Genre: Historical

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Oct 18

How to Capture a Duke – Giveaway and Review!

Book Reviews, Book Tours 0 ★★★★

How to Capture a Duke – Giveaway and Review!How to Capture a Duke by Tina Gabrielle
on October 14, 2019
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 150
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads four-stars
four-flames

Lady Olivia, the youngest sister of the Earl of Castleton, has no patience for the boring gentlemen of aristocratic society. She longs for a more adventurous life like the ladies who visit the Raven Club. But her plans are thwarted when her family drags her to a country house party to meet the elusive Duke of Keswick.

Tristan Cameron, the Duke of Keswick, finds Olivia in his stables. She believes him to be the stable master, and he doesn’t dissuade her of the notion. He has no interest in entertaining one of the spoiled, self-indulgent ladies who’ve invaded his home. Except, Olivia is neither of those things, and their shared kiss during a ride results in combustible passion.

And a potential scandal.

Olivia is relieved when the handsome stable master comes to her aid as her alibi, but that relief fades to anger when she suddenly finds herself betrothed to the harsh, foul-tempered duke.

Tristan believes he’s been trapped by a scheming, title-seeking lady. To make matters worse, she’s utterly captivating. He plans on leaving her behind in the country immediately after their vows, but Tristan soon finds himself battling temptation and Olivia’s stubborn determination to be the Duchess he doesn’t believe he deserves...

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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Regency romances aren’t really my thing, but I was drawn in by the synopsis of this one. When the request for extended blog coverage came out I jumped on it. I’m very excited to say that I really loved it!! Totally surprised myself, and well done to the author! How to Capture a Duke is the third book in the Raven Club series, but it can completely be read as a standalone. The other two books are based around Lady Olivia’s brother and sister, and after reading this one I really want to read their stories – but it is definitely not necessary to have done so before diving into this one!

I loved Olivia’s spunk and the way she continually made the best of a bad situation, and my heart absolutely ached for Tristan. Despite his privilege as a duke, his heart and soul have been badly trampled by society. It’s really a wonder he didn’t turn out to be a complete ass! Oh, and they’re completely hot for each other. There are a couple of SIZZLING sex scenes. You have been warned! Also, Tristan’s grandmama is the bomb. I love her so much. She is absolutely amazing and I want to be her when I grow up.

I have a lovely excerpt to share, so I’m keeping my review short and sweet. You really don’t want to miss the excerpt so be sure to keep reading! There’s also a giveaway at the end of the post, so be sure to enter that as well. 🙂

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HOW TO CAPTURE A DUKE
A Raven Club Novel

Copyright © 2019 by Tina Gabrielle

 

“I don’t want my drunken duchess to cause a scene in a casino,” Tristan said.

Olivia felt her temper rise. “Your duchess!” she screeched. “You do not want a duchess.”

He leaned forward, his face inches from hers. “Now that I have one, I’ve decided to keep her.”

“Keep me? What on earth does that mean?”

“It means I expect my wife to behave like a lady, not a tavern doxy.”

He caught her hand before it made contact with his cheek. His dark gaze narrowed. “I suppose I deserve your outrage, but do not seek to strike me again.”

Perhaps if the world didn’t spin, Olivia would be afraid. But she had never feared physical harm from him. Other things, yes, but not physical harm.

She licked suddenly dry lips. His gaze lowered to her mouth, and she felt as if he’d touched her there, his stare had turned so heated. The air shifted in the carriage, like a storm that blew away. She was left with a heightened awareness of lightning about to strike. She felt warm all over, as if he’d hauled her against his chest. She should be furious. What was wrong with her?  

“You drive me mad.” He released her wrist but didn’t move, and neither did she. They stayed suspended in their seats, inches apart, eyes connecting.

“Why do you care? If you refuse to consummate our marriage, am I to stay untouched forever?” 

“No,” he said, his voice rough. “You are young and lovely and should experience passion.”

It must be the whisky that was making her bold, but she didn’t care. “Do you prefer I seek a lover, then?”

“No. The thought of you with another does not sit well with me.”

Olivia’s pulse leaped. Oh. She’d never expected him to say such things. Never expected him to make such an admission. “Why?”

