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The Fifth Doll
8.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
*3.5 stars, rounded up to 4*

I originally requested this after coming across it on Netgalley during a random browse thru the sci-fi/fantasy category. The description sounded interesting so I thought I'd give it a shot. It sat on my Kindle carousel for a good while (so many books, so little time…) so it was a few days after it was released before I actually got around to starting it.  I had seen The Fifth Doll mentioned in several posts and compared to Naomi Novik's Uprooted and Catherynne Valente's Deathless, two books that I love dearly. I decided to go back and check the Goodreads reviews to get an idea of the accuracy of that comparison and from there decided to read the first chapter or two to see if it hooked me like those two had. I was about 40% thru before I realized that it absolutely did have that “unputdownable” quality like the others and had to force myself to put it down and go to bed lol. After finishing it, I can say with certainty that the comparisons do indeed fit.

I have a weak spot for anything 'fairytale-esque’ and this definitely falls into​ that category, as it is a retelling of the origin of Russian matryoshka dolls. The mc’s name, Matrona, is a nod to this as well. This story is very well written and so imaginative. It definitely kept me guessing until close to the end when the truth about Slava, the creator of the dolls, is revealed. I liked that the Japanese nesting doll is where Slava found the inspiration to create his dolls, it's a small detail but one that ties this retelling to the real history of the matryoshka dolls.

I thought Matrona was developed pretty well but others, especially Slava, could have used a little more fleshing out. I would have also liked a little more backstory on Pavel and Oleg and the symbolism of the white horse. The writing style was solid and the pacing was just right in my opinion. The romance was subtle and didn't overshadow the main plot, which was nice for a change. The main thing I wasn't really happy with was the magic system. There's very little explanation of any of it or how it really works, only that it does. As a fan of fantasy and fairytales, I appreciate a well developed magic system as part of solid world building and that was sorely lacking here for me. Overall, it was an enjoyable read but I feel there was potential for it to be more.

**Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC! All opinions are my own.**
MoMo’s Book Diary enjoyed "Destined" and gladly recommends this as a 4 star read. If you enjoyed the Twilight saga you will love The Ambrosia Trilogy!

MoMo Book Diary Review:

Beatrice Sand's debut novel "Destined" is the first part of The Ambrosia Trilogy. It is a truly awesome suspense read which kept me up until the early hours.

The author introduces the characters with emotion and describes each scene perfectly. There is a continuous thread throughout the book luring you into the mystery. You know there is so much unspoken but its not until around half-way that you start to get the full picture and I found my mind sparking off in different directions at what could happen next. I laughed, I cried, I sat up until the early hours trying to breathe with Laurel as she finds her way...

This sexy and mysterious tale focuses on 17 year old Laurel who has recently moved back to Vancouver Island where her father, Martin, owns his own restaurant to live with him and his wife, Mia and her daughter, Renee, who is also 17. Laurel and Renee could not be any more different and Laurel feels that Mia is constantly expecting her to morph into Renee - which she will certainly not be doing! Laurel is hoping to build a relationship with her father but it is difficult finding time to get to know each other.

I enjoyed that the author tells the story from Laurel's perspective in the main, with a few chapters from Sam, where we get insight into his world. Sam is struggling with leading the life he knows is set out before him and these new feelings that he has for Laurel. The more he stays away the more he is drawn to be there when she finds herself in trouble.

There is an undeniable attraction between Laurel and Sam, which the author beautifully introduces at their first meeting, and builds each time they meet. They share some sensual scenes although there is nothing too "adult" in nature in this teenage/ young adult novel. I will not give any more of the story away but it is not a straightforward new adult romance.

This book will appeal to anyone who enjoys the mystery of a sexy, dangerous story and although it is not a thriller it is certainly a thrilling read. I can't wait to read the second book, Sacrifice, which is due for release in 2017 with the third and final part, Ambrosia, following on from that.

I would like to thank the author, Beatrice Sand, for the opportunity to read and review this book prior to its release date.
Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Drag Me to Hell (2009)
2009 | Comedy, Horror
Christine Brown seems to have everything going well for her at this point in her life. She has a boyfriend who cares about her and loves her unconditionally, a great job at the bank as a loan officer with more than enough room for advancement in the company, and speaking of, it's between her and one other employee for the vacant assistant manager position. One day though, a strange looking gypsy shows up at Christine's bank asking for another extension before they foreclose on her home. After talking it over with her boss, it's up to Christine to decide on approving the loan and she comes to the conclusion of denying it. Mrs. Ganush begs and pleads with Christine, but Christine won't budge on her decision. After feeling like Christine wronged her by denying her pleas, Mrs. Ganush puts a curse on her and unless Christine can find some sort of loophole, she'll be going to hell in three days.

