Saturday, January 6, 2018

Book Review of Limelight by Emily Organ

Goodreads Summary:  London, 1883. Actress Lizzie Dixie drowned in the River Thames, so how was she murdered five years later in Highgate Cemetery?
Intrepid Fleet Street reporter Penny Green was a friend of Lizzie’s, and Scotland Yard needs her help. Does Penny unwittingly hold clues to Lizzie’s mysterious death? Penny must work with Inspector James Blakely to investigate the worlds of theatre, showmen, and politicians in search of the truth.

But who is following her? And who is sending her threatening letters?

Penny is about to discover that Lizzie’s life was more complicated, and dangerous than she could ever have imagined.

Goodreads Rating: 3.79 with 756 ratings

Genre Listing: Mystery, Historical Fiction, Victorian

Get the Book: Amazon

2018 Reading Challenge: #10 - A book with a one-word title - Reading Challenge

Reading goal: 1/30

Review:

Woohoo! The first review of 2018. I've decided that for the 2018 reading challenge I'll be skipping around. I had initially thought I'd try to work the levels one at a time, but I tend to binge read things that may not fit into the levels. The hard part is going to be to make myself read certain ones. 

I've been eying Limelight by Emily Organ for a month or two now, and I'm glad I finally decided to give it a go. I had a hard time putting it down. I liked how Penny was somewhat odd for her time, seemingly comfortable being alone, bookish, working when most women were at home with children. I felt like she seemed mildly indifferent to the sexism around her. I got the impression I got was she expected it because of the times but didn't really let it negatively affect her.

I was really intrigued by the Woman's society Penny's sister Eliza was apart of. I'm obsessed with different periods fashion trends. I loved how they discussed reforming their dress, and even designed unique skirts to ride bicycles, and how it was somewhat of a scandal. I also appreciated the style of writing and inclusion of slang. I feel like some of the dialect is how people would actually speak in 1883.

As far as the mystery goes, I really like how Organ provided multiple suspects. I feel like a lot of mysteries give you one or two suspects, and then the murderer may or may not be one of those suspects. I feel like at any given time Emily Organ provided readers with four or five likely suspects. It was nice because I didn't really know where the ending was going to go, but it was one that wasn't so farfetched based on the case presented.

I'll be honest, I was not expecting much from Limelight, but I was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed this book, so much so that I downloaded Rookery, the second in the series right after I finished it. That's already proving to be excellent as well. I definitely recommend Limelight to anyone who wants a decent 'Who done it?' with a Victorian flare.




Monday, January 1, 2018

2017: A year in review



Happy New Years, Readers!  I hope everyone had a safe and happy end to their 2017. Here's a look at everything I read for 2017.

As always, I did the Goodreads reading challenge. I set a goal of 50, but only read 25 books. I think I may have set my ambitions way too high last year. I had put the goal at 50 because that's how many books were in my reading challenge. A link to 2017's challenge can be found here. In hindsight, this challenge was a good start to creating challenges, but too specific and unobtainable in a lot of places. It did lead to the creation of a mega challenge for 2018, however. The post for this can be found here. I'm really excited about this, as it is a collaboration with one of my dear friends, and a lot of fellow bloggers are jumping on it!

Enough about the 2018 challenge, however. Here's a look at what I read for 2017, with links to the reviews.

First up, the books I read at the request of their authors.

A Gleam of Light by TJ and ML Wolf- Review
The King's Peace by Kevin Hammond-Review
Aaru by David Meredith- Review

The Book I reread (According to Goodreads, I reread Betrayed, but I don't think I actually finished it... It also said I read Flyte twice, but that didn't actually happen.)
Marked by PC and Kristen Cast - Review

The Books I read for the 2017 challenge:

2.) A book in a series you've yet to finish -The Immortal Circus: Act Two by A.R. Kahler
3.) A free book you found on Amazon- One Tequila by Tricia O'Malley
6.) A book that's considered a classic- 1984 by George Orwell
8.) A book about royalty- The Agincourt Bride by Joanna Hickson
13.) The first book in a series you've meant to start- Magyk by Angie Sage
15.) A book about magic- The Immortal Circus: Final Act by A.R. Kahler
16.) A Historical Fiction- Queen by Right by Anne Easter Smith
19.) A Book you picked out because of the cover- The Merciless by Danielle Vega
28.) A book with a green cover- Flyte by Angie Sage
31.) A book recommended to you on Social Media- Storm Front by Jim Butcher
35.) A book that takes you somewhere you would like to live - The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor
38.) A Book That's been made into a movie/tv show- Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitts
40.) A Dystopian Novel- Scythe by Neal Shusterman
45.) A book that takes place in another country- Almost a Queen by Laura Du Pre
46.) A Romance Novel- Public Secrets by Nora Roberts
48.) A Young Adult Book- The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

