Monday, April 9, 2018

Book Review: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Goodreads Summary: It’s 1895, and after the suicide of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped off from the life she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma’s reception there is a chilly one. To make things worse, she’s been followed by a mysterious young Indian man, a man sent to watch her. But why? What is her destiny? And what will her entanglement with Spence’s most powerful girls—and their foray into the spiritual world—lead to?
Goodreads Rating: 3.79 stars with over 186,000 ratings
Genre Listing: Fantasy, Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Get the Book: AmazonBook Depository
Good Reads Challenge: 10/30
2018 Reading Challenge: #27, The first in a series you've wanted to start. Find the reading challenge here
Book Haul: Canadian Book Haul


I have wanted to read A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray for so long. It's been on my shelf for about a year, and I'm not sure why it took me so long to pick it up. This is yet another one of her books that I could not put down. It was painful for me to not be able to read it whenever I wanted. Stupid grown-up responsibilities. About half-way through the book, I went ahead and ordered the other two books in the trilogy. The only reason I am not currently upset about having to wait to read the second book is that I started the second Outlander book. 

I've already started recommending this book to others long before I finished it. The best and quickest way I can describe A Great and Terrible Beauty is "The Craft meets the Victorian era." Some of the similarities include four unlikely friends who either seek power/ have power. At some point, they use the magic on some of their tormentors. Said power goes to their head. I love the movie The Craft, and I love anything about the Victorian era, so this is a total win-win for me.

I really enjoy the wit and sarcasm in this story. It keeps it interesting and a little cheeky.  An example of this is on page 145, where the girls are reading a mysterious diary that Gemma found.

Felicity stops. "Oh, honestly, this is the worst attempt at a gothic novel I've ever read. all we're missing are creaking castle floors and a heroine in danger of losing her virtue." 
Pippa sits up giggling."Let's read on and find out if they do lose their virtue!" 

This line made me giggle a lot, and I took a picture of it and shared it with a couple of people so they could chuckle as well. The book is filled with lines like that, and it's not from just one character. I think a good chunk of the characters shows some humor like that.

I really adore Gemma as the main character. I thought that she showed a lot of depth and growth. She started out as a spoiled brat and quickly got slapped with reality when her mom died. Honestly, I can relate to that on an intensely personal level. My heart hurt while reading this because it made me think of losing my own mother and my journey with and without her. Aside from the whole special powers thing, she's probably one of the more relatable characters for me personally.

The fact that each of the girls had their own personalities was interesting. I feel like in a lot of books the main group of friends' characters can get lost. In a Great and Terrible Beauty even though the main four friends were about as different as can be, they still shared a lot. They each had their own secrets, strengths, and insecurities. I was shocked that by the end it felt like they had grown into real friends, even though that is definitely not how it started.

I really don't have anything critical to say regarding this book. I loved it and couldn't get enough of it. Since I'm trying to do discussion questions with each post now, I'm going to use some of the ones in the back of the book. I'm doing this partly because I think they are great questions, but primarily because I'm really lazy and need to do some homework.

Discussion Questions:

1.) The Realms are a place where anything seems possible. Each of the four girls wants one thing above all else: Felicity desires power, Pippa seeks love, Ann wants beauty, and Gemma craves self-knowledge. Does any of the characters achieve her goal by the end of the story? Why or Why not? What would you want?
A.) I would definitely say that Pippa and Gemma get what they want, though not in the way they expect it. I think that Gemma finds out who she is and the events that have led up to her becoming that person by speaking with her mother. Sadly and painfully, Pippa does find love. I think by doing that she was able to make her own choice for the first time in her life, however sad that decision is. I'm trying to think of how Felicity and Ann achieved their goals outside of the realm, but I'm struggling.
I think that I would want success, it's not something I really feel I've achieved as of yet. 