“It’s my right to bed you and your right to be with me. For me to make love to my wife. To make you cry out with passion.”

Oh my.

She could get lost in the longing in his eyes. For a brief moment, she imagined things had been different between them. He wasn’t a duke, they weren’t forced to marry, and their pasts had no consequence. They were simply two strangers ensconced in the intimacy of a carriage. 

“I’d start here.” Tristan reached for her hand and drew back her glove to place a kiss on the pulse point of her wrist. She stifled a gasp at his gentleness and the brush of his lips on the sensitive spot. Then, slowly, he peeled off her glove and kissed the center of her palm. 

She watched the top of his head, and she longed to bury her fingers in the dark locks, to see if they were as soft as they appeared. Then he lifted his head and met her eyes. He was close, so close, and she wanted to kiss him so badly she ached. 

“And then?” she asked.

“Then I’d kiss your lips.”

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Tour Wide Giveaway

To celebrate the release of HOW TO CAPTURE A DUKE by Tina Gabrielle, we’re giving away a paperback copy of How to Best a Marquess by Tina Gabrielle to one lucky winner!

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open to internationally. One winner will receive a paperback copy of How to Best a Marquess by Tina Gabrielle. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Entangled Publishing.  Giveaway ends 11/6/2019 @ 11:59pm EST.  CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

About Tina Gabrielle

Best-selling author TINA GABRIELLE is an attorney and mechanical engineer whose love of reading for pleasure helped her get through years of academia. She often picked up a romance and let her fantasies of knights in shining armor and lords and ladies carry her away. She is the author of adventurous Regency historical romances for Entangled Publishing and Kensington Books. Tina also writes best-selling cozy mysteries as Tina Kashian for Kensington Books.

Publisher’s Weekly calls her Regency Barrister’s series, “Well-matched lovers…witty comradely repartee.” Tina’s books have been Barnes & Noble top picks, and her first book, Lady Of Scandal, was nominated as best first historical by Romantic Times Book Reviews. Tina lives in New Jersey and is married to her own hero and is blessed with two daughters. She loves to hear from readers. Visit her website to learn about upcoming releases, join her newsletter, and enter free monthly contests at www.tinagabrielle.com

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon

This promotion is brought to you by Pure Textuality

four-stars

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Oct 17

Heirs and Graces (Her Royal Spyness #7)

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

Heirs and Graces (Her Royal Spyness #7)Heirs and Graces (Her Royal Spyness Mysteries, #7) by Rhys Bowen
Published by The Berkley Publishing Group on August 6, 2013
Genres: Cozy, Historical, Mystery
Pages: 295
Goodreads four-stars

As thirty-fifth in line for the throne, Lady Georgiana Rannoch may not be the most sophisticated young woman, but she knows her table manners. It's forks on the left, knives on the right, not in His Majesty's back.

Here I am thinking the education I received at my posh Swiss finishing school would never come in handy. And while it hasn't landed me a job, or a husband, it has convinced Her Majesty the Queen, and the Dowager Duchess to enlist my help. I have been entrusted with grooming Jack Altringham, the Duke's newly discovered heir fresh from the Outback of Australia, for high society.

The upside is I am to live in luxury at one of England's most gorgeous stately homes. But upon arrival at Kingsdowne Place, my dearest Darcy has been sent to fetch Jack, leaving me stuck in a manor full of miscreants, none of whom are too pleased with the discovery of my new ward.

And no sooner has the lad been retrieved than the Duke announces he wants to choose his own heir. With the house in a hubbub over the news, Jack's hunting knife somehow finds its way into the Duke's back. Eyes fall, backs turn, and fingers point to the young heir. As if the rascal wasn't enough of a handful, now he's suspected of murder. Jack may be wild, but I'd bet the crown jewels it wasn't he who killed the Duke.

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Heirs and Graces is the 7th in Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness series, and I’m happy to say it continued in the vein of the 6th book, which I think was the best in the series so far.

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“Nothing more dangerous than an educated woman.”

