‘All Fall Down’ by Christine Pope

All Fall Down \ Image: Christine Pope

All Fall Down \ Image: Christine Pope

*Trigger warning. There is a sexual abuse aspect to this review. I’m discreet and respectful*

Where do you draw the line between a happy ending and a happy-ish ending? That is what I’m struggling with here today with All Fall Down by Christine Pope.

After reading Dragon Rose by Christine Pope by hopes were high for All Fall Down since it’s based in the same universe. I imagined another retelling of a fairytale with a happy ending that probably came close to the final pages for all the characters.

I was wrong.

Why Do “They All Fall Down?”

The story starts out at a decent pace but takes a slower turn once the main character, a healer named Merys Thranion is sold into slavery to a wealthy household. It picks up again once the core part of the storY centering on the outbreak of the plague kicks in and Mareys has to kick her training into high gear and try to save the entire household from a horrible death.

Realizing the villain was the plague I came to the unhappy realization that some characters I’d come to care for would die. That’s the nature of the beast when dealing with a story like this. It made for a very sad and lack of warm feeling story. Get the tissues ready if you plan on reading this one.

What bothered me the most?

The death and sadness didn’t bother me so much as Merys sudden romantic feelings for her master. The relationship felt a bit rushed and strange. It was almost like the author needed a romance in the book and decided why not have it be between slave and master.

There is a sexual abuse scene that happens between two slaves that can be a trigger for some and it was difficult to read. I don’t see the point in it other than to make a character out to be a villain. I’m not a fan of using sexual abuse as a plot device when there are so many other ways of doing it.

What Did I Like?

When I was first writing this review I was ready to give it nothing but a one-star review for making me feel so depressed. Then I took a step back and thought about the writing. Christine Pope took a subject like the plague and gave it a heroine. She took a subject as painful as the death of loved ones and put a religious spin on it that made it less painful and bearable for the living to think about. While I disagree with the subject matter and I can’t say this is a warm and fuzzy story, I can say this was a well-written story that takes the subject matter and makes it readable.

How happy of an ending is it?

Without spoiling the ending, it is a happy-ish ending. There is an element that makes you feel a little warm but to me, it’s not enough to make it a true happily ever after. It feels rushed and makes me wish it didn’t happen at all. It almost serves the characters no justice and in my opinion, they would have been better off without it.

I love Dragon Rose so I want to recommend this book but I can’t because of the lack of warm feeling after I was done reading it. I still plan to check out her other titles because I still love her writing, just this one was not for me.

If you want to check out All Fall Down to judge for yourself, pick it up on Amazon. It’s currently free with the other two books in the first of the three Latter Kingdom series.

‘Lost In A Book: An Enchanting Original Story’ by Jennifer Donnelly

Lost In A Book by Jennifer Donnelly

‘Lost In A Book’ by Jennifer Donnelly

Lost In A Book: An Enchanting Original Story by Jennifer Donnelly gives Beauty and the Beast fans new characters, a new villain, and a deeper look at Belle’s emotional battles while living in the castle.

Taking place during the events of the live-action movie, Belle stumbles on Nevermore, a book that is more than it seems and lets Belle take a ride into the story itself. Unlike the book the Beast shows in the live action movie that simply takes you where you envision, Nevermore is a Parisian glamour based adventure story with intrigue and mystery.

During her time in Nevermore, everything and everyone feels real, but is it? And can Belle trust the world that surrounds her or is she taking a chance at losing herself in the book forever?

What Did I Like?

The movie shows us how Beast has changed in his attitude towards the castle staff and in Lost In A Book we see more of that change.

We also see how much being locked in the castle has affected Belle emotionally. She may seem okay in the movie but this book shows the emotional toll of being a prisoner in the castle has had on her.

We also see the emotional bond that has formed by the characters when they realize what has happened. It’s heartbreaking to see Beast and the others realize not only where Belle has gone but that she may never return.

What Didn’t I Like?

Belle comes off a bit naive to me which is something I never thought I’d say about my favorite Disney princess. She seemed almost too trusting of things that seemed suspicious from the start.

Then again, I’m not a prisoner in a castle with all my dreams stolen from me. I guess Belle was desperate to feel something that resembled freedom that she wasn’t thinking as smartly as she normally would have in other circumstances.