Books that didn't really fit anywhere else:
The Unkillable Kitty O'Kane by Colin Falconer (I may have this on the challenge, but I have my notes mixed up on if the challenge was supposed to be a book published in 1917 or 2017. It fits for 2017.)- Review
The Queen's Mary by Sarah Gristwood- Review
The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette- Review

I will say that this year I plan to read a lot more. I set my Goodreads goal at 30, but I think with the challenge if I plan ahead I'll do way more than that. I think by far my favorite book that I've read this year was Scythe by Neal Shusterman. There's a few of them that are a toss-up for the worst, but I'm not going to list them here.

Feel free to let me know what book was your favorite read of 2017 in the comments!


Sunday, December 31, 2017

Book Review of the Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson

Goodreads Summary: Imagine that, on the night before she is to die under the blade of the guillotine, Marie Antoinette leaves behind in her prison cell a diary telling the story of her life--from her privileged childhood as Austrian Archduchess to her years as glamorous mistress of Versailles to the heartbreak of imprisonment and humiliation during the French Revolution.
Carolly Erickson takes the reader deep into the psyche of France's doomed queen: her love affair with handsome Swedish diplomat Count Axel Fersen, who risked his life to save her; her fears on the terrifying night the Parisian mob broke into her palace bedroom intent on murdering her and her family; her harrowing attempted flight from France in disguise; her recapture and the grim months of harsh captivity; her agony when her beloved husband was guillotined, and her young son was torn from her arms, never to be seen again.

Erickson brilliantly captures the queen's voice, her hopes, her dreads, and her suffering. We follow, mesmerized, as she reveals every detail of her remarkable, eventful life--from her teenage years when she began keeping a diary to her final days when she awaited her own bloody appointment with the guillotine.

Goodreads Rating: 3.61 with over 5,000 ratings

Genre Listing: Historical Fiction, French Culture

Get the Book: AmazonBook Depository

Book Review:

Hello, Readers! I hope that everyone is enjoying their holiday season! I actually finished The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette about a week ago, but I'm really behind on the doing of things. Marie Antoinette is regrettably a queen I've not read much on. I'm trying to branch out into reading about different historical figures.

I really enjoyed The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson. I felt that Erickson's depiction of Marie Antoinette was an interesting one. I found myself both hating Marie and feeling sorry for her. What little I knew of her definitely made her seem like a vain child, and I think that was shown really well here through her love of fashion and parties. On the other side of that, Marie Antoinette is depicted as trying to offer some sort of assistance to her people. I think that Erickson's version of Marie Antoinette's life shows a young queen trying to do what she can, but hindered by her husband's inability to rule.

Based on this book, I'm inclined to believe that Louis had some severe anxiety issues, which led to his failure as a king and ruler. I'm wondering how true this actually was, or if it was just invented for the sake of this story. I did appreciate that even though Marie Antoinette obviously was not in love with him, she came across in the story as having a fondness for him and friendship with him. I also thought it was interesting how Marie's affair was depicted and how it sort of made her a tiny bit less shallow, and in a way was what led her to try and do more for her people (in her own way).

I'm having a love/hate relationship with the book being in diary style. On the one hand, it made it much easier to read, and quick to get through. On the other hand, some of the scenes didn't seem plausible for her to have her diary with her let alone write in it. I realize I'm being petty, and I mostly enjoyed the style so I won't overthink it. I do feel that it gave the story a more personal feel, I'd be curious to read more historical fictions in this setup.  I know that Carolly Erickson has several other Historical Fiction works, and I'm probably going to add most of them to my want to read list. I'd also be interested in reading a story following Marie and Louis's daughter after their deaths.





Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Review of The Queen's Mary by Sarah Gristwood

Goodreads Summary: Who would have thought it? That captivity could be liberty? That service could be freedom?
In 1548 four little girls, all called Mary, set sail from Scotland for France. Five years old, they are already primed for the work of their lifetime - to serve another little girl called Mary.