Things I Liked

  • We got more of Darcy and Georgie together! This made me so happy, as I feel like Darcy was really in the background unnecessarily for several books.
  • Jack, the Australian heir, was a breath of fresh air to the stodgy British household of his grandmother. I loved it.
  • The mystery was one of those that was clearly a framing of another person from the very start, but I was really unsure of who I liked for the actual culprit until much closer to the end. I love mysteries like this, because it’s just not as much fun if you figure it out a quarter of the way through the book!

Overall 4/5 Stars

  • This was another solid addition to the series! Nothing spectacular, but a very enjoyable read with mostly characters we’re familiar with – which is exactly what I want out of a cozy mystery!

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Oct 10

The Twelve Clues of Christmas (Her Royal Spyness #6)

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

The Twelve Clues of Christmas (Her Royal Spyness #6)The Twelve Clues of Christmas (Her Royal Spyness Mysteries, #6) by Rhys Bowen
Published by Berkley on November 6, 2012
Genres: Cozy, Historical, Mystery
Pages: 311
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads four-stars

She may be thirty-fifth in line for the throne, but Lady Georgiana Rannoch cannot wait to ring in the New Year—before a Christmas killer wrings another neck…   On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me—well, actually, my true love, Darcy O’Mara, is spending a feliz navidad tramping around South America. Meanwhile Mummy is holed up in a tiny village called Tiddleton-under-Lovey with that droll Noel Coward! And I’m snowed in at Castle Rannoch with my bumbling brother, Binky, and sourpuss sister-in-law, Fig.   So it’s a miracle when I contrive to land a position as hostess to a posh holiday party in Tiddleton. The village is like something out of A Christmas Carol! But no sooner have I arrived than a neighborhood nuisance, a fellow named Freddie, falls out of a tree dead.  On my second day, another so-called accident results in a death – and there’s yet another on my third.  Perhaps a recent prison break could have something to do with it…that, or a long-standing witch’s curse. But after Darcy shows up beneath the mistletoe, anything could be possible in this wicked wonderland.

Includes an English Christmas companion, full of holiday recipes, games, and more!

The Twelve Clues of Christmas completely rekindled my interest in this series! I was starting to debate whether or not I wanted to continue with this series after Naughty in Nice, which was lighthearted and fun but not much mystery or substance and nothing really progressed in the main plot. I’m so glad I kept reading! Book 6 was soooo much better. There was a real mystery in this one, and things kept happening at such a pace I could barely put it down and even though I had suspicions about the killer throughout the book I didn’t actually figure it out until about the last third.

Things I Liked

  • Darcy had some more page time! He and Georgie seemed to work things out a little better and I liked that.
  • Georgie is, per usual, trying to find somewhere to live and somehow to support herself and this time instead of the queen coming through with an “assignment,” she actually finds a job that suits both herself and the royal relatives. Her mother just happens to be nearby, being her usual flighty but charming self.
  • The murders – yes, more than one this time – just kept coming and getting stranger and…is it weird that I really liked that? 😛

Things I Didn’t Like

  • Thoroughly enjoyed this one, honestly, but some of it still felt a little unrealistic and a tiny bit corny. I think it’s really hard for cozy mysteries to avoid that entirely.
  • Georgie, for all her talk about wishing she was more experienced in the ways of the world and envying her carefree friend Belinda, is ridiculously straitlaced. I guess I shouldn’t be expecting anything else, given how careful she is to not bring any shame to the royal family, but still. Then again, maybe her character is written that way to keep the story’s romance in the “sweet” category.

If You Like…

…the Amelia Peabody series, or the Maisie Dobbs series, you’ll probably enjoy the Her Royal Spyness series as well!

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Oct 03

Naughty in Nice (Her Royal Spyness #5)

Book Reviews 0 ★★★½

Naughty in Nice (Her Royal Spyness #5)Naughty in Nice (Her Royal Spyness Mysteries, #5) by Rhys Bowen
Published by Berkley Books on September 6, 2011
Genres: Cozy, Historical, Mystery
Pages: 328
Goodreads three-half-stars

The national bestselling author of Royal Blood whisks her heroine away to the French Riviera for fun-and danger. Lady Georgiana Rannoch has once again been called into service by Her Majesty the Queen. This time she's sent to Nice on a secret assignment that's nothing to sneeze at-recover the Queen's stolen snuff box.

