Saturday, March 14, 2015

Review: Breath by Jackie Morse Kessler

Breath Title: Breath
Author: Jackie Morse Kessler
Series: 4th (Hunger, Rage, Loss)
Pages: 336
Published: April 16th 2013 by HMH Books for Young Readers
ISBN:  9780547970431
Source: Personal Copy 


I think this one was easily the best out of the four. And that's saying something but I really enjoyed this series. 

Death is an amazingly complex character. All that he has seen as he has managed death throughout humanities existence. He reminded me a tad of death in "The Book Thief" Humans fascinate him. But, he knows he can't get attached because our life compared to his is but a speck in time.
 I found it interesting that he created the 4 horseman and how he did it.  Despite all that he has witnessed, he's lonely. He has nothing to share this world with. 

Xander was also an interesting addition to the story. I enjoyed how his story is woven in with death's and how he was the one person Death turned to when he felt the world was at it's end. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Tudor Vendetta (The Spymaster Chronicles #3) by C.W. Gortner Book Tour

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Title: The Tudor Vendetta
Author: C.W. Cortner
Pages: 304
Published: October 21st 2014 by St. Martin's Griffin 
ISBN: 9780312658588
Source: Netgalley for Tour

Description: Upon the death of Mary I (Bloody Mary), Elizabeth I takes the throne and Brendan Prescott is called to aid the young queen amid a realm plunged into chaos and a court rife with conspiracy. London, 1558. Queen Mary is dead, and 25-year old Elizabeth ascends the throne. Summoned to court from exile abroad, Elizabeth’s intimate spy, Brendan Prescott, is reunited with the young queen, as well as his beloved Kate, scheming William Cecil, and arch-rival, Robert Dudley. A poison attempt on Elizabeth soon overshadows her coronation, but before Brendan can investigate, Elizabeth summons him in private to dispatch him on a far more confidential mission: to find her favored lady in waiting, Lady Parry, who has disappeared during a visit to her family manor in Yorkshire. Upon his arrival at the desolate sea-side manor where Lady Parry was last seen, he encounters a strange, impoverished family beset by grief, as well as mounting evidence that they hide a secret from him. The mystery surrounding Lady Parry deepens as Brendan begins to realize there is far more going on at the manor than meets the eye, but the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery in Vaughn Hall, the more he learns that in his zeal to uncover the truth, he could be precipitating Elizabeth’s destruction. From the intrigue-laden passages of Whitehall to a foreboding Catholic manor and the deadly underworld of London, Brendan must race against time to unravel a vendetta that will strike at the very core of his world—a vendetta that could expose a buried past and betray everything he has fought for, including his loyalty to his queen. 

I Give This ...


I have to admit, this series has made me a see a side of Elizabeth that I never really thought about.  While, most of the events of this story are completely fabricated, I still see so many emotions when it comes to her character.

I never doubted for a minute that Brendan would return to Elizabeth's side the minute she took up her throne.  The question would be what his role would be.  Would he be an instrument for the Queen or a pawn for Cecil to control.  I actually think it might have irked Cecil a little that the Queen got to Brendan first.  Interesting that the mission is so personal in nature.  I thought it was odd at first that she would send one nameless man but then throughout this series, Elizabeth has not been on to tell the whole truth.  Brendan's unquestionable loyalty to the Queen is interesting in the fact of who he is.  I imagine that most of people of the time would have jumped on the ability to claim to be from royal birth.  I think Brendan enjoyed the idea of family more.  

I also really enjoy the mystery side of this.  The manor is dark and desolate who so many shadows and secrets, I wondered what Brendan would be able to get from this mission.  Yet ever the Sherlock Holmes, Brendan can see the bigger picture.  What's been hidden for so long, can not be hidden from him.  I wonder if he felt a kindred connection to the child.  It certainly seemed that way in the end.

