What We're Reading: A Madness So Discreet

A Madness So Discreet

An exploration of madness in its many forms.

I’m not sure if this review will have spoilers so keep an eye out for those just in case. I borrowed this book from my friend Bree over @ DoYouEvenGeek months ago in an attempt to bring me from a reading slump. The cover was gorgeous featuring a young woman being pulled through wooden floorboards by hands rooted into the soil. A cover that vivid and descriptive offered a thrilling story and I secretly hoped it featured zombies.

The title, A Madness So Discreet, implies we’ll be exploring the main characters mental health. Confirmed as soon as we open the book and discover her inside of an insane asylum, however, the book also offers insight into the mental health of all of the characters including those otherwise deemed sane. Madness, explores society’s view on women and mental during the Victorian era in the US. A time when women had no rights and were property of the men who chose to claim them. The mistreatment of these women is also a recurring theme throughout the story line.

I absolutely loved the characters as well as the dialogue written for them. I laughed outwardly while reading on more than one occasion. Each character had multiple layers to them, no one person was simply sane or insane. Each had a history, a memory and a reason for being included which not only added depth and emotion to the story but also provided a cohesiveness to the book.

The character of Grace is written as a sort of anti-hero. Though she came to be in this predicament through no fault of her own it is her decisions that will change her fate, something I think Mindy McGinnis conveys perfectly. Grace’s spirit and reluctance to remain a victim make you cheer for her even during times when she seems to have succumb to the darkness. We read on past each new pitfall eagerly hoping she makes it into the light.

There seems to be an underlying power struggle with each character vying for control in one respect or another. Starting with Grace who was powerless to prevent years of abuse at the hands of her sadistic father, Thornhollow, eager to break through into a new realm of science where the mind is the new frontier down to Nell who merely wanted to choose her own fate instead of waiting for sickness to claim her. There is a more overarching need for secrecy or “Discretion” throughout the book also, without it freedom seems to be harder to grasp. Grace’s entire reason for being in the asylum in the first place is to keep her father’s indiscretions a secret, the revelation of her alleged botched procedure must be kept or it would cost Dr. Heedson his livelihood. And if Grace revealed to every one her true identity or the fact that she could speak her father would be able to find her and take her away. The characters in the asylum have the added motivation of seeking normalcy in a world viewed as abnormal something they accomplish while forging bonds within the asylum walls.

The story takes place in the 1800’s, the US of the Victorian era still heavily indoctrinated with European customs and social graces placed manners and etiquette in highest regard. Language was mostly English though, cockney is used for immigrants and others who couldn’t read as a symbol of their social class. During this time, it was considered improper for women seen as dainty and easily breakable to be in the face of murderers, brothels or bars. Women who were loud and exuberant were considered to have no class. Men were advised to watch how they spoke in front of women for fear of upsetting her delicate sensibilities. It’s also important to note that Grace spends most of her time feigning mute and so the absence of speech forces her to express herself in other ways.

A Madness So Discreet, is a great evaluation of the human condition. Each of the individuals in the story possess a trait if not several that would mark them as insane. Their actions in spite of their so called state of mind is what we, the audience determine throughout the book. Is Grace insane because she refuses to speak to people who would ignore her pleas for help either way? Or sane for knowing not to waste her strength and efforts on futile cries? Is Dr. Thornhollow sane because he can critically see into a person’s nature by analyzing a crime scene or is his lack of emotional connection and mechanized perspective signs of a true deviant? McGinnis leaves that decision up to us.

The symbolism in Grace’s scars is one of freedom. She is frequently described as being fairly attractive except for the fact that she now has scars on matching sides of her face. To others unknowing of her history those scars seem the greatest tragedy of her condition, however, to Grace those scars represent freedom and hope offering comfort and protection from scrutiny, a rescue from the shackles of abuse from her father. Grace’s scars became her most concealed weapon, easily hidden behind hair, when in full display they made her invisible to those who would usually ignore a crazy person.