As much of an honor as it is to be trusted by Her Majesty, an even greater honor awaits Georgie in Nice-as Coco Chanel herself asks Georgie to model her latest fashion. But when a necklace belonging to the Queen is stolen on the catwalk, Georgie has to find two priceless items-and solve a murder. How's a girl to find any time to go to the casino?

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“Please don’t go and die on me, my lady,” she said. “If you go and die, nobody else will employ me, as you bloody well know.”

If you haven’t read the previous books in this series, they are very enjoyable cozy mysteries with a long-running plot regarding the main characters, and I highly recommend you start with the first book, Her Royal Spyness. 🙂 I apparently started up reviewing this series under the impression I had already posted reviews of the first three books, and I have not. Bad book blogger. I do have a review up of the 4th book, but that’s not very helpful…sigh. I will remedy that shortly, but it has been a VERY long time since I read those!

Things I Liked

  • Georgie seemed to come a little more into her own in this one, become a little less of the naive schoolgirl. I was happy to see her lose a little of her reserve, even if it ended up being a moot point.
  • Even though most of her family things of Georgie as an ornament at best and a useless nuisance at worst, the Queen somehow thinks the world of her and sends her off on these strange and sometimes exotic assignments…always “cracking” fun!
  • I love how Rhys Bowen brings actual historical figures into her books, like Coco Chanel in this one. Even though of course it’s still fiction, it’s fun to imagine them as they might have lived and acted.
  • We also got a little more of a glimpse into Georgie’s long-dead father’s life, in a rather SHOCKING reveal at the very end! Holy crap. I really hope something plays out of that in future books.
  • There were a lot of witty moments and in this one, which one expects from Rhys Bowen, but this story seemed to have more than the usual number of zingers.

How Binky could have plucked up enough courage to have created a first child with Fig is still a matter of speculation. Why he did it a second time indicates insanity in the family.

Things I Didn’t Like

  • Can Darcy never give Georgie straight answers? I mean, he seems to like her well enough, why not trust her a little? And why does he keep showing up in these strange places and making her question his regard for her?
  • The mystery aspect seemed slightly lacking in this one, but I was interested enough in Georgia’s doings with her mother and her friend Belinda, and also the general atmosphere, to keep reading.
  • This one just seemed to flounder a bit. Still enjoyable, but without the best punch.

If You Like…

…the Amelia Peabody series, or the Maisie Dobbs series, you’ll probably enjoy the Her Royal Spyness series as well!

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Sep 23

Beasts of the Frozen Sun – Review + Blog Tour!

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★



Beasts of the Frozen Sun – Review + Blog Tour!Beasts of the Frozen Sun (Frozen Sun Saga, #1) by Jill Criswell
Published by Blackstone on August 6, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads five-stars

Burn brightly. Love fiercely. For all else is dust.

Every child of Glasnith learns the last words of Aillira, the god-gifted mortal whose doomed love affair sparked a war of gods and men, and Lira of clan Stone knows the story better than most. As a descendant of Aillira and god-gifted in her own right, she has the power to read people's souls, to see someone's true essence with only a touch of her hand.

When a golden-haired warrior washes up on the shores of her homeland--one of the fearful marauders from the land of the Frozen Sun--Lira helps the wounded man instead of turning him in. After reading his soul, she realizes Reyker is different than his brethren who attack the coasts of Glasnith. He confides in her that he's been cursed with what his people call battle-madness, forced to fight for the warlord known as the Dragon, a powerful tyrant determined to reignite the ancient war that Aillira started.

As Lira and Reyker form a bond forbidden by both their clans, the wrath of the Dragon falls upon them and all of Glasnith, and Lira finds herself facing the same tragic fate as her ancestor. The battle for Lira's life, for Reyker's soul, and for their peoples' freedom has only just begun.

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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“He is everything you fear, and worse. He is also everything you hope, and more.”

I was just halfway through Beasts of the Frozen Sun, and I already loved it so much I ordered a hardback copy. I’m both excited and furious that it’s the first in a trilogy, because it means I’ll get to spend two more books following Lira and Reyker’s stories but also that I have to wait AN ENTIRE TWO YEARS to find out how it all ends! How has this story not gotten more press? Why is it not more popular?!?