2.) Gemma says of Felicity, "I don't know what power feels like. But this is surely what it looks like, and I think I'm beginning to understand why those ancient women had to hide in caves. Why our parents and teachers and suitors wat us to behave properly and predictably. It's not that they want to protect us; it's that they fear us" (p. 207). What kind of power is Gemma talking about? What is it that she thinks the parents and teachers and suitors fear?
A.) I think that she's speaking of being brave and fearless, and given the time, perhaps even it's the fear of a woman being headstrong and able to think for herself. Which on this note, I'm amending what I said in my previous answer of not being sure of when Felicity gained power. Because in this sense, she definitely had it and it'd be a terrifying thing for a woman to have in the 1800s when this book takes place.

3.) "It's a dream, only a dream," Gemma thinks of her sexually charged encounter with Kartik (p. 219). Why do you think Gemma stops the fantasy when she does? Why do you think the author chose to make this scene a dream rather than a reality? Do you believe this makes Gemma's experience any less "real" to her?
A.) I think that this being shown as a dream instead of reality hints towards Gemma being young and naive. Gemma lives in a time where girls are to remain "pure" until they are married. To show it otherwise would make it taboo for the time period that A Great and Terrible Beauty is set in. By making it a dream, it gives Gemma a sense of curiosity about sexual encounters but doesn't ruin her in Victorian Society's point of view. 

Friday, March 30, 2018

Book Review of Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

Goodreads Summary: Harry Dresden--WizardLost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Business has been slow. Okay, business has been dead. And not even of the undead variety. You would think Chicago would have a little more action for the only professional wizard in the phone book. But lately, Harry Dresden hasn't been able to dredge up any kind of work--magical or mundane.

But just when it looks like he can't afford his next meal, a murder comes along that requires his particular brand of supernatural expertise.

A brutally mutilated corpse. Strange-looking paw prints. A full moon. Take three guesses--and the first two don't count...
Goodreads Rating: 4.04 stars with over 129,000 ratings
Genre Listing: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Fiction, Paranormal
Get the Book: AmazonBook Depository
Reviews on series: Storm Front by Jim Butcher
Goodreads: 9/30 (I miscounted in the last review)
2018 Reading Challenge:  #21 A book involving a mythical creature (Check out the reading challenge here.)


So far, I think I'm making pretty decent progress on my challenge. I'm at least mildly thinking about what's on the list before I pick a book to read. I wasn't really sure where I was going to stick Fool Moon until just a few days ago. Luckily, a book full of wizardry and werewolves seems like a good fit for Mythical Creatures to me! Another idea for this one would be #32 an Action Adventure book or #47 A book with a male main character.

I'm really glad that my friend Tress got me into this series. I adore the sense of humor that Harry has, as well as the sort of wing it attitude. He makes an interesting main character because he's smart, funny, knows his strengths, but also understands his weaknesses. I get really tired of reading books where the main character is either perfect in every way or has some "quirk" that's supposed to make them unique and then fails to do so. 

Susan's grown on me as a love interest for Harry. In Storm Front, I was really hoping there'd be something between Murph and Harry. I felt that Susan came across as just trying to use Dresden for the link to supernatural stories. In Fool Moon, I felt like she really came across as she cared about Harry, or at least was starting to. I'm actually interested to see where the relationship heads in the next book.

I feel like the trust/broken trust issue between Harry and Murph is going to be a reoccurring theme in the series. Based on the end of the book, it made it seem like things are somewhat patched up, but I have a feeling something will change that in book three. We'll see if I'm right. 

I really enjoyed the different types of werewolves that Butcher put in this story. I liked how he gave each type their own identity and history. It was interesting since some of it strayed from the typical versions of the creature I've read about in the past.  I thought the concept of having a magic belt turn a person into a wolf was interesting. I also like the point of view provided when it was used. It made it seem like an internal good vs. evil type of thing.

I'm going to try something a little different with my reviews. What I'd like to do is do a quick overview of my review, like I just did. I'm then going to rate it, and below the rating, I'm going to ask a series of book-club-style questions. My answers are going to be with spoilers, just as a warning. I would really love for folks to chime in. 

