Saturday, May 27, 2017

"The Marsh King's Daughter"

“The Marsh King’s Daughter”
Written by Karen Dionne
Image result for the marsh king's daughter bookReview written by Diana Iozzia

         "The Marsh King's Daughter" was a very suspenseful and intriguing book, an adaptation of the fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson. I was so interested in this book, and was very appreciative to receive a complementary advanced reader's copy.

          Helena is our narrator and tells her story of her growing up living off marshland with her father and mother, but with a twist. Her father had kidnapped her mother when she was young, and eventually had Helena. Helena finds out (years later) that her father has escaped from prison. Her main mission has now become to hunt him down and exact revenge.

          This is a really interesting concept, mainly because I have an interest in true life crime, as well. I enjoyed this adaptation of a fairy tale that I hadn't even heard of, but I have a sneaky suspicion that this fairy tale inspired "Shrek". 

           I have some warnings. In living off the land, Helena and her family hunt many animals with a bit of gruesome detail, so beware those who are sensitive to animal death (I am, yuck). In addition, the abuse and pain of kidnapping and living in a kidnapper's household is pretty vivid as well.

Friday, May 19, 2017

"The Academie"

“The Academie”
Written by Amy Joy
Review written by Diana Iozzia

The Academie by Amy Joy

            “The Academie” is a science fiction and dystopian YA novel about a dystopian United States that has created a high school and college school system of boarding schools that requires students to live on campus until 23 years old. Allie’s younger brother, Matt, is suspiciously different after studying there for a year. Allie had made a friend, Bryan, previous to going to this school, and she longs to reconnect with him.

            This school is more mysterious and suspicious. Events and occurrences are unexplained and very mysterious. This is a great young adult novel, in my favorite genre: the science fiction/dystopian genre. This intrigued me, because when I was eighteen, I had started writing a story about a corrupt and dystopian boarding school, so I was excited to read this when I received it. I only took about five hours total to read this! It was fantastic.

            I had not previously heard of this novel, I had seen it in a list about Dystopian themes, so I was very interested in it. This book is very well-written, with themes similar to “The Matrix” but it felt very sweet and feminine and full of young love. I really hope for a sequel.

I received this as a complementary review copy.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

"Extropia: Mind Game"

“Extropia: Mind Game”
Written by Robin Bootle
Extropia by Robin BootleReview written by Diana Iozzia

            As a fanatic of science fiction and video games, I love to see well-presented combinations of the two. In this story, a teenager named Edward finds out that his father and brother are trapped in a video game that they created, with Edward and a few friends trying to save them.
            I really enjoyed this book, because it used all of the fun video game tropes and science fiction tropes in a very meta book. Edward and the other characters embody certain characteristics that video game characters would. The descriptions are very realistic of that a game similar to games of “The Elder Scrolls” franchise. I also enjoyed this book, because my boyfriend lives in Cumbria, England, and many of the places mentioned in the book were based off certain places in Cumbria, so it was an interesting journey to watch the characters make.
            I think this book reminds me of a combination of films and books. It’s like if Hiro from “Big Hero 6” went to find his family, but found his way in Wonderland, with lots of fun “The Matrix” style science fiction, with a sprinkle of “Lord of the Rings” and “Skyrim”. The side characters are very Harry Potter-y, which is actually referenced to in the book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Naturally, you have a really interesting villain with interesting motives as well, which always proves for good suspense.

I received this book as a complementary review copy from the author.

Friday, May 12, 2017

"The Whole Thing Together"

“The Whole Thing Together”
Written by Ann Brashares
The Whole Thing Together by Ann BrasharesReview written by Diana Iozzia

            This fictional novel about complicated families, summer romances, and discovering selves was a really interesting read, from one of my favorite childhood writers. (Maybe this makes me a little biased, but it has been a solid 5-7 years since I’ve read one of her books).

            A couple who’ve had three daughters together goes through a very ugly divorce. Mom marries new man, has a boy with him. There are two sons from new man’s previous marriage. Dad marries new woman, has a daughter. 17 years later, we begin reading about one unforgettable summer. Mattie is interested in a boy. Emma and Jamie are hiding their relationship from their father (original couple’s father.) Quinn is a free spirit. Sasha and Ray (the two youngest in the clan who are not technically related) share a strange bond, because the two families share the original beach house, switching off every other week.

