Thursday, August 25, 2016

Lady of the Bridge by Laura Kitchell: A Book Review

Lady of the Bridge
Author: Laura Kitchell
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Laura Kitchell
Release Date: 2015
Pages: 245
Source: This book was given to me by Read for Review in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Forbidden love between a warrior princess and an elite samurai makes for an adventure set during the early days of the Tokugawa shogunate. Join this couple in a race across 17th century Japan where political unrest has created dangerous ronin, civil uprisings, and war-ravaged castles. Caught in the middle of the struggle between Shogun's rise to rule and the old regime, this warrior princess is forced to battle for her life. 

     In the end, she must choose between family honor and her heart's desire. 

     My Review: Princess Saiko  has lived a sheltered and privileged life. Her father dotes on her and allows her to study martial arts. When the time comes for her to be the imperial consort to the emperor of Japan in Kyoto, the princess is saddened that she has to leave behind the life she had always known. A few days before she leaves, she decides to take a walk in the garden. When she arrives at her favorite bridge, she meets a handsome samurai. The two immediately fall in love. However, she knows that they are already doomed. Yet, no matter how hard she tries to resist, she cannot deny the love they have for each other. Can the two of them find a way to be together or are they fated to be apart forever?

     Princess Saiko is a fun character. She is very intelligent and has a passion for art, books, and poetry. She is also very feisty and can fight. She is very loyal and is willing to do her duty as a princess. Still, she can sometimes be a very frustrating character. She is very reckless. I also did not like her actions. I think that the story would have flowed better had she been more open and straightforward. There were moments that I thought that she was weak. I thought that the romance between Saiko and Takamori felt a bit forced and would have liked more time to develop naturally. I also thought that Takamori needed more character development, for he seemed to be one-dimensional throughout the story.

     Overall, this story is about finding one’s happiness. I thought the story was a bit repetitive at times. It was also very slow-moving and drawn-out. I did however, love the setting of medieval Japan. I thought the author had done her homework on Japanese history. I also thought the book to be very well-written. While I did not like Lady of the Bridge as well as her other novel, Lady of the Imperial City, I did find it to be touching and romantic. I really loved the ending. I recommend this story for those interested in star-crossed love stories and Asian romances.


Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee: A Book Review

A Most Magical Girl
Author: Karen Foxlee
Genre: Children's, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Pages: 304
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: From the author of Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy comes the story of a friendship between two girls set in Victorian England, with magical machines, wizards, witches, a mysterious underworld, and a race against time.

     Annabel Grey is primed for a proper life as a young lady in Victorian England. But when her mother suddenly disappears, she’s put in the care of two eccentric aunts who thrust her into a decidedly un-ladylike life, full of potions and flying broomsticks and wizards who eat nothing but crackers. Magic, indeed! Who ever heard of such a thing? 

     Before Annabel can assess the most ladylike way to respond to her current predicament, she is swept up in an urgent quest. Annabel is pitted against another young witch, Kitty, to rescue the sacred Moreover Wand from the dangerous underworld that exists beneath London. The two girls outsmart trolls, find passage through a wall of faerie bones, and narrowly escape a dragon, but it doesn’t take long for Annabel to see that the most dangerous part of her journey is her decision to trust this wild, magical girl.

     Sparkling with Karen Foxlee’s enchanting writing, this is a bewitching tale of one important wand and two most magical girls.

     My Review: Annabelle’s mother has sent her to her great-aunts to be educated. Yet, when Annabelle arrives in London, she finds that her education is not what she thought it would be. Instead of an education that is fit for a lady, Annabelle learns that she is a witch and must learn to use her magical powers. When a dark wizard plans to take over London, Annabelle must go on a dangerous mission to find a magical wand. She not only encounters terrifying monsters along the way, but also makes friends. Can Annabelle and her friends defeat the dark wizard and save London?

     At first, I did not like Annabelle. I thought that she was a spoiled brat and whined a lot in the book. She did not like doing chores that her aunts made her do and mocks them behind their back. I also thought that she was a Mary Sue because everything she did was perfect. While she is still a damsel-in-distress throughout the book, I eventually grew to like her almost at the end of the book. This is because she realizes the values of friends and family. She also begins to have confidence in herself. However, I have to say that I like her friends more. They were fun and interesting.