While Elizabeth was not present through a good portion of this book, I think it shows a young queen afraid of her past mistakes.  She knew she could justly rule England, but was afraid she would never been given the chance.  I think she was afraid of the shadow her mother cast over her.  Plus, her country has been in such upheaval for so long, she had to play her hand exactly right.  She kept her secrets so close, that there was probably not one person who knew them all.  It must have been extremely hard for her during Mary's reign and those first years on the throne.  

I've read another book by this author that I really enjoyed, plus this series has been great.  I have one more book on my shelves I need to read and then I will be sure to watch out for future books!  


 About the Author

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C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.

After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.
In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.

C.W. recently completed his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about Lucrezia Borgia; the third novel in his Tudor Spymaster series for St Martin’s Press; and a new novel about the dramatic, glamorous life of Coco Chanel, scheduled for lead title publication by William Morrow, Harper Collins, in the spring of 2015.

Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.

For more information please visit C.W. Gortner’s website and blog. You can also connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube.

The Tudor Vendetta Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 20
Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, October 21
Spotlight at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, October 22
Thursday, October 23
Friday, October 24
Interview at Back Porchervations
Monday, October 27
Review at JulzReads
Tuesday, October 28
Wednesday, October 29
Review at Making My Mark
Guest Post at Bookish
Thursday, October 30
Review & Guest Post at Drey’s Library
Friday, October 31
Review at Book by Book
Monday, November 3
Review at Mari Reads
Review & Gues Post at JM Ledwell Writes
Tuesday, November 4
Review at A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, November 5
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair
Thursday, November 6
Review at Booktalk & More
Friday, November 7
Monday, November 10
Tuesday, November 11
Review at A Book Geek
Review at The Lit Bitch
Wednesday, November 12
Thursday, November 13
Friday, November 14
Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight at Paranormal Book Club
Monday, November 17
Review at Broken Teepee
Tuesday, November 18
Wednesday, November 19
Thursday, November 20
Review & Interview at The Tudor Enthusiast
Friday, November 21
Monday, November 24
Tuesday, November 25
Wednesday, November 26
Friday, November 28
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story


To win a complete set of CW Gortner’s Spymaster Chronicles Trilogy please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only.
Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on November 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on November 29th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review - Of Metal and Wishes (Of Metal and Wishes #1) by Sarah Fine

Of Metal and Wishes (Of Metal and Wishes, #1)Title: Of Metal and Wishes
Author: Sarah Fine
Series: 1st
Pages: 320
Published: August 5th 2014 by Margaret K. McElderry Books 
ISBN: 9781442483583
Source:  Publisher via Edelweiss

Description: There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally. Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her … for a very long time.As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it. 

I Give This ...

I can tell you one thing, this book is unlike anything I've read this year.  And that in itself is amazing.  To be original is a feat in itself since book topics tend to come in waves.  On top of that, I really enjoyed the story.

At first, I wasn't sure what to think of Wen.  She came across as extremely protected which seemed strange in such an intense environment.  As the story goes on, I came to realize that this wasn't suppose to be how Wen's life ended up.  But, the death of her mother left her family in a situation she wasn't use to.  I don't think Wen was purposely naive enough to not see it, her father was just that good at hiding it.  Just as Wen is good at hiding that she knows her father has been taking loans from the slaughter-house.  Loans with such high interest rates that he will forever indebted.  All just to keep her out of the clutches of the slaughter-house.

     I found it extremely interesting the slaughter-house operates more like a contained environment and not just a place of employment.  But, there's mutiny in the ranks and soon this carefully constructed environment will have all hell break loose.  Our "ghost" is way more than just a story the workers tell to keep up spirits.  This ghost has a vendetta and Wen has attracted his attention.

