Sunday Sum~Up

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The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer that I am linking my Sunday Sum-Ups with. Stop by and say hello!

Most of my posts this week were scheduled, so I apologize for my lack of response and visits. I am currently fighting another flare up and require a lot of rest and meds. I will respond where I can today and this coming week, but may continue to remain a bit quiet until this passes. Most posts will continue to be scheduled in advance. I cannot thank you all enough for being so wonderfully understanding. I will try to share an update post on health and life when the time feels right ❤


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giant peachJames and the Giant Peach

likewaterLike Water for Chocolate


 

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Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2)
By Neal Shusterman (Goodreads Author

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Synopsis:

Rowan and Citra take opposite stances on the morality of the Scythedom, putting them at odds, in the second novel of the chilling New York Times bestselling series from Neal Shusterman, author of the Unwind dystology.

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?

1857397The Picture of Dorian Gray
By Oscar Wilde

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Synopsis:

Oscar Wilde brings his enormous gifts for astute social observation and sparkling prose to The Picture of Dorian Gray, his dreamlike story of a young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty. This dandy, who remains forever unchanged; petulant, hedonistic, vain, and amoral; while a painting of him ages and grows increasingly hideous with the years, has been horrifying, enchanting, obsessing, even corrupting readers for more than a hundred years.

Taking the reader in and out of London drawing rooms, to the heights of aestheticism, and to the depths of decadence, The Picture of Dorian Gray is not only a melodrama about moral corruption. Laced with bon mots and vivid depictions of upper-class refinement, it is also a fascinating look at the milieu of Wilde’s fin-de-siècle world and a manifesto of the creed “Art for Art’s Sake.”

The ever-quotable Wilde, who once delighted London with his scintillating plays, scandalized readers with this, his only novel. Upon publication, Dorian was condemned as dangerous, poisonous, stupid, vulgar, and immoral, and Wilde as a “driveling pedant.” The novel, in fact, was used against Wilde at his much-publicized trials for “gross indecency,” which led to his imprisonment and exile on the European continent. Even so, The Picture of Dorian Gray firmly established Wilde as one of the great voices of the Aesthetic movement, and endures as a classic that is as timeless as its hero.


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What I am listening to:

girlinsnowGirl in Snow
By Danya Kukafka
Narrated by Candace Thaxton, Kirby Heyborne and Jacques Roy

Synopsis:

WHO ARE YOU WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING?

When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both. In crystalline prose, Danya Kukafka offers a brilliant exploration of identity and of the razor-sharp line between love and obsession, between watching and seeing, between truth and memory.

What I am watching this week:

penny dreadfulPenny Dreadful
Series: Fantasy/Horror (2014-2016)
Cast: Josh HartnettTimothy DaltonEva Green & Billie Piper

Rundown: Set in Victorian London, Explorer Sir Malcolm Murray, an American gunslinger, scientist Victor Frankenstein, and medium Vanessa Ives come together to tackle supernatural forces and seek out Murray’s missing daughter Mina. *Please note this series is extremely graphic (violence and sexual content) but also extremely good 😉


That is about it for me. More film and audio than books this week thanks to my headaches and reading fatigue. I hope you have found plenty of time to read and enjoy your week! What are you currently enjoying?

“Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing.” 
~Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Happy Reading & Be Well,

Danielle ❤

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Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle

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Wolf in White Van
By John Darnielle (Also Narrator)
Unabridged: 5 Hr 22 Minutes
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Audible ASIN: B00MEOZ5KU
Genre: Fiction

Synopsis:

Welcome to Trace Italian, a game of strategy and survival! You may now make your first move. Isolated by a disfiguring injury since the age of 17, Sean Phillips crafts imaginary worlds for strangers to play in. From his small apartment in Southern California, he orchestrates fantastic adventures where possibilities, both dark and bright, open in the boundaries between the real and the imagined. As the creator of Trace Italian – a text-based, roleplaying game played through the mail – Sean guides players from around the world through his intricately imagined terrain, which they navigate and explore, turn by turn, seeking sanctuary in a ravaged, savage future America. Lance and Carrie are high school students from Florida, explorers of the Trace. But when they take their play into the real world, disaster strikes, and Sean is called to account for it. In the process, he is pulled back through time, tunneling toward the moment of his own self-inflicted departure from the world in which most people live.

Brilliantly constructed, Wolf in White Van unfolds in reverse until we arrive at both the beginning and the climax: the event that has shaped so much of Sean’s life. Beautifully written and unexpectedly moving, John Darnielle’s audacious and gripping debut novel is a marvel of storytelling brio and genuine literary delicacy.


(New) ThoughtsThis title has been on my book “radar” for some time. As someone who has explored the various aspects of gaming and loves to read, I was admittedly interested in the concept of a story that involves a text-based role-playing game. And it just so happens, it met the requirements for a challenge prompt. So I quickly worked it into the line-up this month.

The prompt: A book with an animal in the title.

The Rundown: Wolf in White Van follows the events surrounding Sean, after a disfiguring accident has left him isolated. In the wake of said events, he creates an imaginary world within a text- based role-playing game, Trace Italian.  Through the development of this game which is played via the mail, Sean guides players on an adventure through an imaginary landscape. However, when two young individuals are met with unfortunate outcomes after deciding to take the game into the real world, Sean finds himself on the stand and called into question.

