Category: Book Reviews

Jun 20

Risking It All – Blog Tour and Review!

Book Reviews, Book Tours 0



Risking It All
S.M. Koz
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: June 18th 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

A high-achieving teen who’s determined to become a fighter jet pilot is matched up with an accused criminal at an elite military boarding school in SM Koz’s YA novel, Risking It All.

Paige knows exactly what she wants—to graduate from Wallingford Academy and become a pilot in the US Air Force. She’s inherited her father’s no-nonsense attitude and whip-smart intelligence, all of which have made her the perfect Wallingford cadet.

Wallingford Academy is the last place in the world Logan wants to be. But after his girlfriend borrows his car and commits a crime, Logan takes the fall and ends up there with hopes of striking a decent plea bargain. For him, graduation can’t come soon enough.

When Paige is asked to mentor Logan, it’s the perfect opportunity to prove her leadership skills—but she doesn’t account for the feelings that start to develop or the baggage from Logan’s past which could threaten both of their futures.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

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I went into this book with a lot of hope AND a lot of trepidation. As a military veteran from a military family, I’ve found that it’s often really hard for authors without an actual military background (which, it doesn’t appear Koz has, I tried to look it up) to realistically portray the environment without being either completely kitschy or derogatory. Risking It All was a pleasant surprise on that front! While the action takes place at a military prep school, not in the military, it was fairly balanced and neutral in attitude. There was no political agenda (either to the left or right).

Paige was awesome – uptight, but awesome. I loved her so much and could totally identify with her attitude and her heart. It IS really hard, especially at that age, to learn to balance career aspirations and relationships. Logan was cute, if kind of hard to sympathize with…he really got himself into his original mess, and let himself be taken advantage of…but then had a giant chip on his shoulder. Eh, puppy love, I suppose. He was adorable AND had amazing guitar skills, so that kind of made up for it.

Overall I gave this book 4/5 stars. Recommended for cute teenage romance and interesting/unusual setting for a YA novel!

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Author Bio:

SM Koz was born in Michigan, but moved to North Carolina for college and never left. She enjoys traveling, camping, hiking, photography, reading, spending time with foster kids who call her house home, and learning new things. When she’s not creating online training for pharmaceutical companies (her day job) or writing, Koz can be found at the local community college taking courses on various topics ranging from digital art to HTML to desktop publishing. SM Koz has written six novels. Although her stories differ by genre, ranging from contemporary realism to sci-fi to fanfiction, two things they all have in common are a young or new adult focus and romance. If you’d like to learn more about SM Koz, check her out on social media.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Jun 13

Aru Shah and the End of Time

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

Aru Shah and the End of TimeAru Shah and the End of Time (Pandava Quartet, #1) by Roshani Chokshi
Published by Rick Riordan Presents on March 27, 2018
Genres: Middle Grade
Pages: 355
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Goodreads five-stars

Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she'll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?

One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru's doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don't believe her claim that the museum's Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.

But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it's up to Aru to save them.

The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?

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“We must go to the Otherworld, of course. Not quite what it used to be. It dwindles with humanity’s imagination, so I suspect it is currently the size of a closet. Or perhaps a shoe box.”

I absolutely loved this book! I wish I had been able to read it when I was a kid. It would have opened my eyes to a mythology completely different from any others I knew (it still did, it would have just been…nice to have it earlier in life). Aru is completely relatable, even though her situation is far and away from my own in some respects. I got a real Percy Jackson vibe, but it didn’t feel at all like a copycat. Hopefully that makes sense to my fellow readers!

This book isn’t only educational but EXTREMELY entertaining. I found myself snickering quite a few times and laughing out loud at least once. I love the pot shots Roshani takes at current issues/politics.

“This is what we get for thinking that scaly orange skin and fake hair could keep that former demon out of elected office!”

It’s not all fun and games though, as Aru and her friends soon discover…the lives of everyone they care about really are at stake, and not all are as they seem…

“Villains could be heroic, and heroes could do evil…everyone has a bit of good and bad in them.”

