Tag: Review

“The Architect of Song” was my second foray into the realm of A.G. Howard’s writing. I had read online that if I liked “RoseBlood,” then I would also love “The Architect of Song,” and boy were they right.

The summary of the book from Amazon is this:

For most of her life, Juliet Emerline has subsisted – isolated by deafness – making hats in the solitude of her home. Now, she’s at risk to lose her sanctuary to Lord Nicolas Thornton, a mysterious and eccentric architect with designs on her humble estate. When she secretly witnesses him raging beside a grave, Juliet investigates, finding the name “Hawk” on the headstone and an unusual flower at the base. The moment Juliet touches the petals, a young English nobleman appears in ghostly form, singing a song only her deaf ears can hear. The ghost remembers nothing of his identity or death, other than the one name that haunts his afterlife: Thornton. 

To avenge her ghostly companion and save her estate, Juliet pushes aside her fear of society and travels to Lord Thornton’s secluded holiday resort, posing as a hat maker in one of his boutiques. There, she finds herself questioning who to trust: the architect of flesh and bones who can relate to her through romantic gestures, heartfelt notes, and sensual touches … or the specter who serenades her with beautiful songs and ardent words, touching her mind and soul like no other man ever can. As sinister truths behind Lord Thornton’s interest in her estate and his tie to Hawk come to light, Juliet is lured into a web of secrets. But it’s too late for escape, and the tragic love taking seed in her heart will alter her silent world forever.

I absolutely loved the romantic aspect of this story. The dynamic between Juliet and Hawk is passionate and very well-written, though I was more partial to “shipping” Juliet and Lord Thornton. As sweet as the relationship between Juliet and her ghost was, I found that I enjoyed that Thornton stood his ground. He seemed like a more believable match for Juliet. Hawk was rather clingy and jealous, though it makes sense as to why he was like that. Maybe I just prefer the brooding male character in stories.

The plot twists were intriguing, though slightly predictable. I found I had predicted a few of them about a page before they happened. However, the twists were very plausible. I did not think they were outrageous, and they made the story even better.

I did have an issue with the slow-paced beginning. I understand why a lot of the seemingly pointless parts were included since they lent to the twists, but it still felt tedious at the time. I think that it would be a better read now that I know all of the twists. A lot of things made sense after the book was finished.

All in all, I loved this book. Howard did not fail to produce a beautifully-written story that engrosses the reader. I am rarely more disappointed in a book being over than I was with this story. I’m excited to read the second book in the series, “The Hummingbird’s Heart.” If it’s anything like “The Architect of Song,” it’ll be fabulous.

 

 

 

You can get “The Architect of Song” by A.G. Howard here.

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RoseBlood by A.G. Howard is a beautiful book. That was my first reaction when I saw it. It’s just a beautiful book. You can tell extra work went into the design. The text is blood-red and the chapters have very lovely red decoration. The cover is beautiful, almost breathtakingly so. I was given this book as a gift from K. Leigh, and the second I saw the cover I wanted to read it. She had asked me if I had read a book where the Phantom was a female, to which I had responded that I have not. Then, when she surprised me with the book, I was enchanted. As soon as I had the chance, I read it.

The summary from Goodreads is:

“In this modern-day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known”

 

Now, this book was good, but it wasn’t the best Phantom-based story I’ve ever read (that honor goes to Susan Kay’s “Phantom.”) My main issue with the story is that it started off rather slow. I was constantly waiting for something to happen. While the multiple attacks of Rune’s ailment were a bit tedious, I loved the idea that Rune’s ailment was temporarily cured by Thorn’s violin playing. It was a cute way to forge a connection between the two.

I was surprised to find that me and K.Leigh were wrong about the story, in that we had assumed by the cover that the story was about a female Phantom. The Phantom of the Opera is in the story, but it is not Rune, the girl on the cover. This did not affect my opinion of the story, but it was a bit confusing as to why they would show her wearing the mask rather than her holding it, as some of the other cover mockups suggest. According to an interview with the author here, they chose the final cover because it also had ties to Howard’s more popular series “Splintered.” While I understand their reasoning for choosing the cover, and it is a truly beautiful cover, it is slightly misleading.

However, once I realized that the mask wasn’t Rune’s, I expected the Phantom to pull his usual tricks and treat her as he did Christine. We don’t really get interaction between the two until a good ways into the novel, which was disappointing. Instead, the connection is between Thorn and Rune. This makes more sense, as the Phantom is quite a bit older than Rune and Thorn is closer to her in age, but still. Is a story truly a Phantom of the Opera story if he’s a minor character?

