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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I'm still alive....

I really am still alive.  I just haven't been posting because the books that I have been reading really all lend themselves to a very small review.  Rather than give you the one sentence synopsis, I have listed below all of the books that I read recently that were really, really good. I promise to write a proper review now that the semester is over. 

5 stars
Princess of ThornsDreamer's Pool (Blackthorn and Grim, #1)Return to Sleepy HollowStitching SnowRebel Wing (Rebel Wing #1)Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy, #1)

4 stars
Rite of RejectionThe Here and NowTin LilyThe Body ElectricCaptive (The Blackcoat Rebellion, #2)

All were great reads, but a special shout out to Stolen Songbird for taking me by surprise.  Who knew trolls could be so fascinating?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dreamer's Pool by Juliet Marillier

Dreamer's Pool (Blackthorn and Grim, #1)

Goodreads blurb:
In exchange for help escaping her long and wrongful imprisonment, embittered magical healer Blackthorn has vowed to set aside her bid for vengeance against the man who destroyed all that she once held dear. Followed by a former prison mate, a silent hulk of a man named Grim, she travels north to Dalriada. There she’ll live on the fringe of a mysterious forest, duty bound for seven years to assist anyone who asks for her help.

Oran, crown prince of Dalriada, has waited anxiously for the arrival of his future bride, Lady Flidais. He knows her only from a portrait and sweetly poetic correspondence that have convinced him Flidais is his destined true love. But Oran discovers letters can lie. For although his intended exactly resembles her portrait, her brutality upon arrival proves she is nothing like the sensitive woman of the letters.

With the strategic marriage imminent, Oran sees no way out of his dilemma. Word has spread that Blackthorn possesses a remarkable gift for solving knotty problems, so the prince asks her for help. To save Oran from his treacherous nuptials, Blackthorn and Grim will need all their resources: courage, ingenuity, leaps of deduction, and more than a little magic.

5 stars (more if I could)
I am so glad I splurged and bought this book the day it was released. It was truly a great book, and it ranks right up there with my two other favorite Marilliers - Heart's Blood and Daughter of the Forest. Blackthorn and Grim are some of the most flawed yet perfect characters I have ever read. Their tale broke my heart. It always hurts to know just how evil humans can be to one another. We never get to hear Grim's backstory though which was pretty clever on Marillier's part. If you needed a reason (which I don't) to read the next book, learning Grim's tale would be a good one.

The story was magical. So much so that I wanted to savor each word and draw out the book, yet I rushed toward the ending to see the outcome. You really come to care about the characters and want to see things work out. Even the secondary characters are fleshed out and realistic.

I loved the shout out to Daughter of the Forest letting us know that Sorcha and her brothers were not too far removed from this story. I have so many books in the TBR pile, but all I really want to do is lose myself in a Marillier book even if it is one I have already read. There is something about her writing draws you in and keeps you spellbound.

This is an adult novel and has some sex, but no offensive language.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Masque of the Red Death (Masque of the Red Death, #1)

 Blurb from Goodreads:
Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population, and those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery makeup . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club, and Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find not just something to live for, but something to fight for—no matter what it costs her.


3 stars
Having recently read The Fall by Bethany Griffin and the fact that I love EAP, I thought this was going to be a 5 star read. For some reason, this just didn't catch hold for me. The romance was the focus of the book. I wanted to learn more about the plague and how it impacts life. Other than the inconvenience of having to wear a mask, the characters didn't seem too bothered about the plague. At times they even rip their masks off usually to engage in kissing. Nothing says romance like someone ripping away their life saving mask.

I wanted more Prospero too. He was the main bad guy for the first half of the book, and then we find out that there is a minister who is the actual bad guy. Prospero showed such promise. He is the kind of evil that is inherently evident. He has no compassion and is a total narcissist. A combo that is always entertaining for the reader (not so much for the characters).

So I loved Araby's name. I thought it was beautiful. I felt she would be master of her own destiny in one passage, but then would allow other people to decide for her in another. Sometimes it was Elliot, others Will and her parents. I understand she had to let Prospero dictate his terms. I wanted her to just scream at everyone to leave her alone and let her decide for herself.

This was a good book, it just missed the eerie atmosphere and wonderful world building of The Fall. I will be reading the second book because I believe that Prospero will play a larger role, and I want to see his get his comeuppance.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Suspicion by Alexandra Monir


Blurb from Goodreads:
 Mysterious. Magnificent. Creepy. Welcome to Rockford Manor.

