Tag «Historical»

Take place during a specific point in history

Fresh Fridays: Blood Rose Rebellion (#1) by Rosalyn Eves

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Blood Rose Rebellion Series

Other books in the series:
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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Blood Rose Rebellion (from Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

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Series: Blood Rose Rebellion Trilogy
Author: Rosalyn Eves
# of Books: 3 (Blood Rose Rebellion, Book 2, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Fantasy, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 28, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

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Disclaimer: I stopped reading Blood Rose Rebellion at 57%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was drawn to Blood Rose Rebellion thanks to the lush setting. I’m a sucker for historical novels and I just love the associated tropes with it. You’ve got the clash of the classes, forbidden romances and rebellious heroines who you can’t help but root for. So I was eager to start this book!

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

A lot of the historical romances I read take place in London or Imperial Russia, so I was really excited to read this one set in Hungary! There such a rich history in this country (one that Eves has definitely researched) and it shows in this book.

You’ve got all the social hierarchy of the English aristocrats but the intriguing cultural divide with the Romani population and that really sets the stage for Anna’s world. It’s something I haven’t experienced before and I found myself absorbed into it.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Slow Plot–

While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that nothing is happening in this book, it’s just that there isn’t a whole lot happening in this book at one time. I get why: it’s the series start, so you want to build up the world and characters. However, this happens at such a slow pace, dealing with one (literally) issue at a time instead of layering them. I like a little more complexity to my plots.

I felt like I was just going with the flow of everyday life for Anna and that wasn’t very exciting for me to read.

–Nothing New Here Either–

As someone who has read a few magic-based series, nothing about this seemed very new to me. Not that anything seemed like a copy of another work by any means, rather, I’ve seen these plot twists before and have followed the similar sequences of events many times. It just didn’t seem “fresh” to me.

–The Romance–

I know this is a big flaw for a lot of people since Anna has three potential love interests within the first quarter of the book but I can’t help but cut her some slack. She’s just a girl who wants to be loved (she’s basically an outcast in her family who seems to loath her) and she goes looking for it in all the wrong places. It happens and I can understand that flaw.

BUT, this forbidden romance with Gabor just lacked any substance to me. Like, what was the big draw for each of them? I just wasn’t feeling it.

Will I Finish It?

NOPE. I even skimmed the last chapter after all the “excitement” happens and couldn’t muster any interest. It also looked like I hadn’t missed too much.

My Rating: DNF

Blood Rose Rebellion DNF | Book 2 TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

If you like straight forward stories in a rich historical setting, I think this is a great one for you to pick up. But if you are well acquainted with magic based stories, you might not find anything new in this one.

Read if You Like: slower stories, historical settings
Avoid if You: dislike magic

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Fresh Fridays: An Earl by Any Other Name (Sins and Scandals #1) by Lauren Smith

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Sins and Scandals Trilogy

Other books in the series:
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booksynopsis

Synopsis for An Earl by Any Other Name (from Goodreads):

An earl in the streets, a rogue in the sheets . . .

Leopold Graham, Lord Hampton, was never a man to let propriety stand in the way of his pursuit of pleasure. Hedonism is his only desire in life—until his father’s death saddles him with debts that threaten to bankrupt the entire family. Now the only thing that stands between him and utter ruin is marriage to a proper, and preferably wealthy, young lady.

Ivy Leighton is no sweet English rose. Perhaps it’s her gypsy roots, but she would rather make a spectacle of her independent spirit than sit quietly on the sidelines. If that means that the only place she’ll ever have in society is firmly on the shelf, then so be it. But when Ivy runs into the handsome, rakish Leo who’s looking for a respectable, well-bred wife, she can’t stop thinking about the troubles they can get into. Now she just has to convince him that a life with her is really what he needs.

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Series: Sins and Scandals Trilogy
Author: Lauren Smith
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, A Gentlemen Never Surrenders, will be published September 2017
Genre: Adult, Historical, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Forever Publishing!

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Over the last year, I’ve discovered that Lauren Smith writes great novella series. They have solid plots, swoon worthy romance and never feel like they are half the size of other works in the genre. So I was really excited to see what she would do with a historical romance novella as opposed to the contemporary works I usually read by her.

What I Liked:

–Felt Like I was Back in Downton Abbey!–

The cover made me think this was a regency era novel but it’s actually set in 1911, which is fabulous! It had a great Downton Abbey feel to it because this is precarious time in history. You’ve got a change in the hierarchy of England and women are searching for the right to vote and be independent.

I loved the setting and how it contributed to the antagonism between Leo and Ivy. Instead of your heroine rebelling for the sake of rebelling, she’s rebelling to contribute to the greater good of society (suffragette movement!).

