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confuzzledbooks

Confuzzled Books

If you are wondering what kinds of books I review and events I host, this little section is the place to look. Books I love to read: Children's, Young Adult, Paranormal and Fantasy books. Books I like to read: General Fiction, Romances, Religious Fiction, Mysteries and Biographies. So those are the genres of books I will generally review. If you send me a book outside of those areas, I'll consider it, but it may not fit my tastes. Reviews will take about 2 months to post; I try to post them around the time the book is released. On giveaways: Sending me a signed book to give away on the site is a great way to get your book noticed. I do a "mystery book" giveaway about every 2 weeks, where I read the book and twitter about it without revealing its title, then reveal what I've been reading and give it away. The whole event takes a couple weeks, and I feature the giveaway book on my blog for most of that time.

Currently reading

Once Upon a River
Diane Setterfield
The Mermaid
Christina Henry
Don't Ever Look Behind Door 32
B.C.R. Fegan, Lenny Wen
The Party: A Novel
Robyn Harding
The Chemist
Stephenie Meyer
The Whistler
John Grisham
Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
L.K. Campbell, Kate DiCamillo
If you were me and lived in... Mexico: A Child's Introduction to Cultures Around the World: 1
Carole P. Roman
Silver: Return to Treasure Island
Andrew Motion
The Dinner
Herman Koch

Mixing Good And Bad

Frankenstein (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) -

Scientist Victor Frankenstein is obsessed with finding a way to reanimate human life after death. After he successfully fulfills his desire he immediately regrets it, condemning the new horrific life form to live in hiding. As Frankenstein’s new monster learns to understand those around him and his own existence he begins to hate his creator. The monster enacts revenge on Victor by taking away those he loves, only stopping if the doctor does what the monster asks for.

The very start of the book reminded me of Moby Dick, at least the little I read of it. Victor Frankenstein obsession with creating life is very much like Ahab’s obsession with finding the whale. Then the middle of the book was like The Picture Of Dorian Grey which a book I really liked and very much about doing good or evil and how it affects those around yourself. It ends again like Moby Dick as Victor new obsession directs him. The middle of the book had me interested because it is really a discussion on what being human is or could be, and regret. Actually, it is about even more than that so much you could a book about and people probably have.

I for one not a fan of the scenes where Dr. Frankenstein was channeling Ahab from Moby Dick. His obsession is part of the reason I couldn’t finish Moby Dick. Luckily Frankenstein is much shorter than Moby Dick.

I am glad I took the time to read this. It is a book that is so much different than what the movies and tv have done. In fact, there is so much difference in the movies I am really curious why or how they came up with things...like the character Igor...no where in the book. The monster having a square head and bolts on the neck...nope not in the book. I am not a big fan of most classics but this one that I did enjoy.

Close To An Irish Fairy Tale

The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman

A gentleman returns to his childhood home and begins to remember something from his past he suppressed or was magically blocked from his mind. As he recalls an old babysitter and her unique introduction to his family he realizes she is not what she seems. A young girl and her family try to help him rid the hold an evil presence. 


Neil Gaiman has a knack for creating stories that seem like they have always been around. The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is told in true fairy tale format. When say fairy tale I don’t mean Snow White or Sleeping Beauty, I mean a story straight from Ireland with actual fairies. Even though the word fairy is not mentioned in the story, the description of how mischievous fairies are is all over the villain. That is what I like about this book and Gaiman’s writing.


My only dislike is that the book is too short. I feel there was so much more could be told about the girl, her mother, and grandmother. Why was there a troublesome in the area of the lake? What was the lake’s history? I hope maybe one day Gaiman will return to those characters in another story. 


I am a sucker for stories with fairies and this one is so much more intriguing. Because I recognize details that come from old Irish folklore. It is also a short read and as I said shorter then I would like but still charming. 

Your Art Matters

V is for Vulnerable: Life Outside the Comfort Zone: An ABC for Grownups - Seth Godin

There seems to be a trend of books that look like they are for children but written for adults. There are adult coloring books and picture books on writing or life. This picture book from
Seth Godin is on the abc’s of motivating to create art. 

In some ways, I felt this book, with its motivational words of wisdom, reminded me of another author’s speech about creating art and that author is Neil Gaiman. It’s a wonderful speech and if you haven’t heard or read look for it on the interwebs. This picture book is simple but prompt. Something to pump up an artist who, like me, wonders if their art matters.

