive note. While I’m not expecting perfection, I do think that it should resolve what it needs to and feels gratifying. Not rushed. Nor do I think it should end on a happily ever after. It would be nice to see it ending on a happier note, but I’m not looking for a happily ever after necessarily. If one or more of the sisters feel like they have to reevaluate their life or how they viewed Pa Salt, that’s okay. But at the same time, they did get a sort of happily ever after at the end of each of their story, and I don’t think that has to be tossed.

Conclusion

These are just a few things I hope for when Atlas: The Story of Pa Salt is released. If you’ve read the series, what are your expectations for it? Is there anything you hope gets addressed? Are you excited for it?

The Missing Sister: A Review

This is the most recent book in the series as of this review. The seventh book of the Seven Sisters series answers the overarching question that has remained unanswered since the beginning: Who was the seventh sister that Pa Salt never found?

This book answers that question all the while reuniting the six sisters from the previous book. Also know: Minor Spoilers Ahead.

General Disclaimer

My general disclaimer for this book, and the last time you’ll probably see it since I don’t think Atlas, the eighth and final book, will address Pa Salt’s heritage so much as why Pa Salt adopted all of the sisters and his found family through them.

While this series does involve each character finding their birth family, I do not believe that it was the author’s intent to diminish adopted families. Having read the series, I interpreted it as each daughter being given the choice to find their birth families if they so choose. With each daughter choosing to investigate their history.

Synopsis

When Maia, Ally, Star, CeCe, Tiggy, and Electra receive news about the seventh sister that Pa Salt never found, they decide to look into it. They hope to spark a connection, find out what happened, and why this seventh sister wasn’t found. Their investigation brings them to New Zealand, Canada, England, France and Ireland. Along they way they meet Merry and her daughter Mary-Kate, who may hold the secret to the missing sister.

Jumping back into the 1920’s we get to hear the story of Nuala. Nuala is an Irish woman living through Ireland’s war for independence. Her journey details with where she and her family stand, what actions she takes, and what it was like during this turbulent time.

Positives

I’m a sap for Ireland centered stories, being of Irish decent myself and having a curiosity to learn more about Irish history. So one thing I enjoyed was how this book explored Ireland and it’s history. And with this taking place during a time of conflict, getting a sort of look into it from one perspective was neat.

I also liked how we finally got the sisters all back together for this. With this “missing sister” being something that was referenced multiple times throughout the series, it was nice to see that they didn’t leave this plot point on the cutting room floor.

Another thing I thought was a neat reflection of the story was with Merry and her daughter Mary-Kate. Mary Kate finds herself learning more about herself and her family and finds out the truth about her relationship with Merry.

Critiques

The critiques I have are with Merry and how they approached the search for her. Merry was a character that I had mixed feeling on. On the one hand, I understand why she wouldn’t want to meet with the D’Aplièse sisters to a degree. However, her constantly running was something that I found a bit repetitive and annoying at times. Merry does eventually agree to meet up with them, and readers are able to get a conclusion, but O was a little tired of the constant “the D’Aplièse sisters get to the location Merry’s at, but oh no, she fleed the country” cycle.

On the other hand, I can also see how the approach could have been done better. Realistically, it would feel odd if a group of people kept following you wishing to met, even if it wasn’t just the D’Aplièse sisters Merry was trying to evade. So that part makes sense.

On the other, It felt like it just prolonged the inevitable. I’m not opposed to her trying to avoid the D’Aplièse, just that it shouldn’t have lasted as long as it did. I think it would have been nice or at the very least manageable, if after a while of avoiding them, it’s Mary-Kate who decides to act as a mediator and/or talks her mother into speaking to them much sooner. And from there, resolve any issues and explore Merry and Nuala’s stories. But, that’s just my thoughts on it.

Conclusion

I would give this book a seventy eight percent. This rating I believe will log it as my third favorite in the series. I found the premise of finding the “missing sister” to be a good one, and a great way to tie up that loss end. I also thought it was interesting as far as Nuala’s story taking place during Ireland’s war for independence. The only think I wish they had done better was how they approached the D’Aplièse sisters went looking for their missing sister and aspects of Merry’s story.

Sun Sister: A Review

The Sun Sister, released after I had finally caught up on the rest of the series. I was certainly curious to see what they would do with Electra’s character, as she was the one who seemed to have the least screen presence… or book appearances, when compared to the others. She does show up several times throughout the first five books, but it did feel like she was more so referred to than actually having scenes.

