Review: Song of the Nile (Cleopatra's Daughter #2) by Stephanie Dray

Song of the Nile by Stephanie Dray

Copy Courtesy of Penguin and Stephanie Dray
Already Released

This is the second book in the series, and you should definitely check out the first - Lily of the Nile - if you haven't read it yet. This review may contain some spoilers if you haven't read the first yet.

Selene Cleopatra is now a young woman and about to be married off to a man not of her own choosing. The marriage means a throne of her own in Africa, but she still yearns for the throne of Egypt. What price will she be willing to pay to gain it?

Banish any doubts you may have had about the sequel. It takes the momentum Dray built up in the second half of the last book, and continues it. What we end up with is a powerful and magical story that will grip you from beginning to end.

Selene comes into her own as she discovers her own powers, and living through her joys, failures, and numerous sorrows is so vivid that I forgot about this time and place while reading. The supporting characters are very well fleshed out and added much to the story. The backdrop is well, stunning.

I highly recommend Song of the Nile to you. It's a wonderful second book, and as I hear that there will be a third one, am eagerly awaiting it.

Star Rating: 4.0/5.0

For an explanation of the Star Rating go here.

Check out prices for Song of the Nile at Amazon

Third Sentence Thursday (#47)

Third Sentence Thursday
Grab the Code

Third Sentence Thursday is a weekly meme which likes to curl up with a good book and hot chocolate!

1) Take the book you are reading now and post the third sentence
2) Review this sentence anyway you want (funny and silly reviews encouraged)
3) Post a link to your sentence here (in the comments) or if you don't have a blog, just post it in the comments!

"The day Amy was born, her mother, Jeannette, was nineteen years old." -The Passage by Justin Cronin

Nineteen is not very old to be having a child. At least, not in modern times, and this book takes place now-ish. It just doesn't bode well, and while I wish Jeannette and Amy the best of luck, I can't help but think this won't end well.

Interview With Stephanie Dray (w/ Giveaway!)

Today I would like to welcome back Stephanie Dray, the FIRST author I EVER interviewed on this blog! Her new book Song of the Nile is out, and she's back to talk about it ^.^ I'm super excited. BTW, you can read my review of the first book in the series Lily of the Nile, as well as my previous interview with her ^.^ Also, the if you noticed the title I said GIVEAWAY that's right! ^.^ Keep reading for the details


Stephanie graduated with a degree in Government from Smith, a small women’s college in Massachusetts where–to the consternation of her devoted professors–she was unable to master Latin. However, her focus on Middle Eastern Studies gave her a deeper understanding of the consequences of Egypt’s ancient clash with Rome, both in terms of the still-extant tensions between East and West as well as the worldwide decline of female-oriented religion.

Before she wrote novels, Stephanie was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the transformative power of magic realism to illuminate the stories of women in history and inspire the young women of today. She remains fascinated by all things Roman or Egyptian and has–to the consternation of her devoted husband–collected a house full of cats and ancient artifacts.


1) I was completely sucked in by Song of the Nile, and I wonder how hard of a book this was to write? And/or in what ways was it the same or different from the other books you have written?

I have to tell you, this book almost killed me to write. I didn’t think it would be hard because I had almost fifty thousand words already written when it sold. But I soon realized that most of that had to be tossed away--that the real story was still about Selene’s twisted relationship with the emperor. I was also suffering from a serious crisis of confidence because I knew that this book was going to be darker and more controversial. In the end though, it made me cry, and I think that’s always a good thing.

2) In your afterword of Song of the Nile, you talk about the historical facts versus what changes and spaces you filled in. How did you balance the real versus storyteller's freedom?

My first duty is as a storyteller. I’m not a biographer. And frankly, historians would have a difficult time writing a biography about Cleopatra Selene because the evidence of her life is so fragmentary. However, the implications of those little historical snippets were too delicious to deny Selene her day in the sun. She spent most of her life without being able to voice her true feelings. I hoped to honor her by giving her a voice with which to speak to women today. I do a lot of research to make sure that if I am deviating from history, I’m doing so with a very clear purpose. For example, we don’t know what happened to Selene’s twin brother Helios, but he’s a very important character in my novels because of what he represents to her.

3) What happened to Helios after his disappearance in Lily of the Nile? I'm curious because while there are mentions of Helios in Song of the Nile, his story isn't anywhere near as fleshed out as Selene's. Basically, can there be a story of his journeys?