Discussion Questions:

1.) What was your favorite type of wolf depicted in Fool Moon?
I really enjoyed the Hexenwolfe. I thought the idea of a magic item being able to turn someone. The concept was an interesting one that I have not read before. As I mentioned previously, I also really liked how the point of view changed and the internal struggle it provided. 
2.) What is your least favorite type of wolf depicted? 
I wouldn't really say I have a least favorite exactly. I liked them all in their own way, but I felt like The type of wolf Tera was got the least amount of attention. In the entire book it was hinted that she was *something else* and then at the end, it hinted towards the fact that she was a wolf transforming into a human. I think the concept is interesting, and I'd like to read more of it, but there just wasn't much detail on it. It was more of a "wait... what?' moment for me.
3.) What is your favorite part of the story?
I liked that Harry has to learn to fight without his magic. It's very obviously his identity, and I think by losing it momentarily he has to grow and use his intellect to get himself out of situations. 
What's your least favorite part?
Probably the weird sexual tension that Agent Benn has with being a Hexenwolf.  It seemed out of place and awkward. I didn't really see the point of her constantly exposing her self to touch the belt and shift. It felt like they only point of it was "Hey! Boobs!" 
5.) What are you looking forward to the most in the series?
I'm really hoping that we get to dive into more of Harry's past. I want to know what's so terrifying in his past, what people see when they soulgaze with him, and obviously who's trying to set him up. I also want to know more about him becoming a wizard, I still don't full understand how that happens in this world. Does some random person just decide to become a wizard and train for it? Is there some kind of gene? Does some magic toad lick your face and then *bam* yerrr a wizard, Harry? I need to know these things. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Canadian Book Haul 3/23/2018

Greetings from Canada! I'm visiting my lovely Canadian friend, and yesterday we walked around Stratford, Ontario. We mostly just walked around and looked into what shops were open. There was a bookstore open, and of course, I did have to check it out. I think I amused the shopkeeper because when he had commented on me finding some books, I replied with "I rarely leave a bookstore without books" he seemed to laugh. He also appeared to be amused by my random selections of books. I didn't get a ton of books, sadly. I have a ton of books at home I need to read, plus the husband seems to be displeased when I try to spend all of our vacation money on books.

Goodreads: From the author of Outlander...a magnificent epic that once again sweeps us back in time to the drama and passion of 18th-century Scotland...
For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland's majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones about a love that transcends the boundaries of time ...and about James Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his...

Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire's spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising ...and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves...
Goodreads Rating: 4.31 stars with over 220,000 ratings
Genre Listing: Historical Fiction, Romance, Fantasy, Time Travel
Get the book: AmazonBook Depository
Review of other books in the series: Outlander Review
Initial Thoughts: I've been searching for the second book in the Outlander series for a while. I feel like every time I remember to look for it it's not in stock. I'm pretty excited to read this one because I loved Outlander so much. I'm not sure exactly when I'm going to get a chance to read it. I have such a hard time reading long books though due to time constraints. At least whenever I do get around to reading it will be a great one to put under the book over 500 pages category on the reading challenge.

Goodreads Summary: Discover the real-life mystery centered on the queen of crime herself: Agatha Christie. In this tantalizing new novel, Christie’s mysterious ten-day disappearance serves as the starting point for a gripping novel, in which Christie herself is pulled into a case of blackmail and murder.
“I wouldn’t scream if I were you. Unless you want the whole world to learn about your husband and his mistress.”

Agatha Christie, in London to visit her literary agent, is boarding a train, preoccupied with the devastating knowledge that her husband is having an affair. She feels a light touch on her back, causing her to lose her balance, then a sense of someone pulling her to safety from the rush of the incoming train. So begins a terrifying sequence of events—for her rescuer is no guardian angel, rather he is a blackmailer of the most insidious, manipulative kind.

“You, Mrs. Christie, are going to commit a murder. But, before then, you are going to disappear.”

Writing about murder is a far cry from committing a crime, and Agatha must use every ounce of her cleverness and resourcefulness to thwart an adversary determined to exploit her expertise and knowledge about the act of murder to kill on his behalf.

