Books & Coffee #8 – March – May 2018 Read

I do not only buy books, I actually read them as well!

Remember my giant book haul a few months ago? Well, I’ve started reading some of the books I got then. Actually, most of the books I’ve read these past 3 months are from that haul. I may or may not have made one last little trip to the store mentioned in that post though and picked up a few more… And as promised – and also as I just do here on the blog – I thought I would share my thoughts.

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4 books in 3 months, which means I read 8 books this year, which means I am right on schedule with my Goodreads reading challenge of 15 books this year.

Bad Girls – Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple

“Harlot or hero? Liar or lady? There are two sides to every story….
Contemplate clever Cleopatra and bear in mind brazen Bonnie (Clyde’s girl) as you consider the circumstances that inform the guilt or innocence of twenty-six infamous female felons.
Society has long looked at tough, smart, ambitious women and written them off as bad. But whether it’s a criminal act or moral lapse, wrongdoing needs to be viewed within the context it occurred. Then again, bathing in blood, poisoning pesky husbands, and axe-murdering your parents doesn’t usually win a girl any fans!
The mother-daughter writing team of Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple appear as themselves in a series of accompanying comic panels as they debate each girl’s badness with wit and inimitable sass. Weigh in on the discussion for yourself and tip the scales of justice – are these girls bad, not so bad, or something in between?”

So basically this is a book with a short history of some women in history, like Cleopatra, Mata Hari, Lizzy Borden, Anne Bonney and Mary Read, etc. It’s written in a quite funny, easy casual way, not at all like a history book. I don’t know how accurate the stories are, although I’m happy to believe the writers did their research, but it was lovely to learn a bit more about these women. Would I read it again? Probably not. It didn’t wow me, or suck me in. I didn’t find myself reading it until the early hours of the morning. It was, however, a fun read, and I really liked the short comics about the writers themselves at the end of each chapter.

Island Of Phantoms – Stephen Alter

“In the flickering glow of a dying torch, three friends recite incantations from the yellowing pages of a rare book of sorcery. Little do they realize they are about to raise the dead.
The spirits they conjure are from a legendary island where the living and the dead once coexisted peacefully. All that ended, though, when a visiting missionary trapped the image of the spirits with a special camera nearly eight years ago. Now imprisoned in the pages of a few dozen books, the ghosts need the children, but should the children trust the ghosts?”

I expected a creepy read. In the haul I said I expected this to be a tropical ghost story, scary, thrilling. Well…. Not exactly. Which is all my fault, because I hadn’t realized that this was in fact a children’s book. So, none of the creepiness that I had hoped for, but all in all still and enjoyable read. It’s about 3 children – around 13 I believe – who discover that there are ghosts inside some books at their local library and they try to figure out how they got there. It was definitely still entertaining and a good story, and I would recommend it to someone 10 years younger than me (or anyone wanting to read a children’s book), just not at all what I expected😅

The Venice Conspiracy – Sam Christer

“A brutal killer is on the loose in Venice, and ex-priest Tom Shaman finds himself enmeshed in a series of ritualistic killings unlike anything Venice has ever seen. Enlisted by the Italian police, Tom teams up with young investigator Valentina Morassi to dig into the city’s darkest history. As the pair traces the killings through the centuries, they uncover a deadly secret that generations have killed to protect: a priceless mosaic know as the Gates of Hell. With the clock ticking, Tom and Valentina’s adventure builds to and astonishing and satisfying end.”

The Rome Prophecy – Sam Christer

“A woman has been arrested in the streets of Rome. She’s young. She’s beautiful. She’s covered in blood. And she claims to be an ancient prophet in search of a mystical amulet hidden within the city. Ex-priest Tom Shaman teams up with a headstrong policewoman to unravel the mystery. But within Rome’s churches and corridors of power, stealthy enemies are conspiring against them. And soon, the woman’s deadly visions begin to come true.”

So this is a two-in-one, because it is the first and second book in a series (although I cannot find any info on a third book). And I love this series. Set in different Italian cities – first Venice, then Rome, obviously – the books follow police cases that ex-priest Tom Shaman gets involved in for one reason or another. There is a lot of history, both real and fictive, woven through the story. Both cases even rest on events that happened thousands of years ago, and both stories flash back to those events. The writer did his research – or so he says at the end of the first book – and it does really shine through in my opinion. The stories went a little slow at times, but not annoyingly so, and both really picked up at the end (and sometimes throughout the book as well). I said in my haul that I thought these were giving me Dan Brown Angels & Demons vibes, and after finishing both books I still feel that way. Definitely hoping for a third one!!!

Nearly halfway through the year and 2 books ahead of my Goodreads schedule, I’d say that’s pretty good. I feel like these past 3 months were a bit of a mix in terms of if I loved the books or not, and I also feel like I’m slowly getting better at this review writing thing, and starting to really think more about what I liked in the books and what I maybe didn’t. It also keeps me motivated to read more, so I can then write about it😅
I am currently reading two books that I am really liking so far, so I have a feeling the next reading update will be a good one as well (but I’m not even a third of the way in on both books so a lot can still change).

Anyways, thanks for stopping by ❤

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