Basically this whole book is quotable, and I want to scoop Aru up into a hug (that she probably wouldn’t appreciate). So eager to read the next one!

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five-stars

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Jun 10

The Bride Test

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

The Bride TestThe Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient, #2) by Helen Hoang
Published by Berkley on May 7, 2019
Pages: 296
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads four-stars
three-half-flames

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

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“When she died, demons were going to torment her for eternity instead of letting her reincarnate. Or worse, they’d let her reincarnate, but she’d be a catfish who lived under a river outhouse.”

The Bride Test is a companion novel to The Kiss Quotient, but it isn’t necessary to have read that one before this one (thankfully, unlike many novels marketed as “companion”).

So, somehow I avoided all the general hubbub that surrounded The Kiss Quotient, author Helen Hoang’s debut novel, when it came out last year. I was aware of it, but not being in a mood AT ALL for romance, I skipped it. I continued to hear people rave about it, and then this subsequent companion novel, so I decided to pick it up.

I loved so many things about this book. I loved Khai so much, and I liked Esme even if I didn’t entirely relate to her…and, since she is coming from SUCH a different background than, I imagine, almost anyone who will read this book, I doubt I am the only one. She is a strong woman who will do anything – ANYTHING! – for her family, even if it means sacrificing herself. She does eventually come to realize that it is not worth it to sacrifice her happiness, even if it means a better life for her daughter, but she plays such a dangerous game here. The author’s note at the end of the book actually talks a lot about this, which I really appreciated.

Autism definitely gets positive rep here, and it was such a refreshing breath of air. I did think it was a little odd that Esme – who researches EVERYTHING – just sort of blew off Khai’s statement about it. That seemed really out of character, but whatever, I guess. She was super sensitive to his need for a different kind of touch, to his need for order and routine…but I felt like part of that was her desperation to try to get him to like her, and it sat a little sour with me. I’m glad that she came into herself by the end, but still.

There are definitely sexy times in this book – phew! The way Khai handles his sexual attraction to Esme is funny, cute, and sexy at the same time. There is clearly attraction between them, and I love that Esme was completely okay with having sex for sex’s sake – even if nothing else would come of it. We need more of that sort of sex-positive attitude in books. Enough with the slut shaming.

I also loved Khai’s big family. His mom – the whole reason Esme is in America – is hilarious but also so sweet because she clearly loves her kids so very much. The way Kwan and Khai interact completely melted my heart, too. I hope we get Kwan’s full story in the next book! Now I am definitely going back to read The Kiss Quotient and am really looking forward to the next installment as well.

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four-stars

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Jun 06

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

The Book Woman of Troublesome CreekThe Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark on May 7, 2019
Genres: Historical
Pages: 320
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Goodreads five-stars

In 1936, tucked deep into the woods of Troublesome Creek, KY, lives blue-skinned 19-year-old Cussy Carter, the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. The lonely young Appalachian woman joins the historical Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a librarian, riding across slippery creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her faithful mule to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky.

Along her dangerous route, Cussy, known to the mountain folk as Bluet, confronts those suspicious of her damselfly-blue skin and the government's new book program. She befriends hardscrabble and complex fellow Kentuckians, and is fiercely determined to bring comfort and joy, instill literacy, and give to those who have nothing, a bookly respite, a fleeting retreat to faraway lands.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a powerful message about how the written word affects people--a story of hope and heartbreak, raw courage and strength splintered with poverty and oppression, and one woman's chances beyond the darkly hollows. Inspired by the true and historical blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek showcases a bold and unique tale of the Pack horse Librarians in literary novels — a story of fierce strength and one woman's belief that books can carry us anywhere — even back home.

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TW: death, racial prejudice, rape, sexual assault.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a fabulous book. It’s very narrow in focus, which I think is what gave the author the ability to drop her readers into 1920s backwoods Kentucky in such a believable way. The blue skinned people of Kentucky and the Pack Horse Librarian Project are both from real history and it was just a real treat to read about something so real and yet so unknown.