"There's something hidden in the Maze." Seventeen-year-old Imogen has never forgotten the last words her father said to her seven years ago, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family's English country manor.

Haunted by her parents' deaths, Imogen moves to New York City with her new guardians. But when a letter arrives with the news of her cousin's untimely death, revealing that Imogen is now the only heir left to run the estate, she returns to England and warily accepts her role as duchess.

All is not as it seems at Rockford, and Imogen quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind the mansion's aristocratic exterior, hinting that the spate of deaths in her family were no accident. And at the center of the mystery is Imogen herself--and Sebastian, the childhood friend she has secretly loved for years. Just what has Imogen walked into?

Combining a fresh twist on the classic REBECCA with a spine-tingling mystery and powerful romance, SUSPICION is an action-packed thrill ride.
4 stars
Is it just coincidence that I happen to be reading a book of short stories by Daphne Du Maurier when I picked up this book to read? I had read a couple of chapters and was enjoying Suspicion before I knew that it was based on Rebecca. After reading, I can't really say that this book was similar other than the creepy house and spiteful housekeeper. I think it would have been better not to be linked to Rebecca, but that is just my two cents.

I thought the mystery was a well done plot, but the supernatural felt forced. If the mystery powers were done away with, I felt the book would have been stronger. Once again we are bombarded with insta-love and too much focus on the handsome, good looking, swoon worthy, divine looks of the love interest. Once is enough to understand that the boy is attractive. I realize that the two had a relationship with each other when they were younger, but they were 10 and 12 years old so I don't believe a story line where they magically fall in love with each other based on the past.

The book did keep me guessing, and there were some points that I didn't see coming (probably because I thought it was based on Rebecca). If you are looking for a good mystery and don't mind a little paranormal then I would recommend this book. If you're looking for a new Rebecca, I don't think this book hits that mark completely. There are similarities, but not anything that would make me certain it was based on Rebecca.  I, of course, recommend very highly Rebecca by Du Maurier if you haven't read it yet. 

Content - Clean from language and sex.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Books I Am Excited For....

Books that I have and need (and want badly) to read....

And books that I am desperate to get my hands on....
Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Atlantia by Ally Condie

Blurb from Goodreads:
Can you hear Atlantia breathing?

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose.

Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths

4.5 stars
I will warn you - this is slow to get started. It takes awhile for the world to be built and the characters to get situated, but once it does, it is an amazing world to explore. Rio is an immensely complex protagonist who really struggles with the right thing to do. But I think my favorite character of all was Maire. She is so nebulous - you don't know whether to hug her or smack her. She is a big reason this book almost got five stars from me. The rest of the book was spectacular as well. I felt the plot and motivations of the characters were really strong.

I really feel that this was a stand alone novel. It was perfect the way it ended, and I don't feel the longing to visit these characters again. Their story has found the perfect balance.

I loved the way that True treated Rio. He felt concern for her, but he never treated her like she was less than he was. He didn't agree with what she was doing, but he stepped back and respected her enough to make her own decisions. This is good writing, and I applaud Ms. Condie for creating a strong male character who treats women with respect and dignity. Too many romantic leads think they know better for their female counterparts and try to act against the wishes of their love interest. Real men or should I say True men respect women.

I read the first two books in the Matched series - liked one and not so much the other one. This book was a genuine pleasure to read, and it makes me want to eagerly read the next book she comes out with.

Oh, and isn't the cover divine?

Content - completely clean read.  No sex or language.  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Return to Sleepy Hollow by Dax Varley

Return to Sleepy Hollow

Blurb from Goodreads:
He was there again…just below. I awoke as always to the power of his presence.

My bare feet hit the cold floor. One peek—just one—out the window.

It’d been three years since I’d seen this horseman. THE Horseman. And, as then, his hand reached out, summoning me to him.

Three times he’s appeared since Ichabod and I fled to Philadelphia.

Why here? Why now?Why me?

But whatever the reason, he wanted me—a want so strong, I was weak to resist.
* * *
The sequel to Sleepy Hollow is here!

4.5 stars
This sequel does not disappoint! The perfect read for a windy and rainy day in October. This furthers the story of Katrina and Ichabod in wonderfully unique way. I realize that Ichabod's story ends in the original tale, but I was glad to see him back in this one. And we see a lot more of the Headless Horseman. He is spooky and creepy, but things are not always what they seem. I really was kept on the edge of my seat and could not figure out where the books was headed. The ending felt a tad rushed,and everything wrapped up nicely except for that last sentence again. I am hoping that means there will be another one. I look forward to reading more from this author and hope that there will be more Katrina!