This is Sam Raimi's return to the horror genre, in case you hadn't heard that in the trailer or anything else promoting the film. Drag Me To Hell has already had such an overwhelmingly positive response when it comes to feedback and the truth of the matter is that the film is genuinely that entertaining. Not only did Sam Raimi return to the horror genre, but he did it so flawlessly and without missing a beat. He's on top of his game and, dare I say, the best he's ever been. The film only seemed to get better as it progressed. It's somehow capable of combining comedy, suspense, romance, and horror all into one amazing final product. A film that can do something like make you laugh out loud one minute, scare you the next, gross you out after that, and tear at your heartstrings is something special. And it's not like the film does that one time and calls it quits. It goes through that cycle (laugh, scare, gross, heartwarming) over and over again throughout the film. Sam Raimi has struck cinematic gold.

Drag Me To Hell is a hell of a lot of fun. It truly has something to offer anyone looking for a good time at the movies. Not only is the film based on an original story, but it's an original story that is worth being told, worth listening to, and incredibly entertaining. Originality seems to be extinct when it comes to horror these days. It's just so refreshing to see a film that not only isn't a remake, but drenches itself in the fact that it offers something new. Sam Raimi has delivered a cinematic feature that has rejuvenated what we once referred to as "the horror film." Let's hope that other filmmakers can tread the same path that he has paved the way with.
Ricki And The Flash (2015)
Ricki And The Flash (2015)
2015 | Comedy, Drama
5.0 (3 Ratings)
Movie Rating
The iron lady goes all iron maiden
Meryl Streep has always been one of our most reliable actresses. The three-time Oscar winner has starred in some iconic films, from Sophie’s Choice to The Devil Wears Prada and from Kramer vs Kramer to The Iron Lady, she can turn her hand to almost anything.

However, her latest role sees the fan favourite star as an ageing rock star who must heal the voids in her family after an incident. But does Ricki & the Flash do Meryl proud?

The film sees Streep play Ricki Rendazzo, aka Linda, a musician playing in the pubs of California, estranged from her family after years of absence. Suddenly, she’s thrown back into the mix after her daughter Julie, played superbly by Meryl’s real-life offspring Mamie Gummer, faces a personal crisis.

Starring alongside the Academy Award winner is the ever-reliable Kevin Kline as Linda’s ex-wife Pete. His scenes with her show real chemistry and the relationship they share is completely believable.

Having Streep’s daughter on the screen with her was a masterstroke by director Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs) and they share more than just a familiar face. Their mannerisms are completely in sync and match up together in more ways than any acting class could have taught.

Unfortunately, the clichéd script and predictable story really let Ricki & the Flash down. There’s not an ounce of originality here, despite the great casting, and the ending is signposted not only in the film itself, but in the trailers – the cardinal sin of movie marketing.

What is a pleasant surprise however is Meryl’s cracking vocal performance. With her belting out hits like Lady GaGa’s Bad Romance and Pink’s Get the Party Started left, right and centre, the soundtrack is positively sizzling and a real highlight throughout the film.

Nevertheless, Demme’s usual visual flair, for which he won an Oscar back in 1991 with The Silence of the Lambs, is nowhere to be found here. The cinematography is inoffensive enough but lacking in any real punch, a disappointment given the film’s bursting energy.

I feel that Streep too is aware of these shackles and her characterisation, whilst capable, lacks the finesse of some of her other work. Let’s remember though, that Streep at her worst is many other actresses at their best.