“I was to stay put, and exactly where they wanted to keep me put. Beneath them. Always and alone.”

I loved Cussy. She’s had the short end of the stick in life, but she hasn’t let it completely beat her down. She loves her books, and her father, and despite things really looking dim she refuses to give up hope of a better life. Cussy is nineteen years old, with blue skin, in a society that beats her down for both. Looked at as basically “worse than colored,” her father is desperate to get her married since he knows his own days are numbered, due to being a miner and afflicted with black lung. He fears for her and this is the only way he can (he thinks) be sure she is taken care of and provided for after he is gone. His plan does not work out well for Cussy, and only stirs things with the local people that already look at both of them as outcasts.

Despite all the odds against her, Cussy finds a huge solace in her job as a “book woman,” one of the several female librarians who take books to the VERY farflung mountain people. She is so passionate about literacy, and helping all her patrons better themselves. My heart hurt as she constantly ran up against prejudice, not just for her oddly-colored skin but for just being a woman. Even the local doctor (someone who is supposed to be about HELPING people) is more interested in her for his ulterior reasons of figuring out her blue skin – no matter what her thoughts on the matter.

I also really loved that eventually, Cussy meets someone who hasn’t always lived in the hollers. Just as her mind has been expanded by books even though she’s never been outside Kentucky, the stranger has both traveled (extensively, by local standards) and read, and he treats her as a person regardless of her skin or gender. There isn’t really a HEA, but there is hope, and to me that is even more important.

This book was SO important to me on a personal level. My family – on both sides – is from the hills and hollers of West Virginia. My parents were the first generation to move outside the same county for over a hundred years, outside the state EVER. I grew up all over the United States and the world but I am still extremely conscious of my Appalachian roots, and sadly very little has changed in many areas where my extended family still lives. They – we – need more people like Cussy.

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five-stars

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Jun 03

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Book Reviews 1 ★★★½

Stepsister by Jennifer DonnellyStepsister by Jennifer Donnelly
Published by Scholastic Press on May 14, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads three-half-stars

Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe ... which is now filling with blood.

When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she is turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she is a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a feisty girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.

Isabelle has tried to fit in. To live up to her mother’s expectations. To be like her stepsister. To be sweet. To be pretty. One by one, she has cut away pieces of herself in order to survive a world that doesn’t appreciate a girl like her. And that has made her mean, jealous, and hollow.

Until she gets a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.

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“Have you forgotten what I am? I am the heart’s first beat and its last. I am the newborn lamb and the wolf that rips out its throat. I am the bloodsong, crone.”

Stepsister is the story of what happens to Cinderella’s family after she marries her prince and leaves them for the palace life. I was SO excited for this book, and I loved the cover, and the premise! So, while I enjoyed it and finished it pretty quickly, this was unfortunately one of those books where I really felt like I read a different book than what other reviewers read. I saw several reviews that said it was incredibly dark, and gritty, and feminist…and while it definitely tries to be all of those things, it doesn’t quite pull it off. I think one of the main issues I have is that the book is simply too short to successfully BE what it was aiming for. I was quite surprised when it arrived, as it seemed like a very slim volume for the tale I was expecting – it comes in at 352 pages, in a book shorter than your usual hardcover. It feels rushed, and as a result I wasn’t able to fully believe in the characters or their feelings.

HOWEVER. I was still extremely curious all the way through, as it isn’t ever exactly clear how Isabelle and Octavia (the other stepsister) will reclaim themselves and their circumstances. I expected a lot more darkness, but to be honest the most horrifying thing happens in the first chapter (and isn’t a surprise) when both sisters mutilate their feet in an attempt to wear the glass slipper.

*insert Jeopardy theme song*

I kept waiting for something else bloody and awful to happen but it really…didn’t. And yes, I know, what kind of a person does this make me…I’m trying not to think too hard on that. 😛 I also loved the idea of the wolf within, slumbering under the heart of a girl who had been told to be quiet and still and stay in her place.