Unfortunately, this would be my least favorite in the series. Due to seeing and agreeing with some of the criticisms in reviews, I do feel like it could have been better. There were a lot of good concepts there, and I was all for them, but I did see how the execution seems rushed. It’s not terrible by any means, however, out of all seven books so far, one had to be the least enjoyed. And for me, it was this one.

Series Disclaimer

While this series does involve each character finding their birth family, I do not believe that it was the author’s intent to diminish adopted families. Having read the series, I interpreted it as each daughter being given the choice to find their birth families if they so choose. With each daughter choosing to investigate their history.

Book Specific Disclaimer

Know that Sun Sister does address drug addiction and recovery throughout Electra’s story. How well the story handles it will depend on the reader, but know that it is addressed.

Synopsis

Electra’s story is one of fame, struggles, and living in the moment. Electra, despite being the youngest sister, has had a rather successful career in modeling. However, her personal life is far from perfect. After putting off the information Pa Salt had left her in regards to her family tree, and getting help for her addiction, she decides to look into it. When she is given a letter from a woman claiming to be her grandmother, she finds herself meeting this woman and discovering her family history while coping and working on bettering herself.

Meanwhile, starting in 1939 Cecily Huntley-Morgan finds herself moving from New York to Kenya on a journey of rediscovery and recovery. With war and disaster on the horizon, she finds herself marrying a man named Bill Forsythe and joining him as he works alongside the Maasai Tribe, who he has close connections with. As loneliness starts to set in, Cecily finds a baby that had been abandoned and raises them as her own.

Positives

I will say that I did appreciate the story it was telling. For Electra’s story, I appreciate how she does get help for her struggles. What she was going through is relatable and worth discussing. I also thought Electra had some good, albeit not perfect, development.

I also thought it was neat how this story did decide to address some of the Civil Rights era. It was a step forward time period wise, where as most of the previous books past story segments took place between the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Because while it does start off in the late 1930’s, having a slightly more modern and notable time period was a nice change of pace.

Critiques

Unfortunately, the execution is where it feels lacking. It probably doesn’t help that I did read a few reviews before hand, something I typically try to refrain from unless I am that curious about if a book is worth reading. And while I wouldn’t say that checking out reviews, or getting a second opinion/feedback before going into a book is bad, it did give me something to think about.

Because, while I do think that there were good intentions behind the book, I also think that it wasn’t as well executed as it could have been. Which was something some reviews noted on more or less. So while I can credit it for trying, I can also critique it for it’s execution.

One critique that stuck out to me was how quick the story seemed to skim over Electra’s recovery. And I can kind of see why. It does address it and has some moments dedicated to it, but it does feel like it could have or should have gone more in depth with it. Of course, it goes without saying that I am not an expert when it comes to addiction recovery and how long it should take, despite what knowledge I do have on it. That said, I can see why it might have felt rushed and/or not as developed as it should have been.

Another complaint I’ve seen was with Electra herself. Mostly with characterization. I will admit, Electra was the one sister I was curious about, but also the one I wasn’t sure hot to feel about. I would definitely say the character is a bit rough around the edges and there were areas that might have needed some improvement. However, I don’t think I was as critical to Electra as some people might have been, though I do agree there could have been different ways to handle the character in some instances.

Conclusion

Overall, I would give this book a six out of ten. I do believe that there were areas that could have been improved upon with the character and how certain story elements could have been done differently. That said, I do kind of appreciate what the book was trying to do with it’s handling of Electra’s mental health and addiction, even if the execution wasn’t stellar.

Moon Sister: A Review

The fifth book in the series, The Moon Sister, is one of my favorites alongside Seven Sisters (the first book) and the reason I got into the series. I stumbled upon it while working on returns at the library. Someone had returned the large print copy of the item and the synopsis got me curious. However, when I found out it was book five, I did decide to read the other books first. Even though I didn’t have to since each book is acts as a standalone with very little to do with the previous books. At least until book seven, The Missing Sister, which has all of the six sisters meeting up to fins the “missing sister” that Pa Salt never found. Regardless, I read all the books prior so that I could get familiar with the story.

General Disclaimer

Routine disclaimer for the found family and how it meshes with adopted family concept.