            Lots of events are kick-started this summer. Some happy, some confusing, and some sad. Although the family is very confusing to understand at first, who’s whose daughter or son, who’s stepmom is whose. Lord almighty.

            I really enjoyed this book, read this in about a total of five hours, I’d say 3 hours yesterday, two today. A very easy young adult read with no sexual content, no illegal content, but like I said, some sad events. I feel that every character is relatable, but I really enjoyed Emma and Jamie’s storyline the best, second with Sasha and Ray’s. I could easily see this book having a sequel or a third novel later on. Lots of interesting characters and plot lines that I could imagine be very interesting to read on about.

            1. Confusing family tree, but there is a slight diagram at the front of the book. Had to bookmark that!
            2. Mattie’s storyline is subpar.
            3. The resolution to most of the plotlines feel very rushed and a bit forgettable.
            4. Sasha and Ray’s bond/relationship/story line seems very pushed on the cover, but it’s not the main plot. I feel that all of the plots coincide well, and none of them stands out as the most important, but the description speaks differently.

I received this as a complementary advanced reading copy from the site, Blogging for Books. Thank you.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

"The Breakdown"

“The Breakdown”
Written by B.A. Paris
The Breakdown by B.A. ParisReview written by Diana Iozzia

            “The Breakdown” is very reminiscent of other female character-driven psychological horrors, for example: “Gone Girl”, “Girl on the Train”, and “Before I Go to Sleep”. This is one to add to the list of really well-written psychological thrilling fiction.

            Our main character is losing her mind to early onset dementia, as she believes she inherited from her late mother. Cass is a teacher who witnesses a woman whose car broke down on the side of the road, as Cass is driving home from a work party. Cass doesn’t call the police, and leaves shortly after waiting to see if the woman needs help. She finds out that the woman was one of her co-workers, someone she had newly become friends with. Haunted by her guilt, Cass starts to forget simple details, about a friend’s birthday present, an alarm system bought when she can’t remember signing the receipt.

            This book turns into a whirlwind in the last half, after Cass finds something out that she shouldn’t have. This is written very well from the unreliable narrative of Cass, who is slowly losing her abilities to create new memories.

            THERE IS A HUGE PLOT TWIST. If you love plot twists that sucker punch you in the gut, open this book and dive in. In addition, the last chapter is really unexpected in the resolution, and I really welcomed that.

            There are some things I didn’t like with the book:
1. Cass is an unlikable character.
2. Her husband is slightly overbearing and annoying.
3. The plot twist is great, I thought it was really predictable. I enjoyed how it unfolded and the aftermath, but I wasn't surprised.

** I received this as a complementary, advanced reading copy from the publisher. **

"Perv: The Sexual Deviant in all of Us"

“Perv: The Sexual Deviant in all of Us”
Written by Jesse Bering
Review written by Diana Iozzia

Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us
            I had decided to purchase this after listening to a podcast by the Bangin’ Book Club, a club of young women in England. I’m very glad I listened to that podcast.

            “Perv” is a fascinating non-fiction book about sex, sexual deviance, fetishes, paraphilias, and sexuality. This is a very psychological book with mentions of scientific studies, anecdotes, events, and real life examples. The main idea behind “Perv” is the dissection of sexual deviance, the harm or innocence behind it. As I read on, I realized that the author does not excuse negative sexual behavior, but he points out different biological reasons that sexual deviance occurs.

            Bering has separated his book into many definitive sections: ones on sex in prehistory, in the era where B.C. meets A.D., and throughout the years since. There is a large section that is quite vivid about bestiality, but the origins of bestiality and how the laws have changed over the years.

            The most interesting part of the book was the chapters that spoke about pedophilia and the different types of pedophilia. Bering talks about the distinctions between each type, the biological reasoning and explanation for pedophilic tendencies, and more. The moral debate he speaks of if pedophilic thoughts harm as well as actions. This book made pedophilia understandable, and it seemed to me that one of his goals was to help people understand, rather than fear.