An intense story once it gets going.  It has some intense scenes including a malfunction on the slaughter floor.  This book also seems to defy a category.  It feels dystopian, historical fiction, and steampunk all rolled into one strange but awesome novel!  I also really enjoyed the subtle romance.  Looking forward to next book in the series!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Review - The Tudor Conspiracy (The Spymaster Chronicles #2) by C.W. Gortner

The Tudor Conspiracy (The Spymaster Chronicles, #2)Title: The Tudor Conspiracy
Author: C.W. Gortner
Series: 2nd (The Tudor Secret)
Pages: 352
Published:  July 16th 2013 by St. Martin's Griffin 
ISBN: 9780312658496
Source: Personal Copy

Description: Winter 1554. Brendan Prescott, spymaster to the Princess Elizabeth, has discovered that he is connected to the Tudors by blood as well as allegiance. Though his secret is known only by a few, it could be his downfall as he is called to London to protect the princess.  Accompanied by his young squire Peregrine, he reluctantly leaves his sweetheart Kate behind - but in the city he discovers that no one is quite what they seem. What fate does Queen Mary intend for her sister? Is Robert Dudley somehow manipulating the princess, even though he is locked in the Tower? And should Brendan trust the alluring Sybilla, Mary's lady-in-waiting, who professes to be on his side? As he tries to unravel the mysteries of the Tudor court Brendan's life will be put in danger many times, and along the way he learns more about his own past. 

I Give This ...

I think this series has done an excellent job of portraying the danger that Elizabeth was constantly in before she ascended the throne.  It's something that I was aware of, but it's never bee such a focus of a story.

I often feel sorry for Queen Mary.  History doesn't portray her in the best light possible.  Her father basically abandoned her, stripped her of her title for most of her youth, among many other things.  She never wavered from her faith, but instead of it being her saving grace she let it warp her into something else.  I often wonder how much of her persecutions were her own doing or someone else whispering in her ear.  I think this book does and great job of showing how easily she was swayed by opinions.  Brendan sees this first hand and how hard it is to change the Queen's mind when she was dead set on something.

It's also interesting to read about Elizabeth in this light.  I understand she had to walk a very fine line when it came to her sister.  She often had to appease her while staying true to herself as well.  But, she honestly had so much of her father in her.  She would play the game and you would never know what she was doing until it was to late.  I'm not sure how much Mary actually had to fear her, or if Elizabeth was truly content with sitting back and waiting.

I loved Brendan's involvement in all of this.  He's puts so much on the line.  It's strange to think how it's a personal stake for him.  His devotion is so much more than a typical subject and their sovereign.  He very nearly loses his head because of this loyalty.  Something that won't be forgiving twice.  

I like how each of these book deals with specific time periods, so I'm really excited for book 3.  


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review - The Tudor Secret (The Spymaster Chronicles #1) by C.W. Gortner

The Tudor Secret (The Spymaster Chronicles, #1)Title: The Tudor Secret
Author: C.W. Gortner
Series: 1st
Pages: 327
Published: February 1st 2011 by St. Martin's Griffin
ISBN: 9780312658502
Source: Personal Copy

Description: The era of the Tudors was one of danger, intrigue, conspiracy, and, above all, spies. Summer 1553: A time of danger and deceit. Brendan Prescott, an orphan, is reared in the household of the powerful Dudley family. Brought to court, Prescott finds himself sent on an illicit mission to the king’s brilliant but enigmatic sister, Princess Elizabeth. But Brendan is soon compelled to work as a double agent by Elizabeth’s protector, William Cecil, who promises in exchange to help him unravel the secret of his own mysterious past. A dark plot swirls around Elizabeth’s quest to unravel the truth about the ominous disappearance of her seriously ill brother, King Edward VI. With only a bold stable boy and an audacious lady-in-waiting at his side, Brendan plunges into a ruthless gambit of half-truths, lies, and murder. 

I Give This ...

I was a little hesitant to jump on board with this book.  I wasn't sure I would like it.  I have no idea why because I ended up really loving this book.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Brendan Prescott.  His story was completely predictable but I love how he manages to work all sides of the fence.  Everyone doubts his true loyalties, but yet they like what he can do for them.  He's willing to put his neck on the line and they are more than happy to let him!  When he learns a little bit of the truth of who he really is, he takes it into stride.  I also think it explains his loyalty.