In A Talent for Murder, Andrew Wilson ingeniously explores Agatha Christie’s odd ten-day disappearance in 1926 and weaves an utterly compelling and convincing story around this still unsolved mystery involving the world’s bestselling novelist.
Goodreads Rating: 3.51 stars with just over 600 ratings
Genre Listing: Mystery, Historical Fiction, Crime, Thriller
Get the Book: AmazonBook Depository
Initial thoughts: I don't know much about Agatha Christie at all other than she wrote a ton of mystery books. That was part of why Tress and I put reading Agatha Christie on the reading challenge. Apparently, she disappeared, which I didn't know. Without reading this or any Agatha Christie, I already want to know more. I think a mystery writer disappearing is fascinating.

Goodreads Summary: For the first time in one volume are Agatha Christie's first two mysteries that introduced the world to Hercule Poirot and to Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, all sleuths who have starred in the PBS Mystery! series: with a sudden death as the initiation of his career, Hercule Poirot calls upon the sprawling estate of the Styles Court to identify the murderer of a wealthy heiress from a crowd of jealous relatives and a fortune-hunting husband; and while trying to locate a missing woman known to have been carrying secret documents at the time of her disappearance, Tommy and Tuppence discover a deadly web of espionage and murder in the aftermath of the Great War.
Goodreads Rating: 4.24 stars with around 1800 ratings
Genre Listing: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Crime
Get The Book: AmazonBook Depository
Initial Thoughts: I didn't actually buy this one, but thought I'd include it since I acquired it in Canada. My friend that I'm staying with gave it to me when she found out I was going to need an Agatha Christie book. I have no idea what either of these novels is about or really anything about Agatha Christie. This book seems like a good starting point, though.

Goodreads Summary: Set in Victorian London and an Essex village in the 1890's, and enlivened by the debates on scientific and medical discovery which defined the era, The Essex Serpent has at its heart the story of two extraordinary people who fall for each other, but not in the usual way.
They are Cora Seaborne and Will Ransome. Cora is a well-to-do London widow who moves to the Essex parish of Aldwinter, and Will is the local vicar. They meet as their village is engulfed by rumors that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming human lives, has returned. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist, is enthralled, convinced the beast may be a real undiscovered species. But Will sees his parishioners' agitation as a moral panic, a deviation from true faith. Although they can agree on absolutely nothing, as the seasons turn around them in this quiet corner of England, they find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart.

Told with exquisite grace and intelligence, this novel is most of all a celebration of love, and the many different guises it can take.
Goodreads Rating: 3.69 stars with over 20,000 ratings
Genre Listing: Historical Fiction, Romance, Victorian, European Literature, British Literature
Get the Book: AmazonBook Depository
Initial Thoughts: I'm a little nervous I won't like this one. I thought the cover was pretty and saw Victorian London on the back and went for it. There are a few readers who have listed it as abandoned on Goodreads, so we'll see if I can get through it. I'm hoping I'm wrong and that I enjoy it. If I get through it, it'll be a good one to list under favorite color on the reading challenge. (Not sure what the reading challenge I keep mentioning is? Check it out here.)
Goodreads Summary: From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird. Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch--"Scout"--returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise's homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past--a journey that can be guided only by one's conscience. Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor and effortless precision--a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to an American classic.
Goodreads Rating: 3.31 stars with over 179,000 ratings
Genre Listing: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Classics
Get the book: AmazonBook Depository
Initial Thoughts: This is another one that my friend gave me. I saw it on her shelf and asked her how it was since she had two copies she gave me one. I should probably reread To Kill A Mocking Bird before I dive into this one. I probably haven't read it since high school.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Book Review: Six Scary Stories selected and Introduced by Stephen King

Goodreads Summary: Six Scary Stories selected and introduced by Stephen King

Number 1 bestselling horror author Stephen King introduces and presents six gripping and chilling stories in this captivating anthology!