            Bering mentions the harm we cause by not fully understanding certain types of people, based on their sexualities, paraphilia (kinks) or fetishes, and their behaviors. This was a really enlightening read about sex education that didn’t make me feel uncomfortable. The material is quite dense and a bit hard to understand, but re-reading sentences and paragraphs for extra clarity made me feel I understood the information more.

            I really recommend this read, even if sex education makes you feel a bit skeeved out. It made me feel much more understanding and sympathetic to people I don’t relate to based on viewpoints, feelings, lifestyles or paraphilias. Since this is a bit graphic in certain areas and may be risqué, perhaps I would recommend this to those above the age of eighteen.

"Gone Girl"

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn“Gone Girl” 
Written by Gillian Flynn
Review written by Diana Iozzia

            "Gone Girl" is a caper like no other. The book starts out as a mushy gushy love story told by Amazing Amy Dunne, in dual perspective contrasting with ego-maniac and possible alcoholic Nick Dunne, who has discovered that Amy has gone missing. Frankly, the first half of her narrative is boring, endless, and I struggled through it, but you read on to realize it's purposely written like that.
            It's likely you may already know the twist behind Amy's disappearance, but if you don't, read this book. If you do, read this book immediately. It's not often I encounter a book that completely warps my mind and makes me doubt everything. This unreliable narrative could make Edgar Allan Poe green with envy.

            I am a very picky person, and find it very difficult to rate my favorite things in top ten forms, but this easily could be one of my top three book choices. I really, really love this.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

"The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"

“The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”
Image result for dr. jekyll and mr. hyde bookWritten by Robert Louis Stevenson
Review written by Diana Iozzia

          What a fantastic and morbid novel. Naturally, I had known about this story all of my life until I was very fortunate to read it in English class, I’ve read it thrice since.
          This is a bone-chilling and grotesque novel, for the time period, but it still holds its terror-inducing chills and thrills to this day. The dark, spooky London streets are haunted by a mysterious monster man, known as Mr. Edward Hyde. Why has our narrator, Mr. Utterson, noticed this Mr. Hyde lurking around the home and laboratory of his dear friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll?
          I love this novel for more than the deep and intriguing descriptions and interesting plot. You see the descent of madness that Dr. Jekyll endures in his letters and diaries. You also see the destruction of the man he once was, juxtaposed with the monster, Mr. Hyde.
          I love science fiction, and I believe that this is the second-best science fiction known to man, losing to Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”.
          Unfortunately, I will never be able to not know the secret behind Mr. Hyde. It’s on par with many literary and film twists, that once you know the secret, you would never read the story the same way. It would have been lovely to read this novel before knowing the truth about Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll, but even so, this is a fantastic read. I almost forgot the secret, if that helps.

          I often find myself emerged in a book or story, then completely lose faith or lose interest. This happened in the first chapter, but that’s it? It felt like a slow start to me, but then I was more enraptured than I thought I could be. 

"The Picture of Dorian Gray"

“The Picture of Dorian Gray”
Written by Oscar Wilde
Review written by Diana Iozzia

Image result for the picture of dorian gray            My, oh, me. This is probably one of the most hyped classic stories, along with the stories written by the Brontes, Shakespeare, Poe, and Jane Austen. However, I really do not think that the hype is well deserved for this book. I realize I’m a bit late to the game, but I am twenty-one, so I could have waited a longer time. If I’m correct, I read this in January 2016 as a Christmas gift.

            For the time period, it was an iconic, scandalous, crude, and creepy tale. It just doesn’t hold up as well in today’s society. Dorian Gray is an interesting villain, in theory. He’s a young, charming, charismatic, and licentious man, but he has a taste for the darker side. Slowly, the book unfolds how distorted he is. (But to be honest, he’s not really all that bad). For the time period and years after that, he was creepy. I just didn’t get an uncomfortable, creepy vibe from him. It’s interesting how he pursues his female love interest, but when he gets his way, he pouts like a little boy. In addition, there's a strange narration. 

            I was just disappointed in this book, in comparison to all of the other spooky classics out there.