More Things I Liked

  • Both sisters have very unconventional interests (Octavia is a mathemetician, and Isabelle is a tactician) that have been smothered by their mother and society in general. I loved how they grew and blossomed and came into themselves as the story progressed.
  • There are some real zingers in here…

“The feeling that you want to own someone body and soul, spirit them away from everyone else, have them all to yourself forever and ever and ever,” Hugo said dreamily. “It’s called love.”

“No, it’s called kidnapping,” said Tavi.”

  • The bet between Fate and Chance was pretty interesting. I wish there had been a little more explanation of how they came to be in their current form and the mapwriting…etc.
  • THE FAIRY GODMOTHER!!!! OMG. I don’t want to spoil anything but holy crap this is my favorite fairy godmother interpretation of all time.

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three-half-stars

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May 30

Two Like Me and You – Review and Tour!

Book Reviews, Book Tours 0 ★★★½

Be sure to check out all the other blogs on the tour over on XpressoTours!

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Two Like Me and You – Review and Tour!Two Like Me and You by Chad Alan Gibbs
Published by Borne Back Books on May 20, 2019
Genres: Modern, Young Adult
Pages: 298
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads three-half-stars

Edwin Green's ex-girlfriend is famous. We're talking cover-of-every-tabloid-in-the-grocery-store-line famous. She dumped Edwin one year ago on what he refers to as Black Saturday, and in hopes of winning her back, he's spent the last twelve months trying to become famous himself. It hasn't gone well.

But when a history class assignment pairs Edwin with Parker Haddaway, the mysterious new girl at school, she introduces him to Garland Lenox, a nursing-home-bound World War II veteran who will change Edwin's life forever.

The three escape to France, in search of the old man's long-lost love, and as word of their adventure spreads, they become media darlings. But when things fall apart, they also become the focus of French authorities. In a race against time, who will find love, and who will only find more heartache?

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Two Like Me and You is a quirky, funny debut novel about two teenagers trying to navigate their own mental and emotional growing pains, and their quest to help an old man find the girl he lost in the chaos of World War II. I was a bit skeptical of the tone of the book at first, but soon it becomes apparent that Edwin, our narrator, just has a rather anxiety-filled yet still somehow irreverent way of looking at life. And that he’s still not over his now famous ex-girlfriend, Sadie.

Parker is hilarious and so unashamedly herself, I absolutely loved her. I would love to see another book from her point of view. She isn’t afraid to take chances (to the point of stupidity, at one point, but thankfully no one was harmed), and she isn’t afraid to be different. That’s my kind of girl!

There is a lot of stuff going on in this story that just…would never, ever happen. I know it’s fiction, of course, but still. I expect my contemporaries to be a little more realistic. For instance, there is NO WAY IN HELL any nursing home would have let an old man go off with two high school kids. Definitely not the way it’s explained away in this story, anyway. Also all the running around and dodging of police? Come on, y’all. Just be prepared to have to suspend a little more disbelief than you might be use to.

The romance was cute, very puppy-love like. Edwin is sweet, but he has a lot of growing up to do. Parker does right by him though. She totally does. You’ll have to read it to find out what I mean!

Overall this was a very enjoyable read, lighthearted but with some really heartfelt bits when Gordon is telling his story of being in France and meeting the love of his life during the war. I was expecting a little more of a Letters to Juliet type story, but I was still quite satisfied with how this turned out. 3.5/5 stars!

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three-half-stars

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May 28

No Place Like Here – Review and Tour!

Book Reviews 3 ★★★★★

Be sure to check out all the stops on the tour over at Prism Book Tours!

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No Place Like Here – Review and Tour!No Place Like Here by Christina June
Published by Blink on May 21, 2019
Genres: Modern, Young Adult
Pages: 272
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads five-stars

Ashlyn Zanotti has big plans for the summer. She’s just spent a year at boarding school and can’t wait to get home. But when Ashlyn’s father is arrested for tax evasion and her mother enters a rehab facility for “exhaustion,” a.k.a. depression, her life is turned upside down.