Overall, Ricki & the Flash is a capable film led by a pleasant and inoffensive cast. Meryl Streep is always reason enough to give any movie a go, but this somewhat muddled comedy drama is towards the bottom end of her work.
The Wicked Cometh
The Wicked Cometh
Laura Carlin | 2018 | Mystery, Romance
9.3 (3 Ratings)
Book Rating
I absolutely loved the cover of this book, it looks very sophisticated and truly beautiful. The main character in this novel is Hester White. A young lady who was forced to live in slums of London after her parent’s death. Because of a lucky accident, she ended up in a house, which belongs to a rich, Brock family. There she meets Rebekah, and after spending some time together, Hester starts having lesbian feelings towards her mistress. Together they start investigating why a lot of people mysteriously disappear in London. This is a second book where I meet a character named Hester who is smitten by her mistress and I have no idea why authors make Hesters lesbians…

I really liked the wide variety of characters in this novel, they all had different and very unique personalities, and I really liked how L. Carlin matched and balanced them all. The whole story was told from Hester’s perspective, and for me it was fully sufficient to enjoy it. I really liked Hester in this book, but sometimes her fantasies left me bored, because I really wanted to know what will happen next in the book, and all those fantasies felt like a drag.

I absolutely loved the setting of this novel. It was very interesting to read about these two opposite worlds of rich and poor. I was fascinated by the way author described London and it’s surroundings. I really liked the way L. Carlin combined romance and crime in this novel. In my opinion, it gave richness to the story. The investigation really absorbed me and I was struck by their findings. I liked all the twists and turns which author had to offer and they made me quite glued to the book.

The writing style of this novel was remarkable. I think, if the author can write a good book, he/she is gifted, but if the author can write a good book using old, classical writing style, they are bloody fantastic. 😀 For me, it seemed, that I am reading something, that was written in 1800ies and to understand that the person who wrote it is still alive, it simply blows my mind. Some of the words used in this book, I had to look up in a dictionary, because I haven’t heard them before. :0 I loved the way author ended this book, it has given a fair closure to this story and left me deeply satisfied with it. So, to conclude, I really enjoyed this dark and intriguing story, filled with diverse characters and very absorbing and constantly changing plot. It has great multiple stories to follow and I do recommend to give this book a try.
Children of Blood and Bone: Book 1
Children of Blood and Bone: Book 1
Tomi Adeyemi | 2018 | Paranormal, Young Adult (YA)
8.2 (29 Ratings)
Book Rating
Zelie is a protagonist in this book, but this novel is told from multiple perspectives. I absolutely loved Zelie. I loved her personality, her ambition, and bravery. Her relationship with Amari (princess of Orisha) was very amusing and intriguing to read. I loved their little girly fights. I found Inan (Prince of Orisha) very annoying, but at the same time absolutely absorbing. I really liked reading Inan’s parts in this book, his constant inner fight was a very pleasant way of distraction. Adeyemi chose her characters really well and done an amazing job in developing them. The multiple perspectives allowed the reader to have an insight into different people’s feelings, thoughts and views of the situations, which always gives me more pleasure while reading. All the characters had their individual personalities, which shined through in this book. My least favorite was, of course, the King, he was cruel, idiotic and generally a bastard. 🙂

I adored the narrative of this book. I found it very original, exceptionally written and I think it just sucks you in with all the adventures, journeys, magic and complex relationships. There are so many African cultural nuances, which absolutely mesmerized me, I love learning about different cultures. The setting of this book continuously changes, as the group travels through Orisha, and I really enjoyed the details and the way the author described the places. This novel has so many important topics incorporated, one of them being unnecessary death, and it did leave me upset and sad during those parts. 😦

Tomi Adeyemi is an incredible writer and I loved her writing style in this book. The chapters are a very decent length and the pages just fly by. Every chapter has plenty of action, and my interest was continuously kindled. In this book, the author used different language for the spells, and I would’ve loved the translation for them in the book, I just like to know what things mean. I really loved the way this novel ended, and it still haunts me, I can’t wait for another book!

There are plenty of fabulous things about this novel, that I could write and write, but I will leave it for you to figure out, all I can say, this book is absolutely magical! It has so much to offer! The characters are impeccably crafted and the plot takes you to amazing places and unforgettable adventures, where you can experience courage, love, romance, loss, and deceit. It is an absolute must read and it is a summer read for Jimmy Fallon, so it has to be good, right? 😉 I hope you will get the chance to read it and to enjoy as much as I did 🙂

Dianne Robbins (1360 KP) rated Merrily We Go to Hell (1932) in Movies

Sep 3, 2020 (Updated Sep 3, 2020)  
Merrily We Go to Hell (1932)
Merrily We Go to Hell (1932)
1932 | Classics, Comedy, Drama
6.0 (1 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Pre-code (4 more)
What's good for the goose is good for the gander.
Skeet Gallagher as Buck, the sidekick
Florence Britton as Charlcie, the female sidekick
Directed by female director Dorothy Arzner
No relationship development between the male and female protagonists. (0 more)
Contains spoilers, click to show
It was an important movie of its time. It is a pre-code movie so it was able to get away with sins such as alcoholism and infidelity of husbands AND wives without making them pay in the end.