My final thoughts are on the concept of the mind. This book tested the limits of what we would call acceptable and argued a sentiment that maybe we’re all a tad insane from time to time. Set during a dark time for mental health and the golden era of serial killers. Madness explores the psychology of men and offers a clear view at life in two separate mental institutions. The concept of mental health is not a black or white canvas meant to be easily ascertained by one’s social status and upbringing. Luckily for us all, we live in a time where this is no longer the case.

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

What Series have you read with Eight books or more in it? Let me Know in the Comments Below!

 

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What We’re Reading: A Madness So Discreet

A Madness So Discreet

An exploration of madness in its many forms.

I’m not sure if this review will have spoilers so keep an eye out for those just in case. I borrowed this book from my friend Bree over @ DoYouEvenGeek months ago in an attempt to bring me from a reading slump. The cover was gorgeous featuring a young woman being pulled through wooden floorboards by hands rooted into the soil. A cover that vivid and descriptive offered a thrilling story and I secretly hoped it featured zombies.

The title, A Madness So Discreet, implies we’ll be exploring the main characters mental health. Confirmed as soon as we open the book and discover her inside of an insane asylum, however, the book also offers insight into the mental health of all of the characters including those otherwise deemed sane. Madness, explores society’s view on women and mental during the Victorian era in the US. A time when women had no rights and were property of the men who chose to claim them. The mistreatment of these women is also a recurring theme throughout the story line.

I absolutely loved the characters as well as the dialogue written for them. I laughed outwardly while reading on more than one occasion. Each character had multiple layers to them, no one person was simply sane or insane. Each had a history, a memory and a reason for being included which not only added depth and emotion to the story but also provided a cohesiveness to the book.

The character of Grace is written as a sort of anti-hero. Though she came to be in this predicament through no fault of her own it is her decisions that will change her fate, something I think Mindy McGinnis conveys perfectly. Grace’s spirit and reluctance to remain a victim make you cheer for her even during times when she seems to have succumb to the darkness. We read on past each new pitfall eagerly hoping she makes it into the light.

There seems to be an underlying power struggle with each character vying for control in one respect or another. Starting with Grace who was powerless to prevent years of abuse at the hands of her sadistic father, Thornhollow, eager to break through into a new realm of science where the mind is the new frontier down to Nell who merely wanted to choose her own fate instead of waiting for sickness to claim her. There is a more overarching need for secrecy or “Discretion” throughout the book also, without it freedom seems to be harder to grasp. Grace’s entire reason for being in the asylum in the first place is to keep her father’s indiscretions a secret, the revelation of her alleged botched procedure must be kept or it would cost Dr. Heedson his livelihood. And if Grace revealed to every one her true identity or the fact that she could speak her father would be able to find her and take her away. The characters in the asylum have the added motivation of seeking normalcy in a world viewed as abnormal something they accomplish while forging bonds within the asylum walls.

The story takes place in the 1800’s, the US of the Victorian era still heavily indoctrinated with European customs and social graces placed manners and etiquette in highest regard. Language was mostly English though, cockney is used for immigrants and others who couldn’t read as a symbol of their social class. During this time, it was considered improper for women seen as dainty and easily breakable to be in the face of murderers, brothels or bars. Women who were loud and exuberant were considered to have no class. Men were advised to watch how they spoke in front of women for fear of upsetting her delicate sensibilities. It’s also important to note that Grace spends most of her time feigning mute and so the absence of speech forces her to express herself in other ways.

A Madness So Discreet, is a great evaluation of the human condition. Each of the individuals in the story possess a trait if not several that would mark them as insane. Their actions in spite of their so called state of mind is what we, the audience determine throughout the book. Is Grace insane because she refuses to speak to people who would ignore her pleas for help either way? Or sane for knowing not to waste her strength and efforts on futile cries? Is Dr. Thornhollow sane because he can critically see into a person’s nature by analyzing a crime scene or is his lack of emotional connection and mechanized perspective signs of a true deviant? McGinnis leaves that decision up to us.