But apparently I will have to. :'(

I’ve discovered I really love this little sub-genre of fantasy, historical fantasy. The setting of this book reminded me somewhat of Sky in the Deep (which was awesome as well), but it goes much more in depth, not just in the geography but in the mythology and spiritual beliefs of the world. It’s set in a very British Isles sort of locale, and the Dragonmen are obviously meant to be patterned off the Vikings – all this is pretty obvious even if you hadn’t read the author’s lovely page about the real world locations she patterned the book settings off.

As is fitting for the ancient British isles…there is a lot the modern reader might find disturbing in this book. There is violence, bloodshed, abuse, torture, near-rape, and horrible, vindictive and abusive gods. It does somewhat gloss over what I think would have actually happened in those times, probably to make it more suitable for a YA audience. But it’s just barely done and doesn’t really take away from the story.

Lira and Reyker are one of the few YA fantasy pairings I could actually get behind. It’s not insta-love, and it’s not perfect, but they respect each other and they compliment each other and yet they never seem to catch a break! I was rooting for them so hard by the end.

5/5 stars for Beasts of the Frozen Sun. I absolutely cannot WAIT for the second book! Be sure to scroll to the bottom to enter the giveaway. 🙂

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Author Bio:

Jill Criswell is a writer of Young Adult Historical Fantasy. She was born and raised in the swamps of northeastern Florida. She earned degrees in English and Psychology and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida. Her greatest passion, besides reading and writing, is traveling the world; she’s visited fifty countries across six continents, falling in love with places like Iceland, Namibia, and Cambodia. She works as a university English teacher and lives in South Carolina, near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with her husband and daughter (who is named after a volcano in Iceland).

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Sep 19

The Necromancer’s Bride – Tour + Review!

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

First of all, a huge apology to Xpresso Book Tours – this post is VERY late, as I’ve been sick for over a week and I forgot everything except (possibly) my name.



The Necromancer’s Bride – Tour + Review!The Necromancer's Bride (Gaslamp Gothic, #4) by Kat Ross
Published by Acorn on September 6, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Romance
Pages: 350
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads four-stars
three-flames

Forgiveness is not Gabriel D’Ange’s strong suit.

A self-appointed soldier of God with a penchant for ruthlessly punishing his enemies, he vanished after Anne Lawrence stabbed him with his own dagger.

The smart thing would be to let him go.

Unfortunately, Anne’s life isn’t just lonely without Gabriel. It’s insufferably boring.

Determined to heal the rift between them, she goes in search of her tempestuous former lover, black parasol in hand and daeva magic crackling at her fingertips. But Gabriel has his own plans afoot and Anne finds herself drawn into one of his tangled webs, much against her better judgment.

Gabriel’s nemesis has reappeared in Brussels, a vile slaver who’s plundering the Congo Free State with the blessing of King Leopold. Gabriel might be willing to give Anne a second chance, but not until Jorin Bekker’s head is lying at his feet.

Back in London, the quasi-reformed necromancer Balthazar sets his sights on the same quarry. He holds a very personal grudge against Bekker — and killing him might be the only way to keep Gabriel D’Ange from Balthazar’s own throat.

When the hunters collide at a lavish gala thrown by the king, Anne learns just how far she’ll go to save the man she loves.

Note: The Necromancer’s Bride is the sequel to A Bad Breed, which should be read first.

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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The Necromancer’s Bride is an excellent continuation of the story begun in A Bad Breed, and as the fourth installment in the Gaslamp Gothic series! I was so excited to read more about Anne and Gabriel and the whole scheme of everything that’s going on. I still need to go back and read the first two books in the series (which you do NOT have to read to start with A Bad Breed, but you DO need to read A Bad Breed before reading The Necromancer’s Bride…yes, I know, slightly confusing). Also there’s a 5th novel coming!! It’s not on GoodReads yet but was named in the end notes for Necromancer, and it’s called The Dead Ringer.