Assuming that Helios is actually alive, and not a spiritual manifestation of Selene’s darkest needs, I would love to do a story on his journeys during this time period. Can you imagine the exotic travels through Arabia and Kush? I can! Not to mention the fact that the Mediterranean was a wild and wooly place of piracy in those days and Helios would have been in the thick of all of that. I think you should talk to my agent; she would like to hear this idea you have for some side projects for me!

Sniffly Kitty: I would totally tell her that I want to see this story written. HEY STEPHANIE'S AGENT HELIOS' STORY = AWESOME SIDE PROJECT!!!

4) What was it like to do some tough things to your characters? The last book definitely saw some of that, but I feel there are definitely rougher moments in this book?

Some very bad things happen to my characters in this book and they hurt me to write them. What made it harder is that Selene is so overwhelmed with loss at some point that she can’t even cry anymore. And I thought about that--what it might feel like to lose someone you love and not even be able to cry at their funeral. For those periods of depression, I had to draw from a very dark place. The saving grace is that Cleopatra Selene triumphed over these tragedies in her life and I think we can all take inspiration from that.

5) Will there be more books in this vein from you? And any details you are allowed to share would be appreciated.

I have just accepted an offer for the third and final book in the trilogy, so I’d better get to work on writing it! This last one will cover Selene’s life as a mother, and the legacy she will leave behind in her children and in her kingdom. And of course, throughout the empire...

Sniffly Kitty: OOh, I didn't realize there would be a third book! I'm super excited ^.^


Sorceress. Seductress. Schemer. Cleopatra’s daughter has become the emperor’s most unlikely apprentice and the one woman who can destroy his empire…

Having survived her perilous childhood as a royal captive of Rome, Selene pledged her loyalty to Augustus and swore she would become his very own Cleopatra. Now the young queen faces an uncertain destiny in a foreign land.

Forced to marry a man of the emperor’s choosing, Selene will not allow her new husband to rule in her name. She quickly establishes herself as a capable leader in her own right and as a religious icon. Beginning the hard work of building a new nation, she wins the love of her new subjects and makes herself vital to Rome by bringing forth bountiful harvests.

But it’s the magic of Isis flowing through her veins that makes her indispensable to the emperor. Against a backdrop of imperial politics and religious persecution, Cleopatra’s daughter beguiles her way to the very precipice of power. She has never forgotten her birthright, but will the price of her mother’s throne be more than she’s willing to pay?


1. Giveaway of 1 Brand Spanking New Copy of Song of the Nile, direct from the publishers to you!
2. You refers to 1 person who is chosen at random!
3. Also refers to US & Canada residents only (sorry other folks)
4. Fill out the giveaway form below!
5. Do 1 of the following (bonus points for doing multiple):
- Subscribe to her newsletter
- Follow her on Twitter
- Like/Fan her Facebook Page
6. Giveaway is open until Nov 2, 2011 (that's next Wednesday)
7. Must be over 13 to enter.

Review: Mastiff (Beka Cooper #3) by Tamora Pierce

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce

Copy Courtesy of Random House
Release Date: TODAY!!!

This is the third book in this series and there may be some spoilers if you haven't read the previous 2 books (Terrier and Bloodhound), but honestly these stories are pretty standalone so you shouldn't worry too much.

The ultimate task for the best tracker team in the kingdom: Beka and her dog Achoo. The prince has disappeared, and the kingdom is in grave danger unless Beka can track him down. The trail though is a treacherous one, and there will be many twists, turns, and surprises.

I'm still squee-ing over having gotten my hands on this book. I may in fact be a bit of a fangirl... tiny teeny HUGE bit. As was decided when I featured this for a Third Sentence Thursday, this series is grittier than some of Pierce's other works, but it's still got the Pierce touch.

I took this book with me on my trip to Taiwan, and I kept wanting to read instead of going off and doing things. I was definitely surprised by how the hunt for the prince turned out, which was yay ^.^ and filled with lots of tense moments. I was able to slide into this story faster than the others perhaps because I've gotten used to the slang of Beka's day.

I think this was a great last book for this trilogy, and it satisfies much better than the Protector of the Small series (in my opinion anyway). I also love how this story wraps back around to George Cooper since we started with a small vignette from his home life at the beginning of the series. So, what are you waiting for? Go get it ^.^

Star Rating: 4.0/5.0

For an explanation of the Star Rating go here.

Check out prices for Mastiff at Amazon

Witch Eyes Sequel!!