Stephen King discovered these stories when he judged a competition run by Hodder & Stoughton and the Guardian to celebrate the publication of his own collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. He was so impressed with the entries that he recommended they be published together in one book, which Cemetery Dance Publications and Hodder & Stoughton are pleased to report has become a reality. The six stories are:

WILD SWIMMING by Elodie Harper
EAU-DE-ERIC by Manuela Saragosa
THE SPOTS by Paul Bassett Davies
THE UNPICKING by Michael Button
LA MORT DE L'AMANT by Stuart Johnstone
THE BEAR TRAP by Neil Hudson

Reader beware: the stories will make you think twice before cuddling up to your old soft toy, dipping your toe into the water or counting the spots on a leopard…

Goodreads Rating: 3.59 Stars with over 2,000 reviews
Genre Listing: Horror, Short Stories, Anthologies, Thriller
Get the Book: AmazonBook Depository
Goodreads Challenge: 8/30
2018 Reading Challenge: #40 A compilation of Short Stories. 2018 reading challenge can be found here.

Book Review:

I'm not really sure the best way to go about reviewing this, as I've never actually reviewed short stories compilations before. (Mental note to do this more.) I've decided to review each short story as I get them done. In the end, I might pick a favorite (maybe a least favorite as well.) I think I'll give each a rating, and then my actual book rating will be an average of the 6.

These six short stories were all picked by Stephen King for a writing contest. It was narrowed down from 800 to six, and King states in his introduction that he felt all of these stories deserved to be published. With that, the idea for this compilation was born. 

First up:

Wild Swimming by Elodie Harper

I really liked that this story takes place in e-mails. It made it really easy to read and got to the point quickly. There wasn't a lot of background story, which was fine. It just jumps into Chrissy's travels, and her stay at a run-down inn. It gave just enough details to find Chrissy's adventures interesting. There was a good build-up within the e-mails that Chrissy sends her friend. They start innocently enough, but with each one, you can see Chrissy's fear grow. If this were to be published in a full-length novel, I'd definitely read it. I'd love to read a more in-depth version of the story with history on the sunken village and is being explored. 

Eau-De-Eric by Manuela Saragosa

Eh. I was not really a fan of this one. I found it weird and didn't really get the point of it. I think for this one to be scary it would have needed to be a bit longer. It was well written and interesting, but just when I could start to see how it would be scary, it ended. It made it really anti-climatic.

The Spots by Paul Bassett Davies

This one was pretty interesting, and I liked the psychology and experimentation of how someone would accomplish a seemingly ridiculous task in two different ways. First with the job just being a mundane request and second with an element of life or death introduced. I actually found the ending to be a bit humorous. Overall I thought it was a well-done story and I enjoyed it.

The UnPicking by Michael Button

This story was properly creepy, and I enjoyed every page of it. I loved the odd names that were given to the toys and how each had their own personality. The way the caused mischief started out innocently enough and kind of Toy Story-Esq but then quickly got very dark.  At the time of this compilation, Michael Button was working on his first novel. This short story was enough to make me want to seek out his work. 

La Mort De L'amant by Stuart Johnstone

I don't know that this one was necessarily scary, but it did have a lot of suspense in it. The story left me with all kinds of questions. Some of the questions that it raised were 'why was the old man at the bridge?', 'What was in the truck that he didn't want the officer to see,' 'Who was the woman he kept referencing.' I think the suspense definitely got my heart racing a little bit. Also, this is the second time this week I've heard/read the phrase "Dumb as a bag of hammers." I've never heard that before until this week, and now I've had it referenced twice. 

The Bear Trap by Neil Hudson

The sixth and final story in this compilation is an interesting one. It takes place in an ash-covered wasteland. Calvin, a young abandoned boy, is caught off guard by a stranger who is intent on taking Calvin's home for his own. I liked the detail in this one. It was gruesome and imaginative. A lot of the other stories left the ending up for speculation, but I think this one had a pretty concrete ending. I liked the story of Calvin and his three favorite bears. 

Overall Review:

I really enjoyed these six stories. They were all really creative and made me think. They were unique, and most of them left me wanting more. If nothing else I've got some new authors to stalk on social media.

Here is my list of favorites. 

1.) The Unpicking by Michael Button
2.) Wild Swimming by Elodie Harper
3.) The Bear Trap by Neil Hudson
4.) The Spots by Paul Bassett Davies
5.) La Mort De L'amant by Stuart Johnstone
6.) Eau-De-Eric by Manuela Saragosa

I can see why these were picked as the finalists for the contests. Average stars for my ratings on these comes out to 3.83, so I'm going to bump it up to four stars overall. I'd love to get a discussion going about these short stories, so if you've read them, please let me know what you think in the comment section!