While this series does involve each character finding their birth family, I do not believe that it was the author’s intent to diminish adopted families. Having read the series, I interpreted it as each daughter being given the choice to find their birth families if they so choose. With each daughter choosing to investigate their history.

Disclaimer: The Romani and a Terms Deemed Offensive to Them

I wanted to take a moment to discuss this a little bit. First of, I did like how it explored a Romani angle with Tiggy and her family was interesting, and based on a Q&A, https://lucindariley.co.uk/seven-sisters-series/the-moon-sister/q-a-the-moon-sister/ Lucinda Riley did have an interest in learning about the culture and beliefs.

That said, I feel like a certain topic should be addressed. Several times in the book and in the Q&A, she does use the word G*psy. For those of you who might not know, it is a term that is considered offensive to the Romani people. The average person might not know this, but it is something I have come to learn about over the years and have refrained from using out of respect.

Since I cannot confirm intent, I will give her the benefit of the doubt and say she wasn’t trying to be malicious. Ill informed, perhaps, but not malicious. And with her passing in June of 2021, there may be no way to get a concrete answer. As such, I do not wish to make an assumption on intent and knowledge about the term. I am not excusing any offensive terms being used, but I do know that it is possible that she could have been misinformed and not malicious. However, if it comes to light that she was being malicious with it (via rough drafts, journals, etc.) I would definitely reconsider my approach to this book and would not recommend it.

Synopsis

After Pa Salt’s passing, Taygete “Tiggy” D’Aplièse returns to her work on a wildlife preservation in Scotland. She does decide to investigate her family history and finds herself developing feelings for Charlie, the doctor that she has been staying with, despite knowing his relationship with his wife, soon to be ex-wife. When her health takes an unexpected turn, she finds herself needing medical treatment that brings her to Granada Spain, where her family had lived.

Meanwhile, in 1912, readers are introduced to Lucia Amaya Albaycin, a n up and coming flamingo dancer in Granada Spain. She is passionate about her skill and has the chance to expand it and travel. However, as war breaks out and her career growing, Lucia finds herself having to choose between her dancing, the man she loves, and her family.

Positives

This is one book where I enjoyed both the present and the past parts. Much like the previous two books, I found myself relating to areas of the story and characters, namely Tiggy, who is an animal lover, as am I. And while she was drawn to Scotland, I find myself drawn to learning more about Ireland. I also liked how she grew. Tiggy is also one of my favorite sisters, maybe even my favorite. I liked her kind hearted and calm nature.

As for Lucia’s portions, I did like the direction they went with it. While it did have elements that were similar with the previous past stories in pervious books, I liked to approach. I enjoyed how it had Lucia following her dreams and the slow burn that was to come. I didn’t want the character to fail, but it was interesting to see how her passion and her

The Grey Area

Though I am curious about the Romani people, I will admit my information about them and their culture is limited. So I cannot say how accurately they were portrayed, I do think Lucinda Riley did a good job in some areas. They weren’t shown to be malicious like some media may portray them, but people living their own lives and wanting to better themselves and their people. And again, while I know certain terms used for them are considered derogatory, I cannot confirm if Lucina Riley was being malicious when using it.

Critiques

One critique I did have was with the whole thing with Charlie’s ex-wife and the whole cheating concept to Tiggy and Charlie’s relationship. While Tiggy did try to suppress her feeling for Charlie given the circumstances, but it wasn’t quite executed the best.

I also don’t really care for Zad, Maia’s questionable ex, returning in this book. I don’t think he was really necessary to have in the story. FOr whatever reason, he pops up several times throughout the series trying to get with one of the D’Aplièse sisters. He was in a relationship with Maia, tried to get with Tiggy, and was with Electra for a brief time between the two.

Conclusion

I would rate this book an eight out of ten. Overall, I thought it was an enjoyable read. The story in Granada, Spain was nice and I did like aspects of Tiggy’s story as well. However, elements of Tiggy and Dr. Charlie’s relationship, Zed, and the use of a term deemed offensive to Romani people (malicious or not), do bring this story down.

Bravely by Maggie Stiefvater: A Review

Off all the Official Disney Princesses, Merida is the one I flip flop the most about in terms of how much I enjoy the character. Usually, I can say that I’ll either be neutral about some (ex. Snow White, and Cinderella), I have some I dislike (ex. Aurora), and a number that I enjoy (ex. Mulan, Jasmine, Ariel, Rapunzel, Belle, and Tiana). However, with Merida, she’ll hit one of those three depending on the day.