What Spoke To Me?

Nevermore allowed Belle to escape the castle walls and her predicament as a prisoner. There are times I would love to dive into a story and watch it play out as one of the characters, but in the end, I can always pull myself back to reality simply by closing the book. Unfortunately, the very thing Belle was using to escape her harsh reality became a harsher reality for her to run from.

Something else that spoke to me was the emotional response from Belle to her situation. In the movie, we see her almost happy at the castle and as the viewer, it’s easy to forget she’s a prisoner. Lost In A Book reminded me that she isn’t as free or as happy as she appears. She’s simply persevering through the challenges placed in front of her.

In The End…

This story is an obvious happy ending because we know that eventually the spell is broken on the castle and everyone lives happily ever after. Lost In A Book: An Enchanting Original Story is something to fill in the gaps and give us more of the characters we love while also exploring the best room in the castle, the library. It’s a worthwhile story to read and one that any fan of Beauty and the Beast will enjoy.

Disclaimer: I was sent a free copy of this book in exchange for a review. The original review was posted on GeekMom.com.

‘Dragon Rose: Tales of the Latter Kingdoms’ by Christine Pope

Dragon Rose by Christine Pope cover with castle in the background

‘Dragon Rose’ by Christine Pope \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

Dragon Rose by Christine Pope is what you would get if you took the Beauty and the Beast story, threw in some Dorian Grey, and then turned it all on its pretty little head.

What Is It About?

Rhianne Menyon wants nothing more than to be a painter, but in a society that has ideas of what a “women’s place” is, she might as well want to be penguin. Unfortunately, Rhianne wasn’t only born in a village that disapproves of women painters, she was also born in a village with a curse. Every so many years, a young woman must be sacrificed as the next bride to the fearsome and mysterious Dragon Lord.

When Rhianne’s best friend is selected as the next bride to be, she steps up and accepts the fate to save her friend from what has been rumored to be a one way trip up to Black’s Keep.

It’s Not Your Average Beauty Meets The Beast

The story is a winding whirlwind of mystery and suspense with Rhianne becoming the heroine she didn’t realize she could be while longing to be the wife that her husband doesn’t seem to want.

Just like the beast in Beauty and the Beast, Theran, the Dragon Lord, has his own backstory that is tragic and heartbreaking. That doesn’t mean his future has to be as bleak as his past if he could stop being stubborn for more than 5-minutes.

This is obviously a romance but the romance is just a part of the overall story. The core part of the story is a mystery. What is the curse on Theran? What does it have to do with the village of Lirinsholme? And how will the two of them get their own happily ever after?

My Favorite Part!

I’d love to tell you about my favorite part in the book but that would spoil a major plot point so my second favorite part of the book is when Rhianne…wait…I can’t tell you that either. Darn it! What can I tell you…read, read, read and don’t put it down until your done.

I enjoyed this book so much that this review took me a bit longer than others because I was so enthralled in freshening up my memory I almost forgot I was supposed to be writing it up, not re-reading the entire thing.

Final Thoughts

Dragon Rose: Tales of the Latter Kingdoms is the first book in the Tales of the Latter Kingdoms series. All books in the series can be read as standalone tales, they just happen to take place in the same world.

At just over 250 pages, this book is what I consider to be an average read for an afternoon/evening at home. Get your favorite blanket, curl up and get comfortable because once you pick this one up it will be hard to put down.

Currently, Dragon Rose: Tales of the Latter Kingdoms along with books two and three in the Latter Kingdoms series are free on the Kindle and Nook. Make sure you check them out for a fun dip in the fantasy world.

‘Fruits Basket’ Anime Series Written And Drawn By Natsuki Takaya

Fruits Basket \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

Fruits Basket \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya is by far my favorite manga series so far. The story takes place over 23 volumes, which sounds like a lot of reading but it’s soooooo worth it.

Synopsis

The synopsis is kind of crazy.

After her mother’s death, Tohru Honda finds herself living with the Sohma family consisting of three cousins: Yuki, the ‘prince charming’ of their high school, Kyo the hot headed, short tempered outcast, and Shigure the mischievous novelist. Tohru finds out the Sohma family secret that when a member is hugged by the opposite gender or they are tired out, they turn into the 2 animals of the Chinese zodiac.” – Anonymous, IMDB

What Did I Like?

Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya is a fun slice of life story that takes its time letting you get to know the characters. The main character, Tohru Honda, is someone I wish I could model my own behavior after.

Tohru almost seems too perfect but we learn from how she behaves in various circumstances that she isn’t. Kyo has his mysteries and his quirks that at times make you want to slap him and other times jump in his head to see exactly what is going on in there. Shigure has a mystery about him that makes you wonder if he’s as innocent in his dealings as he wants you to believe.

The 23 volumes don’t focus entirely on Tohru and at times she isn’t even mentioned. This allows us to get to know the other people in her life and find out why they do the things they do and what shaped them into the people that Tohru loves.

What Didn’t I Like?

It felt like some of the relationships were dragged out way too long in this one. Things that should have happened could have happened much sooner and it would have made watching the character’s development a bit more interesting. I’d love to go more into this aspect, but I can’t without ruining the series for you, so you will just have to read it to find out more.

What’s next?

Fruits Basket Another (strange title but that’s how it’s being marketed) comes out in July and takes place after Tohru and the others have graduated high school. We will get to meet a new young woman and watch as she interacts with a few previously unmentioned Sohma boys.

Fruits Basket has a happy ending but the twist and turns at times makes you doubt if it will actually happen. There are times you will sit back and laugh, maybe cry a few tears, but in the end, you will be cheering all the way.

If you like the manga, you should check out the anime, available on Amazon or on iTunes. I love it so much I keep it on my phone to listen to at work. It’s a feel-good anime that leaves you with all the right warm and fuzzy feelings.

‘Keep Moving: And Other Tips and Truths About Aging’ by Dick Van Dyke

Dick Van Dyke Keep Moving \ Image: Hatchette Books

Dick Van Dyke Keep Moving \ Image: Hatchette Books

I’m most familiar with Dick Van Dyke from his role as Bert in my 2nd favorite live action Disney movie, Mary Poppins. I always like to imagine that Mary and Bert had a romance and Bert was just as magical in his aging ways as Mary Poppins seemed to be.

In Keep Moving: And Other Tips and Truths About Aging, Dick Van Dyke gives us some insight into his long Hollywood career and why he can’t stop dancing. The book is full of little reminders that being our age and acting it are two different things separated by the fac that one we have to do and the other is voluntary

What Can We Learn?

I’m a millennial so I’m far from worrying about grey hairs and colonoscopies (both familiar territory for Dick Van Dyke these days) but I’ve been feeling old and looking at how young Dick Van Dyke acts I wondered what his secret was.

Turns out he has a dozen or so secrets but the biggest is given away in his title, don’t stop moving. You move slower as you age but as long as you keep moving you’re not dead. One of his stories recounts when he took the stage with his wife unexpectedly during her dance recital (a video of this performance went up on YouTube). He goes into detail about how his wife’s routine made him just want to get up and dance and so, he did. There’s more to the story but I’ll let you read it for yourself.

What Stuck With Me?

I made over 20 highlights throughout the book and it’s hard to say which stuck with me the most. If I had to pick though I would pick chapter 2: Oh Brother, How Old Art Thou? where he quotes George Burns, who famously replied when asked if he lived in the past, “No. I live in Beverly Hills. It’s much nicer.”

Final Thoughts

This is one of the best autobiographies I’ve read and the easiest to get through. I laughed out loud at times and felt the emotional pain of some of Dick Van Dyke’s past poor choices (did you know he was an alcoholic?). Dick Van Dyke’s personality shines through and I could almost hear him reading it over my shoulder. It wasn’t hard to picture scenes in my mind and feel like it wasn’t that long ago that any of them actually happened.

At the end of the book though you know he’s still alive and still moving so it makes it a happy ending for all.

‘Dare Mighty’ Things by Heather Kaczynski

Dare Mighty Things \ Image: Harper Collins Publishing

Dare Mighty Things \ Image: Harper Collins Publishing

What is it about?

Dare Mighty Things is one of my favorite stories because its a quest with action, adventure, and involves a cast of physically and sexually diverse characters.