Mary, Queen of Scots.

Thirteen years later, the five return to an unwelcoming Scotland, and as Queen Mary struggles to take control of her turbulent country, her famous ‘Four Marys’ are at her side.

The queen finds herself set on the path of violence and disaster which will lead eventually to her tragic end. But what of the other four Marys, bound inexorably to their mistress’ fate?

Of the four, it is Mary Seton who serves the queen longest, and whose loyalty is most severely tested. Through a maze of shadows - of treachery and even witchcraft - how can she find her own way ahead?

Goodreads Ratings: 3.67 stars with 46 ratings

Genre listing: Historical Fiction, European Literature, British and Scottish culture

Get the book: AmazonBook Depository

Amazon giveaway

Unfortunately, no one entered the giveaway I was hosting for a $20 Amazon gift card, so there is no winner. Maybe another time!

Book Review:

I finished The Queen's Mary by Sarah Gristwood a few days ago, and I've been having trouble getting my thoughts together. In the beginning, I really enjoyed Mary Seton's story, but the farther into her life it got the harder I found it to read. Most of it read like it was just her internal thoughts and sounded like rambling to me. 

Of the four Mary's, I don't know that Seton was the best choice for a story. She was very much invisible and didn't seem all that intelligent or heroic. She was loyal, but there just wasn't enough to make me care about her plight. I think the main reason I stayed interested in the story was that I was hoping that she'd rebel or something would happen to her that would make her a noblewoman worth reading about. 

Truthfully, this post regarding The Queen's Mary is going to be short. It just wasn't that memorable for me. It was moderately enjoyable while I was reading it, but there wasn't really anything that made me love it or hate it. The couple of points I mentioned already were my cons for it, and what made it enjoyable was the history shown in it. It's not terribly long, under 300 pages and it's on Kindle Unlimited. I feel like I'm cheating you all out of a review here, but honestly, it was about as middle of the road for me as it could get. 



Saturday, December 2, 2017

Book Review of One Tequila by Tricia O'Malley

Goodreads Summary: Tequila Key is just like any other small town, and I'm just like any other small town psychic. Scratch that. Tequila Key is a world onto itself, and some people might think that I am one crayon short of the box.
And, if we're totally honest, Tequila Key is just like any other small town – if that town boasts a voodoo priestess and a few white witches for flavor. Turquoise blue water and the best margaritas this side of Mexico make it hard to leave.

I'm Althea Rose, co-owner of Luna Rose Potions & Tarot Shop, and I've just stumbled into a love triangle while trying to save my best friend from being accused of murder.

See? Just like any other small town.

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars with just over 800 ratings

Genre Listing: Mystery, Paranormal, Cozy Mystery

Get the book: AmazonBook Depository

Reading Challenge: #3 A free book on Amazon

Review:

I really wanted to like One Tequila. It started out well enough with two best friends running a shop together, one Psychic and one a Witch, with a mutual best friend as a bar owner. Unfortunately, One Tequila by Tricia O'Malley fell incredibly short for me.

The plot of this story was so predictable, and I feel like it's one I've read a thousand times already. I'm going to ruin it for you, and I'm sorry for that. Basically, you have the main character who has some random flaw that she thinks makes her undesirable, especially when compared to her perfect best friend. A newcomer comes into town and with them a mystery! They're apparently one of the suspects, but the main character refuses to accept it because they are so pretty, a fact the reader is not allowed to forget because it's mentioned on just about every page. A friend admits feelings for the main character and gets jealous of the pretty newcomer. Nevermind that the friend and main character have a genuine connection that makes you wan to root for them because the main character is too busy fawning over Mr. Out of her league Gorgeous Mc Gorgeous murder suspect. There's also going to only be one murder suspect and 20 pages from the end of the book it'll be announced that it was someone else for total shock and aw, that makes no sense within the plot. The end. There, that's the plot of One Tequila. I saved you a couple of hours. 

I didn't really get the feeling that Thea was even remotely psychic. When I think of psychic, I think being able to tell the future and what not. Which admittedly, she did do this once. I felt based on the description of her gifts she was more telepathic than anything. I know this is probably splitting hairs, but I would have liked more examples of her powers. 