I enjoyed reading about the conspiracy behind King Edward's death.  It may not have happened exactly like that, but it made for an exciting story. I also enjoyed reading about the plot to put Jane Grey on the throne.  I've never heard it from this type of point of view.  I think most exciting to me was the portrayal of Robert Dudley.  Historical fiction tends to romanticize him, branded the man that Elizabeth could never have.  I have read a few that paint him a little darker.  But, his version of Robert is down right unlikable.  He painted as selfish and conniving and left me doubting whether he really ever cared for Elizabeth. 

A book that fits into my favorites of dramatized Tudor historical fiction.  I can't wait to read the next one!

Monday, October 27, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list. Click on the picture to be taken to Sheila at One Person's Journey Through A World of Books!
 Read Last Week:

CompulsionThe Tudor Secret (The Spymaster Chronicles, #1)
  • Compulsion by Martina Boone  
  • The Tudor Secret by C.W. Gortner

Currently Reading: 
  • Stray by Elissa Sussman
Up This Week: 
The Tudor Conspiracy (The Spymaster Chronicles, #2)
  • The Tudor Conspiracy by C.W. Gortner

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review - The Queen's Exiles (Thornleigh #6) by Barbara Kyle

The Queen's Exiles (Thornleigh, #6)Title: The Queen's Exiles
Author: Barbara Kyle
Series: 6th (1-4, Blood Between Queens)
Pages: 352
Published: May 27th 2014 by Kensington
ISBN: 9780758273246
Source: Publisher via Netgalley

Description: 1572. Europe is in turmoil. In the Netherlands the streets are red with the blood of those who dare to oppose the brutal Spanish occupation. A vengeful faction of exiled English Catholics is plotting to overthrow Queen Elizabeth and install her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots on the throne. But amid the unrest, one resourceful young woman has made a lucrative enterprise ... Scottish-born Fenella Doorn rules like a queen over a privateer's haven on the Isle of Sark. Her success at salvaging crippled vessels affords her gold and security, and it is on one of these ships that she meets wealthy Baron—and privateer—Adam Thornleigh. Secretly drawn to him, Fenella can’t refuse when Adam enlists her to join him in war-torn Brussels to help find his traitorous wife, Frances—and the children she’s taken from him.  But Fenella’s own bold actions have put a price on her head. Now Adam and Fenella’s lives are in peril as they race across Europe in an attempt to rescue his young ones, defend the crown, and restore the peace that few can remember. 

I Give This ...

I decided to continue this series after reading the 5th book.  I was hoping that the fact that I haven't read the previous 4 books wouldn't hinder my enjoymentThere was a couple small instances that I felt I might have better understood certain connections, but overall I like the events and character.

One thing I've noticed through out literature is the complete devotion that people showed to Queen Elizabeth.  Those who were on her side, were willing to do anything for her.  They risked it all, even their own lives to make sure her place on the throne was secure.  Such is the case with Adam Thornleigh.  He's willing to lose his family and spend his life pirating on the seas for the Queen.  Granted his wife made her choice as well.  I sometimes wonder if these people truly believed in the cause, or if it was all political (or how often it was both).  

I enjoyed Fenella.  It's always refreshing to have a female character who is holding her own without a man in her life.  Especially when inhabiting a world dominated by men.  Fenella is doing just that.  But, the minute Adam lands on her doorstep she wrapped in a world she should have stayed far away from.  But, Adam has that kind of draw for.  I loved her wits and how she handled all the situations thrown at her.  

I liked how the story was still based in Tudor history, but had more to do with what was going on in world beyond England.  I confess to not knowing much about that.  It was intriguing to learn about how dangerous of a game Elizabeth was playing when it came to pacifying her constant stream of suitors.  And how hard it must have been to have the rest of the world take her seriously when there were always those trying to bring her down.

I'm sure I will continue this series and eventually plan on going back and reading the first books in the series. 


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