Book Review: The Golden Compass

“You cannot change who you are. Only what you do.” – The Golden Compass

In a world similar to ours, there lives a young girl Lyra, with her daemon Pantalaimon (Pan for short), unaware of her true destiny. Her life seems normal as she lives with the scholars at Jordan College, her Uncle Lord Asriel comes to visit sometimes, and her friends are always close by. It all changes the day she’s given the Golden Compass (aka the alethiometer). This Golden Compass shows the truth of the past, present and future. Lyra must embark on a journey to fulfill her destiny and potentially save more than just her world.

This classic is considered to be children’s literature, and as a 22-year old adult, this book was very entertaining and pretty grown up. I honestly was super surprised it was considered children’s when I finished reading. It’s such an in depth story, with concepts that are so mind blowing, it will impact you after reading this book.

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The Golden Compass was the first of the His Dark Materials trilogy and it was freaken awesome.  My love for this book has given it an 8.5 out of 10 stars. I highly recommend this book for all book lovers. This is one of those books that should be required to read for all.

There are so many characters within this novel and Phillip Pullman does an amazing job of giving purpose to every single one of them. To me, that speaks so much talent as a writer. Pullman had to carefully plan his writing in order to ensure the success of the book. That reason makes me appreciate this book so much, because I know there’s a passion and there’s a reason.

Another quality that I love about this book is the in depth problem-solution. Plus the connections and the illusions to our own world. Now this is hard to explain without spoiling the book for you, so you gotta trust me on this one.

Oh, and there is a movie for this book too. It’s not that good to be honest. But it has a good cast. Here’s the trailer:

Bahama Bucks

The drink I’ve chosen is a little different this time. It’s actually a snow cone from Bahama Bucks. The reason I chose this drink is because I read this book in the Texas Summer Heat (which is BRUTALLLL) and because Lyra has a goal to get North, where it’s very cold. This specific snow cone is like a coke float and because of Coca-Cola polar bears, I would thought it would match with the Ice bears within the novel.

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On to the next…

Up next of course is the second book in the trilogy, The Subtle Knife. Pullman left the Golden Compass with so much potential to carry on the rest of his series.

June Recap

Hey guys! So June went by so fast and I’m glad summer is finally here! So, here’s a little recap of the books I read in June. I didn’t have any additions to the book shelf, but I’m actually proud of myself for that because I need to start cutting down my list. Make sure you keep up with my reads in May. Oh and I’ll be doing some special blog post you’ll definitely want to check out!

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

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Tristran Thorn has found the love of his life, the beautiful Victoria Forester. And like most people in love , Tristran does something crazy. See, Victoria isn’t sure if she loves him or not, so he must prove it to her. (Which doesn’t make any sense, but of course Tristran doesn’t realize it.) As he professes his love for her, a star falls in the distance, and his crazy act begins.

He will bring the star to Victoria, all for a wish, and potentially her hand in marriage. He begins his journey of the unknown with love in his heart, eagerness in his eyes, and adventure in his steps.

In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

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Lenora wakes up in a hospital, scratched, bruised and confused. She can’t recall what happened in the past 24 hours. The last thing she remembers is attending a hen party (aka bachelorette party), but why would a police officer be outside her hospital door? She has to remember what happens…even if it kills her. (Bah, Bah, BUM!)

In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware was a quick 308 page read. I was ready to kick off the summer with a little bit of thrill and this book provided. I started this read on June 2, 2017 and finished on June 9, 2017. It was a decent book, not good enough in my opinion to make a lasting impression. So, overall I rated it a 6 out of 10 rating.

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

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A Conjuring of Light was a true finale to The Shades of Magic trilogy. V.E. Schwab did not disappoint her readers with this one. Every moment was a plot twist and it made me go through an emotional rollercoaster (and I mean the good-crazy-fun-rollercoaster). I remember thinking to myself through out her book, “I never saw that coming”, in almost every section.