Content: There is sex although not graphically explained.  No language.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Stitching Snow by R. C. Lewis

Stitching Snow

Blurb from Goodreads:
Princess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.

Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.

When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.


4.5 stars
2014 is really a jackpot year for fantasy and sci-fi. I can't believe how many great books there have been this year. And Stitching Snow is another one to add to the list. If you are not a fan of insta-love, I dare you not to like this one. The romance is so sweet, so slow-building, so fantastic! I'm not a big romance fan, but this one was definitely worth reading.

I loved the Snow White story set in space. (Playing Risk with her father based on Earth from long ago was a nice twist to where we are in space and time.) Essie lives in an incredibly hostile environment when we first meet her - and she thrives. She is such a fighter and independent. I loved her from the first chapter. So often, main female characters are described as being tough, but turn out to play the damsel in distress. Essie is no such heroine. She's smart, resourceful and hard as nails.

The cover is gorgeous.  I should have known it was going to be a good book based on that.  I know - never judge a book by its cover and all that, but sometimes you can just tell.

The story wrapped up nicely so I don't know if there will be a sequel, but if there is I will definitely be reading it.

Content: There is a robot who is named Cusser, but it is just alluded to that he swears, the words are never stated.  No sex - the romance is really sweet with just a tender kiss.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Queen of Someday by Sherry Ficklin

 Queen of Someday (Stolen Empire, #1)

Blurb from Goodreads:

Before she can become the greatest empress in history, fifteen-year-old Sophie will have to survive her social-climbing mother’s quest to put her on the throne of Russia—at any cost.

Imperial Court holds dangers like nothing Sophie has ever faced before. In the heart of St. Petersburg, surviving means navigating the political, romantic, and religious demands of the bitter Empress Elizabeth and her handsome, but sadistic nephew, Peter. Determined to save her impoverished family—and herself—Sophie vows to do whatever is necessary to thrive in her new surroundings. But an attempt on her life and an unexpected attraction threatens to derail her plans.

Alone in a new and dangerous world, learning who to trust and who to charm may mean the difference between becoming queen and being sent home in shame to marry her lecherous uncle. With traitors and murderers lurking around every corner, her very life hangs in the balance. Betrothed to one man but falling in love with another, Sophie will need to decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to become the empress she is destined to be.

In a battle for the soul of a nation, will love or destiny reign supreme?

I love any book that makes me scramble for my history book. At first I didn't know this was about Catherine the Great. So I researched and found out some really cool and interesting things. This book did a fantastic job of showing how a young, confused teenager could grow into one of the most famous Empresses in Russian history. My only complaint is that the books was too short. There could have been a lot more court intrigue and delving into the background of Empress Elizabeth (who also had a fascinating road to the throne). In a time when women were not treated as equals, it is refreshing to see a female character who takes charge of her own destiny rather than allowing circumstances and other people to decide for her. I don't know if this book was historically accurate - no one can know for sure - but things could have unfolded in this manner.

I hated the cover. It seemed more like an adult romance cover. I almost didn't pick this one up because of it. I hope the next one more accurately reflects the book.

I will definitely be looking forward to the next one (especially to see Peter get his comeuppance).

Monday, October 6, 2014

Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez

Kiss Kill Vanish 

Blurb from Goodreads:
Valentina Cruz no longer exists.

One moment, she was wrapped in Emilio’s arms, melting into his kiss. The next, she was witnessing the unthinkable: a murder in cold blood, ordered by her father and carried out by her boyfriend. When Emilio pulled the trigger, Valentina disappeared. She made a split-second decision to shed her identity and flee her life of privilege, leaving the glittering parties and sultry nightlife of Miami far behind.

She doesn’t know how to explain to herself what she saw. All she knows now is that nothing she believed about her family, her heart, or Emilio’s love, was real.