The feeling the book gives is a wonderful pick me up even if the literal words do not stay with you. I have to keep reading over each letter trying to remember what the one before it said. I guess that makes it is a good thing it’s only a picture book. 

V Is For Vulnerable is a book that can be read repeatedly especially when you need a push to keep creating. 

Not As Good A First

Blood Lite II: Overbite - Heather Graham, Jeff Strand, Kelley Armstrong, J.A. Konrath, Janis Ian, Derek Clendening, Amy Sterling Casil, Sam W. Anderson, Aaron Polson, Brian J. Hatcher, John R. Little, Joel A. Sutherland, Jordan Summers, Allison Brennan, Lezli Robyn, Scott Nicholson, Sharyn McCrum

This is the second book in this anthology theme. Inside is a collection of short stories that connect fantasy and a little humor. 

I think it was a great idea to shoot for a sequel anthology because the first one had a little magic in it’s writing. Some stories from the original still linger in my brain. 

After reading and enjoying the first anthology, Blood Lite, I expected not just funny stories in fantasy settings but memorable. Fact is I can only remember one story in Blood Lite II: Overbite and had to do with a guy out with his girlfriend at a diner. The description of the girlfriend was disgusting and not funny. The other stories are lost from my memory. I even had to re-read quite often.

This one missed its mark but there is a third installment and...I probably will read it too.

Love Affair With Sadness

If You Come Softly - Jacqueline Woodson
Miah, a black boy, starting a new school runs into Ellie, a Jewish white girl.  They feel connected and start a relationship. They keep their relationship a secret because they know their parents will not understand because of their different color. Their future seems bright and hopeful until one day someones bad judgment call ends the life of one of them.

 

I picked this up because of John Green’s new life’s library book club. I am not a big fan of contemporary novels but I do read them from time to time. The characters did grab me and I did fall for Ellie and Miah. I felt Ellie’s pain when she mentioned to her sister about dating someone of color and her sister was against it.  Miah parents were not as tolerant on the subject of interracial coupling either. I feel there was a lot more pain in this book then the love Ellie and Miah shared and that made the ending sadder.

 

I disliked one thing about the book and that was that the very first chapter basically tells you how the book ends.  Even though I loved the characters getting to know each other and their relationship with their own family there was still that little voice in the back my head saying, “Yeah but so and so is going to kick the bucket.”  

 

I do think Woodson is a fine author.  For a book that is 20 years old and still relevant is in some ways a good thing for an author but because of the theme it is very sad it is still something the world deals with daily.   

Long Reign Buffy !?!

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: New School Nightmare  - Carolyn Nowak
A good starting point for anyone who has not seen or read the previous Buffy The Vampire Slayer seasons. This would technically be a reboot or alternate history. Buffy Summers is starting a new middle school in Cleveland and finds out she is a vampire slayer. It’s hard to be a teen let alone a slayer but with her new female watcher and two best friends, a witch and a werewolf, she is not alone.

 

Buffy and the slayer mythology is about the only thing familiar with this graphic novel if you are a fan of the past Buffy The Vampire Slayer.  Now, I do not know if this is going to match the reboot that will be taking place on tv. I think probably not since the book has the blonde haired and white Buffy because it is rumored that the new tv series Buffy will be African American. ]

 

The art is quaint and there is nothing too racy for young kids. Since there are new characters interacting with Buffy it is all new to me, which did make it hard to put down and fun to read.

 

The story is cute and action-packed but as a Buffy fan, I did miss Willow, Xander, and Giles from the original group. I think is great that Buffy is coming back in some way, I just wish it a continuation or a new slayer rather than use Buffy again.

 

As Buffy The Vampire Slayer is a creation of Joss Whedon, I will probably support this version of Buffy and any others. So “Long Live Buffy!”... I guess.

Not As Helpful As Hoped

The Enchanted Life  - Sharon Blackie

Dr. Sharon Blackie writes a book that many psychologists would not encourage most to believe and that is the power of mythology, fairy tales, and magic. She describes her connection to nature and how she creates her own enchantment within life over years she has practiced.