The symbolism in Grace’s scars is one of freedom. She is frequently described as being fairly attractive except for the fact that she now has scars on matching sides of her face. To others unknowing of her history those scars seem the greatest tragedy of her condition, however, to Grace those scars represent freedom and hope offering comfort and protection from scrutiny, a rescue from the shackles of abuse from her father. Grace’s scars became her most concealed weapon, easily hidden behind hair, when in full display they made her invisible to those who would usually ignore a crazy person.

My final thoughts are on the concept of the mind. This book tested the limits of what we would call acceptable and argued a sentiment that maybe we’re all a tad insane from time to time. Set during a dark time for mental health and the golden era of serial killers. Madness explores the psychology of men and offers a clear view at life in two separate mental institutions. The concept of mental health is not a black or white canvas meant to be easily ascertained by one’s social status and upbringing. Luckily for us all, we live in a time where this is no longer the case.

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

What Series have you read with Eight books or more in it? Let me Know in the Comments Below!

 

Novel-ember Book Haul 2017

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I may not be big on the cooler weather, but, I absolutely do love the month of November just the same. This one little month has My birthday, Thanksgiving and an entire day of shopping for some of us all wrapped into one. Plus just discovered that’s November is a month completely dedicated to writer’s and books! November is: National Novel Writing Month, Novel-ember, Non-Fiction November, and Family Literacy Month. In anticipation for the month and to feed my book collecting addiction, I completed purchasing two series I’ve been waiting to buy since returning to my love of reading and books. I’ve heard rave reviews about both The Wicked Years and The Lunar Chronicles and I’ll finally get to see for myself.

The Wicked Years

I borrowed a copy of Wicked by Gregory Maguire over a year ago. As a theater kid I love The Wizard of Oz  and The Wiz, and I definitely remember Defying Gravity as sung by Idina Menzel from Wicked: The Musical. Yet, I hadn’t been aware the musical was originally a book. Wicked, is an adaptation of the Wizard of Oz, as told from the perspective of Elfaba the Wicked Witch of the West.

I was reading the book during a time when movies like Dracula: Untold and Maleficent were being made, and everything fictional seemed to be trying to give us the “villains” perspective. It was surprisingly a good read though and it did give me a new perspective on the wicked witch of the west. I even did a review for the book which you can read here.

The Wicked Years, is a four-part series starting with Wicked and ending with Out of Oz. The world-building in this series is amazing. Maguire manages to give us an in-depth look at the world of Oz, while uniquely stitching together familiar characters as well as creating brand new ones. The second book picks up shortly after Elfaba meets her fate at the hands of Dorothy, with Son of a Witch.

The Lunar Chronicles

I’ve seen The Lunar Chronicles, on bookshelves but I personally haven’t  read the series. I’m not sure how long it’s been on my TBR list but before 2019 rolls in I will have checked it off.

I like to keep away from outside opinions of books before I read them, so beyond a few conversations with people who’ve said it was “good”, I have little to go on. I did skim the description of Cinder, prior to buying the whole set. Just from viewing the covers we get a fairy tale theme, and I was advised there was a cyborg involved.  There is a spoiler-free review of the series from Booktuber Between Chapters states some of the scenes gave her a Panem flashback which means I’m in for a dystopian read.

I’m not sure if I want to attempt a Binge read of the series to finish out 2017 or if I ‘ll be adding it to my 2018 reading list but, I definitely plan to get into this series soon.

I get most of my books from thriftbooks.com, since they are super inexpensive and offer free shipping on purchases over $40 as well as points for every $50. I’ve bought books from a few places but this place has me hooked, at least until I get a box subscription.

 

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You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on FacebookTwitterInstagram,GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

What New Books Did You Buy This Month? Leave a Comment Below!