–Fun Plot Line–

It’s not in the synopsis but I liked that there was substance to the reason why these two were brought together. It added a lighter flare to the story and added some fun to the circumstances.

What I Didn’t Like:

–I Just Needed a Little Bit More–

While these two had great chemistry and I could see why they would be a fabulous match, I felt like things were wrapped up just a little too quickly at the end. Not that I wanted some unnecessarily drama but another chapter would have been great!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really enjoy this setting and how there are so many interesting factors contributing to the character’s motivations. We’ve met the next hero so I’m curious to see what his story has in store.

My Rating: 3/5

An Earl by Any Other Name 3/5 | A Gentlemen Never Surrenders TBP | A Scottish Lord for Christmas TBP

overall

This was a nice break from the regency historical novels we often see. If you want a Downton Abbey era novella series, this is the one!

Read if You Like: quick reads, Downton Abbey, historical romance
Avoid if You: want a full length novel
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Movie Mondays: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Movie Mondays: On the occasional Monday, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this edition’s offering:

Book: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen (2009) | Movie: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

Series: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Author: Seth Grahame-Smith
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Horror, Action, Zombies, Retelling
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Source & Format: Own–Paperback

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I had just finished Pride and Prejudice (PP) when I picked up this zombified version. I’ll admit, I was more interested in this horror version than the classic simply because I had heard really good things about it. But I wanted to be familiar with the original story (not just what I watched in movies) and so it served as good motivation to pick up the classic novel.

The two books are very, very similar. The best way I can think to describe Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (PPZ) is PP with new scenes added to include the zombie aspect. Of course, certain things are reworked to account for the fact that all the Bennet girls are warriors but lots of scenes are word-for-word the Austen writings–which is why she is listed as an author on this novel.

As a girl who likes action in her stories, the zombie slaying battles were a lot of fun to read. It (ironically) adds a little life to the story and makes such a well known story fresh and exciting. Not that PP isn’t great on its own, it’s just cool to see a different spin on a story we know so well.

And dare I say, it actually made me really like the Elizabeth and Darcy pairing even more. Their love-hate relationship really works well for this zombie version. You could see why they liked each other so much and how great of a pair they were for each other.

overall

I think fans of the classic novel will enjoy this fun take if they don’t mind zombies. I also think it will appeal to people who want to read the classic but might find it on the drier side. It serves as a great introduction to the classics of Jane Austen and will hopefully ignite a love for her work.

Rating: 5/5

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First, it took me wayyyy too long to watch it! I wanted to see it opening weekend but it wasn’t playing in my local theatre on my Reading Week break and by the time I got back to a bigger city a week later, it was gone! So I had to wait forever to get my hands on a copy!

Were My Expectations Met?

I just wanted to have fun watching this movie and I definitely did! While I love the other PP movies, this one lacked the more sombre and seriousness of those presentations. This one exaggerated characters more (like Mr Collins) and had great action sequences so it moves at a fast and exciting pace.

All the Bennet girls kicked serious ass; especially Lizzie. She’s still that strong and stubborn heroine who doesn’t give up a fight–only in this case it is literally!

How Close is it to the Book?

I read the book ages ago so I’m not sure how close it truly was. While I know the PP classic story very well, I don’t really recall all the action and zombie scenes all that much. But everything seemed to be the same to me or if it was different, it was all in the same vein so I truly didn’t notice.

Did I Like the Cast?

I’m a huge Lily James fan. Don’t ask me why exactly; I think she just does a great job at playing strong heroines. I know that Natalie Portman was originally tapped to play Lizzie but I think Lily was the much better choice.

glitter zombies pride and prejudice and zombies jane austin

Sam Riley will never be Collin Firth’s Darcy in my eyes (the standard for all Mr Darcy’s past and future), but he really did a fantastic job. He’s got the whole stiff and proper vibe going on and it works.

mr darcy colin firth

But you know who really stole this one for me? Was Matt Smith as Mr Collins. He was just hilarious! His character adds a lot of humour to this story which can be pretty depressing at times (I mean, they are killing undead people they sometimes know). In other adaptations, I always feel sympathetic to Mr Collins and how he gets tossed aside as a husband; but here he is the Shakespearean fool and it makes it easy to see why he isn’t that much of a catch.

Image result for matt smith gif pride and prejudice

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I think we can all agree that the original novel by Austen is the real winner. I mean it’s a classic that is adored by generations and is one of the most well known romances in history.

But I think it depends on what you want when it comes to PPZ and its forms. The book rings more true to the classic novel simply because it shares a lot of the same passages. So if you want a retelling, perhaps the book is your pick. But if you want to be entertained with a loose adaptation, the movie is just a lot of fun. It has the action and it has the romance and it’s simply a joy to watch.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (from Goodreads):

So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield. Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to read.