Our heroine is Cassandra Gupta, an 18-year-old Indian young woman from Texas who gets the opportunity to be the youngest person into space on a top-secret NASA mission. The catch is she’s competing against a slew of other young people from around the world who want the same opportunity.

The cadets are put to the test with everything from their endurance, mental stability, and teamwork skills under the magnifying glass. Their every move and every word are monitored to see if they are the right ones for the top-secret mission and it takes its toll on the characters as the story goes on.

For example, you see Cassandra come to the reality of not being able to talk to her family as her mail mysteriously never comes during her month-long stay. You see another cadet realize the importance of the risk they will be taking and decide maybe it’s not one they want to chance after all.

What about the storytelling?

Anyone who has read this kind of story knows the main character gets one of the two spots but which of the two and at what cost is what you are reading to find out. The story is just as much about the range of characters around the main character as it is about the main character.

Does it get personal?

Throughout the book, I wondered about the mission to Mars that’s been in the news and how I would feel being separated from my family for months all in the name of science and exploration. How would I handle not being able to be near them or even hear their voices? I didn’t like the feelings that welled up inside of me and I’m 33-years-old. I can’t imagine how an 18-year-old would feel.

The story ends happily but with a cliffhanger that will leave you hanging until October when the next book in the duology, One Giant Leap is released. I’m interested to see where Cassandra and her comrades go and if the author will make this series a true happy ending for all.

Disclaimer: This book was given to me as part of a review opportunity with Once Upon A Book Club through GeekMom Blog. For more on Once Upon A Book Club check out my review of their amazing product over on GeekMom Blog.

‘Olivia Twist’ by Lorie Langdon

'Olivia Twist' by Lorie Langdon \ Image: Lorie Langdon

‘Olivia Twist’ by Lorie Langdon \ Image: Lorie Langdon

What is it about?

Olivia Twist is a retelling of the classic, Oliver Twist, aimed at the young adult romantic reader. I’ve never read the original Oliver Twist so I can’t compare it but the story itself is a lovely read with a bit of action, mystery, and more than a sprinkle of romantic entanglements (but not enough to make your mother blush if she caught you reading it).

Romance??

The romance is in about 80% of the book but it doesn’t get really heated until half-way through, and by heated I mean the equivalent of a young couple at a drive-in movie (do they still have those?). It felt physically tense at times and other times frustrating with me yelling at the characters to finally get together and get it over with. Decorum and reputations be damned.

What about the storytelling?

From a storytelling point of view, I enjoyed how the characters took turns in the spotlight. One minute we’re following Olivia through the alleys of London and the next we get to see what’s going on in Dodger’s head as his complicated life situation and sexual frustration towards Olivia starts to emerge.

What spoke to me was the depth of what Olivia was willing to go to achieve her goal. She was smart, skilled, and unafraid even when logic told her that she should be.

Overall Thoughts

The reading experience can best be described as a lovely thrill that is best read on a rainy day when you don’t have to put it down. It’s not so thrilling though that if you must get up, putting the book down won’t be too torturous.

Welcome to Happy Ever After Books!

This site specializes in books that end happily or have happy centered themes to them. That doesn’t mean the book will be riddled with lovey-dovey romance. There will be books with fire and passion but also adventure and swashbuckling. Happily ever after isn’t just for fairy tales you know!

Why? 

Well, it’s because life is already so full of depressing and angry things. Reading should give you an escape from that. I choose to read only books that have happy endings but found that without reading the end of the book for myself, I wouldn’t really know if it was a true happy ending (and that spoils everything!).

Knowing a book has a happy ending doesn’t spoil the plot. It just means, in the end, it all works out. The fun part is figuring out how. Think of it like putting together a puzzle. Just because you know what a puzzle looks like before putting it together doesn’t make the experience any less fun right?

Happy ending books are also more fun to read. You walk away feeling like your on cloud 9 instead of the sixth circle of hell from all the depressing or angry emotions.

What can you expect from me?

Here I read the book and give you the details without spoiling it for you (except the whole, happy ending part).

I read mostly young adult fiction but occasionally there might be some adult books thrown into the mix. If there is anything that implies or has an explict sexual confrontation in it I will note it for you at the beginning of the review so you can decide if you should continue reading.

I hope you enjoy this trip into happily ever after with me!

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