I like Brave as a movie and it was nice to see a princess in a similar vein to Mulan in terms of skills and marriage not being an essential part of their story. (Side note: Yes, Mulan 2 exists, but the first Mulan movie didn’t have a romantic subplot for her and I didn’t think a second movie was needed. However, we did get a sequel that was flawed, but confirmed the ambiguity of Shang and Mulan’s relationship at the end of the first). Brave also had some really good music. I also found her appearance in the series Once Upon a Time neat, if underused/underdeveloped. What I disliked was elements of the character and the conflict between her and her mother. On the one hand, I get why she would be frustrated, but on the other, it feels off and/or whiney at times in execution. And while I do like the idea of a mother and daughter learning to understand and respect their differences, it was kind of Merida’s fault that her mom turned into a bear. Not intentionally, and I can see how this can be a critique for some. That said, I can excuse it to a degree since it isn’t a bad concept on paper. It’s just the execution that I guess that I have issue with.

That said, most days I am just neutral about the character, though if you asked, I’m not sure where I would put her when ranking the Official Disney Princesses. If you like her, that’s cool, if not, that is also fine.

Anyways, much like a handful of other books I’ve been drawn to, Braverly by Maggie Stiefvater was one I found through my local library. The cover was eye catching and the blurb was what made me want to give it a try. I’ll admit, while I have seen Maggie Stiefvater’s book in passing, I wouldn’t say that they caught my attention. I think with this being an expansion on Brave, which I thought was neat, and the fact I enjoying the Twisted Tales series was a factor in what drew me to this.

As always: Mild Spoilers Ahead. I do try to avoid spoiling as much as possible, but this is a warning for any plot point that may come up in the review.

Synopsis

When an unexpected being of chaos enters the DunBroch home, Merida is given a year to make a change or else her kingdom and family will fall. With the help from the Cailleach, her family, and her friend Lessie, Merida must voyage to the other Kingdoms to make a change, as well as working with her family for this change. It’s a race against time and it’s up to Merida to find a way to protect her loved ones and stop the oncoming destruction.

Positives

The concept itself was a really neat one and I liked how it continued on after Brave. It gave Merida and her family some development that the movie didn’t get to touch on. It was also interesting to see how the triplets have grown since Brave and have developed differing personalities. Each one, though still having some similar appearances on account of being triplets, has their own individuality.

I also enjoyed how this story explored and expanded on the Celtic folklore aspect of Brave through the Cailleach and Feradach. The will-o-wisps from Brave are a part of Scottish folklore (variations of them may appear in Irish folklore as well). Cailleach is a figure who appears in Gaelic/Celtic (ie. Irish, Scottish, etc.) lore who appears as an old lady or hag and is considered and ancestral figure who is associated with weather and winter. While Feradach plays a role of a deity of chaos. I think these add to the world as well as expand on some of Scotland’s lore.

The story itself, if a little basic, is good. It feels like a natural follow up to Brave.

Critiques

Though the characters have kept their evolution from Brave, I do feel like some of the characters could have used a little more development. Some characters felt a little bit more developed than others. And sometimes, it felt like scenes and interactions treaded on a similar issue form the movie.

Out of all the characters, Lessie is the one I feel could have used a bit more development. I would have liked to get a little more background and development on her. She, much like Cailleach and Feradach, was a character introduced in this book and wasn’t in Brave. But unlike the other two characters, I do feel like she could have gotten a little more development. For instance, her marriage. We are given very little about her marriage and husband to be. Readers know she planned to get married, but ultimately called it off. From there, she’s helping out as much as possible with Merida and her quest.

I wasn’t really that thrilled with some of the banter between Merida and her mother. Specifically in one scene that kind of references the movie.

Conclusion

Over all I would give this book an eight out of ten. I loved the atmosphere and incorporation of Scottish lore and it was a nice way to continue Merida’s story after Brave. I do feel that certain scenes were a bit different and some characters got more development, however. If you are looking for a continuation of Brave or want a neat YA fantasy read, I would recommend it.

Pearl Sister: A Review

Book four of the Seven Sisters series, Pearl Sister, is the next book for me to review. Similar to the third book, Shadow Sister, this is the second of two books that I feel neutral about. However, I think I enjoyed this one a smidge more.

This is also the first book that explores a main character who falls into the LGBTQ+ community. In this book, it starts off as CeCe questioning her sexuality and is later confirmed that she and a secondary character are romantically involved.