Trailer:

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Blog Tour: Daemoniac by Kat Ross

Synopsis for Daemoniac (from Goodreads):

It’s August of 1888, just three weeks before Jack the Ripper will begin his grisly spree in the London slum of Whitechapel, and another serial murderer is stalking the gas-lit streets of New York. With taunting messages in backwards Latin left at the crime scenes and even more inexplicable clues like the fingerprints that appear to have been burned into one victim’s throat, his handiwork bears all the hallmarks of a demonic possession.

But consulting detective Harrison Fearing Pell is convinced her quarry is a man of flesh and blood. Encouraged by her uncle, Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry hopes to make her reputation by solving the bizarre case before the man the press has dubbed Mr. Hyde strikes again.

From the squalor of the Five Points to the high-class gambling dens of the Tenderloin and the glittering mansions of Fifth Avenue, Harry and her best friend, John Weston, follow the trail of a remorseless killer, uncovering a few embarrassing secrets of New York’s richest High Society families along the way. Are the murders a case of black magic—or simple blackmail? And will the trail lead them closer to home than they ever imagined?

Other books in the series:

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Series: A Dominion Mystery
Author: Kat Ross
# of Books: 2 (Daemoniac, The Thirteenth Gate)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Mystery, Supernatural
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single (Daemoniac), Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 2016 – June 2017
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for a good mystery story–especially if it has anything to do remotely with Sherlock Holmes. I took a detective fiction course in my undergrad and LOVED it! But I’ve been a Holmes fan since I was a kid thanks to my father. Yes, I’m that person who gets excited for the latest re-imagining of the famous detective.

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So when I saw the premise for this novel–a young female detective hunting a murderer in 1888s New York–you would have had to tackle me to the ground and tie me up to stop me from joining this blog tour.

The Plot:

If you’ve ever read a Sherlock Holmes’ story, you’ll be right at home with this book. All the copious detail that is a staple of a Conan story is present from start to finish with this novel.

Which means it takes a while to get into the groove of the narration here. Especially for someone like me who isn’t overly fond of excessive detail. The first few chapters were tough to get through but definitely worth it in the end.

The last half of the book has faster chapters and a lot more action. Once everything starts to come together, this book is hard to put down. It does a great job of wrapping up the mystery of this novel while giving you enjoy loose ends to be curious about the sequel.

As for the mystery–it’s very Sherlock-ian and definitely worth uncovering.

The Characters:

If you are at all familiar with the basics of the Sherlock Holmes’ universe, it’s easy to see the parallels between the characters. Harrison is a smart and observant lead (Sherlock); her best friend and sidekick, Weston, is a doctor in training (Watson); and don’t forget the caring housekeeper Mrs Rivers (Mrs Hudson).

I could go on and on with the character parallels but I do want to emphasize that these characters aren’t carbon copies of their inspiration.

Harry in particular lacks the cocky persona of Holmes. She knows she can solve mysteries but she has always lacked the opportunity to do so because of her older sister. And don’t forget the social pressures she has as a female in New York City; that in itself adds a unique aspect to her character. So it was nice watching her come into herself as the story progressed.

The Romance:

There is no romance here but I do see the inklings of some potential romantic encounters later on in the series.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While this mystery is solved in this novel, the story is far from over. The teaser we get for The Thirteenth Gate has me excited to see how everything is going to come together. I’m also looking forward to learning more about these characters and uncovering more of their secrets.

updates

–August 3, 2017– Book #2: The Thirteenth Gate

You can find my full review of this novel here as a part of the blog tour.

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My Rating: 4/5

Daemoniac 4/5 | The Thirteenth Gate 3/5

overall

This series is perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes and mysteries!

Read if You Like: Sherlock Holmes, mysteries
Avoid if You: dislike mystery stories, dislike stories with lots of detail

similarreads

  • The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow (Bannon and Clare Series #1)
  • The Seduction of Phaeton Black by Jillian Stone (Paranormal Investigator Series #1)

Kat Ross

Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She lives in Westchester with her kid and a few sleepy cats. Kat is also the author of the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day (Skyscape, 2014), about a world where the sea levels have risen sixty meters. She loves magic, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Preferably with mutants.

Author Links: Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

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DNF Review: Two Across by Jeff Bartsch

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Two Across (from Goodreads):
Highly awkward teenager Stanley Owens meets his match in beautiful, brainy Vera Baxter when they tie for first place in the annual National Spelling Bee-and the two form a bond that will change both of their lives.
Though their mothers have big plans for them-Stanley will become a senator, Vera a mathematics professor-neither wants to follow these pre-determined paths. So Stanley hatches a scheme to marry Vera in a sham wedding for the cash gifts, hoping they will enable him to pursue his one true love: crossword puzzle construction. In enlisting Vera to marry him, though, he neglects one variable: she’s secretly in love with him, which makes their counterfeit ceremony an exercise in misery for her.

