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. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Review - The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1) by Mary E. Pearson

The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles, #1)Title: Kiss of Deception
Author: Mary E Pearson
Series: 1st
Pages: 486
Published: July 8th 2014 by Henry Holt and Co.
ISBN: 9780805099232
Source: Publisher via Netgalley

Description: A princess must find her place in a reborn world.  She flees on her wedding day.  She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor's secret collection.  She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.  She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan. The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can't abide. Like having to marry someone she's never met to secure a political alliance.  Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love. 

I Give This ...

This one kind of surprised me.  I wasn't sure what to think of it and first, and had a little bit of a hard time with the different view points (I'm not a huge fan on more than 2 points of view).  In the end, I was won out by the story, however I want more fantasy and less romance.

I liked Lia almost immediately.  She's willing to give up everything, defy and father and her kingdom by refusing to marry the person chosen for her.  Granted I think part of her acted a little rashly.  I think most of her decision to run was based on not wanting to marry a person who really only existed in her head.  It was less to do with the actual person and even less to do with what may or may not have been happening right beneath her father's nose.  She just came across and excellent bargaining tool.

I was a little disappointed that the story seemed to focus more on the romance and less on the fantasy.  But, I will admit that I kind of got wrapped up in it.  Mainly because I honestly had no idea who was who.  I liked that the princess had one point of view and that she favored one over the other.  But, our other two points of view are from the prince and the assassin with no idea which one belonged to which name the princess knew them as.  I would think I had it but then they would do something that would lead me to doubt.

I did think the latter part of the book was more action and last romance, although I was still unsure at our assassin's true feelings.  It leaves many open doors.  There's a lot of story elements that are still missing, so I hope the story focuses less on the romance and gets down to business.  I think that there is a lot of potential here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Review - Chasing the Prophecy (Beyonders #3) by Brandon Mull

Chasing the Prophecy (Beyonders, #3)Title: Chasing the Prophecy
Author: Brandon Mull
Pages: 512
Published: March 12th 2013 by Aladdin
ISBN: 9781416997962
Source: Library

Description: Jason and Rachel were not born in Lyrian. They did not grow up in Lyrian. But after all of the battles and losses, the triumphs and adventures, and most of all, the friendships forged in this fantastical world, Lyrian has become home to them in a way they never could have imagined. And so, armed now with the prophecy of a dying oracle, they have gone on their separate quests—each surrounded by brave and powerful allies—knowing that the chance for success is slim. But Jason and Rachel are ready at last to become the heroes Lyrian needs, no matter the cost.

I Give This ...

I'm a huge Brandon Mull fan.  I've loved this series so far. I kind of put off reading this final book because I wasn't ready for the series to end.  And it's always hard to pick up the final book for various reasons.  Will I like it?  Will it end the way I thin it should?  Can all the characters have the ending they deserve?

I was only slightly disappointed in the fact that at over 500 pages, this book can be a little slow in places.  There are instances were I felt the story lagged and something had to happen in order for the story to go anywhere.  It's was like a slow march to certain death and destruction.  However, the story was saved by the actions of the characters.
I'm always short of words when it comes to the characters in this series.  Mull ranks right up there with Rowling when it comes to defining characteristics that make for literary characters one can admire and look up to.   Jason may not always have the brains, but he makes up for it in shear determination and bravery. Yet, I never felt he acted rashly.  He make sound decisions about his actions and showed unwavering trust in his companions.  While Jason may be the backbone, Rachel is the brains.  She was chosen for her mission for a reason.  She has the ability to see the whole picture when she only has a piece.  And her knowledge and mastery of the magic of Lyrian is impressive.

I think my favorite character has ended up being Ferrin.  Who knew a displacer that could always be counted on to put their needs above anyone else would be the one to save the day.  I was never sure how he would influence the story (good or bad) and I'm sure he knew either.  I was pleased to see that he was able to rise above his own doubts and be the hero of the story.