Blog review of The Chalk Circle Man by Fred Vargas

Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg is not like other policemen. His methods appear unorthodox in the extreme: he doesn't search for clues; he ignores obvious suspects and arrests people with cast-iron alibis; he appears permanently distracted. In spite of all this, his colleagues are forced to admit that he is a born cop.

When strange blue chalk circles start appearing overnight on the pavements of Paris, only Adamsberg takes them - and the increasingly bizarre objects found within them - seriously. And when the body of a woman with her throat savagely cut is found in one, only Adamsberg realizes that other murders will soon follow.

Winner of The Crime Writers' Association Duncan Lawrie International Dagger.

Goodreads Rating: 3.67 stars with over 5,300 ratings
Genre Listing: Mystery, Crime, Fiction, French Culture
Get the book: AmazonBook Depository
Goodreads Challenge: 7/30
2018 Reading Challenge: #57 A book that was originally published in a foreign language. The challenge can be found here.

Book Review:

When I originally decided to read this book, I wasn't sure where I was going to put it on my challenge. I found out about halfway through that it was translated from French to English, so it was a perfect fit for #57 on the challenge list. Unfortunately, I think this could have been more of a hindrance for me while reading.

This book was tough for me to get through. It's under 300 pages, and I started it in January. I'm just now finishing it in Mid March. It's not that the book was terrible, the language was just so hard for me to read. The entire flow of the book just seemed to ramble on and on, and I wonder how much of that was the translation. I wonder if I knew how to read French and read the original French version if I would feel the same. Unfortunately, I lost my train of thought while reading this fairly often. I had to frequently go back to other pages to remember what happened.

In addition to the rambling, I didn't feel really any connection to this story. I didn't get any feelings toward who the characters were. I like being invested in the characters I read about, and to me, all of the characters were just page fillers. The main character Jean-Baptiste was especially dull. He was supposed to be odd, and I just didn't really get that from the pages described. In regards to Reyes, there was a lot of eye-rolling directed at the numerous puns about being blind. I did appreciate Mathilde's theory on the week being in sections. Monday- Wednesday being the harder portion of the week, Thursday-Saturday being more leisurely, and Sunday is its own section. Despite my indifference to many of the characters, I did like the random connections between some of them.

I think that like Adamsberg, I was more interested in the chalk circles than the murders. I was hoping there would be some psychological reason behind the objects themselves, but there wasn't, unfortunately. I will say, I was surprised at how the events unfolded. The book did pick up for me a little bit after the first murder, and I was never sure who the murder actually was. Vargas did an excellent job and making it seem like it could be any of the characters discussed. The book tied up all of the loose ends nicely, however, it was mainly just Jean-Baptiste recapping everything in a way that made me feel like he knew it all along. 

For the most part, I enjoyed the book, and I found it interesting. I just had a tough time getting through it. Even once I started to get interested in it I could only do a chapter or so at a time before I needed to put it down. Not sure I'd go out of my way to recommend it, but I can't say I hated it either. 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Book Review of The Maid's Secret by Emily Organ

Goodreads Summary: London 1884. Victorian industrialist Alexander Glenville is a man with many secrets. Fleet Street reporter Penny Green is tasked with working undercover as a maid in his home, but tragedy strikes when Glenville’s daughter is poisoned.
Penny’s insider knowledge is crucial for Scotland Yard’s murder investigation, but someone in the Glenville household already suspects that she’s more than just a servant. Can Penny and Inspector James Blakely solve the mystery before Penny’s cover is blown?

For fans of classic murder mysteries! The books in the Penny Green Series can be read in any order.

Goodreads Rating: 4.13 stars with over 164 ratings.