Realizing the truth only after she’s moved away and cut him out of her life, Stanley tries to atone for his mistakes and win her back. But he’s unable to find her, until one day he comes across a puzzle whose clues make him think it could only have been created by Vera. Intrigued, he plays along, communicating back to her via his own gridded clues. But will they connect again before it’s all too late?

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Author: Jeff Bartsch
Genre: Adult, Historical (1960s), Women’s Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Grand Central Publishing!

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Disclaimer: I stopped reading Two Across at 28% (Chapter 5). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was asked by Grand Central Publishing if I would be interested in reading Two Across, I was really excited! I love fake/arrangement marriages where they secretly love each other, so this was right up my alley. But I found the premise to be unique as well with the crossword integration.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

I didn’t know that this book was set in the 1960s when I picked it up. I thought it was a contemporary romance but was more than a little surprised when I saw the date on the first chapter!

But I really loved this throwback setting. It helps give some social context for why these two agree to a shame of a marriage. By giving those social contexts (like the role of women in society; education, etc), you get a richer experience and see the bigger picture.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Pacing–

I found this book to be terribly slow. In my opinion, it took far to long to get to the crux of the plot (the fake marriage and its fallout). While I’m all for setting up the scene and situation, I felt like the exposition went on longer than necessary. I got bored and didn’t particularly care for the story once we actually reached the plot.

–The Romance–

Given everything I had learned in the first four chapters, I didn’t understand how Vera was “in love” with Stanley. It seemed to be more implied than actually visible. I wanted that established a little more for me.

Will I Finish It?

I’m a little torn on whether or not I will finish it. I tried pacing out my reading but found that to be unsuccessful. Maybe one day I’ll go back because I am still curious about how all of this will play out.

My Rating: DNF

overall

I think if you going into this book thinking it reads more like Women’s Fiction than a straight romance, you’ll really enjoy this one. I just went in with the wrong expectations and felt let down.

Read if You Like: stories set in the 1960s, women’s fiction
Avoid if You: want more romance

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Series Review: Season for Scandal by Kelly Bowen

A Duke To Remember blitz banner_

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Duke of My Heart (from Goodreads):
Scandal can be handled…

Captain Maximus Harcourt, the unconventional tenth Duke of Alderidge, can deal with tropical storms, raging seas, and the fiercest of pirates. But he’s returned home from his latest voyage to find a naked earl—quite inconveniently deceased—tied to his missing sister’s bed. And he has only one place to turn. Now he’s at the mercy of the captivating Miss Ivory Moore of Chegarre & Associates, known throughout London for smoothing over the most dire of scandals.

Miss Moore treats the crisis as though it were no more serious than a cup of spilt tea on an expensive rug. As though this sort of thing happened on the job every day. Max has never in all his life met a woman with such nerve. Her dark eyes are too wide, her mouth is too full, her cheekbones too sharp. Yet together, she’s somehow…flawless. It’s just like his love for her, imperfect, unexpected—yet absolutely true.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author; Fave Historical Romance Series
Series: Season for Scandal Trilogy
Author: Kelly Bowen
# of Books: 3 (Duke of my Heart, A Duke to Remember, Between the Devil and the Duke)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Historical, Romance, Regency, Suspense
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2016 – January 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook (Duke of my Heart); Netgalley–eARC (A Duke to Remember)

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When Forever asked if I was interested in reading A Duke to Remember, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. While most of the series on my blog are YA or NA, I do LOVE a good historical romance; especially of the regency kind. So while I had never read Duke of my Heart (which was easily rectified thanks to my public library), the synopsis for both novels sounded great and I couldn’t wait to get started with them.

Oh, and Kelly Bowen is Canadian and I love supporting my fellow Canadian authors in any way that I can!

The Concept:

One of my favourite aspects of a connected romance series is an overarching plot or theme throughout all the novels, even though the leads change for each. Here, we get Victorian era “Olivia Popes” (Scandal TV series) who fix people’s messes like nobody’s business. It give these characters a unique flare that provides fantastic entertainment base for the readers besides a corset busting romance (which it does have in the right amounts as well).

The Plot:

While these are romances at their core, you do have the mystery/suspense elements. These aspects gave each book a flare for entertaining dramatics that kept me interested and pressing forward. What I also loved was their twists–they weren’t easily predictable which was great. Because I have encountered some of these tropes before and I was worried they were going to be carbon copies—NOT THE CASE AT ALL!