Sylvia Sidney plays Joan Prentice, the daughter of the president of Prentice coffee and Fredric March plays Jerry Corbett, a newspaperman who wishes to be a playwright. They meet at a society party where she is trying to ignore the advances of a very handsy older man and he is on the terrace drunk and drinking even more. She somehow finds him charming and he finds her "swell." They make a date to meet up again and romance follows. I mean, allegedly follows though it seems like a huge plot point to me what they see in each other and what kind of substance their relationship has. I've never been a very romantic person but even this seems terribly lacking to me.

Skeets Gallagher plays the sidekick Buck and he's worth his weight in gold. He a drinking buddy and scenes with him often start with the camera panning him tap dancing from behind. He's sweet, sympathetic, charming, and adorable and brings so much life to the role and film. Florence Britton plays the female sidekick to Fredric March's Jerry Corbett and is a bold lady, and kind. She and Buck are so much fun and not sloppy drunk like Corbett. I would much rather watch a movie with the two of them.

Sylvia Sidney, the female protagonist was bold and determined. After her husband cheats on her with his former wife, she goes out to have a little fun, too. She gets tired of her husband's constant drunkenness and leaves him. He seems to come to his senses at the end of the movie and goes to her. Spoiler alert: she is in the hospital having delivered their baby. He didn't know she was pregnant and only learned about the baby after reading the birth announcement in the newspaper. This is a premonition of things to come once the code comes into play as any sin must be paid for with a person's ruin or death. However, it ends on a happy note that their marriage will be better and that they are hopeful for the future.

* Watch for Cary Grant in one of his earliest roles as the male lead in the period drama play towards the end of the film.
Scorched (Sapphire City, #1)
Scorched (Sapphire City, #1)
6.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
I received this ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The cover drew me in. Isn’t it a thing of beauty?

When I requested this I assumed it would be more paranormal than it was. In fact it was more fantasy than anything. People who go around using their powers–known as the Augmented–to stop evil, dressed up in disguise. Superheroes?

I was quickly drawn into the story within the first chapter when we see Verity struggle to remember who she is and that she isn’t a bad person after being tortured by her arch nemesis’ minions in a mental asylum and her escape from there. She runs to a safe house and bumps into her brother who tells her she’s been MIA for nine months.

Can I just stop there for a minute and mention the Fortune siblings’ names? The eldest is Equity, then Adonis, then there is Verity and baby brother Chance. I love their names! If they don’t scream Superhero, I don’t know what does :D

Anyway, back to the story. On Verity’s return to her family, things don’t go smoothly and she realises things don’t add up. Is there a conspiracy in the works?

Throughout the story we see flashbacks of the night that Verity was captured and it is all very intriguing. At just over half way through I had my suspicions of what they would end up showing and I was right in my assumption about what some of it would show. I’m not going into detail as it would totally ruin in for you.

We meet a lot of other Augmented people: Iceclaw, Weasel, Glimmer. Some are good and some not so much. I liked the description of each and how they earned their names. They were thought out and I could picture them easily.

I grew to really like Glimmer, he seemed like a really nice guy. Verity, on the other hand, I couldn’t decide about. She seemed to like pushing people away and was full of self-loathing a lot of the time, unable to justify some of the things she’d done.

To start with I didn’t mind the lack of romance, as I was so caught up in the drama surrounding Verity, but the more I read the book the more I missed it. There was a bit; some kisses exchanged and nice words but nothing like the amount I like to read in books and that’s reflected in my rating.

It was full of action and intrigue. I liked the superhero vs. bad guys aspect. If you like the sound of it, then I’d suggest you go grab a copy.
The Batman Who Laughs
The Batman Who Laughs
Scott Snyder | 2019 | Comics & Graphic Novels, Horror
8.5 (2 Ratings)
Book Rating
I am really eating up DC's books of late, especially the Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV! Yes, there are some hiccups along the way, as true for even the best of publishers, but the overall good output far outshines the bad/MEH output! I am quite liking this whole "Rebirth" thing and the way it ties into WATCHMEN, can't wait to see it all wrapped with DOOMSDAY CLOCK #12. <i>*ahem*</i> Let's not get ahead of ourselves then, eh? Onto my thoughts on TBWL..