I started this book on May 17th, and finished on May 30th. Overall, I give this book a 9 out of 10 rating and highly recommend it for all fiction lovers.

 

Book Review: Stardust

“He imagined he could see the very faces of the stars; pale they were and smiling gently, as if they had spent so much time above the world, watching the scrambling and the joy and the pain of the people below them, that they could not help being amused every time another little human believed itself the center of its world as each of us does.” – Stardust

Tristran Thorn has found the love of his life, the beautiful Victoria Forester. And like most people in love , Tristran does something crazy. See, Victoria isn’t sure if she loves him or not, so he must prove it to her. (Which doesn’t make any sense, but of course Tristran doesn’t realize it.) As he professes his love for her, a star falls in the distance, and his crazy act begins.

He will bring the star to Victoria, all for a wish, and potentially her hand in marriage. He begins his journey of the unknown with love in his heart, eagerness in his eyes, and adventure in his steps.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman was such a fun read. It left me smiling with happiness in my heart. I started this fantasy novel on June 9, 2017, and finished it on June 14th, 2017. This book is full of adventure, romance, and magic (basically, my type of book).

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I picked up this book to give the famous Gaiman a try. I wanted something familiar and I loved the movie Stardust. I had no idea that the movie had originated from a book so this was actually  good surprise for me. But, before we talk about the movie, lets talk about the book!

I kinda knew the backbone of the story due to the movie, but it was still filled with little surprises. It starts with the origin story of Tristran and the love between his parents. Then, we’re introduced to Tristran’s current life and his dilemma in the love department.

As I mentioned before, he decides to embark on this crazy adventure to retrieve a fallen star. He crosses into an unknown land of magic, not knowing what to expect. His journey takes him to some exciting, and dangerous places, but he must get back to his true love.

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Overall I rated this book a strong 7 out of 10. I fully enjoyed the tales within this book and I loved how there was reason to every little detail.

One of the qualities I didn’t like was the writing style. It was so undescriptive. I mean, Gaiman was supposed to create this whole world full of magic and sometimes the big descriptions/ events were two sentences. I would have to go back and make sure I got every detail from that short description. It was kind of annoying.

But unlike the novel, the movie was so descriptive. And yes, some of the movie plot points differed from the novel but I think this is the only book to movie combo that I liked the movie a lot better. Honestly, this movie is a perfect mix of everything and kind of like Ella Enchanted. Here’s the trailer:

Gourmet Milkshake

My awesome drink pairing for this book is a Gourmet Milkshake by the Bubble Waffle Bar. It’s like a Unicorn Milkshake but ten times better and awesomer. Which isn’t a word but it describes it perfectly. I recommend this fun drink for anyone that stops in San Antonio.

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On to the next…

Up next is The Golden Compass. This is such a big classic and there was a lot of controversy around the movie so it will be an interesting read!

Book Review: In A Dark, Dark Wood

“The night was drawing in, and the house felt more and more like a glass cage, blasting light blindly out into the dusk, like a lantern in the dark.”- In A Dark, Dark Wood

Lenora wakes up in a hospital, scratched, bruised and confused. She can’t recall what happened in the past 24 hours. The last thing she remembers is attending a hen party (aka bachelorette party), but why would a police officer be outside her hospital door? She has to remember what happens…even if it kills her. (Bah, Bah, BUM!)

In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware was a quick 308 page read. I was ready to kick off the summer with a little bit of thrill and this book provided. I started this read on June 2, 2017 and finished on June 9, 2017. It was a decent book, not good enough in my opinion to make a lasting impression. So, overall I rated it a 6 out of 10 rating.

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Lenora gets invited to this hen party for a friend she hasn’t spoken to in years, like 10 years, and the bride to be is named Clare. So why Lenora? Why would Clare invite her to a party after not communicating for 10 years? This book starts with plenty of questions for the reader and it grabbed my attention immediately. I wanted to see how this novel played out.