What interested me in this book was the title and I was very interested in a doctor who as a scientist also believes in magic. I know from experience these kind of doctors are hard to come by. As someone who does believe that we create our own magic or enchantment in our lives, I sometimes lose belief and or doubt in magic in life. So I was at the time of reading this looking for some hope and something relight that spark that anything is possible.


As I continued to read the book Dr. Blackie made some interesting points about fairy tales and the ones you relate to or see yourself as. That in particular really made me think of why I think do or things about myself. But for the most part, the book did not really teach me anything new or help me to see myself in a better way, which is more what I need. I feel like we read about her finding her own contentment in nature and relationships but not really explaining how to find that happiness for yourself. I just needed more from the book.


I do think Dr. Blackie has some interesting points and I think I would have a couple of questions if we ever met. Even though I was not satisfied with the knowledge I received from this book I would read another by her.

Dazzling Art!

Fairy Dreams - Carol McLean-Carr

Fairy Dreams is written and illustrated by Carol McLean-Carr. The paintings are intricate and brightly colored. There is so much detail that every time it is viewed you will find something new. The story focuses on items to find in the imagery.

 

This kind of detailed fantasy drawings are popular and it is not hard to see why. Of course, the characters are fairies which are a big thing for me. Big “Yay!” for fairies.

 

The story is lacking as it is more of a find and seek. It mentions an item to find in the illustrations on the page. I don’t know if it is because my eyesight is going, but I couldn’t find the items. Not a one. I keep trying but I am not sure if my book is a little faded or something. I do love the illustrations but sometimes looking for the items I felt it very busy.

 

I wish the story was a little more interesting. The art is amazing though. When I was a child I was not really introduced to many “Seek And Find” books. Now Barnes & Noble kids clearance section is usually full of them. I am going to take another look at this book and try to find some items. I will probably pass it on to someone who might love all of it.

Beauty In Realistic Illustrations And Story

Turtle In The Sea - Jim Arnosky
The story of a Momma turtle as she battles the negative areas of the sea to make it to a beach where her children will be birthed.  Although she comes out with scars, life still prevails.

 

The first thing that grabs you about Turtle In The Sea is the beautiful illustrations. Each page could be a work hanging in a museum. Just really wonderfully detailed.  The writing is smart and fits with the artwork masterfully.

 

There is really nothing I can find wrong with this book.  Even the slightly sad parts which are just realistically what happens in the sea are pleasant to view.

 

This is my first book by Jim Arnosky but from what I have read in other reviews all his books have similar beauty. They are the type of books I would love to collect even though I do not have kids.

Dark But True

When Will This Cruel War Be Over?: The Civil War Diary of Emma Simpson, Gordonsville, Virginia, 1864 - Barry Denenberg

Young Emma Simpson lives in Virginia in 1864 during the middle of Civil War. She writes in her diary about the trials, Emma, her mother and other family members survive through. The men in the family are fighting in the War. Food rations start to dwindle as family and friends get sick and some die. Based on a real person we see the dark side of war in America’s past. I find these Dear America books interesting and wish I had them when I was younger. They do tend to be pretty dark. I guess that is to show children they have it easier these days. These Dear America book do usually end with death of the diary writer or just an abrupt ending, which probably meant death as well. This one I am happy to say actually has info on what really happened to Emma after the war. As I mentioned I dislike the fact that the stories are so dark, in these series of books. I do not know how much of the diaries are real or made up but i guess when people usually write in their diaries it is not because something good is happening or you are working out some happy through your mind. It would be nice to read one Dear America with a happy conclusion. I will continue to read the dear america books because they have a charm about them and they make me feel like I am learning. I do wonder how close they are to the actual history but how will I ever know.

Full Of Irish Magic and Love

An Irish Country Christmas - Patrick Taylor

In the third installment to the Irish Country series we happily retreat back into Dr. Barry Laverty and Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly lives around the Christmas holiday. As they share the practice that Dr. O’Reilly started their bond is getting stronger. Dr. Laverty hopes that his girlfriend, Patricia, can make it to spend the holiday with him and Dr. O’Reilly rekindles an old flame. Meanwhile the characters in town are a loveable and sometime silly group of Irish folk.

 

I love this series not only because you don’t have to read it in order but it reminds me of how Ireland feels when you visit it. It is magical, friendly and relaxing. It feels like going home to me. Of course my heritage has a lot of irish in it so it is only natural for me I guess.

