July 13th, 2009


The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George

Original Year of Publication: 1997
Hardback Page Count: 964
Genre: Historical Fiction

Summary: Cleopatra, the doomed Egyptian queen, is known throughout the world as a temptress, seducing two of the most powerful men to ever live: Julius Caesar, and Marc Antony.  Brought to life by George's writing, it's now she who tells her story.  From her earliest memories, to her dying breaths, all is told through ten "scrolls", carefully entrusted to her faithful--sarcastic--physician and childhood friend, Olympos.  The story we all know is told now from an entirely new light: not through the victor, Octavian's, but through the eyes of Cleopatra herself.

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Four and a Half out of Five Stars: Definitely a recommendation to any historical fiction lover, a must-read for anybody interested in Cleopatra, Caesar, or Marc Antony.  I would even say that people who aren't that into historical fiction would like it, if it weren't for the occasional dry spells and sheer length of the book--a length which I, personally, found necessary.  Each of Cleopatra's famous relationships is portrayed as a very careful blend of political alliance and passion--and that makes sense, once you read about it.  Why wouldn't powerful people be drawn to each other?  Margaret George handles the question, never overly romanticizing the truth, and adding even more intrigue where it was never lacking.  You know the ending of this story, but instead of melodramatic, it is tragic, and George makes one read as if it's all up in the air.  The characters are gripping, the story's reach, and the descriptions are lavish.  You feel as if you're watching an epic period piece rather than reading a massive book. 

Speaking of...

Movie Versus Book: Yep, Memoirs was made into a movie, albeit a TV miniseries.  I haven't seen it, but if you have, I can tell you right now that it is nothing next to the book.  This should not have been a TV movie; it deserves the big screen.  And yes, the movie did commit the history-heresy of cutting off at least one of Antony and Cleopatra's kids.  (The history fan in me is screaming bloody murder.)

Also by this Author: The Autobiography of Henry VIII (not recommended), Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles (not recommended), Helen of Troy (RECOMMENDED), Mary, Called Magdalene (haven't read it).
Similar Books: Antony and Cleopatra by Colleen McCullough (have not read it).
Up Next: I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles
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Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress: A Girl's Guide to the Dungeons & Dragons Game

Author: Shelly Mazzanoble
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating, according to me: 4/5

This book has me wanting to play D&D; which means that the author was incredibly successful. I just wish I knew a few people who played. I do have one friend who does so I might hint in his direction that I am interested in learning. But back to the book; the author uses her experiences playing the game as humorous anecdotes that made me laugh out loud several times. It took me a little while to get into the style of writing because the author is a self proclaimed girly girl, into shoes and brand names, which I am not. But you get used to that fairly quickly and the humour more than makes up for it. Plus the book does clear up some of the myths of the game for you. That friend of mine who plays has asked me to play before but I have always said no because D&D sounded so complicated and hard. This book makes it sound fun enough to bother learning how. In fact I am looking forward to trying it. I want to create a character and go on the adventures created by the Dungeon master; I just have to find a group to play with. Overall since this book was so funny and actually got me interested in something that scared me a little before I'd say it was a success. It is also a fast read, I whipped right through it.

I needs help.

I'm working on my undergrad thesis this summer and I am here to beg for any recommendations of books of a certain sort.

My writings will hopefully be centered around author/narrator treatment of readers. I was hoping to make a comparison between 18th century British novels (where the "novel" began) and postmodern or contemporary literature. For the 18th century bit, I've got Laurence Sterne and Henry Fielding, which might be enough. I'm stuck for more contemporary resources.

The main comparison will be If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino, which is absolutely perfect in the binary of Lotaria (critical reader) vs. Ludmilla ("shallow" reader). I'm looking for FICTION, written preferably after 1940.

I'd enjoy it if this treatment/discussion of reading techniques within fiction proves to blur the lines between narrator and author, but that's not a strict requirement, haha. I'm still kind of deciding whether or not that's an inevitable side-effect.

Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thankssss.

#62 Living with the Dead by Kelley Armstrong

The problem with lengthily book series is that eventually they begin to lose that glossy sheen. Kelley Armstrong has managed to keep things shiny with her Women of the Otherworld Series due to the use of shifting narrators. In book nine, Living with the Dead, Armstrong takes a risk. Instead of using a popular side character as a first person narrator, it’s written entirely in third person with short chapters focusing on a single character. Unfortunately, the results are mixed.