Disclaimer

As per usual, I enter this disclaimer in the event you may not have read my previous reviews for the series.

While this series does involve each character finding their birth family, I do not believe that it was the author’s intent to diminish adopted families. Having read the series, I interpreted it as each daughter being given the choice to find their birth families if they so choose. With each daughter choosing to investigate their history

Update from Original Review and Secondary Disclaimer

When I posted my original review for this book, I did not realize that a term to describe the native groups in Australia was considered a bit problematic. I will apologize for not knowing at the time and have fixed the mistake here. This is the same review as it was written, but with proper changes when referring to Australia’s native individuals.

I apologize for the error I made and will be more mindful in the future.

Synopsis

Pearl Sister focuses on the fourth daughter of the D’Aplièse family, Celaeno, or CeCe as she goes by in the book. Starting off during Shadow Sisters to explain why she left Star in England, CeCe decides to look into her family. While she has felt like she doesn’t quite fit in in the family, with Star being the sister she was closest to, readers get to see her come out of her shell. As she travels to Sydney, Australia to follow the clues Pa Salt left her, she finds herself in Thailand where see meets some backpackers, including a young man named Ace, and with some help from him and others along the way, she is able to find out more about her family and herself.

A hundred years earlier, we get to see the story of Kitty McBride, the woman that CeCe is given the task of looking into. Kitty is the daughter of a clergyman, who finds her fate intertwined with the twin sons of a wealthy family that works with pearls. While there, she also finds herself intertwined with some of the Australian native individuals.

As CeCe discovers more about her family history, she rediscovers her creative passions and begins to discover more about herself and who she loves.

Positives

What I really enjoyed about this book was the setting and CeCe’s journey. Because I didn’t particularly like where her story ended in Shadow Sister, it was nice to see some of what was going on with CeCe during that time at the beginning of this story. And seeing her come into her own person, it was nice to see how that unfolded.

It was also nice to see how this book broke the formula a little bit. Star did a little bit too with how it approached Mouse and Orlando and who Star ended up getting with, but I liked what they did with CeCe’s a bit more. Since CeCe’s story is one of self-discovery, seeing her questioning her sexuality and her feelings for Chrissie come to light. The two get along really well, both as friends and as partners, and it was nice how Chrissie to help explain the native culture and history to CeCe.

I also enjoyed the parts in Australia alongside some of it’s history. Elements of Kitty’s story was interesting too. How her story intertwines with CeCe is different, but in a good way.

CeCe is also one of two or three sisters I kind of relate to. Tiggy being another, which I’ll get into in my review for Moon Sister, and Star possibly being the third (the only reason I’m hesitant to say I relate to Star is because I more so enjoyed the book/writing aesthetic of Shadow Sister’s setting and side characters as someone who is an avid book lover and writer). I relate to CeCe’s desire for self-discovery and creativity as a writer and occasional artist myself.

Critiques

I suppose my biggest critique with Pearl Sister is Kitty’s story. While the formula for the historical parts isn’t bad, I just didn’t find Kitty’s part as interesting. While I did enjoy aspects of it, like the mother that Kitty ends up helping and the approach to conflicts at the time, the romance subplot in it, wasn’t that compelling. I do think the use of the twins was a neat touch, I just didn’t like the execution.

The part in Thailand, though having a point, wasn’t all that memorable after reading. While certain details there were necessary, some readers do feel like it stayed around a bit too long. I can kind of agree, as I would have liked to get to Australia. However, I can see what areas of it were necessary. Mainly some character developing and investigating for CeCe’s journey.

I will also include the term used to describe Australia’s native individuals. I cannot confirm or deny any malice on Lucinda Riley’s part (much like with terms used in the next book), so I will not pass judgement until I know for sure. I won’t condone it either. I merely cannot speak for Lucinda Riley with her passing last year and the fact I found out out how problematic it was until recently.

Conclusion

I enjoyed how this story broke the mold in some areas and enjoyed CeCe’s growth. However, some duller elements and terminology did effect my enjoyment of the book. I would give this book a six and a half out of ten depending on the day since despite my neutral feelings towards it, I do enjoy it more than Shadow Sister.