There was a TON of buzz for Witch Eyes when it came out. I will admit that I haven't read it yet, but then that's the case for so many books that I'm going to skip the being embarrassed about it part. ANYWAY, apparently there is now a deal in place for the sequel which shall be called Phantom Eyes although there is no release guess. For the official announcement, head on over to Scott Tracey's blog.

Third Sentence Thursday (#46)

Third Sentence Thursday
Grab the Code

Third Sentence Thursday is a weekly meme which likes to sculpts castles out of clouds!

1) Take the book you are reading now and post the third sentence
2) Review this sentence anyway you want (funny and silly reviews encouraged)
3) Post a link to your sentence here (in the comments) or if you don't have a blog, just post it in the comments!

"As morning broke, I surveyed the middling monuments that blanketed Rome's seven hills." -Song of the Nile by Stephanie Dray

The backdrop of ROME, but the imagery of monuments being middling. There seems to be some disdain for them as we understand the monuments that stand in Rome are quite impressive (or well at least I think so anyway). What could this possibly mean?!

Review: Crossed (Matched #2) by Ally Condie

Crossed by Ally Condie

Copy Courtesy of Penguin USA (Dutton)
Release Date: November 1, 2011

This is the second book in this series so this may contain some spoilers if you haven't read the first (Matched) yet. If you haven't yet, you can check out my review of the first book.

Cassia is out in the Outer Provinces in search of Ky. Ky is in the Outer Provinces being constantly bombarded by the Enemy. The two will journey through this new land, and mayhaps, if fate lines up just so, they will be able to find each other once more.

There is a lyrical quality to Ally's writing which just sucks you in and makes you want to keep reading this book. It's just so beautiful that I can't help liking it, and it really makes the story go by without even realizing it.

There is lots more world-building in this second story, and it's woven into the character narration very naturally. While there will likely be only one more book in this series, I do hope there's more to discover yet.

My only real critique of this book is that there is somehow a lack of depth to what is going as though there weren't really strong emotions evoked even when the characters are in danger. Granted, I did worry for them so perhaps it wasn't that bad. I look forward to reading the next book ^.^

Star Rating: 4.0/5.0

For an explanation of the Star Rating go here.

Check out prices for Crossed at Amazon

Review: Legend (Legend #1) by Marie Lu

Legend by Marie Lu

Copy Courtesy of Putnam Juvenile (Division of Penguin)
Release Date: November 29, 2011

June is a prodigy groomed for the highest echelons of the military. Day is the Republic's most wanted criminal. When Day is accused of killing June's brother, June sets out to bring Day down. Things though aren't all they seem to be in the Republic, and June's quest will change her perspective on everything.

Yeah, yeah, I know, it's another dystopian book, but this one is pretty good. It's written in dual-narrative with alternating chapters between June and Day. Some people have said that the printing of the two characters with different colors is distracting, but I liked it since it was a very visual indicator of the switch between narrators.

Pacing was pretty quick although perhaps because of the moments each chapter ends at (lots of mini-cliff hangers) it didn't feel like it went too fast because you had to wait for the juicy parts even if only for a chapter. I also have a certain liking for child geniuses so even though they have a lot of talents and there may be cries of Mary Su and such, I enjoyed it because the premise for their many talents was established to my satisfaction.

It's light on the romance, which I liked although this may be disappointing to some, and the fleshing out of the world was sprinkled in throughout the book, which gave a sense of complexity without being overwhelmed with information. I, for one, am looking forward to the next book.

Star Rating: 4.0/5.0

For an explanation of the Star Rating go here.

Check out prices for Legend at Amazon

Mississippi's Quiet Banning of Abortion

I read this from Tamora Pierce's blog that there is a tiny little amendment to the Mississippi constitution making its way through the legislature that is pushing for designation of life at fertilization. Thus, making an abortion classed as a murder, which is wrong.

"Amendment 26. This is . . . truly frightening. In the Mississippi legislature a movement is afoot to make life a legal construct that begins at--fertilization. This is not a joke. I spent a good chunk of today searching the Intertubes because I was positive it had to be a foolie, in part because I could find no mention of it on the main pages for NOW and NARAL. The whole subject is operating under the radar, which is nervous-making, because the people who support this say they have petitions ready for a lot of other states. Because they say they had 30,000 signatures more than they needed to get this on the fall ballot. Because they say they can use this to overturn Roe v. Wade." -Tamora Pierce

Basically, I want to put this on your radar. Take a look at this petition if you are opposed to this.

