Being brutally honest about books

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Mini review: Love in the Land of Midas by Kapka Kassabova

Clickbait summary: Not as corny or romantic as the blurb makes it appear.

Actual summary

A love story that crosses generations and continents, from post-war Europe to the present day. The legends of the Greek myths are diffused with the complicated history of the Balkans in a story that takes the reader into the lives of an unforgettable cast of characters.
This book was excellent, almost a five-star read. It's got lots of characters, which gets confusing because some have more than one name and remembering how they were connected is a pain. The characterisations are, however, strong and interesting. 

The main problem I had with this book was the flashback structure, which was very confusing at first - it started in 1998 and switched to 1949 to 1997 to 1998 to 1997 to 1998 and so on until it switched to 1947. Thankfully, each chapter has a date and location, and after a while I got the hang of it.

The central issue/event in Love in the Land of Midas is something completely new to me - the Greek Civil War. I didn't even know there was one! But yes, after World War 2, Greece had a three-year civil war. This is explained in the author's note at the start of the novel, and it's fascinating in the story. The politics and the war were new to me, and very intriguing.

Being published in 2000, and the latest date in the book being 1998, it's a little dated now in terms of communication. Now, the characters could use the internet and mobile phones to research or keep in contact. However, the themes and ideas (eg. love, passion, war, family) are still relevant and always will be.

Another issue I had was knowing that the author (at the time it was written) lived in New Zealand. To me, the book has a definite NZ flavour to it, especially in the dialogue, but the characters were European and Australian - no Kiwis at all. But if I hadn't known about the author, I might not have been distracted by this.

So much for a mini review! I will finish by recommending this book to adult readers/readers of adult books who have an interest in Ancient Greece and post-war Europe. It's well-written and so worth your while.

Add it on Goodreads

Monday, 25 July 2016

Get To Know Me Tag

Thank you to Alise at Readers In Wonderland for the tag. Readers, here are some never before revealed facts about me!


Name: pen name Alexandria
Nicknames: not really
Birthday: 7th November
Star Sign: Scorpio
Occupation: student


Hair colour: naturally brown, currently blackish
Hair length: long
Eye colour: blue
Best feature: eyes
Braces: never
Piercings: ears. I want to get a nose stud, too.
Tattoos: no 
Right or left handed: left


Best friend: a girl at kindy
Award: can't remember
Sport: netball
Real holiday: what does a "real" holiday mean??
Concert: The Wiggles!


Films: The Brothers Grimm, Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings
TV Shows: Xena: Warrior Princess, Spartacus
Colours: red, black, navy blue
Song: currently Pas De Deux Femmes
Restaurant: I don't have one
Shop: also don't have one
Books: you don't wanna go there, it would take too long
Shoes: black ankle boots with high heels and gold zips on the sides


Feeling: tired of life
Single or Taken: single and happy
Eating: nuts
Thinking about: this tag
Watching: Westside, War & Peace, rewatching some Xena episodes with my sister
Wearing: red jeans, black shirt, denim jacket


Children: no
Marriage: not if I can help it
Careers: writing (fingers crossed!)
Where you want to live: I don't actually know

Do you believe in…?

God: no
Miracles: no
Love at first sight: no
Ghosts: no
Aliens: no
Soul mates: no
Heaven/hell: no
Kissing on the first date: do what you both want, honestly, why ask me?
Yourself: usually

I tag…

Everyone reading this post!

Thursday, 21 July 2016

The good, the bad, and the ugly: Bring Down the Sun by Judith Tarr

Bring Down the Sun (Alexander the Great, #2)
Clickbait summary: Horny priestess marries King of Macedonia, has magic.

The good

  • About a historically intriguing woman, Olympias (Alexander the Great's mother) 
  • The setting! (Ancient Greece, 4th Century BCE)
  • Main character has a clear goal she is determined to reach (but she reaches it too easily to mane an interesting plot)
  • Ancient Greek girls usually have extreme levels of chastity, so it was a nice change to read about one with a sex drive (however, I think it could've been toned down a notch in place of a stronger plot) 
  • Just the right level of description, enough to get a rough idea of the visuals, not so much as to be overwhelming and boring
  • Strong female characters in a patriarchal society, and especially this quote:
"I know what I want," she said. "I do my best to take it."

"You should have been a man," he said.

"Why would I want that?"

She had taken him aback. "A man is - A woman-"

"Ask yourself," she said, "why a woman has to be weak to make a man feel strong. Are men so weak that women's strength is a threat to them?"

The bad

  • Lust = love; lust - therefore love - at first sight
  • Strange writing style with some weird phrases and sentences that don't quite make sense
  • The magical elements don't work for me (I don't like mixing my historical fiction with my fantasy, but that's just me)
  • Unlikeable, underdeveloped main character (unlikeable characters don't have to be underdeveloped, they're allowed some positive personality traits, and an interesting past)
  • All the name-changing is confusing

The ugly

  • SNAKES!!!
  • Hints of bestiality 


  • While I disliked many aspects of this book, overall I liked it
  • Would recommend to adult (or older teen, as it's not sophisticated but is sexually explicit) readers who like magic and historical fiction

The summary

Alexander the Great ruled the greatest Empire of the ancient world, but he was ruled by his mother, called Olympias. There are as many legends about this powerful Queen as there are of her famous son, and the stories began long before she even met Philip of Macedon.

Priestess of the Great Goddess, daughter of ruling house of Epiros, witch, and familiar of Serpents...she was a figure of mystery, fascination and fear even during her own lifetime. Author Judith Tarr uses the legends to weave an intensely romantic fantasy novel set in ancient Greece and Macedon.

Add it on Goodreads

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Top Ten Random Facts About Me

Top Ten Tuesday is an awesome meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is Ten Facts About Me. 

1. I'm in my first year of university, studying Communications

2. I'm left-handed

3. My favourite picture book is Weslandia by

I'm Alexandria, a 19-year-old reader/writer/blogger from New Zealand. I love language, history, and sci-fi. Hi! I'm always around if you want to talk, which you can do via comments, the contact form, or Facebook.

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