The Characters: Really there is only one at the center of this story, Sean. He is viable but nothing extraordinary. I was a bit disappointed in the lack of emotion he conveys as someone who has been through and is now facing another large hurdle in life. I did not dislike him, but I failed to develop any true connection with him. There was no real growth or evolution occurring. The supporting characters were limited, but this was understandable. The story is about a young man who has been shut off from the world after a terrible accident. It made sense that there were not many individuals who really stood out in the story.

Execution & Story: In terms of originality, I am offering a few bonus points here. The attempt to incorporate Trace Italian into the narration delivers something a bit different for readers. And maybe for some, will even establish the connection I failed to. However, the sequence of events felt disjointed and often interrupted. The pacing was oddly slow and the overall effect dry and monotone. A lot has and was happening for there to be so little tension or excitement. The story did not feel like it ever progressed.

Writing & Narration: I always enjoy when an author chooses to narrate their own audiobooks. I find a strange satisfaction in knowing the voice accompanying the story is the creator. It was no different in this case. But again, the pacing is painfully slow and there is never any moment of anticipation or urgency. I did not really struggle with this as audio, but cannot help but wonder how it translates on to paper. I would imagine much like someone’s rambling and vacant thoughts.

Conclusion: I was honestly pleased to put this one behind me. We just did not click. I require stories that build up a certain amount of anticipation and have more direction. I want to be driven to a conclusion. I found Wolf in White Van is more of just an existing series with no powerful moments, but I am sure there is an audience willing to embrace it.

Untitled design Listened to with a cup of Darjeeling tea.

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Purchase Links: Amazon.com Book Depository

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

Connect With Me: FacebookTwitterTumblr and Instagram

Quest of the Dreamwalker (Corthan Legacy Book 1) by Stacy Bennett

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Quest of the Dreamwalker (Corthan Legacy Book 1)
By Stacy Bennett
Narrated by Zachary Johnson
Publisher: Miramae Press
Format: Audible Audio
Unabridged:  14 hrs and 48 mins
Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis:

A perfect captive, Cara didn’t know her will had been stolen until she escapes with borrowed courage.

Cloistered in the Black Keep with only her father for company, Cara is an unwitting prisoner bound by chains of ignorance and lies rather than iron–until she meets a captured mercenary in her father’s dungeon. He kindles within her a spark of compassion she never knew she had and lends her an unfamiliar strength. But, the mercenary is slated to die, sacrificed to her father’s magic like all the others. Only this time, Cara can’t turn a blind eye. Unable to endure her father’s cruelty any longer, she vows to help the mercenary escape.

Now, as they flee to a world she’s only dreamed of, she finds defiance has a steep price. Her very existence endangers everyone she has come to care about. Who is she that her father refuses to let her go? To uncover the secret of her past, she must unravel the mystery of her dreams and claim the heritage of her own magical blood—before her father claims her as the last sacrifice.


(New) ThoughtsWow! Well this was my bombshell for 2017. I admit I went in with an open mind but not expecting a whole lot. I could not have been more wrong.

 Side note: Please excuse any misspelling of names. This is an audiobook review. I made every effort to research proper spellings at the time this was written.

Cara is shackled to the Black Keep by the lies of her father, the sorcerer Sidonius. An unwilling pawn in his quest to achieve immortality, she lives a bleak existence of solitude. That is until freedom and friendship present themselves in the unlikely form of two of her father’s captives, mercenaries Captain Khoury and Archer. Through them, Cara finds not only the strength to escape but the means to set on a journey to discover the truth of her past and the power that lies within her own blood. But her adventure does not come without cost. Can Cara stop her father and avoid becoming his final sacrifice?

Quest of the Dreamwalker is a character driven, epic fantasy, backed by an incredible plot. Cara begins the story as a young girl who has been manipulated and used repetitively. She is meek and helpless. Lost. Through the unlikely guidance and support of Khoury and Archer, she evolves into someone complex and driven but not perfect or without weaknesses. The author brings together an unexpected ensemble that provides a dynamic and ever-changing setting, playing effortlessly on feelings of loss, fear, love and courage as we follow Cara and her companions on their quest. I found myself admiring and appreciating various aspects of each new encounter.

A rich plotline offers a story full teeming with depth that supports continual growth. While world building unfolds slowly, it is in a rewarding manner that fosters a viable setting that feels almost familiar and tangible. This is an adventure based on exploration.  Exploration of characters and exploration of the land. Each scene is a moment to be relished as we are immersed within their quest. Packed with exploits and action, this is a fast paced read (listen) that is difficult to put down (turn off).

The writing is even and well-balanced, implementing multiple elements that play on varying emotions with incredible ease. Stacy Bennett ensures that the readers establishes an early connection with characters and maintains that throughout. Her writing feels comfortable and natural, but not without the necessary punch.

Initially, I experienced some concern in terms of audio narration. It felt strange to place Zachary Johnson’s narration with our main protagonist Cara. But he won me over after a few chapters. I soon realized he has a special knack for story telling. He lent an air of enthusiasm and emotion that managed to carry Quest of the Dreamwalker with great proficiency.

The final result was a high fantasy story that examines life and self discovery in a very gratifying fashion, offering endless entertainment along the way. I cannot recommend this enough to anyone who enjoys character driven titles or fantasy.

*I would like to thank the publisher and Audiobook Jukebox for this copy. The above review is my own, honest and unbiased opinion.

Untitled design Enjoyed over several cups of black tea spiced with cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg.

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Purchase Links:Amazon.com Book Depository

Happy Reading!

Danielle ❤

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