She can change her name and deny her past, but Valentina can’t run from the truth. The lines between right and wrong, and trust and betrayal, will be blurred beyond recognition as she untangles the deceptions of the two men she once loved and races to find her own truth.
4 stars
 Great read! This book had everything it needed to make it a compelling and intriguing read. The characters were multi-layered and just when you thought they would act one way, they would throw you a curve ball. I was not a big fan of the romance between a 24 year old and a 17 year old especially when certain information was revealed at the end. Emilio should know better. At first I hated Marcel. Martinez did a great job of slowly revealing his inner layers and making you love his character in the end. I felt Valentina's character was strong and vulnerable at the same time. She truly grew and matured as the story goes on. She has a big decision to make in the end, and while I think I would have chosen to do some things differently I can still respect why she did what she did.

This seemed like a stand alone novel which I appreciate. I will be picking up more titles by this author for certain. I would recommend this to anyone who likes a good thriller with great characters who have to make interesting choices. 
This was an absolute clean read.  Sex is vaguely implied and referred to later in the book, but there is nothing graphic.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Rebel Wing by Tracy Banghart

Rebel Wing (Rebel Wing #1) Shattered Veil
Blurb from Goodreads:
The Dominion of Atalanta is at war. But for eighteen-year-old Aris, the fighting is nothing more than a distant nightmare, something she watches on news vids from the safety of her idyllic seaside town. Then her boyfriend, Calix, is drafted into the Military, and the nightmare becomes a dangerous reality.

Left behind, Aris has nothing to fill her days. Even flying her wingjet—the thing she loves most, aside from Calix—feels meaningless without him by her side. So when she’s recruited to be a pilot for an elite search-and-rescue unit, she leaps at the chance, hoping she’ll be stationed near Calix. But there’s a catch: She must disguise herself as a man named Aristos. There are no women in the Atalantan Military, and there never will be.

Aris gives up everything to find Calix: her home. Her family. Even her identity. But as the war rages on, Aris discovers she’s fighting for much more than her relationship. With each injured person she rescues and each violent battle she survives, Aris is becoming a true soldier—and the best flyer in the Atalantan Military. She’s determined to save her Dominion . . . or die trying.

This is a new release of the previously self-published title Shattered Veil.

4.5 stars
The shift in cover art and title was a great move. The second cover really gives a better feel of what the book is about. The first cover was enticing, but it didn't really scream sci-fi book with a really cool MC who flies. I think the second cover will garner a much more devoted fan base. And this book deserves it. I found it to be really well written and engaging. I loved watching Aris learn and mature and grow into her own person. I really hope there will be more books set in this world. I am a map person so I would like a map next time too. Not that I have any say, just sayin'...

The one drawback to the books was the love affairs. They were too easily formed and dissolved. I need to see that a character is going to be constant and not distracted by another person while they are in a committed relationship. Just because things are hard, and you don't get to see each other, doesn't mean you form attachments elsewhere.

I felt this book was full of really strong women. Galena was my absolute favorite character. I really would like to read more about her. I found myself looking forward to her chapters. Her romance was tender and sweet even if it was full of heartache. But again we have a man who is promised to someone else falling in love with Galena.

I would have expected a book this good to be picked up by a major publishing house (that sounds incredibly snobbish to self published works, but I haven't had much luck with those), and I feel that the author will be putting out more quality work. I will be waiting to see what is next.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Fall by Bethany Griffin

The Fall
Blurb from Goodreads:
Madeline Usher is doomed.

She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.

In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.

4 stars
Spooky and atmospheric - perfect for Halloween. The lyrical prose was top notch. It meandered a bit in the middle, but I loved Madeline's voice so much that I didn't mind. Some people may not like the way the story hopped around in Madeline's life, but I felt it really added to the mysteriousness. The incest was creepy, and I thought unnecessary. The last 15% was a whirlwind and felt rushed and did not match the beautiful build up that came before it. The cover conveys exactly what you are going to get in the story - mystery and suspense. I love EAP, and I think he would be proud and flattered that this story was based on one his short stories. It did a great job of remaining true to the original, but also having a more fleshed out story. Sometimes retellings can be tricky, but this one was a true gem. I haven't read the other Poe retellings by this author, but I am definitely going to check them out soon.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Snow Like Ashes by Sarah Raasch

Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes, #1)

Blurb from Goodreads:
A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

3.5 stars
Confused is a good word to describe how I felt throughout most of the book. It is clear that the author created a complex and intricate world. It was very hard to keep track of all the different kingdoms and leaders. The map in the beginning was really small, but that helped make sense of all the details. Everything was introduced so quickly and at times there was info dumping. The world was so detailed that I wanted to know all about it, but the information needed to be parceled out a little slower and more concisely.