I liked it quite a bit! Yes, it probably could easily have been a 5-issue mini, but I don't feel the story suffered by the added length. It allowed for the crazy roller coaster ride that it was to be even crazier, helped to spread just a bit more darkness in Gotham! Oh, and it showed how Alfred truly is the necessary light in Batman/Bruce's life, something B-Man totally needs, far more than Selina (sorry, Tom King, but I don't think the romance between the two works. Jus' sayin' is all!).

I know a lot of folks absolutely <b>abhor</b> DARK NIGHTS: METAL and anything relating to it, including the Batman Who Laughs! Me? I am enjoying it to no great end! It reminds me of some of the best things about the 90's, just turned up to 11! I think it's an interesting concept, bringing some clever creepiness into DC's "Rebirth"! And besides, it is at least something fresh and different (unlike the umpteenth X-deaths/reboots over at Marvel!)!

One aspect of the mini that really drove it all home was the art by Jock. I loved what he did in the WYTCHES (also with Snyder), and here it is just as good, if not better. The use of shadows and angles brings the creepiness all up and about, leaving with you long after the lights have gone out and sleep comes over you!

I already mentioned it, and several others have as well in their reviews, but Alfred was clearly the MVP here! He was totally on board, taking being a butler to a whole new level beyond 100%! I think sometimes he is under-utilized, but here he definitely got some much needed appreciation and respect! Kudos to you, Scott Snyder, for giving Alfred his due!

And lastly, that ending, the last couple panels? Ewwwww... chills!! Now, I can not wait to read Joshua Williamson's BATMAN/SUPERMAN #1! No spoilers, tho', promise!

So, yes, I was super-impressed with THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS, just as I was with Snyder's DARK NIGHTS: METAL. If you didn't like METAL, then, well, chances are pretty likely you won't like this one!
Of Thorns and Beauty
Of Thorns and Beauty
Elle Madison, Robin Mahle | 2020 | Science Fiction/Fantasy, Young Adult (YA)
10.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
Never has a retelling been so close but so unimaginabley far away from the original fairytale. Of Thorns and Beauty is a New Adult masterpiece which will reel you in from its first pages and not let you go until its cruel cliffhanger.

A quick note that this is definitely a New Adult novel. Although not written about in detail this take includes the subjects of abuse, murder and rape as well as a bucket load of sexual tension.

This retelling of Beauty and the Beast is written solely from the perspective of our protagonist-the beauty Zaina. Forced into an arranged marriage with the renowned beast King Einar and denied any companions to accompany her, Zaina enters the "Beast's" castle entirely on her guard and unaware as to what sort of a life lays before her.

It quickly becomes apparent that Zaina's beauty has only ever caused pain and hardship for her in the past. As a result of this, she is a far cry from the bookish village girl seeking an adventure in the great wide somewhere. Zaina is fiery, sarcastic, dangerous and her prickly, defensive demeanour makes her few friends in her new home.

The use of a first person perspective with a protagonist such as Zaina really brings this novel to life. Zaina is such a damaged character and the reader is drip fed memories so partially and so slowly that we still don't know the extent of her suffering once the book has ended.

The style of writing also allows us to share Zaina's frustration at attempting to read her husband Einar's emotions: quite ironic for someone so closed off herself. The reader does not always feel empathy though: Zaina's defences are so high that she shuns any attempt at friendship; sometimes you just want to shake her!

Elements of the original beauty and the beast tale remain: there is indeed a curse, a rose and a forbidden west wing. However, these are so cleverly twisted that the reader will finish this book with an entirely different concept of who the Beast really is.

The fact that the authors themselves apologise for the cliffhanger, explaining that the characters and storyline just required more pages and more time, shows the sheer commitment to world building and character development.

Madison and Mahle introduce us to a whole new world of scenery and creatures; they pull us into the painful past of both main characters; place slimy villains in the shadows and raise our hopes of romance before throwing them off a cliff. This book is impossible to put down and I cannot wait to see what happens next.

Thank you to Booksirens for the opportunity to read a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.