 

WWW Wednesday (Nov 22,2017)

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Week Two of WWW Wednesday! What a great way to get some recurring content and it’s really easy because there are only THREE questions! WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words!  Be sure to post your answers in the comments below and head over to Sam’s when you’re done!

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What are you currently reading?

How to write sf and fanatsyI  am trying my hand at multi-reading. I’m preparing for grad school so I’m reading through Orson Scott Card’s How to Write: Science Fiction & Fantasy a light read with lots of information for aspiring writers. This book is only one in a series of genre reference books published by Writers Digest.  Card is the author of Ender’s Game a book I haven’t read but seen in movie form. The four book series with mini A Madness So Discreet– novella attachments are enough to add at least eleven novels and ten short stories to my TBR list.

I’m also trying to make it through A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis.  I’ve tried reading this book a few times, each time abandoning it for something more my cup of tea.  However, I’m noticing that this book has been making ti’s rounds aroung the blogosphere and it was featured in a post I was reading a few days ago. I insist on completing this book and returning it to it’s rightful owner…. Yup it’s borrowed.

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What did you recently finish reading?

I just finished reading Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian by Eoin ColferI feel a great sense of accomplishment both finishing the full series as well as having documented the reading and reviews as described in my 2017 reading challenge. Yay me! Also that puts me only nine books away from completing my 2017 reading challenge and it’s still NOV.

The Artemis Fowl series was a great read. The characters lived and grew with each new book and the final battle really put the icing on this series for me. There’s a full review of the book here, if you haven’t  read that yet.

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What do you think you’ll read next?

Once I finish reading Madness and the Reference book I fully plan to return my attention to reading The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.  It made it my Nov TBR list but I have yet to open a single book from the series. It hasn’t been forgotten, I just may need ro finish out the series in December which is perfect as the Buddy read with Do You Even Geek  will probably be 2018’s project anyway.

 

What Are You Reading Right Now? Leave A Comment Below!

 

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You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

It's The Great Pumpkin! (Book Tag)

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It’s fall, season of the pumpkin…so here we are with a pumpkin themed book tag! I found this one on Thrice Read  and to level with you all I’m not a big fan of the pumpkin. I didn’t try my first piece of pumpkin pie until junior year of college and I have never had a pumpkin spiced latte. Fall time for me is usually an caramel Macchiato or some warm cider. For those of you who do enjoy pumpkin flavored things, try out this book tag. Leave your link below so I can check it out!

Pumpkin: A writer you always make a point to read in October

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There is no particular author I read base don the time of year it is. My plan is usually to read the books as they come in the mail or as they’re released. For the remainder of 2017 my plan is to finish the Cassandra Clare series The Mortal Instruments. It’s also November and almost the end of pumpkin season and the beginning of peppermint takeover which I am a fan of.

Pumpkin Spice: A work you would read to impress a millennial

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I don’t know what would impress a millennial nor do I read books to impress people, but there are a few books that I feel smarter for having read. I’m a big fan of poetry and I have a book of Harlem Renaissance poems that I think is pretty impressive.

 

Pumpkin Pie: A work that makes you think of autumn

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The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, I read this story in Jr. high school which would’ve started in the fall around September or October. The story itself takes place over the course of the school year I believe also. The incident mentioned in the book occurred in a suburb of Philadelphia.

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake: A work that was challenging to read but was a rewarding experience

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Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky was one of the hardest books I’ve ever had to read. It was on my high school summer reading list my junior year of high school and I recall not being able to force myself through the entire book. I made it halfway through and had to finish reading through the school year to pass the tests that came along with the summer reading lists.

 

 

Pumpkin Bread: An underrated work by a well-known writer

I am so new to this I’m not sure who is well – known or who is just well known to me. I spent a few years not reading anything and so I’ll have to wait until at least next year to give a fair opinion on that one.