Living with the Dead tells the story of Robyn Peltier, a PR rep recovering from her husband’s recent death and living in Los Angeles. When one of her clients, Paris Hilton-wannabe Portia Kane, is murdered, and Robyn is found at the murder scene with her prints on the gun, she finds herself at the top of LA’s most wanted list. With the help of her best friend Hope, and Hope’s boyfriend Karl, Robyn hopes prove her innocence. Unfortunately, the real murderer, dangerous clairvoyant, Adele, won’t rest until she stops Robyn. Robyn is pulled into the supernatural world of werewolves, half-demons, ghosts, and necromancers, where being only human is dangerous.

Living with the Dead is a fast paced book filled with almost non-stop action. Believe it or not, that’s actually its biggest weakness. With chase sequence after chase sequence, one eventually feels that there’s a lot of running around with not much getting accomplished story wise. Characterization suffers as a result. Robyn is not necessarily a bad lead, but I felt as if we don’t really get to know her. We hear characters, like Hope, go on and on about how she’s so put together and calm, but never really see that because the novel never really comes up to take a breath. As a result, we end up learning more about Robyn from other characters, then from Robyn herself, which is always a big red flag to me. The return of Hope and Karl is nice. Although I don’t like Hope as much as Armstrong’s other leads (Elena, Paige, Eve, and Jamie), her relationship with Karl is unique, as are her paranormal abilities. Still, I felt that what was hinted about Hope’s future was a lot more interesting than what actually happened to her in the book. I struggled to connect to her as a character, often not quite understanding her actions or reactions.

There are a few places where Armstrong does succeed, and that’s when she gets into the paranormal world building. The kumpania, a cult made up of clairvoyants, was very interesting to learn about. I found some of their practices to be incredibly disturbing. I also found Adele to be a chilling villain. Some of the things she does (especially to her fellow clairvoyants) are so immoral and twisted, that I was shocked at how she could always view herself as blameless in the end. I also liked the new character of Finn (although I wish we got to see more of him), and the return of some old favorites. Also, the ending is quite suspenseful.

There is the chance I may be too harsh on this one, if just because I happened to listen to the audiobook version. The narrator has a sing-song voice that got on my nerves. I was frustrated with a lot of her voices, which left most characters sounding ditzy, stoned, or congested. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I had read the actual book. Regardless, I feel as if the story could have benefited more from a more cohesive first person perspective, or dual perspective like in Personal Demon. Despite my conflicted feelings over the book, I am looking forward to the next volume, which returns to Elena as the narrator, and the following two, which feature Savannah (yay!).

Rating: three stars
Length: the print version is 372 pages
TBR Pile: 144 books
Similar Books: Kim Harrison's The Hollows Series, Jim Butcher's Dresden Files Series (find reviews here), and previous Women of the Otherworld books
Other books I've read by this book: Bitten, Stolen, Dime Store Magic, Industrial Magic, Haunted, Broken, No Humans Involved, Personal Demon, The Summoning (my review), The Awakening (my review),  Exit Strategy (my review)

Next up I'm listening to the audiobook of The Invisible Ring by Anne Bishop (so far, pretty good) and a much more satisfying Kelley Armstrong book, Men of the Otherworld.

xposted to bookish  and temporaryworlds 

Good Intro to Horror books?


I really want to start reading books from the horror genre. I've read my share of young adult horror, but I think I'm ready to step into the adult world of scary-ness.

That said, I'm looking for either books or series that are good introductions to the genre, and won't be TOO scary. I've seen plenty of horror films, and can handle them, but I'm not so sure on the books.

Hopefully someone can help, thanks!

Book Suggestions

First post. Just looking for suggestions.

I've been looking for books based on fairy tales. Examples: Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted and Fairest, Michael Buckley's The Sisters Grimm, Gregory Maguire's Confessions of an Ugly Step Sister, etc. I'll read just about anything, but the fairy tale subject is what I'm leaning more towards at the moment. Stand alone books are what I'm really after, but series are fine too.

Thanks in advance!