I will be no doubt closely watching what Brandon Mull produces next.  And hoping that one day he gets the recognition I think he deserves. 

Monday, October 20, 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:

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3)
  • Heir of Fire by Sarah J Mass
Currently Reading:
  • Compulsion by Martina Boone 
Up This Week: 
The Tudor Secret (The Spymaster Chronicles, #1)
  • The Tudor Secret by C.W. Gortner

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth Book Tour

Displaying Bitter Greens_Blog Tour Banner_FINALv2.png
Title: Bitter Greens
Author: Kate Forsyth
Series: Stand Alone
Pages: 496
Published: September 23rd 2014 by Thomas Dunne Books
ISBN: 9781250047533
Source: Arranged Tour

 Description: 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. 

I Give This ...

  I wanted to love this.  It had all the cards, but for some reason I could just not connect with it.  I have no idea why.

Maybe it's the time period.  It's always amazing to me how books about certain characters come in groups. I had never heard of Athénaïs de Montespan, and yet this is the second book I've read this year that contains her as an important figure.   While I  find the story of the Sun King and his court to be interesting, the people themselves are a little hard to relate to.  So much of this story is told from the Charlotte's point of view, and she seems so vain at times.  The part of the story that I thought I would enjoy the most I ended up dragging through.  

I actually really enjoyed the story of Margherita.  The way the author set up the traditional fairy tale of Rapunzel was fascinating.  I've never actually read the original version having always thought it was by the Brother's Grimm.  I need to seek out this tale.  I liked the witch and her part in the story and her own reformation in the end.

So, in the end, I wasn't sure how I felt about this book.  It was dreadfully slow in parts.  But, others were quite enjoyable.  I didn't find it as awesome as others seem to.

About the Author

Displaying Kate Forsyth 1.jpg
Kate Forsyth wrote her first novel at the age of seven, and is now the internationally bestselling & award-winning author of thirty books, ranging from picture books to poetry to novels for both adults and children. She was recently voted one of Australia’s Favourite 20 Novelists, and has been called ‘one of the finest writers of this generation. She is also an accredited master storyteller with the Australian Guild of Storytellers, and has told stories to both children and adults all over the world.
Her most recent book for adults is a historical novel called ‘The Wild Girl’, which tells the true, untold love story of Wilhelm Grimm and Dortchen Wild, the young woman who told him many of the world’s most famous fairy tales. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, ‘The Wild Girl’ is a story of love, war, heartbreak, and the redemptive power of storytelling, and was named the Most Memorable Love Story of 2013.

She is probably most famous for ‘Bitter Greens’, a retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale interwoven with the dramatic life story of the woman who first told the tale, the 17th century French writer, Charlotte-Rose de la Force. ‘Bitter Greens’ has been called ‘the best fairy tale retelling since Angela Carter’, and has been nominated for a Norma K. Hemming Award, the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Fiction, and a Ditmar Award.

Her most recent book for children is ‘Grumpy Grandpa’, a charming picture book that shows people are not always what they seem.

Since ‘The Witches of Eileanan’ was named a Best First Novel of 1998 by Locus Magazine, Kate has won or been nominated for numerous awards, including a CYBIL Award in the US. She’s also the only author to win five Aurealis awards in a single year, for her Chain of Charms series – beginning with ‘The Gypsy Crown’ – which tells of the adventures of two Romany children in the time of the English Civil War. Book 5 of the series, ‘The Lightning Bolt’, was also a CBCA Notable Book.
Kate’s books have been published in 14 countries around the world, including the UK, the US, Russia, Germany, Japan, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Poland and Slovenia. She is currently undertaking a doctorate in fairytale retellings at the University of Technology, having already completed a BA in Literature and a MA in Creative Writing.

Kate is a direct descendant of Charlotte Waring, the author of the first book for children ever published in Australia, ‘A Mother’s Offering to her Children’. She lives by the sea in Sydney, Australia, with her husband, three children, and many thousands of books.

For more information please visit Kate Forsyth’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.


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