Favorite Things

“You won’t be laughing so hard when my wife gets here,” Gabriel said. 
The guards exchanged a solemn look.
“His wife,” Daan echoed in a quaking voice. “Well, now I’m truly terrified.”…
“Will she bring her rolling pin?” 
“No, no, it’ll be knitting needles,” Daan put in. “She’ll poke us and tell us we’re very naughty boys.”

  • This exchange. Because if they only knew…and then they are properly educated and it’s both awesome and hilarious.
  • Besides the romance, which I found much more believable in this book than the last – if you read my review of A Bad Breed, due to the whole Belle and the Beast thing felt kind of forced – there was intrigue and evilness going on that was awesome and kept me reading.
  • Balthazar! Can someone please give me some more of Balthazar’s story? He’s such a morally grey character and yet he seems to be an actual teddy bear inside.
  • Anne continues to be a total badass, and in this book she is the BADDEST of the badasses. Gabriel, of course, and Balthazar also kickass, but they get themselves into PROBLEMS and have to be rescued by the tiny little lady. It’s awesome. YES PLEASE.

She was barefoot and painted head to toe in dried blood. With her wild auburn hair, she reminded Balthazar of the Celtic queen who had burned Londinium to ashes and whipped the Romans so badly they almost fled Britain. 

Less Favorite Things
  • There is still so much unexplained about the magic of this world, and the daevas and necromancers in general. Where did this come from? Why are they immortal? I need details. This might have been explained in the first books of the series, but I feel like if the later books are to be read as standalones there needs to be some kind of refresher course in them as well. I found myself a bit frustrated by the lack of info and occasionally confused.

Overall 4/5 stars, and I’m eagerly waiting for the next one!

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Author Bio:

Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She’s the author of the Fourth Element and Fourth Talisman fantasy series, the Gaslamp Gothic paranormal mysteries, and the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day. She loves myths, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Check out Kat’s Pinterest page for the people, places and things that inspire her books.

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Aug 12

Remember Me – Review and Tour!

Book Reviews, Book Tours 0 ★★★★

Remember Me – Review and Tour!Remember Me by Chelsea Bobulski
Published by Feiwel and Friends on August 6, 2019
Genres: Historical, magical realism, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 256
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads four-stars

In this eerie and suspenseful YA, a teen girl discovers what connects her to the hotel she calls home as horrifying visions lead her to the truth.

Nell Martin is moving again, this time to the Winslow Grand Hotel, built in 1878. As Nell is settling in, strange things begin to happen. Doors lock of their own accord, writing appears on bathroom walls--and most horrifying of all--visions of a dead boy permeate her waking life. Thinking it was her mind playing tricks on her, she soon finds the past and the present colliding as she learns horrific details of a murder that happened at the hotel in 1905 involving a girl named Lea.

Nell and a mysterious bellboy must relive that day in hopes of finally breaking a curse that imprisons them both. And Nell discovers what truly links her to the history of the Winslow Grand Hotel.

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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Be sure to check out the entire tour lineup over at The Fantastic Flying Bookclub! Also scroll to the bottom to enter the giveaway. 🙂

I was not, honestly, expecting this book to be creepy. In my experience most YA books that try to be “horror” or even just plain mystery are usually only vaguely so. I am thrilled to report that Remember Me was better than most! I actually felt the hair on my arms raising at points. It was awesome! It did have a little trouble getting off the ground, in my opinion, but once the settings (yes, plural, as the POV alternates with a modern day one and a historical one) were established I absolutely couldn’t put it down. Highly recommend if you enjoy both YA and mystery/paranormal type books!

My one caveat: mental illness is somewhat used as a plot device. Treatment is given respect and not made fun of, and Nell’s feelings about her mother’s death and her subsequent therapy and very common, but I didn’t like the way it was made to be just a result of a THING in the plot. Terribly vague to avoid spoiling.

This is a very hard book to review because of the risk of spoiling, which really would ruin a lot of the story…so here are some quotes to whet your appetite! It really is an amazing, multi-layered tale and I strongly recommend it. Also, there’s a good bit of sweet, swoon-worthy romance. 😉

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It’s as if the air is heavy with their presence, every year and every guest superimposed on the other, all occurring in the same place, standing on the same floors, surrounded by the same walls. The only thing separating us is time.