Reflection: A Twisted Tale

The Twisted Tales series is a series that takes beloved Disney classics and gives it a spin with a single question. It currently has twelve books out ranging from several princess movies like Aladdin, Frozen, and the Little Mermaid (among others) as well as other Disney movies like Alice and Wonderland and Peter Pan, and has a thirteenth novel based on the 2009 Princess and the Frog movie coming out in September. They are an interesting what if type story on Disney movies, and I don’t believe they plan on stopping anytime soon (there isn’t anything expected after Almost There, but I’m sure the series will continue after Almost There, and I have heard a rumors about a Pinocchio book).

of the twelve books currently published, I have read three of them: Go the Distance (What if Meg Had to Become a Greek God?), What Once was Mine (What if Rapunzel’s Mother Drank a Potion from the Wrong Flower?), and the topic of this review, Reflection (What if Mulan Had to Travel to the Underworld?). I also have A Whole New World (Aladdin), Part of Your World (The Little Mermaid), Tale as Old as Time (Beauty and the Beast), and Almost There (Princess and the Frog) on my To-Read list.

Out of the three I’ve read, I’d say Reflection is my favorite. Not only because it’s based on one of my favorite Disney movies and my favorite Disney princess, but because I found it the more interesting of the three. However, I do love how Go the Distance explores the Hades-Persephone dynamic. It’s a lighter toned take on the myth, and fits the tone Disney would probably take with it, had they done so.

Synopsis

Picking up after the battle with the Huns, Shang is mortally wounded. The only way to save him is if “Ping” goes to the underworld, Diyu, to bring his soul back. While King Yama, the king of Diyu, is not willing to release Shang’s soul without a fight, Mulan is on limited time. With help from ShiShi, Shang’s great lion guardian, she goes deeper into Diyu to find Shang, and with the secret that she is actually a woman slowly coming to light, trust is called into question.

Will Mulan be able to save Shang? Will trust be restored? Will everyone get out in one piece, or will they be lost in Diyu forever?

Positives

The concept of this story was really interesting to me. Shang being mortally wounded instead of Mulan is an interesting spin on the fight in the mountain. And her going to Diyu to save Shang is a concept that I feel works and adds a nice extended fantasy element to the story.

While I am not as knowledgeable about Chinese mythology and folklore, I do think there is accuracy in Reflection. However, I’m sure anyone more familiar with Chinese folklore and mythology can confirm how accurate exactly better than I could. The most I know is aspects of Journey to the West, which is a well known tale and was what Dragon Ball took inspiration from (which, fun fact, has a character named King Yemma in it’s sequel series, who appears to be inspired by King Yama, who makes an appearance here).

I also like how when Shang learns that Ping is a woman named Mulan, I did like how it wasn’t immediately resolved. There was time to reflect on the trust that was broken and there was some work involved when forgiving Mulan. Because while I know Mulan’s reasons for lying were honorable, being for her father’s well being and safety, the bond Shang and the other soldiers had with Ping would certainly be called into question when it’s revealed that Ping isn’t actually Ping. So not glossing over it was good.

I also kind of liked how it addressed the Great Stone Dragon bit from the beginning of the movie. As I’m sure you may know, assuming you’ve seen the 1998 animated movie, The Fa family has a stone dragon on their property, referred to as the Great Stone Dragon by the ancestors. And when asked to awaken him, Mushu accidently breaks the statue.

In Reflection ShiShi, who is Shang’s family (animal) guardian, was familiar with the Fa family and their family guardian. Which just so happened to be the Great Stone Dragon. This gets brought up because ShiShi is perplexed by the small size of Mushu and expecting the Fa family’s guardian to be bigger and fiercer.

Critiques

It has been a while since I have read the book, so I can’t remember if I had any flaws upon my initial read, unlike some books I’ve recently reviewed. However, I do plan on rereading it so I can log it on Goodreads, so I may find something I missed. That said, I wouldn’t say it was flawless. If I had to think of anything, it might have felt a bit formulaic. It took chances and explored some interesting concepts, though.

Conclusion

I would give this book an eighty five percent. Out of the Twisted Tales stories I’ve read, this was probably one of the better ones. At least in my opinion. It was a neat way to approach Mulan’s story. It was interesting to see how they addressed the underworld aspect with elements from Chinese lore.

It was also cool to see how they addressed Mulan’s whole secret and the revelation that Ping was, in fact, a woman. As well as addressing one or two elements from the 1998 movie that never really got much discussion. And while maybe not a perfect story, if you enjoy Mulan, I would certainly say it is worth the read.