Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran


Adult Historical Fiction (411 pgs.)


The marriage of Marc Anthony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony's rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. When their orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome, only two--the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander--survive the journey. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian's family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings deep within their own hearts.

Emerging from the shadows of the past, Sele must confront the same forces that destroyed her mother and struggle to meet a different fate.


After reading this novel from cover to cover, I can honestly say that Michelle Moran should be regarded as a great, up-and-coming historical fiction novelist. She definitely should not be ignored.

Just a quick note... Even though this book is categorized as adult fiction, the oldest our protagonist Selene gets in the book is 14, although the children act very mature. But in the world Selene lives in, it is easy to see why she acts as mature as she does; why, at only age 14, she is already an adult.

Moran's novel presents a compelling insight into ancient Roman life, which--although archaic--is definitely not devoid of intrigue and fantastic stories. Her historical research is meticulous, and very evident throughout the novel. I applaud Moran for intricately weaving her story of Cleopatra's daughter into history; rather than creating a story and adding history to it, Moran took the written history and enhanced it, giving it meaning and life.

Selene, Cleopatra's daughter, is a memorable and extremely relateable character, and was very enjoyable to read. One of the traits Selene embodied most--which made her so believeable--was the unavoidable human longing for home. Throughout the novel, Selene longs to return to her homeland and take back what was rightfully hers, no matter if an entire Roman legion stands in her way.

Another part of Selene I really enjoyed was her unwavering caring for those she loves most. Her tie to her twin brother, Alexander, shows just how dearly she cares for her family, even her friends for that matter. She would risk anything for those she loves, and I admire her for that.

Michelle Moran really communicated to me just how precarious royal life in Rome was. Everyone lived (or, in some cases, died) on the whims of Ceasar. There were so many secrets, so many hidden stories. People put on a different face for Caesar then they did anyone else, especially those with much to risk. This fact alone lent a nice bit of drama to the story, and certainly kept characters on their toes.

Moran was able to create a powerful, driving plot that keeps you turning page after page. As intricately historical fiction books can sometimes be too heavy on the history, Moran manages to balance the history with the plot extremely well. This book was never, ever boring.

All in all, this was a really great read. This book truly surprised me, and in the best of ways. Michelle Moran cannot be ignored any longer... her knack for historical fiction is fantastic! Take the journey into the world of Ceasar's Rome... you won't regret it.



Book #2 in Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (8)

It's finally the weekend, which means time for another hop! Hosted by the lovely Crazy-For-Books.

Book Blogger Hop

In the spirit of the Twitter Friday Follow, the Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word! This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs to read!

This week's question comes from Elena at Books and Reviews:

When did you realize reading was your passion and a truly important part of your life?

Wow, what a question! I would have to say I realized reading was my passion from a pretty early age. I would go to my school library when I was young, and check out the same books over and over again because I loved them so much! And when I started getting into the classics, specifically Jane Austen, when I was in middle school, I really realized that I was hooked for life.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Van Alen Legacy by Melissa De La Cruz


YA Urban Fantasy / Vampire (369 pgs.)


With the stunning revelation surrounding Bliss's true identity comes the growing threat of the sinister Silver Bloods. Once left to live the glamorous life in New York City, the Blue Bloods now find themselves in an epic battle for survival. Not to worry; love is still in the air for the young vampires of the Upper East Side. Or is it? Schuyler has made her choice. She has forsaken Jack for Oliver, choosing human over vampire. But old loves die hard... And even coldhearted Mimi seems to suffer from the ties that bind.


Here again we have a memorable, unique departure from the over-saturated vampire world that is YA Fantasy. Although I can commend this series for its uniqueness, this installment absolutely was not up to par.


The first problem I had was that the characters in this novel are far from believeable. Especially the character of Mimi Force, or the angel Azrael, as she is so deemed. This pampered socialite is really a two faced character, and not in a good way. Throughout this story Mimi is pulled away from her destiny bound vampire mate, Jack, to a handsome, reformed Silver Blood (the evil kind) vampire Kingsley. Just as Mimi and Jack are about to be "bonded" together (think of a wedding, but vampire style), Mimi realizes she can't go through with it, as she sees Kingsley lurking in the shadows. Then come to find out, when Mimi realizes her bondmate Jack actually loves someone else as well, she decides that Jack has "forsaken his duty" and she has to kill him for violating the Sacred Law. I just found this to be completely unreasonable and unbelieveable.

Our protagonist Schuyler was really nothing special in this story. She treats her human conduit (guardian) Oliver terribly, runs around the world always longing for home, and really doesn't get involved much as far as important plot functions go.

The plot was also really unbelieveable too. Everything just seemed to "fall into place" too naturally, you know? Like there was never any real challeneges. And I could have guessed the ending a mile away.