These books were fun, fresh and equally sweet as they were sexy! Simply what I love in a good regency series.

The Characters:

These characters were a blast to read about! I loved their unique quirks and character history. I find in the historical romance genres, characters tend to be crafted from the same mold: a stoic or playboy duke who gets schooled in his ways and a rebellious heroine. And while those serve as the basis for these characters, there is so much more to them! Getting to know each one with their rich histories was fantastic. And you are left with enough teasers about the next set of leads to make you want more.

The Romance:

Sweet yet sexy! Gahhh the romance here is just so well done! While they seem a little insta-connection, these characters compliment each other so well and have such great sexual tension that you jut want them to get together faster! The couple from A Duke to Remember easily made my Fave Couple list.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Between the Devil and the Duke looks like its going to be the most dangerous one yet! I cannot wait to read it and am so sad I have to wait for January 🙁 I want it now!!!

updates

–January 15, 2017– Book #3: Between the Devil and the Duke

Kelly Bowen as the fantastic ability to make me fall in love with the leads by the end of the first chapter.

These two as leads had me swooning and rooting for them from the start. I loved Angelique right away and found her refreshing as a heroine. She has a big heart and an even bigger brain–and that was what stood out for me. Her intelligence in math and numbers is something you don’t often see in a romance of this genre. Yes, you have those heroines who read books and are smart in their own way; but her mathematics skills was a nice touch for her character.

And Alex…swoon! I was a big fan of his from the previous novels and he did not disappoint. He’s smart, protective (but not overly so) and just a great lead. His partnership with Angelique–both in the romantic and in the practical–is EXACTLY what I want for my couples. Perfection.

The plot itself was fantastic! The suspense never stopped building throughout this novel. And there were so many twists I didn’t see coming! I loved the unpredictability of this story.

Just a well crafted novel from start to finish and a fabulous way to end this AMAZING series!

Series Rating: 5/5

Duke of My Heart 5/5 | A Duke to Remember 5/5 | Between the Devil and the Duke 5/5

overall

Definitely a new favourite for me! I just loved the blend of fun, danger and romance!

Read if You Like: Tessa Dare novels; Suspenseful historical romance
Avoid if You: want a “sweeter” than sexier romance

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Kelly Bowen

Kelly Bowen grew up in Manitoba, Canada. She attended the University of Manitoba and earned a Master of Science degree in veterinary physiology and endocrinology.
But it was Kelly’s infatuation with history and a weakness for a good love story that led her down the path of historical romance.  When she is not writing, she seizes every opportunity to explore ruins and battlefields.
Currently, Kelly lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two boys, all of whom are wonderfully patient with the writing process.  Except, that is, when they need a goalie for street hockey.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Fresh Fridays: The Glittering Court (#1) by Richelle Mead

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

The Glittering Court Trilogy

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Glittering Court (from Goodreads):
Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Disappointment 2016
Series: The Glittering Court Trilogy
Author: Richelle Mead
# of Books: 3 (The Glittering Court, Book 2, Book 3)
Book Order: Connected (might be more companion based)
Complete?: No, Book 2 has yet to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Historical, Alternate History, Adventure
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 5, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Richelle Mead is one of my favourite authors ever. Vampire Academy and its spin-off Bloodlines are two of my favourite series ever with some of my favourite book characters every written. She writes strong females in worlds that are complex yet never overly complicated and she is pretty great at writing forbidden, loads of sexual tension romance. After the flop that was Soundless (it was ok, but didn’t blow me away)–I was really excited to see her jump into a new series and one that was almost like an historical romance.

Tip: Don’t Expect something a la Vampire Academy (High Action)

I’m adding this centralized subheading because I think it is really freakin’ important. Don’t be like me and come in with super high expectations for a fast plot because you will be disappointed. If you are familiar with Mead’s paranormal romance works, you know she always has a ton of physical and often political action to her stories. That really isn’t the case here. It’s a slower plot (as I’ll explain below) and it really is so different from her previous works. Go in with a clear mind and leave your Richelle Mead expectations at the door.

What I Liked:

–The World–

I really liked the world for this story. It mimics our own in terms of European explorers looking for the New World (North and Central America) but has brand new names and the like. If you have studied any history about this (which we do in Canada let me tell you), you’ll see all the parallels and see the political and social aspects Mead brings to life. I thought it was really smart and not overly complex and I simply loved it.

–Adelaide’s Character Development–

While I like that Adelaide is a head-strong girl, she really rubbed me the wrong way at the start. She’s a little selfish and a lot spoiled so she comes across as arrogant and stubborn. So that made it a little hard to be sympathetic to her situation at the start. BUT, she really comes a long way as the story progresses and I did warm up to her by the end.