Third Sentence Thursday Fail!

Third Sentence Thursday

Third Sentence Thursday is a weekly meme which follows dragons into dungeons!

Sorry that there wasn't a TST today >.< This was definitely a kitty fail. It shall be back next week!

A 'Commercial' For Straw House, Wood House, Brick House, Blow

Straw House, Wood House, Brick House, Blow - Our Lady of Villains Commercial from Candlewick Press on Vimeo.

Ok, normally I don't share videos because I am not all that fond of them... mostly due to the fact that I normally don't have earphones plugged in. Before you comment further, no I also can't just play it on my laptop speakers due to the more 'public area' nature of where I normally computer at (yes, I've turned computer into a word).

This video though had that strange computer generated voice that for some reason I really like (possibly due to Portal) that I am sharing it with you now. This is considered a 'commercial' for Straw House, Wood House, Brick House, Blow by Daniel Nayeri rather than a trailer and is one of several which can be found here.

Hope you guys enjoy it ^.^

Book Blog Hop and Follow Friday (Oct 7)

Book Blogger Hop

Welcome from Book Blog Hop hosted by Crazy for Books and Follow Friday hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read!

Coming Soon

Some Stuff You May Be Interested In:
The Sadness of Bookswap Shutting Down

Reviews You May Have Missed:
Witchlanders by Lena Coakley
Wisdom's Kiss by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

If you could pick one character in a book, movie or television show to swap places with, who would it be?

I think I've answered this question in a different form, but basically I don't think I'd really want to swap places. I'm pretty happy with the way my life is. Sure, I often don't get along with my parents, and there are days I wish that I could just read all day. Granted, I'm not sure there's a hero/heroine out there that just reads all day anyway heh~~

Third Sentence Thursday (#45)

Third Sentence Thursday
Grab the Code

Third Sentence Thursday is a weekly meme which likes to sculpts castles out of clouds!

1) Take the book you are reading now and post the third sentence
2) Review this sentence anyway you want (funny and silly reviews encouraged)
3) Post a link to your sentence here (in the comments) or if you don't have a blog, just post it in the comments!

"People on the sidewalk barely gave them a glance." -The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen

Either we're in a busy city, or these people are very sneaky. Why does the narrator about the people on the sidewalk? Do they want to be superstars? Maybe this is a book about superstars FROM THE FUTURE or well ok probably not... ^.^

Witchlanders Giveaway ^.^

So, I really liked Witchlanders by Lena Coakley, which you might have noticed if you read my review of it yesterday. Anyway, I'm giving away my gently used review copy so that someone else can experience the awesomeness ^.^

1. US only
2. Fill out the form below to enter
3. You must be 13 or older
4. Contest ends Oct 16, 2011 at 11:59 pm
5. If you win, you will have 72 hours to respond to the email. If no response is received, a new winner will be picked.
6. Also, if package is damaged in transit, I will be super sad but I can't be responsible >.<

Song of the Nile Released!

Song of the Nile by Stephanie Dray comes out today ^.^ You can get a copy here! (if you're so inclined)

Winners of Song of the Nile Swag Giveaway!

Our marvelous winners are:
Kitty B.
and Erin L.!

I will send out the swag packs soon ^.^

Review: Witchlanders (Witchlanders #1) by Lena Coakley

Witchlanders by Lena Coakley

Coy Courtesy of Simon and Schuster and Lena Coakley
Already Released

Ryder doesn't believe that the witches really have any magic. After all his mother always said so, and she used to to be a witch. Now though, she may be changing her story, and Ryder is about to be caught up in a terrible prophecy.

Why aren't there more books like this in YA right now? WHY?! I would read them; I would read all of them. I want to thank Lena for writing this, and then persevering to get it published because this is the epic fantasy YA I've been waiting for.

Ryder is a somewhat selfish at times teenage boy who is really trying to do his best for his family while things fall apart, and he feels real. It also helps that there's magic being thrown around as well as an age old feud between countries thrown in for good measure. I also feel like we've only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of what this magic system can do, and I'm really excited to see what else there is to it.

Witchlanders is epic while maintaining a feeling of a personal journey. I can see some of you thinking that this book moves a bit slowly, but it shouldn't all just be about action, there's a great story being told here so sit back and enjoy the ride.

Star Rating: 4.5/5.0

For an explanation of the Star Rating go here.