The only thing really redeeming about this novel was Bliss's story. When we left her in the last novel, we found out she was being inhabited by the demon Leviathan, who was using her to kill all the Blue Bloods. In this book, it was really refreshing to see the heart-wrenching agony she went through to slowly but surely regain control of her own thoughts and actions.

There really wasn't much to enjoy about this book, unfortunately. You know when you get the feeling of intense satisfaction after finishing a novel in a series, and you are dying to get the next book? Yeah, I don't have that.



Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead


YA Urban Fantasy / Vampire (594 pgs.)


Rose Hathaway has always played by her own rules. She broke the law when she ran away from St. Vladimir's Academy with her best friend and the last surviving Dragomir princess, Lissa. She broke the law when she fell in love with her gorgeous, off-limits instructor, Dimitri. And she dared defy Queen Tatiana, leader of the Moroi world, risking her life and reputation to protect generations of dhampir guardians to come.

Now the law has finally caught up with Rose--for a crime she didn't even commit. She's in prison for the highest offense imaginable: the assassination of a monarch. She'll need help from both Dimitri and Adrian to find the one living person who can stall her execution and force the Moroi elite to acknowledge a shocking new candidate for the royal throne: Vasilisa Dragomir.

But the clock on Rose's life is running out. Rose knows in her heart the world of the dead wants her back... and this time she is truly out of second chances. The big question is, when your whole life is about saving others, who will save you?


Sometimes, I hate reading books. Not in the sense that I hate to read, but in the sense that I absolutely hate to see wonderful sagas end.

A quick note to those who have never read the whole series and are thinking of starting with this book: I beg you, please begin at the beginning. You will be so lost if you begin with this book, and it just won't mean as much. Trust me.

As I mentioned before, I absolutely hated to end this series. In my opinion, these are the books that should have been made into block-buster movies, not Twilight. This series has tremendously better characters and is written far better. But let me step down of my soap box here.

In reading this book, and the whole series for that matter, it is obvious to the reader that Richelle Mead is extremely passionate about her characters. She takes care and precision in molding each of their storylines, their dialogue, and their general actions. This story would really be nothing without its characters, and Richelle Mead has crafted such an excellent bunch of characters that throughout all 6 books, you never tire of them.

In a world saturated with urban fantasy vampire books (whenever I go to Border's, all I see in the YA section is dark covers!), it is extremely refreshing to find a "dark horse" in the pack. This series was definitely one of them. The book was never cheesy, and never, ever clichéd.

Richelle Mead's plot in this novel was intriguing, as always. It was definitely a book I couldn't put down. I just had to keep reading, no matter how small the number was on my alarm clock.

Also in this novel, our protagonist, Rose, really grows a lot during the course of the story. By the end of the book, you can really see how she has grown as a person, and how she has influenced those close to her. I admire Richelle Mead's care in making sure that her characters grow and mature in ways that reflect our own growth in life.

Anyways, I can't say enough about this book, and this series for that matter. Each one of the books are extremely well written, and each one is memorable in their own right. It was a bittersweet moment when I turned the final page in this saga. This is the bar that all other YA vampire novels should be judged by.



Monday, June 20, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (17) + A Note

Hello all! Hope the start of your week has gone well. And for those of you students who have summer off, I hope your days are as filled with lazy reading as mine are!

Really quickly, I just wanted to drop a note to say that unfortunately, I am unable to leave comments on my blog. I know this is a problem facing many bloggers out there, but to my knowledge, Blogger hasn't been able to fix the problem yet (and neither have I). Know that I'm not ignoring you guys! So I apologize for "leavin' you hangin'" as it were.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey in which we bloggers share what we have read in the past week, and what we're currently tearing through this week.

Last Week I Read:

The Van Alen Legacy by Melissa De La Cruz

Currently I'm Reading:

Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Book Haul: Borders & Target

Hello all! I thought it would be appropriate to start off summer with a massive book haul. All the books I bought are historical fiction (big surprise), so this should get me well on my way to completing the challenge. Also, I'm starting to bridge the gap between YA and Adult fiction, so I bought 2 books from each level. Once again, I stuck with paperbacks this time. Here's a peek!

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira (Adult Historical Fiction)

Mary Sutter is a brilliant young midwife who dreams of becoming a surgeon. Eager to run away from recent heartbreak, Mary travels to Washington, D.C., to help tend the legions of Civil War wounded. Under the guidance of two surgeons, who both fall unwittingly in love with her, and resisting her mother's pleas to return home to help with the difficult birth of her twin sister's baby, Mary pursues her medical career against all odds. Rich with historical detail-including cameo appearances by Abraham Lincoln and Dorothea Dix, among others-My Name Is Mary Sutter is certain to be recognized as one of the great novels about the Civil War.

Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran (Adult Historical Fiction)

The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s revengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome; only two– the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander–survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts.

Wildwing by Emily Whitman (YA Historical Fiction)

When Addy is swept back in time, she couldn't be happier to leave her miser-able life behind. Now she's mistaken for Lady Matilda, the pampered ward of the king. If Addy can play her part, she'll have glorious gowns, jewels, and something she's always longed for—the respect and admiration of others. But then she meets Will, the falconer's son with sky blue eyes, who unsettles all her plans.
From shipwrecks to castle dungeons, from betrothals to hidden conspiracies, Addy finds herself in a world where she's not the only one with a dangerous secret. When she discovers the truth, Addy must take matters into her own hands. The stakes? Her chance at true love . . . and the life she's meant to live.

Gawain & Lady Green by Anne Elliot Crompton (YA Historical Fiction / Legend)

Gwyneth wasn't supposed to fall in love with Gawain. Not like this. Gawain was the May King-a sacrifice offered to the Goddess for a bountiful harvest in return. Gwyneth knows this. His fate has been decided by powers beyond her control. But the warmth of his touch and the taste of his lips have blurred the lines of what she knows to be true. Now Gwyneth is willing to risk everything to keep Gawain alive, even if it means losing him forever...

Monday, June 13, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (16)

Happy Monday everyone! Hope your summer is going well! I'll have some more reviews up in the next couple of days, so stay tuned!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey in which we bloggers share what we have read in the past week, and what we're currently tearing through this week.

Last Week I Read:

Last Sacrifices by Richelle Mead

Currently I'm Reading:

The Van Alen Legacy by Melissa De La Cruz

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Forever Queen by Helen Hollick


Historical Fiction (616 pgs.)

Saxon England, 1002. Not only is Æthelred a failure as King, but his young bride, Emma of Normandy, soon discovers he is even worse as a husband. When the Danish Vikings, led by Swein Forkbeard and his son, Cnut, cause a maelstrom of chaos, Emma, as Queen, must take control if the Kingdom--and her crown--are to be salvaged. Smarter than history remembers, and stronger than the foreign invaders who threaten England's shores, Emma risks everything on a gamble that could either fulfill her ambitions and dreams or destroy her completely.


As a huge fan of Hellen Hollick, I couldn't wait to dive into this read. And once again, Hellen Hollick hit this one out of the park.

There is something unique about Ms. Hollick's writing... her prose, characters, style, take your pick... that always succeeds in transporting you to the historical period she is writing about. You are there, dancing through the pages of history. You feel as if you had even lived there, in some past life or someting. This factor alone just strikes me as unique to only Helen Hollick; I don't know how she does it, but she does.

In a literary world where we are seeing increasingly more and more female protagonists, it is refreshing to meet a heroine that isn't your typical "run-of-the-mill" character. Emma of Normandy is fierce, strong, but is definitely not without her faults. At one point in the story, she basically dumps her children from her first marriage in a foreign country, and does not contact them until she needs their help in keeping her crown. Heartless, yes, but human? Absolutely.

Helen Hollick's characters in general are diverse, and always rememberable, which minor characters usually are not. Each one of her characters has their own soul, their own conscience, and their own mind. I always enjoy how Helen Hollick weaves each character into her story, as each person is, in some way, integral to the plot.

Another thing I very much appreciate is the ammount of effort and research Helen Hollick puts into each of her books. It is very much evident as you read. It's never boring or lengthy, like opening and reading a history textbook. It has character. She always intricately weaves history with fiction.

All in all, this was an excellent read. Helen Hollick is by far the master of historical fiction. Even though this book is a bit lengthy (616 pgs!), you won't be able to put it down. Once again, Helen Hollick has created a new, exciting, historically-accurate world for you to step into... and you won't be sorry you did.



Appropriateness Factors

Being adult fiction, there are a couple of bedroom scenes, but nothing explicit. Take it for what it's worth.

Book #1 in Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A few words...

Oh, hello there. It's me, that person who once upon a time had and maintained a blog.

Now, that person is finally back, for good this time. First off, I'd like to apologize for my lack of updating this blog. Even though this blog means much to me, school came first, unfortunately. But now, I am pleased to say I have graduated high school! Woohoo!

With this in mind, I plan to pay vigorous attention to this blog. The only thing in my future is lazy summer day after lazy summer day, which should afford me plenty of time to put some life back into this dilapidated blog. I currently have a pile of books on my night stand begging to be read/reviewed, so I will definitely be on that in the next couple of days (I'd like to space them out a bit).

Anyways, I am extremely grateful for you sticking around. It means very much to me. In these coming weeks, I hope I can repay your patience. Here's to a great summer of reading and reviewing!

--Rachel B. aka UntouchableTreasure

P.S. Hope you like the new layout. I was in the mood for something different.


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