She may not be my favourite heroine ever, but I can respect her progression as a character.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Slow Plot–

I feel like this book could have been 50 (ebook) pages shorter. I think this book kinda shoots itself in the foot because it is the first book of the series and it needs to set up the world and the other girls’ stories. But I found the first third to be pretty dry (mostly when they were at school) and then it picked up when they went to the New World. Then it weened a bit near the end but I did enjoy the last half of the book way more than the first.

The plot is also pretty linear in its progression. There isn’t a whole lot happening at once–it reminded me of an adventure story in that aspect. It read like A to B to C–when one thing “finished” another would pop up but nothing really seemed overarching when it came to Adelaide’s story besides her hidden identity. I wanted a little more substance I suppose to the plot.

–The Romance–

This was a huge disappointment for me. It felt like a love at first sight type of story because I didn’t get why they even liked each other besides some subconscious feeling. While the sexual tension in the middle of the book peaked, I found it quickly dissipated and I was left disappointed overall in the romance. Especially when the book was on the drier side, I really looked to the romance to give me some excitement.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

–The Interweaving Stories–

What I like about this series is that each book focuses on a different girl and the stories all interweave. I’m assuming the next two books will be about Mira and Tamsin since they are the only other girls we really meet but that’s just a guess. I was really intrigued by these two, especially when all this stuff happens–so I can’t wait to connect the dots.

My Rating: 3/5

The Glittering Court 3/5 | Book 2 TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

This book didn’t wow me like I wanted it to. I wanted a little more passion I suppose in all aspects. BUT, I am very curious what the next story will be so I am definitely sticking with this series.

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, alternate histories, adventure
Avoid if You: dislike initially spoiled characters, want more romance building

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Blog Tour: The Broken Crown (Narrow Gate #1) by Amyrn Cross

Synopsis for The Broken Crown (from Goodreads):
Princess Emilia Aurelius was only seven when she watched her mother die at the hands of her father—martyred for believing in the God of the Atlas Empire’s Insurgo rebels. At seventeen, exiled to a military outpost where no one knows her true identity, she’s vowed to leave her royalty behind and explore the truth of the Insurgo rebels her mother loved.

When the Emperor of Atlas summons the princesses from each of the provinces to the imperial city to choose a wife for the crown prince, Emilia must leave her military life behind to join a royal court rife with cunning and intrigue. Navigating the waters of court politics and budding love are treacherous on their own, but Emilia fears for her life should anyone learn of her Insurgo sympathies.

With an unlikely ally in the captain of the emperor’s guard, Emilia must uncover the truth of the Insurgos, start a revolution, and learn to become the princess she’s vowed never to be, all while protecting her heart from a prince who could sign her death warrant.

Other books in the series:

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave 2016, Fave Heroine
Author: Amryn Cross
# of Books: 2+ (The Broken Crown, The Desolate Reign)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, The Desolate Reign , will be published in 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, Historical
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: May 23, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: YA Bound Book Tours–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ Smashwords

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Well, I will admit that I was first drawn to this title thanks to its cover. The colours, the title itself and the artwork seemed to promise me great things. And then I read the synopsis and was immediately sold. This story seemed to be what I wanted The Selection to be: a romantic yet politically intriguing novel that kept me on the edge of my seat. Emilia seemed like she’d be a kick-ass heroine thanks to her military past and I couldn’t wait to see if she would be the next great heroine for me.

This book literally had everything I love about YA fantasy and I couldn’t wait to start it!

The World:

What I really loved about this world is the use of religion as the main political source for tension. Most High YA Fantasy novels use magic/powers or a caste system to entice conflict; but here, it all stems from religion. How realistic is that? Very if you ask me. I enjoyed reading about a world that wasn’t flowing with magic but instead looked at something we have in our own world and something everyone has had a brush with at one point or another.

Now, don’t let that scare you into thinking this book is all about religion. It doesn’t push some agenda other than the characters’ own motivations within the context of the story. I thought it was a great tool and really added depth to this story.

The Plot:


The balance between Emilia’s character development, romance and the political world was perfect. The plot moves at a fast, but constant pace throughout the story. I never got bored thanks to the various twists that happen and the way it shifted seamless from one plot aspect to the next. Amryn Cross has a great talent for writing and it shines in this novel.

The premise of Emilia competing amongst other princesses for the princes hand was very a la The Selection for me–but this was what I wanted the The Selection to be. Instead of a whinny girl who resists the opportunity to change the system, Emilia sees the opportunity for what it is and makes the best of it. Her trying to navigate this new world was such a thrill to watch. It made the story just as dangerous as it could be and that won major points with me.