The cherry on top? Ashlyn’s father sends her to work with a cousin she doesn’t even know at a rustic team-building retreat center in the middle of nowhere. A self-proclaimed “indoor girl,” not even Ash’s habit of leaving breadcrumb quotes—inspirational sayings she scribbles everywhere—can help her cope.

With a dangerously careless camp manager doling out grunt work, an overbearing father trying to control her even from prison, and more than a little boy drama to struggle with, the summer is full of challenges. And Ashlyn must make the toughest decision of her life: keep quiet and follow her dad’s marching orders, or find the courage to finally stand up to her father to have any hope of finding her way back home.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

No Place Like Here was so much more than I expected! I went into it thinking I was getting a somewhat fluffy summer camp novel (at only 272 pages I finished it in half a shift at work – yes, my job is that slow). While there were fluffy aspects, it was so much deeper and touched my heart in ways I was completely surprised by.

Ashlyn’s entire world has been turned upside down. All her plans for the summer have gone out the window. Her parents BOTH seem to have abandoned her. She’s been shipped off to stay with relatives she hasn’t seen for nearly a decade. She plans to just keep her head down and her mouth shut, just like she has for the entire life she’s spent with her overbearing, self-centered father. But then she realizes that she does still have a family that cares about her, and she starts to grow into herself. She grows SO MUCH in this short book, it was really amazing and yet still very believable.

I loved that she didn’t just grow up and shut her parents out. She grew up and at least tried to start the healing process with them. Her mom’s struggle with depression felt realistically portrayed, and I really appreciated the positive mental health rep in the book! Getting help is NOT a weakness, or a waste of time. YES!

Also, a HUGE thank you to Christina June for not making this a “romance is the answer” story. There is a little flirtation, a little kissing, a lot of attraction – but no real romance. So many stories portray romantic relationships as the cure-all for what ails us and it’s just so not true!

Now I need to go back and read the books that came before this one. Apparently some of the same characters show up, so I’m personally hoping that after No Place Like Here we get to hear more of Baxter’s story…

5/5 stars. I loved this book! I’ll be waiting for anything else Christina June puts out.

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five-stars

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May 27

The Burning Chambers

Book Reviews 1 ★★★½

The Burning ChambersThe Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse
Published by Minotaur Books on June 18, 2019
Genres: Historical
Pages: 592
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads three-half-stars

France, 1562: Nineteen-year-old Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter at her father’s bookshop. Sealed with a distinctive family crest, it contains just five words: SHE KNOWS THAT YOU LIVE.

But before Minou can decipher the mysterious message, a chance encounter with a young Huguenot convert, Piet Reydon, changes her destiny forever. For Piet has a dangerous mission of his own, and he will need Minou’s help if he is to stay alive.

As the religious divide deepens, and old friends become enemies, Minou and Piet both find themselves trapped in Toulouse, facing new dangers as tensions ignite across the city.

All the while, the shadowy mistress of Puivert Château—obsessed with uncovering the secrets of a long-hidden document—strengthens her power and waits for the perfect time to strike...

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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“Kill them all. God will know His own.”

3.5/5 stars. The Burning Chambers is the first in Kate Mosse’s new series, set in a similar historical time period as her earlier series, but this time entirely in France during the bloody wars between French Huguenots and Catholics. This book started out reeeeeeeally slow. So slow that, had I not been given a review copy, I probably would have put it down indefinitely. However, the description was excellent and so was the writing, it was just…so much. Also SUCH a huge cast of characters! There was a three page list of characters at the very beginning (which honestly terrified me before I even started reading). A lot of focus was on the religious conflict, too, which I found kind of off-putting but I understand that it was a HUGE part of life at that time, and was the motivating factor for a lot of the characters’ actions. There was SO MUCH double-crossing in this story…it made my head spin at times, trying to figure out who was on what side and who was a spy and who was playing both sides!