 

Pumpkin Soup: A work that you first enjoyed, but then lost interest 

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The very first series that comes to mind is The Immortals by Alyson Noel. The very first book Evermore  was amazing but upon reaching the ending I was annoyed and I found the main character so insufferable that midway through the second book I gave up.

Pumpkin Doughnut: A light, five-star read

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Sisterhood of the APF by Zane is both a light read and a five-star book though definitely not for children. Zane’s books discuss adult situations and are very steamy.  Sisterhood of the APF is one of my absolute favorites. I bought the book shortly after borrowing a copy of Nervous by the same author.

Pumpkin Picking: Within the last year, in which genre did you purchase the most books

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As always the genre I spent the most coin on was fantasy.It is my personal favorite and the genre I aspire to write for. Plus there are so many great options to choose from. .

Pumpkin Carving: A work that could have been trimmed down

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I try really hard to look at the entire body of work of a series. I have been fortunate enough to pick series that i’m interested in and that also have interesting plots and I haven’t been disappointed yet. When you commit to a series you have to be along for the ride.

Pumpkin Painting: A book with magnificent illustrations

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I love the illustrations in The Wicked Years by Gregory Maguire. So far I’ve only read Wicked but the cover art as well as the title headings are very pretty.

Pumpkin Ice Cream: The most random work you would recommend

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The most random book I would recommend is actually a fantasy theme book called Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons by Dugald A. Steer, Ernest Drake and Wayne Anderson. It was a book my mom got for me as a pre-teen when I was obsessed with dragons, the book has several fun activities to keep the excitement going and it’s very shiny. As far as books go it’s not the most plot driven but the illustrations are amazing.

What is your favorite way to enjoy pumpkin/what is your favorite dish where pumpkin is the main ingredient?

So once again I’m not a major fan of pumpkin flavored anything, however, I do really enjoy Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake. Cheesecake is one of my favorite food groups and I absolutely love caramel on anything so caramel cheesecake with pumpkin or any other kind of pie just makes sense.

What’s Your Favorite Pumpkin  Inspired Thing?  Leave a Comment Below!

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You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

 

 

It’s The Great Pumpkin! (Book Tag)

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It’s fall, season of the pumpkin…so here we are with a pumpkin themed book tag! I found this one on Thrice Read  and to level with you all I’m not a big fan of the pumpkin. I didn’t try my first piece of pumpkin pie until junior year of college and I have never had a pumpkin spiced latte. Fall time for me is usually an caramel Macchiato or some warm cider. For those of you who do enjoy pumpkin flavored things, try out this book tag. Leave your link below so I can check it out!

Pumpkin: A writer you always make a point to read in October

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There is no particular author I read base don the time of year it is. My plan is usually to read the books as they come in the mail or as they’re released. For the remainder of 2017 my plan is to finish the Cassandra Clare series The Mortal Instruments. It’s also November and almost the end of pumpkin season and the beginning of peppermint takeover which I am a fan of.

Pumpkin Spice: A work you would read to impress a millennial

573bf57f02c8ccb2fcce3044759d99c71334019462.jpg

I don’t know what would impress a millennial nor do I read books to impress people, but there are a few books that I feel smarter for having read. I’m a big fan of poetry and I have a book of Harlem Renaissance poems that I think is pretty impressive.

 

Pumpkin Pie: A work that makes you think of autumn

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The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, I read this story in Jr. high school which would’ve started in the fall around September or October. The story itself takes place over the course of the school year I believe also. The incident mentioned in the book occurred in a suburb of Philadelphia.

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake: A work that was challenging to read but was a rewarding experience

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Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky was one of the hardest books I’ve ever had to read. It was on my high school summer reading list my junior year of high school and I recall not being able to force myself through the entire book. I made it halfway through and had to finish reading through the school year to pass the tests that came along with the summer reading lists.

 

 

Pumpkin Bread: An underrated work by a well-known writer

I am so new to this I’m not sure who is well – known or who is just well known to me. I spent a few years not reading anything and so I’ll have to wait until at least next year to give a fair opinion on that one.