I really did like this story. It was a joy to read, especially regarding how pretty the book itself is. Heck, I just bought an autographed first-edition. Would I read it again? Heck yes. It’s a great story. Is it worth reading? Very much so. It’s very well written, minus the slow start.

If you’re a Phantom “phan,” it’s a must-read.

 

 

To get your copy of “RoseBlood” by A.G. Howard, go here.

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Hello Again,

Time for another review. I finished The Snow Kimono by Mark Henshaw a couple of weekends ago. I wanted to write a review right away, but I had to sort through my thoughts and by the time I did that, life caught up. Now a funeral and a company holiday party later, and here I finally am.

The book opens up with Inspector Jovert and his accident after a mysterious letter (be prepared because I found some other literary references in this book). The letter was from a woman claiming to be his daughter and asking to meet. After he recounts his accident, a Japanese man named Professor Omura comes to him and invites himself in. He explains that he, too, had a daughter, but she was not biologically his. Most of the novel is Professor Omura explaining the tale of his friend Katsuo, the real father of Omura’s daughter, flaked with Omura’s story as well as Jovert’s.

At one point, Omura explains that his father liked puzzles. He liked them so much that he ordered a “western puzzle” and was disappointed because once complete, the image was the same as that on the box. This novel is one big puzzle.

All the characters’ stories in this book are based on lies. I don’t recall anyone telling the complete truth except one minor character.

The story is also told in fragments out of place, which you have to piece together to get the complete story, which again, is based on lies. So is it really the whole story?

I felt the ending was very confusing and did not explain anything at all so you are kept guessing. I like cliffhangers, but this wasn’t one. I don’t want to give anything away, but I came out of the novel feeling confused and not complete. I was a bit angry because I could not mentally tell if I did not understand, or if that’s how the book wants you to feel.

Overall, I gave it a 3/5 due to the story fragments being captivating, especially Katsuo’s, and the characters were interesting. The mystery was well kept and hard to guess (and I am normally pretty good at guessing the twists). I just didn’t like the way the stories were scattered, how they didn’t come together at times, and so many loose ends.

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think? Am I missing something? Let me know!

-K.

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Just a forewarning to anyone who may read this, I do not normally do reviews. I don’t feel very comfortable at reviewing anything, so I figured I’d start with a recent movie I saw – Murder on the Orient Express.

It is, of course, based on the novel by the same name. The novel was written by Agatha Christie, one of the most notorious names in the murder mystery genre. I have not read anything by this author, but have seen some local theater productions of a few of her stories.

The movie was directed by Kenneth Branagh and he starred in it as the lead: Hercule Poirot. The movie included very well known actors and actresses: Daisy Ridley, Johnny Depp, Penolope Cruz, Willam Dafoe, Judi Dench, just to name a few.

The movie starts with Hercule Poirot solving a “whodunnit case” in Jerusalem. We quickly see that he is obsessive compulsive, which adds humor in the story from time to time due to it. After solving the case and explaining it to a large crowd, he is off to take a vacation from solving mysteries. Not even the first day he is taking a mental health day, he runs into a well known friend, Bouc, who suggests taking holiday on his locomotive, The Orient Express. It is there that a murder takes place, leaving Hercule Poirot the only one who can solve it and save Bouc’s name.

Overall, I really enjoyed the casting and thought the cast did an excellent and very believable renditions of their characters. The scenic shots were beautiful and some of the shots in general were very interesting. Such as one scene where Poirot is in the victim’s cabin studying the body. It is shot from above and you can see the cabin partition, which allows you to see into Poirot’s unoccupied cabin. I really enjoyed that and felt it worked really well.

However, there was some lines in different languages. Subtitles were used, but I didn’t think there was enough lines to justify having them in different languages. They could have omitted them and saved the time to read subtitles. I get why they did what they did, but I felt if they were going to go that route, more scenes in different languages would have been better.

The worst offense was that it dragged on. Movies that are 2 hours should not feel like they are 2 hours. At the end of a 2 hours movie I want to say “Wow! That was 2 hours?! It went by so quick!” Some scenes could have been omitted or lines could have been cut.

I also must have missed it, because there were characters that were on the train that I did not realize were there until closer to the end of the movie. They played a small part in everything, and were pretty much useless. Again, I get why the characters were in the movie and have a huge revel as to who they are and why they are apart of the case, but a little more involvement from them would have been nice.

I gave this movie 3 stars, only because I have not read an Agatha Christie novel and therefore can’t compare this to the book. I am not sure how, where, or why it differs, so I am going to use caution and rate it 3 instead of 4.

What did you think? If you read the book, let me know if it was close to the original content or if it strayed.

-K.

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