Check out prices for Witchlanders at Amazon

Books! Books! Books!

Hosted by The Story Siren

So it is time again to give the books/swag I've received in the mail some publicity ^.^ I realized that I had left out some books last week so those are thrown in with this week's batch.

Books Received For Review

Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith
-A prison for kids. Scary place.

Children of Paranoia by Trevor Shane
-An ageless War and an assassin that is employed by those running it.

The Time in Between by María Dueñas
-A couture designer gets caught up in politics

The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton
-The setting is Victoria London, and there is a faerie ring, which leads to trouble.

The Restoration Game by Ken MacLeod
-Political games for which affect the real world are afoot in a virtual world


True North by Christina Trujillo
-A sexy werewolf and some dead bodies = mystery.

A Lovesome Thing by Patricia Bowne
-Spring break for the Demonology department means interesting things.

Contest Craze - Collections

Mini Challenge for Princess Bookie's Contest Craze on Things I collect

I actually collect stamps, but my collection is far away at my parents' home because I didn't bring it with me to college. After college, it was still too much of a hassle to bring it over here so.. we'll see if I ever manage to have it in a place I'm living. Maybe it will happen next year.

At any rate, this also means I don't have any pictures of the collection :( One of my favorite in the collection are the Celebrate the Century stamps which the United States Postal Service issued to commemorate the 20th century. There is a sample from that series below:

Contest Craze - 5 Favorite Books

Mini Challenge for Princess Bookie's Contest Craze on the 5 Favorite Books of 2011

Sleight of Hand by Peter S. Beagle (click for my review)

Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick (click for my review)

Dragon's Egg by Robert L. Forward (click for my review)

Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi (click for my review)

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (click for my review)

Contest Craze - Scariest Word

Mini Challenge for Princess Bookie's Contest Craze from Benji the Non Reluctant Reader

My book is The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen and the word is: hag

Resulting Picture

Today I am Sad

One of my favorite parts of Goodreads - Bookswap, is being shut down. I know this has been coming for awhile since the Goodreads team has been talking about shutting it down since May due to it taking up too many resources in comparison to the amount of people using it. Nevertheless, I am very very sad to see it go and wish it hadn't come to this. I have voiced my opinion on this matter in the previous feedback thread on this subject, but I guess it didn't sway the matter in favor of keeping the service active.

I have swapped and received many books using the generally intuitive interface that the Goodreads team put together, and I'm not sure I can switch over to other clunkier interfaces. Also, most other swap sites don't let you pay only when you are requesting a book. Instead, you earn credits by shipping a book out.

Bookswap closes officially on Oct 31st, and I for one will be spending less time on the Goodreads site as a result since a good portion of my time on the site was using the Bookswap feature. Not that I will stop using the site altogether since the original reason I started using Goodreads was before the swap portion even existed.

I think at this point it may be too late to change the opinion of Otis and the rest of the Goodreads team, but if any of you are similarly disappointed in the loss of this feature I urge you to voice your disappointment in THIS THREAD or perhaps by email through their contact form.

Review: Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

Copy Courtesy of Simon and Schuster
Release Date: Oct 18, 2011

The top of the violin world comes together every four years to choose a star at the Guarneri competition, and Carmen is one of those select few chosen to compete. To be at the top, Carmen has sacrificed everything, but when Jeremy, her main competitor, enters the picture, Carmen starts to wonder whether any of it was really worth it.

Wow, I was surprised. In the first scene of the book, Carmen is poised to throw away a $1.2million violin (a Stradivarius for those who know anything about violins), and I was poised to not like the book because while that is a dramatic gesture, I wasn’t sure I could take such a horrific waste of money whether or not it was mean to be a gesture or not. Virtuosity though, turned around and surprised me with an engaging story, personable characters, and a building tension that broke at just the right moment.

Carmen’s slow realization throughout this book of the gilded cage surrounding her is not a new story, but it is told so well that it doesn’t need to be new to be great. The way Carmen’s addiction to an anti-anxiety medicine played out might have been a tad unrealistic since it seemed a bit too easy, but the thoughts which went through her head were well-written.

Maybe it’s because I don’t read that much contemporary fiction that I thought this one was good or perhaps it’s because it was good ^.^ Either way, this is a book you should get on the bandwagon for reading.

Star Rating: 4.0/5.0

For an explanation of the Star Rating go here.

Check out prices for Virtuosity at Amazon
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