Meira is an interesting character. She so desperately longs for acceptance and wants to find a place where she feels she belongs. As an orphan, that rang true and was well done. You could almost feel her longing. I thought her relationship with Sir was complex and layered. I did not like the insta-love and the changing of her affections so abruptly. One minute she is in love with one guy and the next she is madly in love with someone that she barely knew.

All in all, this was a good read. I want to read the next book as I feel that the world building was all set up in this book so the next one can concentrate on the characters more.

Content: There was no sex or language in this book.  There are some violent scenes, and the main character kills several enemies.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

Salt & Storm

Blurb from Goodreads:
A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder--and the one boy who can help change her future.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.

4.5 stars
What a delightful surprise! I loved the setting and the premise and the characters and the tensions and the, well, you get it. I just loved this book. The carefully tended conflict between the generations was expertly handled. The ending between mother and daughter left me in tears. I am just an old softy when in comes to mamas and their babies. Fortunately, my 14 year old is such a great kid, and there is very little conflict in our home.

This book is so well researched that you can't help but believe in the world that has been created. The whale business is dying out being replaced by kerosene and the whales being harder to find. This mirrors the Roes as Avery and her mom are not taking over. The parallels are nicely done and striking. I really enjoyed the rich history of the whaling business. You felt for the sailors, but I was happy for the whales that the industry was dying a natural death.

The beginning is a little slow as the world is introduced but it is worth pushing through. I highly recommend to readers who enjoy a great fantasy with historical content thrown in.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis

In a Handful of Dust (Not a Drop to Drink, #2)

Blurb from Goodreads:
The only thing bigger than the world is fear.

Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.

When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.

In this companion to Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis thrillingly combines the heart-swelling hope of a journey, the challenges of establishing your own place in the world, and the gripping physical danger of nature in a futuristic frontier.

This is so gorgeously written, and Lynn is one of the most compelling characters I've ever read. Having said that, I felt that Lynn was such a strong character that she overshadowed Lucy. Not that I minded because I adore Lynn. She does not shy away from getting done what needs to be done. I felt the mountain scenes really showed what she is made of.

The ending felt a little rushed. Things magically happen, and tension is resolved without much explanation. We have this long journey and then it is over within a couple of pages. I needed to see the entire thing and not just the Cliff Notes.

This book really raises the question of whether or not humanity has any decency and integrity left in it. The characters are really pushed to the breaking point, and it illustrates humankind at its most vulnerable. Can people still be good when faced with surviving against the odds? Lynn and Lucy are faced with that question every day. Who to trust or even should you trust at all. Lynn and Lucy make great examples of the spectrum. Lynn trusts no one, and Lucy trusts everyone. Our world is seeing a rise in crime. This book really asks a question relevant to our world.

I really enjoyed this one, and I hope there will be a third book. I would love to see more Lynn in the next one. She is one of my favorite characters.

Content - No sex, but there is a fair amount of language.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Bitter Greens

This is an adult book and contains mature themes and sexual situations.

Blurb from Goodreads
The amazing power and truth of the Rapunzel fairy tale comes alive for the first time in this breathtaking tale of desire, black magic and the redemptive power of love
French novelist Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished from the court of Versailles by the Sun King, Louis XIV, after a series of scandalous love affairs. At the convent, she is comforted by an old nun, Sœur Seraphina, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, is sold by her parents for a handful of bitter greens...

After Margherita’s father steals parsley from the walled garden of the courtesan Selena Leonelli, he is threatened with having both hands cut off, unless he and his wife relinquish their precious little girl. Selena is the famous red-haired muse of the artist Tiziano, first painted by him in 1512 and still inspiring him at the time of his death. She is at the center of Renaissance life in Venice, a world of beauty and danger, seduction and betrayal, love and superstition.

Locked away in a tower, Margherita sings in the hope that someone will hear her. One day, a young man does.

Award-winning author Kate Forsyth braids together the stories of Margherita, Selena, and Charlotte-Rose, the woman who penned Rapunzel as we now know it, to create what is a sumptuous historical novel, an enchanting fairy tale retelling, and a loving tribute to the imagination of one remarkable woman.