Ruth Ware does a fantastic job of building a story. I think she did well with flash back and returning to the main story plot. It kept me entertained and wanting to read more. Her characters were all well written as well. I felt like I was playing in the game of clue. (The Butler did it with the Candle Stick in the Master Bedroom!!) Each character has different qualities but they were all so relatable.

The thing that prevented me from liking this book was the predictability. Soooo predictable. I don’t want to give too much away but, I felt every plot twist coming. Personally I want a thriller to have thrill, and there wasn’t enough In A Dark, Dark Wood.

But I would recommend this book for those who are looking for a good, quick, summer read.

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Tea

For this book combo, I paired it with tea. Lenora is a big fan of coffee but Clare is a big fan of tea. At her hen party all they had was tea, and it was kinda big deal.

On to the next…

The next book for me is one of my favorite movies, Stardust. This book is full of magic and it’s by Neil Gaiman. I haven’t explored his writing style, but everyone gives him good reviews. So this book will be the start to see if I should read the rest of his books.

 

Book Review: I, Lucifer

“There’s no such thing as evil for its own sake. All evil is motivated- even mine”- Lucifer

Lucifer is given the chance of redemption, and all he has to do is live a life of a human. The King of Hell, the Father of Chaos, the Stealer of Souls is walking among us, what could go wrong?

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I, Lucifer

I started I, Lucifer on May 3rd and finished the 262 pages on May 16th. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book so I ended up rating this book a 5 out of 10. I picked up this book because I recognized the author Glen Duncan. He also wrote, The Last Werewolf, and I absolutely loved that book. I, Lucifer was written in 2003, before The Last Werewolf which was written in 2011. Duncan’s writing majorly improved in 2011 as this novel was a struggle to get through.

Lucifer is doing his business in Hell; torturing people, looking for souls, and tempting mortals until God send a message. Lucifer can come home on one condition, he has to live life as a human in the body of Declan Gunn (an anagram for Glen Duncan, very clever). Seems pretty easy for the Prince of Darkness right? Turns out, its not.

Lucifer realizes that he has to play by the rules. He can’t be evil while he lives on earth. It’s an adjustment, but you know, gotta do what you gotta do. All this time though, is it worth it? Will God really accept Lucifer after all this time?

So this book brought very mixed emotions for me. I started this book and I couldn’t stop laughing. I mean, think about it, Lucifer’s gotta be a sarcastic smart ass. Which is hilarious, but Lucifer is technically still an Angel. So, he has angelic thinking and this thinking is explained in the novel as so fast that humans can’t keep up.

Duncan tried to express this thinking by the writing style, but honestly, it was so confusing to the reader. He used so many parenthesis, I would say there was at least one pair per page. It was way too much and the story was lost, I became totally uninterested.

Overall it was a decent book and I wouldn’t recommend this book.

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Lucifer Rising

For this drink combo, Lucifer actually made this specific drink in the novel called Lucifer Rising. It’s a mix of vodka, tequila, orange juice, tomato juice, tabasco, tio pepe, marnier, cinnamon and pepperoncino chili. It was a very interesting drink.

On to the next…

The next book is the finale, The Conjuring of Light. I’m actually sad and excited to start this book. Sad because I don’t want the story to end, and excited because I can’t wait to see how it ends.

Mother’s Day Book Quotes

Happy Mother’s Day! To all the great moms out there, thank you for loving, caring, and supporting us crazy kids. We wouldn’t be the successful, book addicts that we are today without you. To show some love, here are some book quotes just for mom.