 

Pumpkin Soup: A work that you first enjoyed, but then lost interest 

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The very first series that comes to mind is The Immortals by Alyson Noel. The very first book Evermore  was amazing but upon reaching the ending I was annoyed and I found the main character so insufferable that midway through the second book I gave up.

Pumpkin Doughnut: A light, five-star read

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Sisterhood of the APF by Zane is both a light read and a five-star book though definitely not for children. Zane’s books discuss adult situations and are very steamy.  Sisterhood of the APF is one of my absolute favorites. I bought the book shortly after borrowing a copy of Nervous by the same author.

Pumpkin Picking: Within the last year, in which genre did you purchase the most books

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As always the genre I spent the most coin on was fantasy.It is my personal favorite and the genre I aspire to write for. Plus there are so many great options to choose from. .

Pumpkin Carving: A work that could have been trimmed down

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I try really hard to look at the entire body of work of a series. I have been fortunate enough to pick series that i’m interested in and that also have interesting plots and I haven’t been disappointed yet. When you commit to a series you have to be along for the ride.

Pumpkin Painting: A book with magnificent illustrations

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I love the illustrations in The Wicked Years by Gregory Maguire. So far I’ve only read Wicked but the cover art as well as the title headings are very pretty.

Pumpkin Ice Cream: The most random work you would recommend

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The most random book I would recommend is actually a fantasy theme book called Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons by Dugald A. Steer, Ernest Drake and Wayne Anderson. It was a book my mom got for me as a pre-teen when I was obsessed with dragons, the book has several fun activities to keep the excitement going and it’s very shiny. As far as books go it’s not the most plot driven but the illustrations are amazing.

What is your favorite way to enjoy pumpkin/what is your favorite dish where pumpkin is the main ingredient?

So once again I’m not a major fan of pumpkin flavored anything, however, I do really enjoy Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake. Cheesecake is one of my favorite food groups and I absolutely love caramel on anything so caramel cheesecake with pumpkin or any other kind of pie just makes sense.

What’s Your Favorite Pumpkin  Inspired Thing?  Leave a Comment Below!

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You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

 

 

What We're Reading: Artemis Fowl  (The Last Guardian)

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                                   *****Spoilers in this Review****

What an amazing ending to the Artemis Fowl saga!!!

The final book of the Artemis series is the equivalent of winning the gold medal in reading for following through to the end. I absolutely loved the final showdown between Opal and our heroes.

Opal proves how insane she is and how far she’s willing to go by killing the younger version of herself and setting of a series of natural disasters.

For once someone else truly has outsmarted Artemis Fowl.

There is a certain level of either selflessness or selfishness that entails killing one’s self and Opal Koboi is willing to make the choice to finally achieve the power she’s always craved.

Our leading cast is stuck in the surface split between Holly, Butler, Artemis and a troll riding Mulch vs. possessed versions of Juliet, Becket, Myles and other assorted woodland creatures/art pieces/ corpses.

The mental back and forth is heightened each chapter as time ticks closer to Opal unlocking an ancient gate meant to destroy all humanity.

All of our characters have come full circle for better or worse. As Artemis completes his ascension  Artemis, once almost responsible for bringing the world to it’s knees with the existence of faeries will now risk it all to save humanity and fairy kind. Mulch Diggums, formerly a hardened criminal and self affirmed coward proves his reform repeatedly placing himself in harm’s way. Even Foaly turned into an action hero in order to save his wife.

Myles Fowl is one of the funniest supporting characters in the book. As Artemis Fowl’s little brother and genius compared to twin Beckett, Myles’s intellect allows him to fight through the possession and aid in the fight…at least before his nap.

I couldn’t have imagined a better end to an amazing series and it’s interesting enough that I also may want to buy the graphic novels…(yes of the series I just finished reading, but this one will have pictures.)

What Series have you read with? Let me Know in the Comments Below!

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You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com