Characters

The story is centered around Minou and to a lesser extent Piet, but there are so many chapters from such a variety of people it was rather mind boggling. Minou is great and I loved that she acted demure enough to blend in seamlessly in the current French society no matter where she was…but beneath all that “proper-ness” was a backbone of steel and GOD HELP ANYONE who tried to hurt her loved ones. Phew.

Piet is a good, steady man with a heart of gold and again the backbone of steel. Despite getting something of the short end of the stick in life, he is still unwilling to believe the worst of people (something that comes back to bite him in the behind). I liked him, but I wasn’t swooning over him. I guess I prefer more of the bad-boy/wounded hero type. He’s just too…nice? (What kind of a person does this thought make me…)

However, all that said, my favorite character was Minou’s little brother. HE is going to grow up to be just the sort of bad-boy-with-a-cause I can get behind, I just know it! The most INTERESTING character is actually the villainess, but the interest of spoilers I’ll leave it at that.

Plot

The Huguenots (Protestants) and the Catholics of 16th century France hate each other for various reasons, and those with no strong religious sensibilities want only to profit from war. Minou’s father has been keeping some dark family secret, Minou receives a vaguely threatening letter…and she is oblidged to leave her beloved Carcassonne for the “safety” of Toulouse, which turns out to not be safe at all.

I really thought this would be more of a historical thriller than it was. As it turned out it was much more of a political/social commentary for the first 75%, with a insta-love sort of romance thrown in. It was sweet, but seemed QUITE unfounded…however, ignoring that little issue, the last quarter of the book really picked up the pace and made me MUCH more invested in the characters and their story, as everyone actually came together instead of being scattered all across the map.

Overall

3.5/5 stars, rounded up. The last quarter really saved the book, and I’m hoping all the meandering and emphasis on the societal aspects of the Huguenot/Catholic wars was setup for the future books in the series, which I will definitely be reading!

Stream-of-consciousness commentary:

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May 23

A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell #4)

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell #4)A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell, #4) by Deanna Raybourn
Published by Berkley Books/Penguin Random House on March 12, 2019
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 323
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Goodreads four-stars

Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell is whisked off to a remote island off the tip of Cornwall when her natural historian colleague Stoker's brother calls in a favor. On the pretext of wanting a companion to accompany him to Lord Malcolm Romilly's house party, Tiberius persuades Veronica to pose as his fiancée—much to Stoker's chagrin. But upon arriving, it becomes clear that the party is not as innocent as it had seemed. Every invited guest has a connection to Romilly's wife, Rosamund, who disappeared on her wedding day three years ago, and a dramatic dinner proves she is very much on her husband's mind.

As spectral figures, ghostly music, and mysterious threats begin to plague the partygoers, Veronica enlists Stoker's help to discover the host's true motivations. And as they investigate, it becomes clear that there are numerous mysteries surrounding the Romilly estate, and every person present has a motive to kill Rosamund...

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A Dangerous Collaboration is the fourth in the amazing Veronica Speedwell mystery series by Deanna Raybourn! This is definitely a series you need to start at the beginning with, so if you haven’t already be sure to go read the first three books – A Curious Beginning (#1), A Perilous Undertaking (#2), and A Treacherous Curse (#3).

Warning: Possible spoilers for the first three books of the series, but not for this one!

I was really startled when I began reading this book! It starts off with Veronica leaving England – and Stoker – and going off with Lady Cordelia for six months overseas. SAY WHAT?!? You separated my darlings, WHY?? Very little page time is given to this six months, other than to say both ladies fell ill on the trip (but not deathly ill), and Veronica spent much time thinking about Stoker and her feelings and wondering why he didn’t write even though she had told him not to.

Eventually they return, and she and Stoker are so stilted and awkward, it’s like they had taken one step forward and about ten back. Before they even BEGIN to work this out though, as friends or professionals, Stoker’s brother Tiberius (introduced in the first book, gradually getting more screen time as the series goes on) bursts in on them and asks Veronica to go with him to an old school friend’s gathering on a remote island (*dun dun dun DUN*)…posing as his fiancee’. Needless to say…they all three end up going, and shenanigans ensue.