“I have a sister, so I know-that relationship, it’s all about fairness: you want your sibling to have exactly what you have-the same amount of toys, the same number of meatballs on your spaghetti, the same share of love. But being a mother is completely different. You want your child to have more than you ever did. You want to build a fire underneath her and watch her soar. It’s bigger than words.”   – Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

“Behind all your stories is always your mother’s story. Because hers is where yours begin.”   – Mitch Albom, For One More Day

“Because I feel that in the heavens above
The angels, whispering one to another,
Can find among their burning tears of love,
None so devotional as that of “Mother,”
Therefore, by that dear name I have long called you,
You who are more than mother unto me.”
Edgar Allen Poe, To My Mother

A quote in honor of Mother's Day.:

“Mothers are all slightly insane.”- J.D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye

“Pride is one of the seven deadly sins; but it cannot be the pride of a mother in her children, for that is a compound of two cardinal virtues — faith and hope.” – Charles Dickens

Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is…and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.”- Donna Ball, At Home on Ladybug Farm

“You were my home, Mother. I had no home but you”- Janet Finch, White Oleander

A New Season of Motherhood : Why I decided to

“A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dates all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.”- Agatha Christie, The Last Séance

“Mom had the kind of love for her that you could feel, like it was part of the atmosphere.”- Peter Abrahams, Down the Rabbit Hole

I will look after you and I will look after anybody you say needs to be looked after, any way you say. I am here. I brought my whole self to you. I am your mother.”- Maya Angelou, Mom & Me & Mom

A Gathering of Shadows and Black Coffee

A Gathering of Shadows was a great book to help me get back into the groove of things. Lately I’ve been so busy with graduation from college, I haven’t had time to read or blog. It’s such an exciting time for me but a busy time as well. Anyways, enough about me, lets get back to the good stuff!

I started A Gathering of Shadows on April 10, 2017 and finished it on April 30, 2017. Normally it does not take me twenty days to read a book, so yeah, I was kinda busy. Overall I gave this book a 9 out of 10.

In order for me to give an accurate review, there may be some spoilers for A Darker Shade of Magic. So please, if you don’t to spoil anything, read up on my past review of ADSOM and catch up with us when you can!

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A Gathering of Shadows

We pick up in A Gathering of Shadows where we left off in A Darker Shade of Magic, Lila is leaving to follow her adventure and Kell is to return to the palace, connected to Rhy.

Lila is exploring her new home of Red London the only way she knows how to, as a thief. Her inner desire to steal puts her in a predicament and we meet the savvy Captain of the Night Spire. We follow their waves on the sea and experience the struggle Lila feels as she starts to get close to someone / something. Personally I love being able to explore this character. I felt like I really got to know Lila in AGOS.

In the first book we only received a glimpse of the inner Lila and how she makes her decisions. In AGOS we really start to understand her fears and wants, but Lila still remain mysterious. But one thing is for certain, Lila makes her own path and no one can change that.

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While Lila is on an adventure, Kell is struggling to keep his cool. Rhy and Kell’s brotherly bond is stronger than ever. Their lives have been interweaved and Kell can feel every emotion of Rhy’s including pain. So now it’s not only Kell’s own life that he has to protect, it’s Rhy’s too. This puts some major stress on Kell and his body is craving power since he touched the black stone. There’s so much tension and he just needs to let go, luckily there’s the Essen Tach.

The Essen Tach is a elemental tournament where magicians from all around the world for the title of champion. This tournament was definitely a highlight within this book and it bought back so many Harry Potter feels. The dueling, fighting, dodging and quick thinking all reminded me of The Goblet of Fire. Which is my favorite movie but not favorite book of Harry Potter.

This book was a big step up from ADSOM and I really liked the first book. My friend who originally loaned me the books (you can follow her on Instagram here) told me that each book V.E. Schwab gets even better with each book. I’m super eager to read the last book. This series has really caught my full attention. The first book was great as an establishment but the second, wooo! It was exciting and I enjoyed every page!

Oh and a Darker Shade of Magic is officially going to be a movie!!

Black Coffee

The drink I chose for this pairing is Black Coffee. The reason I chose this drink is because Black London starts to become a bigger topic in A Gathering of Shadows and I wanted to highlight this issue that arises in the novel.