Despite all of the annoyances I've mentioned, there was some good. I liked the friendship between Thea and Trace. I was definitely rooting for them instead of Thea and what's his face. Seriously I can't even remember the character's name. He left no impression on me and had absolutely no depth. Oh right, talking about the good. Sorry. So yeah, I appreciated the relationship between Thea and Trace. I liked the imagery O'Malley created while they were diving. Given the way the dives were described, I would guess it's something that O'Malley enjoys as well. There was a definite love of the beach and water present. It's also a light and quick read. It's pretty tame as far as books go. Not really gory and not smutty as far as the romances go. It's just under 300 pages, and I think I read it in a night.  The good just didn't outweigh the bad for me, unfortunately. 



Thursday, November 30, 2017

$20 Amazon Giftcard Giveaway



OH. My. Goodness. You all are amazing. I've recently hit 21,000 views, and I can not believe it! To celebrate going over 20,000 I'm going to do something on here I NEVER do. I'm going to give away something. I am going to give away a $20 Amazon Gift card.

Rules and whatnot:

1.) One entry per person
2.) Gift card will be e-mailed, so email is required
3.) To enter you MUST fill out the linked Google Form.
4.) I will draw a winner using a random name drawing tool.
5.) Winner will be selected on December 15, 2017.
6.) I will not save your e-mail addresses or use them other than to e-mail the winner their gift card.
7.) There will be only one winner
8.) I will announce the winner in a separate blog post.
9.) I reserve the right to update this as necessary.


Thank you, readers, from the bottom of my heart. I can not explain how much I appreciate you all!

Here is the link to the google form to enter the contest:



Giveaway Entry Form


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Book Review of Almost a Queen by Laura Du Pre

Goodreads Summary: Travel back to the court of the French Renaissance
Almost a Queen: Book One of the Three Graces Trilogy

Who wouldn't want to be Queen?

Cousins to the King of Navarre, the Cleves sisters, witness the glamour and danger of the French royal court firsthand. The youngest sister, Marie is trapped in an unhappy arranged marriage with her cousin, Henri, Prince de Conde. Determined to make the best of her situation, she awaits the wedding of the King of Navarre in Paris.

Paris of 1572 boils with religious war, and few will make it out of the wedding celebrations alive. Those that do survive face an impossible choice: convert or die. Will Marie and Conde make the decision to abandon their Protestant faith to save their lives? Will it cost them their souls?

Along with the threat of death comes a change for true love with the king's younger son, the Duc d'Anjou. Yet Marie promised to love honor and cherish her husband till death did them part. Will death part them soon? Is it possible to find love in the midst of tragedy?

Goodreads Rating: 3.68 stars with 50 ratings

Genre Listing: Historical Fiction, Romance

Get the Book: Amazon

Reading Challenge: #45 A book that takes place in another country

Review:

I devoured this book. There's no other way to say my reading habit with it. It was under 200 pages, and I did not put it down. I think I had it done in a couple of hours. I think the best thing about this book was that it didn't feel like it was as short as it was. I felt like Laura Du Pre was able to create great imagery in details without cutting corners. The pace of the story moves incredibly fast, but I was able to feel connected to Marie and the French Court.

In The Almost Queen, we follow Marie a young woman forced by her aunt to marry her own cousin Henri, Prince de Conde. It's an unhappy and mismatched marriage, but Marie tries to make the best of it while in the court of King Charles and Queen Elisabeth. She and Elisabeth become dear friends and confidants. During this friendship, she begins a friendship with Catherine de Medici's younger son the Duc d'Anjou. I really love how Du Pre portrayed this relationship. Marie tried desperately to hate the Duc d'Anjou since he was her husband's sworn enemy, but a friendship persisted, and eventually, a love grew out of it. I enjoyed that beyond words, they never acted on their love. I think it kind of gave a different spin on the ordinarily scandalous historical fiction romances. Despite her dislike of her husband, she did try to make it work and make peace out of duty to her aunt who had raised her.

Between the love triangle and the ongoing war between the Protestants and Catholics, I thought there was a fair bit of action packed into this short novel. It kept it interesting, and as I said before, I couldn't put it down. I tend to glance over Wikipedia after reading historical fictions like this, and while I don't consider Wiki a reliable source, the story did seem on par with the article regarding Marie, Princess de Conde.

I believe there are two other books by Du Pre about Marie's sisters. If I can get my hands on them, I plan on reading them. If you're looking for a short Historical Fiction, I definitely recommend this one.