4.5 stars
Three tales woven as expertly as I have ever seen and one of them true as well. I couldn't make up my mind which one I wanted to follow most. I think I enjoyed the story of Margherita the most though. I am a sucker for a good fairy tale retelling. The amount of research that must have went into this book is astounding. There were so many elements at play - Venice, the Sun King, Huguenots, Rapunzel, Titian. This is the way I like history - told in stories - much like Charlotte-Rose herself. I could have done without all of the sex in the book. I am used to YA books with their less informative sex or none at all. And yes, I realize this was a grown up book, but my preference would have been for less sex.

Charlotte-Rose must have been a fascinating woman especially considering the hardships she must have suffered due to her gender. I know women still are not treated equally in the workplace, but we have made progress. Some of the scenes were hard to read imagining what it must have been like to be a woman in the Sun King's court. A pretty face would attract the wrong and unwanted attention of a king who showed no regard for the plight of the women he used. Every woman who ever bore a child must have hoped fervently for a son. I could not imagine wishing a girl child into that kind of oppression.

This was beautifully written and the three cords of stories woven together were as well done as the witch's job on Margherita's hair. I waited for so long for this book to become available in the US. I am glad to know that it was worth the wait.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Caller by Juliet Marillier

The Caller (Shadowfell, #3)

Blurb from Goodreads:
Neryn has made a long journey to perfect her skills as a Caller. She has learned the wisdom of water and of earth; she has journeyed to the remote isles of the west and the forbidding mountains of the north. Now, Neryn must travel in Alban's freezing winter to seek the mysterious White Lady, Guardian of Air. For only when Neryn has been trained by all four Guardians will she be ready to play her role in toppling the tyrannical King Keldec.

But the White Lady is not what she seems. Trapped with Whisper, her fey protector, Neryn is unable to send word to her beloved Flint, who is in danger of being exposed as a double agent. When a new threat looms and the rebellion is in jeopardy, Neryn must enter Keldec's court, where one false move could see her culled. She must stand up against forces more powerful than any she has confronted before, and face losses that could break her heart.

The Caller is the thrilling conclusion to the Shadowfell trilogy.

5 stars
Bravo, bravo! This has been excellent from start to finish. I am so sad that it is finished. I now want to go and re-read some Juliet Marillier favorites - Daughter of the Forest and Heart's Blood. Alas, I have fallen behind in my review books while reading this trilogy so I cannot. I know I have remarked before on Marillier's ability to create such a complex and intricate world. When I finished the last page, I was absolutely convinced that callers existed, and a secret part of me was hoping I could become one. She weaves a spell that enthralls just as much as the Enforcers did. She has such a gift with words being able to evoke powerful emotions with a few letters on a page. And that is true magic.

I'm not going to tell even one detail about the book. I do not want to rob anyone of the true pleasure it is reading this series. Suffice it to say I think this book had it all - plotting, characterization and beautiful language. If you are a fan of Marillier's already, then you know what amazing books she can write. If you have not read anything by her, I urge you to pick one of her books up. I guarantee it will not be your last.

Content:  There is no objectionable material. It is alluded that two characters have sex, but it is off page. No language either.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Raven Flight by Juliet Marillier

Raven Flight (Shadowfell, #2)

Blurb from Goodreads:
Neryn has finally found the rebel group at Shadowfell, and now her task is to seek out the elusive Guardians, vital to her training as a Caller. These four powerful beings have been increasingly at odds with human kind, and Neryn must prove her worth to them. She desperately needs their help to use her gift without compromising herself or the cause of overthrowing the evil King Keldec.

Neryn must journey with the tough and steadfast Tali, who looks on Neryn's love for the double agent Flint as a needless vulnerability. And perhaps it is. What Flint learns from the king will change the battlefield entirely—but in whose favor, no one knows.

This is an incredible book. I have no words but those to say. Juliet Marillier always entertains, evokes emotion and delights her readers. There is no second book woes here. In fact, I think I like this one better than the first one. The first one built a perfectly wonderful world, but Raven Flight added so much more to the world. I have been raving to anyone who will listen about this author since I picked up Daughter of the Forest by accident at the library. I very rarely make purchases of books on the release day, but Marillier's books are one of the exceptions. She continually works her magic with her amazing world building and incredible characters. My only complaint is that there is too much of the journey motif in both books. I was glad when (view spoiler).

And she makes you think. What are the consequences in war? How responsible are the leaders when sending troops into battle? Neryn wrestles with this. I love how Marillier has depicted her journey as she tries to answer these questions.

I am starting right away on the next book. Love this series!

Content - there is nothing objectionable in this series so far.  Characters spend a chaste night together.  No language.  Some violence.