On to the next…

I just ordered A Conjuring of Light and that’ll be about a week I have to wait. In between I’ve chosen to read I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan. I’ve read Glen Duncan’s The Last Werewolf and loved it. I definitely recommend that one as well!

The Angel Maker and Red Bull

“Sometimes what might seem impossible, is only difficult.”

Science has always conflicted with religion. In The Angel Maker, Stefan Brijs explores and exposes this conflict with the geneticist, Dr. Victor Hoppe. Hoppe is a very strange man as he’s anti-social, introverted, awkward, and shows no emotion. Hoppe is so strange but, he’s a genius and there are no boundaries in his mind.

His mindset was majorly influenced by his childhood in which he grew up surrounded by the faith and religion of others. But, he learned what others could not see. The TRUE faith and the TRUE outcome of religion. Victor finds this mindset puts him on a path back to his home town of Wolfheim.

As he arrives unexpectedly into Wolfheim, he brings a surprise; his children. These three boys are just as strange as Dr. Hoppe. They don’t cry. They don’t smile. They don’t even look…normal. Dr. Hoppe keeps his three boys hidden and they are to never travel outside. This gets some major village gossip going on, but if only everyone truly knew what happens behind those closed doors.

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I originally found The Angel Maker at my local Half Price Books. I was looking for a quick, easy read, and I ended up getting more than just that. What I ended up getting was a story that made me think so heavily on my own beliefs. I was intrigued by The Angel Maker because it seemed to relate to Frankenstein so much. For me, it seemed like a classic tale told with a twist but I was wrong.

The Angel Maker is book number seven for my 2017 reads, and so far it’s one of my favorite books. I started The Angel Maker on March 28, 2017 and finished the 346 pages on April 4, 2017 . This book was really intriguing for me and it made me think a lot about life in general. Overall I rated it an 8.5 out of 10.

The reason I gave it an 8.5 is because I loved the inner conflict, the characters and the search for reason in religion.

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An inner conflict was found in every single character in this book, but the main and predominate conflict was within Dr. Hoppe. Victor grew up wanting to be good. He wanted to make an impact on the world by discovering new methods in reproduction. But his goal and personality blinded him and he became a mad man. Although Victor had no personality, I thought this quality made him such a strong character. I could feel the struggle he was facing through out the whole book.

So, this brings me to the next positive attribute, the characters. Oh, I loved everyone in this book! I felt like I was being thrown into an episode of American Horror Story. (Which is one of my favorite shows, especially coven!) I loved the wicked and twisted characters that thought they were doing good. Also the creepy kids and the innocent villagers were a great addition. They were all so different, but I found something to like for each and every one of them. (If you like AHS, I highly recommend this book!)

And for my favorite part of the book, the search for reason in religion. As a young adult, I haven’t found where I fit in my own faith and it’s always good to see the different views. Hoppe grew up in such a religious community, but his thoughts were very atypical of a holy person. I don’t want to spoil too much but it was just so interesting how his genius mind broke down faith so easily. You’ll have to trust me on this one cause anything I say might give it away.

Red Bull

So, I really had to venture out and think of a drink connection for this book. I wanted something crazy and daring because those are the qualities of Victor Hoppe. But I also wanted to stick with the whole “Angel” theme because God is such a big part of this book. A religious, crazy and daring drink….uhhhh. Got it! Red Bull!

Yes. Red Bull. Well, Red Bull gives you wings…Yeah, see what I did there. Angels, wings, Tah Dah! Oh and Red Bull gets you all pumped up and act like a crazy person. So sometimes Red Bull can make you act like Victor Hoppe.

On to the next…

A Gathering of Shadows. Need I say more?

California Book Review

As a book lover, it’s hard to write a negative book review. I believe that every book has it’s own true beauty, but I struggled to see the true beauty in California by Edan Lepucki. In most books, I can get through the bad attributes. For example, I don’t mind a boring book as long as it is well written, or weak characters, as long as there is a unique idea to the story plot. But… California struggled to do any of this. It was very difficult for me to enjoy this book. This is the first book I’ve ever marked as a DNF (do not finish). It hurts my soul to find a book like this and give it a negative book review but I want to prevent anyone else from experiencing the same situation. Overall I gave this book a 2 out of 10.