Genre Listing: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Get the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Challenge: 6/30

2018 Reading Challenge: #29 A book with a purple cover. Find the 2018 reading challenge here.

Other reviews on the series: Limelight (Penny Green #1)Rookery (Penny Green #2)

Book Review:

I think it's safe to say that I'm addicted to the Penny Green Series, but now I'm at the point where I'm eagerly waiting for the next book. I had a hard time putting The Maid's Secret down. I really didn't have any idea who was going to be the murderer in this one. I've mentioned it before in the other reviews, but I love how Emily Organ gives readers several suspects to contemplate. The Maid's Secret didn't disappoint in this area. 

The Maid's Secret reminded me of the movie Clue with Tim Curry. I don't have a rhyme or reason for it, but it made me think of the movie quite often. This may have made me slightly more fond of the book. 

I really liked the development between Penny and James in this one. I'm excited to see the latest adventure Penny gets herself involved with, as well as where these latest developments lead. Especially since Penny is gaining another suitor.

I've really enjoyed that there's a mystery within a mystery in this series. I like how each book has a different mystery, but within each one there's a continuation of trying to find out what happened to Penny's father on his adventures.

I think that I've recommended this series to so many people that I've lost track. The entire series is really well written and a lot of fun to read. I can't wait to read the fourth installment. There's also a couple of short stories that Emily Organ has put out revolving around Penny Green.

I apologize that this review is so short. I do enjoy the series, but I actually finished this book a week or so ago. I've been working on getting my Etsy shop up and running, so this post, unfortunately, kept getting pushed back.  If you'd like to take a look at my handmade jewelry you can check it out here. It's not book related, but it is pretty!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Book Review of Fate's Mistress by Laura Du Pre

Goodreads Summary: Cousins to the King of Navarre, the Cleves sisters, witness the glamour and danger of the French royal court firsthand. Middle sister, Catherine, is married to the Duc de Guise, the most rabid Catholic in France. Ambitious and well-connected, Guise is the main rival for the French throne, which is currently occupied by an unpopular Henri III.

Guise managed to win concessions from Henri, but concessions come with a steep price on his head. As his Duchesse, Catherine is in a dangerous position of her own. Determined to play her part in bringing about the downfall of the Valois and the rise of the Guise, Catherine will risk her own safety.

But is the risk worth the rewards? Will either of them escape with their lives? Catherine has to take a chance for herself, and the consequences will change French history.

Based on a true story

The Cleves sisters' story concludes with Catherine, who stands in the middle of court politics in France of the 1500s. Like most great noble families of the period, the web of intermarriages and alliances made enemies out of blood relatives. It also meant that the stories of the people who served the Valois monarchs were as intertwined and as complicated as their marriages.

Led by the ever-vigilant Catherine de Medici, Queen Mother of France and a force of nature, the members of the court shaped the political and religious future of France of the Sixteenth Century. In the trilogy, you'll meet the often- derided Charlotte, Madame de Sauve, and enough royal mistresses to satisfy your need for scandal.

˃˃˃ Don't miss out!

France will never be the same by the time Catherine's story ends. You'll instantly be front and center at the world of the Valois court and all of the danger and splendor of Renaissance France!

Goodreads Rating: 3.63 stars with under 100 ratings
Genre Listing: Historical Fiction, French Culture 
Get the book: Amazon
Goodreads Challenge: 5/30


Fate's Mistress is the final book in the Three Grace's trilogy. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a category to put it in for the 2018 Book Challenge. The third book follows the oldest of the Cleves sisters, Catherine. Where the first two books overlap, I believe this one takes place right after the second in the trilogy. 

At first, I really enjoyed reading Catherine's story. Like the other two books, Fate's Mistress is under 150 pages. I couldn't say where exactly, but towards the end of the book I started to lose interest in it. I felt like it needed a lot of editing work done. The entire series needed it, but this book especially needed it. I felt like a lot of minor details weren't consistent in the story.  Things like how many children Catherine and Henri had as well as their names seemed to change quite a few times. 

I think that Fate's Mistress covered quite a few more years than the other books did, which made it kind of keep track of. I found most of the details somewhat forgettable, and am struggling to get my thoughts out about it. The ending felt anti-climatic. It was more or less a bunch of battles for change, but nothing actually changed except for a few key players. Overall, I really enjoyed the first two books of the series, but Fate's Mistress fell short for me.