The mystery on the island was the most engrossing one in the series so far, in my opinion. After floundering through the first few chapters (seriously, everyone had emotionally regressed…it was so disconcerting!) I really got into it once things moved to the island. As Veronica (and Stoker…and Tiberius…) try to solve the mystery of what happened to Tiberius’s friends bride, they uncover more and more secrets. It was DELICIOUS!

In the interest of NOT spoiling anything, I won’t give any details, but by the end of the book I was very satisfied with the character progression once more. However, now I want more of Tiberius. He has become a character of interest. I need to see more of his bruised heart and soul…and I would be VERY interested to see if a woman who could handle him and his…proclivities…could be found!

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May 20

The Bone Charmer – Review and Tour!

Book Reviews 0

Be sure to check out all the stops on the tour over at The Fantastic Flying Book Club! Also scroll to the bottom to enter the giveaway!

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The Bone Charmer – Review and Tour!The Bone Charmer by Breeana Shields
Published by Page Street Kids on May 21, 2019
Pages: 400
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Goodreads

In Saskia’s world, bones are the source of all power. They tell the future, reveal the past, and expose secrets in the present. Each village has a designated seer who performs readings for the townsfolk, and in Midwood, the Bone Charmer is Saskia’s mother.

On the day of her kenning—a special bone reading that determines the apprenticeships of all seventeen-year-olds—Saskia’s worst fears come true. She receives an assignment to train as a Bone Charmer, like her mother, and even worse, a match-making reading that pairs her with Bram—a boy who has suspicious tattoos that hint of violence.

Saskia knows her mother saw multiple paths for her, yet chose one she knew Saskia wouldn’t want. Their argument leads to a fracture in one of the bones. Broken bones are always bad luck, but this particular set of bones have been infused with extra magic, and so the break has devastating consequences—Saskia’s future has split as well. Now she will live her two potential paths simultaneously. Only one future can survive. And Saskia’s life is in danger in both.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Bone Charmer is the kind of book that knocks the breath out of you. And then revives you, just a little bit, enough that you see the light at the end of the tunnel and hope that it’s not, you know, THE light. But enough with my ridiculous metaphors.

Saskia is a seventeen year old girl who has lost almost everyone dear to her in the last year. When her bone kenning doesn’t go as she hopes, her life splits into two different realities. Both were equally captivating and as they wove closer and closer together I got more and more worried – but I still didn’t see THAT ending coming.

This story punches hard in the feels. HARD. That is undoubtedly it’s strong point. The worldbuilding is a little vague, as the world is clearly a fantasy that is loosely based in some type of medieval European setting. The different magics – all involving bones – aren’t spelled out in detail, but enough to keep them separate and for their basic uses to be clear.

I loved Saskia, though she seemed a little spoiled at first. She grows so much through the story, it was quite painful at times. She is brave, but a little reckless. Her mother too, I felt a lot for. I think she could have been more open with Saskia and it might have spared them a lot of the struggles they went through, but she was doing as any parent with a heart would, and trying to spare her daughter further pain.

The idea of two realities worked a lot better than I was expecting! I got confused at the very end, but I think that is because the characters were equally confused. Phew. That ending. Please, PLEASE tell me there will be a sequel! I need to know!

There isn’t really a lot of romance in this book! There is some, but it’s really in the beginning stages and was just super sweet. I did really like that Saskia had a history with her interest, instead of it being an insta-love thing. In the end though, this is NOT your typical “love saves the day” or even a HEA. I did really like a certain guy, ahem. Again, PLEASE let there be a sequel!

4/5 stars overall. Lovely story that completely held my attention!

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About the Author

 

Breeana Shields is an author of fantasy novels for teens including THE BONE CHARMER, POISON’S KISS, and POISON’S CAGE. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in English.

When she’s not writing, Breeana loves reading, traveling, and playing board games with her extremely competitive family. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, her three children, and two adorable, but spoiled dogs.

 

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