Originally I had found California at Barnes and Noble hidden under the table at the paperback section of new releases. I now understand why it was hidden. At first I thought I was cool cause I found a unique book, but you know, life tends to laugh in your face.

I was really attracted to the cover of the book. It was beautiful as it showed a forest, thriving and on its side. As a huge nature lover, I really enjoyed the tall green trees with a blue sky as the California cover. I thought, “With a cover that pretty, its gotta be good!” Yeah. Awkward.

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So I know you’re thinking, “Why would you pick a book just based on the cover?” Well, the gist/ summary was really good too! Here, take a look:

The world Cal and Frida have always known is gone, and they’ve left the crumbling city of Los Angeles far behind them. They now live in a shack in the wilderness, working side-by-side to make their days tolerable in the face of hardship and isolation. Mourning a past they can’t reclaim, they seek solace in each other. But the tentative existence they’ve built for themselves is thrown into doubt when Frida finds out she’s pregnant.

Terrified of the unknown and unsure of their ability to raise a child alone, Cal and Frida set out for the nearest settlement, a guarded and paranoid community with dark secrets. These people can offer them security, but Cal and Frida soon realize this community poses dangers of its own. In this unfamiliar world, where everything and everyone can be perceived as a threat, the couple must quickly decide whom to trust.

It sounds really good right?!? Yeah… So okay, here are the few reasons I did not enjoy this book.

#1- The writing style. The writing in this book struggled to connect with the reader. I felt lost sometimes and I found myself re-reading sentences three times just to understand what was going on. An example of the writing style follows:

“Cal didn’t like that. He didn’t like that he didn’t like that.”

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So, personally I believe this book is just a ‘first book’. The writing style makes it seem like a rough draft, and I think that Lepucki is on the way to good things. I will be so excited for the next book she writes, but for now, California is just a stepping stone.

#2- The characters. In California, our two main characters, husband and wife are Cal and Frida. Both endured the apocalypse and are forced to live their lives controlled by mother nature. Cal is portrayed as a busy man focused on surviving. For Cal, love isn’t really a word used to describe his feelings. He doesn’t show his affection for Frida. Also, Frida is supposed to be this strong and empowering woman, but she constantly has a problem. There’s no dynamic between these characters and I struggled to find something to like.

#3- The apocalypse. Usually in an apocalyptic book, there’s one major key event. In California, there are several events to trigger it. But as a reader, you’re constantly guessing what really happened. It was so frustrating and I always felt like there was a new way or event of how the world ended.

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Reading this book, I just felt so confused. I was annoyed that I couldn’t just read the book without getting lost. The characters were a struggle and I wanted to know what happened for them to end up in the damn forest. But this is only my opinion and there are other readers who loved California. Here are some of their reviews:

 “The writing style of this book is different from what I usually read and it took me a while to get used to it but when I did I could not put the book down. Definitely enjoyed it.” – Barnes and Noble Book Review

It’s a sinister place, this dystopian future Edan Lepucki imagined. I wouldn’t want to live there. I got lost in this book for a week though — and I love that, that feeling. Just wanting to read a book. Early in the novel, before things got bad, there was a line about how Frida yearned for nothing more than a latte going into a cafe and ordering a latte and that struck me as so true. A thing you can miss. There were lots of amazing lines, Frida and Cal, their thoughts, small deceptions.” – Goodreads Book Review

Unfortunately I couldn’t think of a drink to accompany this book. I didn’t want to pair a tasty drink to accompany an unsatisfying book.

On to the next…

The next book is a short read, Angel Maker by Stefan Brijs. An interesting read about human experiments. Reminds me a lot of Frankenstein.