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He does not have to say the words: Or else. They are implied in the tightening of his fists and in the memories of bruises hidden where no one could see. “Yes, Father.”

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I just keep feeling my hair twisting in midair, keep hearing the bulbs shatter, keep seeing those bodies lying on the floor, drenched in blood, and the man standing over them, asking me to join them.

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He looks at me with a hunger so intense, I feel it radiating down to the tips of my toes. He looks at me like I’m the only thing he wants. The only thing he’s ever wanted.

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I understand kissing now.

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About the Author

 

Chelsea Bobulski was born in Columbus, Ohio, and raised on Disney movies, classic musicals, and Buckeye pride. She’s always had a penchant for the fantastical, the stories that teach us there is more to this world than meets the eye. She has a soft spot for characters with broken pasts, strange talents, and a dash of destiny in their bones. After graduating from The Ohio State University with a degree in history, she promptly married her high school sweetheart and settled down in Northwest Ohio with her notebooks and daydreams and copious amounts of chocolate. THE WOOD is her debut novel.

 

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Jul 01

A Bad Breed – Tour + Review!

Book Reviews, Book Tours 1 ★★★★



A Bad Breed – Tour + Review!A Bad Breed (Gaslamp Gothic, #3) by Kat Ross
Published by Acorn on May 31, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 292
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads four-stars

Pricolici.

A creature out of folklore. And nightmare.

January 1889. When a Romanian village suffers a series of brutal attacks, occult investigator Anne Lawrence is dispatched to the forests of the Old Country to hunt the killer – only to vanish without a trace.

The trail leads her mentor Vivienne Cumberland deep into the Carpathians to a remote monastery. As a blizzard rages outside, trapping them all with the pricolici, Vivienne risks sharing the fate of the woman she came to find. But is the culprit truly a werewolf … or something even more dangerous?

A man bent on revenge. And a love that was never meant to be.

Imprisoned in a decaying castle, Anne finds herself ensnared in a web of dark enchantment, at the mercy of a mysterious captor with a beast inside – and a memory as old as the ancient legends.

As the weeks pass, Anne learns his real identity, and slowly uncovers a complex and deeply passionate man. But is she willing to pay the price for falling under his spell?

Author’s Note: This darkly magical reimagining of Beauty and the Beast is the third book in the Gaslamp Gothic series, but can be read as a standalone with no need to start with Book #1, The Daemoniac.

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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A Bad Breed is a hugely atmospheric read, dropping you into a gothic Victorian world from the first page. I really wished it was longer, to delve more into the background of Anne and Vivienne – but I guess that’s what the other books are for! This is the first book I’ve read by Kat Ross, so I took the description at its word, that A Bad Breed could be read as a standalone despite being the third novel in the series. It worked out just fine, and I’ve already downloaded The Daemoniac to read soon as well. 😉

Favorite Things

  • Vivienne and her fake marriage. It was fun and lighthearted, if sad that it was necessary for both the parties involved. Accurate to the time though, I think.
  • The way the paranormal was brought into the story. I wanted more details, but I think (hope) that all that is delved into more in the other books of the series.
  • Anne using her small stature and feminine wiles to get what she wants – hurrah for our girl not being afraid to use what nature gave her!
  • The dark, sinister atmosphere. This was done so, so well and just sucked me in completely!

Less Favorite Things

  • To be honest, the romance between Anne and the “beast.” It felt kind of contrived, and due to the whole captivity thing, I found it hard not to be a little uncomfortable. He never outright abuses her (is quite the gentleman, outside of the whole OH HEY YOU CAN’T LEAVE thing), and she is clearly a woman experienced and in full control of her own desires…just, Stockholm syndrome? I did THOROUGHLY approve of the way it ended, and I’m glad to see that the fourth book will continue Anne’s story!

4/5 stars overall, and I’ll definitely be reading more by Kat Ross!

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Author Bio:

Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She’s the author of the Fourth Element and Fourth Talisman fantasy series, the Gaslamp Gothic paranormal mysteries, and the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day. She loves myths, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Check out Kat’s Pinterest page for the people, places and things that inspire her books.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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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
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
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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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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three-half-stars

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