 

Some people complain that the books are getting redundant and have formula but I do not feel that nor would I mind if it was.

 

The Irish Country stories are a nice cozy and warming stories that feel real to me. They are plausible stories that usually end with a happy ending. I have realized something about happy endings. I use to get bored of them but now I realize I like them more than any other ending. If your life were a book which ending would you like? Not many of us get happy endings and it is what I hope for and if I don’t get it at least I live briefly in a book that does.

Same Old Christmas With A Few Other Stories

Christmas with Anne of Green Gables and Other Stories - L. M. Montgomery
12 short Christmas stories, the first two from L.M. Montgomery’s most famous series Anne Of Green Gables.


If you had only read the first book in the Green Gables series you might not want to read the second short story because it does spoil Anne’s story a little. 3 of the stories were different and refreshing compared to most of the stories.


Some of the other stories which are not in the green gables series have the feeling that is heart-warming and sweet but honestly most of them were the same story over and over.  A family can’t afford gifts for their children and it looks that they will have nothing for christmas so someone gives them their gifts.  Maybe it has to do with the time period they are written in but most of the stories got old real quick.


I love what I have read of the Anne Of Green Gables series but these short stories are not great. That said I would still try other short stories by L.M. Montgomery.

 

Wishing For More

the Star - Michele Breza

A little star in the night sky wants to be special and part of something big. He gets his wish and shines brightly as an announcement to all about a special birth.

 

The illustrations are charming and whimsical. The stars feeling of wanting more and being special like other stars in the sky is relatable for most.

 

Although I understand the feeling of wanting and waiting to be special I feel like the the telling of the story was lacking. I wanted the story telling to match the adorable imagery and it fell flat.

 

I think the story idea is a good one but I feel the execution of the story is not where it needs to be.

When Santa Needed Help

How Santa Changed - Karl Steam, Maksym Stasiuk
Before Santa had help with reindeers and elves he made all the toys and traveled on his own. As time went on the world got bigger and santa could not do everything on his own so he searched for help.

 

The rhyming scheme is excellent and a great story to read out loud. The story really fits into Santa’s background that most of us know. It seems very plausible and shows Santa’s human side. The side that stresses, worries and gets tired.

 

I think only thing I am not fond of is the title, How Santa Changed. I don't really know what title would be better.  I just felt like the title did not grab me and honestly did not make me want to read it.

 

Even though my issues with the title are there. I am glad I did read it. It is one of those surprise books that you think you are not going to like but then like it more than you did.

Don't Forget Tovi At Christmas

Tovi the Penguin: goes away for Christmas - Janina Rossiter, Janina Rossiter

Tovi and family visit a cabin in a extremely snow covered place.  So snowy that it seems Santa did not see them and left no presents.

 

This family of penguins are very cute and seem easily pleased even after the disappointment of no presents from santa.  Although they have not received gifts they find happiness with just spending time with each other.

 

I do think that the message that family is more important than the materials things we want, but I worry particularly for little ones that this story is read to. For instance those who are traveling with family getting upset about Santa forgetting them on Christmas Eve. Even though I know that is not exactly how it ends, Santa really did not forget them.

 

This was introduction to the Tovi The Penguin series, and even though I am not sure which penguin is Tovi, I can see the likableness of this series.

Written For Kids But Adults Learn Too

If You Were Me and Lived in....the Mayan Empire: An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time (Volume 4) - Carole P. Roman, Paula Tabor
Another book from the “If You Were Me And Lived…” series.  This edition is about the Mayan Empire.  

 

This series is great for kids to learn about history. Since I don’t have kids I think is also great for adults who do not read much history and want to learn by not getting overwhelmed with a huge history book. I learned many things that I did not know, like the fact that descendants of Mayans still live in the area and still speak Mayan. They placed boards on babies heads to elongated the head.  They embedded jewels in their teeth.

 

There is a lot of information in this little book. My only problem is the info does not really stay in my head but I think that is a me problem not a book problem.  Luckily since it is a kids book it is small and you can re-read the book quickly.

 

Carole P. Roman does a great job on the research of the history and on what to place in the books. I look forward to reading and learning more from the other books in the series.