The Characters:

I really enjoyed Emilia as a character. I loved that she learned from her mistakes and that she wasn’t this flawless princess nor was she so flawed that she was jaded and hard to like. She’s strong and independent but knows that she can’t do this alone and she doesn’t resist change. She’s a fighter and a thinker and she easily makes my list of favourite heroines ever. Emilia seemed so real to me and I just really loved that.

As for the rest of the characters, they are fabulous. Well crafted and well developed even if Emilia takes centre focus. Everyone complimented the story so well that I can’t wait to see what happens next!

The Romance:

While I feel like I predicted the romance situation pretty early on, I can’t say that I know how it is all going to end. I LOVED the romance here. I swooned, I sighed and I really got absorbed into it all. I liked that is shined when it needed to but took a step back to let the other parts of the story develop.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

GAH! I can’t wait! Honestly, I feel like everything is just getting started! There are so many promising story lines to work with in The Desolate Reign that I cannot wait to see what happens next!

My Rating: 5/5

overall
If you want a great fantasy novel that shies away from magic and instead focuses on the politics of a kingdom and how one princess tries to change it all, you NEED to read this book!

Read if You Like: stories dealing with politics, kingdoms, strong heroines
Avoid if You: want magic, more romance focused

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Amryn Cross
A tomboy with southern belle roots, Amryn Cross was born and raised in Tennessee where she learned the importance of God, family, Southern hospitality, and football. She’s loved the written word from the time she was a child, convinced the squiggly lines on top of the Hostess cupcake really spelled out a secret message.

Amryn is a proud momma to two adorable puppies–Argo and Luna–who provide lots of laughs and kisses. She is also an active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and My Book Therapy (MBT) and answers writers’ forensic questions at Jordyn Redwood’s Medical Edge blog.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

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Book Review: Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey

Synopsis for Love, Lies and Spies (from Publisher):
Juliana Telford is not your average nineteenth-century young lady. She’s much more interested in researching ladybugs than marriage, fashionable dresses, or dances. So when her father sends her to London for a season, she’s determined not to form any attachments. Instead, she plans to secretly publish their research.

Spencer Northam is not the average young gentleman of leisure he appears. He is actually a spy for the War Office, and is more focused on acing his first mission than meeting eligible ladies. Fortunately, Juliana feels the same, and they agree to pretend to fall for each other. Spencer can finally focus, until he is tasked with observing Juliana’s traveling companions . . . and Juliana herself.

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SERIESous’ Top PicksFav YA Standalone 2016, New Must Watch Author
Author: Cindy Anstey
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Romance, Mystery, Espionage, Humour
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 19, 2016
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC via NetGalley

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon  Barnes and Noble  iTunes  Kobo

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first saw this book when I was browsing NetGalley and the cover piqued my interest. The concept sounded like a lot of fun but I was bogged down with other reviews so I didn’t put it on hold right away. Until, the opportunity came along to be a Blog Tour Host and I knew I had to sign-up!

Not only is Cindy Anstey a fellow Canadian 🍁 (woot!) and I love supporting my fellow Canadians, but this book sounded like so much fun! It’s been a long time since I’ve read an historical YA novel so I was eager to dive into that world again. 

The Concept:

This book is a great homage to Jane Austen’s work. You can definitely see where Austen’s influence lies in the not-your-everyday-beau-monde heroine Juliana and the scheming of family members. It also has all the “season-drama” as well. But don’t think the writing reads like a classical novel. The writing has a great, fast and often quirky flow to it that makes it such a joy to read. So if you didn’t enjoy Pride and Prejudice (maybe read the Zombie version 😉 ), don’t think you won’t enjoy this one because you totally will (if you like historical espionage romances that is).

The Plot:

I found that there was never a dull moment with this book! If I wasn’t absorbed into the romance, I was trying to figure out the political espionage or enjoying the antics of the other characters during the season. I knew right from the start given the situation Juliana immediately finds herself in and how she meets Spencer that this was going to be a fabulous and fun read.

There are plenty of twists along the way and there is always something to keep your attention. The best way I can describe this book is as the perfect hybrid between Meg Cabot’s YA historical reads and Tessa Dare’s Spindle Cove Series. You have the stronger, independent heroines, the dashing but intriguing heroes and a splash of humour that makes reading the story so entertaining!

The Characters:

I loved Juliana from the start. I thought she was a quirky character and I like how she handled herself throughout the novel. Maybe it’s just the novels I read that are historical romances but most of the time, the heroine is one that breaks all of societies rules so it can get a little monotonous. However, I never really felt that way with Juliana. She was very unique and had a great aura about her that drew me to love her.

Spencer was also completely swoon-worthy. He was just as entertaining as Juliana so when they were together, it was magical. He was everything I wanted a cute dashing spy to be and perhaps a little more <3

The Romance:

While I normally read romances that are a little spicier than this, there was something so sweet and completely addicting about the romance here. I think it was because I knew what a great match these two were for each other right from the get-go. Their interactions together were a blast to read and I know I giggled like a little school-girl at some of the things they said. Definitely my favourite aspect of the novel for sure.

My Rating: 5/5

overall
This is definitely at new personal favourite for me! I don’t reread books often simply for the sake of rereading them but this one I will be picking up again. I just loved the plot, the antics and the romance. It has a comforting feel about it, like Victoria and The Rogue (one of the only books I have reread multiple times).  I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish and I cannot wait to read Cindy Anstey’s next novel!
Read if You Like: historical YA, witty characters, historical espionage
Avoid if You: want a steamier read, dislike historical stories

similarreads

  • Victoria and the Rogue by Meg Cabot
  • A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare (Spindle Cove Series #2)

Cindy Anstey
She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester. Love, Lies and Spies is her debut novel.

Author Links:
Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

 

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Series Review: Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

Blackhearts Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Blackhearts (from Goodreads):

Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.

Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave Read 2016, New Must Watch Author, Sad to See Go 2017
Author: Nicole Castroman
# of Books: 2 (Blackhearts, Blacksouls)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Romance, Retellings
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2016 – April 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book was EVERYWHERE when it first came out. But before I saw it gracing my WordPress Reader feed, I first read a review on Bookishness and Tea in early January and Ava’s review convinced me to read it.

But, I admit, the hyped scared me a lot and so I was a little hesitant to pick it up when it was actually released. Until, I noticed my library’s eCatalogue had one last copy left to read one Tuesday. I figured it was fate and picked up the book despite the numerous other novels I should have been reading.

The Concept / The World:

The best thing I got from Ava’s review is that this story isn’t a “pirate” story like Never Never or the like. I think she explains it best below:

Before you go into this book, know: it is NOT a pirate book. The author has called it a “pre-pirate book”, and that is entirely accurate. The book mostly revolves Teach and Anne’s romance, which means it is slower, but not non-enjoyable. It’s more of a historical fiction than a pirate book.

~Ava @ Bookishness and Tea

It isn’t some swashbuckling pirate novel taking place on the high seas and I think if you are expecting that, you will be disappointed. It’s a story about two people trying to find their place in the world and them finding each other while they do it.

So essentially, it is an historical romance.

The Plot:

Despite the fact that there isn’t that much to the story when it comes to the plot, this story is highly addicting. This story has a “less is more” attitude about it. It doesn’t try to overload you with too much conflict or unnecessary drama. It keeps the story focused on Anne and Teach by making their character development the main focus of the story. And the bits that are added to keep the plot moving do exactly that; they add a little layer at a time to make this story rich for the reader…and super addicting.

The Characters:

Anne and Teach really are the story for this one. On their own, they were both very intriguing characters. They each had a complexity to them that makes them seem so real and full of life. I found their reactions to events were natural and I never felt like their character development was strained as the story progressed. They also had great chemistry together and that really is what drives the story.

The Romance:

The slow burning romance really is the heart of the story (pun soooo intended). Anne and Teach are one of my favourite couples because they matched each other so well! They had their differences but they also had this kindred bond of understanding that draws them together. I thought Teach was so swoon-worthy in some of his actions to show his affections that I honestly melted at times. Totally a new book boyfriend.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

When I first read this book, the sequel had not been announced. I talk about my reaction in tomorrow’s SERIESous Spoilers but I’m going to brief and say that I am very, very happy there is a sequel. I can’t wait to return to this world and see what happens next!

updates

–June 2, 2017– Book #2: Blacksouls

This was easily one of my most anticipated reads of this year. I had no idea what to expect but I was dying to find out. Which is probably why I spent most of the book feeling like this:

I’ll admit that the first quarter of this book was slower than I wanted it to be. I wasn’t as into it as I had hoped but that quickly changed a few chapters later. I found that latter have of this book to be very captivating and I could’t put it down. It reminded me why I adored that first book so much and that’s exactly what I want in a sequel and grande finale (?).

Series Rating: 5/5

Blackhearts 5/5 | Blacksouls 4.5/5

overall

It really is important to know that this book has nothing to do with pirates! It’s a prequel in every sense of the word. I actually think it is best described as an “origin” story for Blackbeard. But I will be the first to admit, I am loving this YA pirate trend that is starting to happen this year!

Read if You Like: retellings of history, historical romance, slow burn romance
Avoid if You: want a pirate focused adventure book

similarreads

  • Victoria and the Viscount by Meg Cabot
  • Never Never by Brianna Shrum

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