     Overall, this story is about family, friendship, and acceptance. The message of this book is to believe in yourself. I really thought that this tale was creative. A Most Magical Girl is a fast-paced action and adventure tale. While I did not like the main character as much as I would have wanted, I did love her secondary characters. I also thought the world-building of a fantastical London was very breathtaking, and I was glad to explore more of this secret London. I recommend this story to those who love reading a fun frolic on a broomstick ride through Victorian London. 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Architect of Song (Haunted Hearts Legacy Book 1) by A.G. Howard: A Book Review

The Architect of Song (Haunted Hearts Legacy Book 1)
Author: A. G. Howard
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Paranormal
Publisher: Golden Orb Press
Release Date: August 15, 2016
Pages: 318
Source: This book was given to me by Rockstar Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: A lady imprisoned by deafness, an architect imprisoned by his past, and a ghost imprisoned within the petals of a flower – intertwine in this love story that transcends life and death. 

     For most of her life, Juliet Emerline has subsisted – isolated by deafness – making hats in the solitude of her home. Now, she’s at risk to lose her sanctuary to Lord Nicolas Thornton, a mysterious and eccentric architect with designs on her humble estate. When she secretly witnesses him raging beside a grave, Juliet investigates, finding the name “Hawk” on the headstone and an unusual flower at the base. The moment Juliet touches the petals, a young English nobleman appears in ghostly form, singing a song only her deaf ears can hear. The ghost remembers nothing of his identity or death, other than the one name that haunts his afterlife: Thornton. 

     To avenge her ghostly companion and save her estate, Juliet pushes aside her fear of society and travels to Lord Thornton’s secluded holiday resort, posing as a hat maker in one of his boutiques. There, she finds herself questioning who to trust: the architect of flesh and bones who can relate to her through romantic gestures, heartfelt notes, and sensual touches … or the specter who serenades her with beautiful songs and ardent words, touching her mind and soul like no other man ever can. As sinister truths behind Lord Thornton’s interest in her estate and his tie to Hawk come to light, Juliet is lured into a web of secrets. But it’s too late for escape, and the tragic love taking seed in her heart will alter her silent world forever.

     International and NYT bestselling author, A.G. Howard, brings her darkly magical and visual/visceral storytelling to Victorian England. The Architect of Song is the first installment in her lush and romantic Haunted Hearts Legacy series, a four book New Adult gothic saga following the generations of one family as - haunted by both literal and figurative ghosts - they search for self-acceptance, love, and happiness.

     My Review: When Juliet arrives at the cemetery where her mother is buried, she sees Lord Thornton, a man who wants to buy her estate. She sees him angry at a tombstone written with the name of “Hawk”. At the bottom of the grave site, an unusual flower catches her attention. Enthralled the by flower’s beauty, she decides to take it home. As soon as she touches the flower petals, a ghost of a handsome man appears. The ghost has no memory of his identity or his past. As Juliet tries to recapture the ghost’s identity, she learns that he has a connection with Lord Thornton. Soon Juliet must uncover Lord Thornton’s secrets to help her ghost.

     Juliet is an emotionally-damaged character. Since the death of her mother, she leans towards thoughts of depression. She has become a recluse. She has shunned her uncle and her maid, who is also her best friend, just to be alone. She welcomes death and does not want to be with the living. Yet, when the ghost appears, she is drawn to him by the voice he sings. He comforts her, and slowly, he gives her a will to live. With the ghost as her guide, she slowly embarks on a quest to appreciate life. Thus, I really did like Juliet. She is very vulnerable. However, she becomes a strong protagonist because she finds her inner strength and confidence. She is also very smart and observant. Therefore, I believe that Juliet is a character readers can relate to when they are going through a difficult time in their life or mourning the loss of a loved one.

     Overall, this book is about family, friends, love, choices, acceptance, redemption, and second chances. The Architect of Song is about a woman’s quest to appreciate being alive. The message of this book is that there is always hope, and that while you are going through difficult times, there are still good things ahead. This novel is very well-written. It is haunting, lyrical and evocative. This story will linger with you even after you read the last page. While this book is very slow and the tone is dark, I thought that it was perfect for its atmospheric setting. The Architect of Song is filled with paranormal, suspense, and romance, and I look forward to reading more books in this series. I encourage you to read it, for you will not be disappointed. This book is perfect for fans of M.J. Rose’s The Secret Language of Stones, Anne Rice’s Violin, and Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Blog Tour: Throne of Lies by Sara Secora

Throne of Lies
Author: Sara Secora
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Synopsis: As a seventeen-year-old ruler chafing under the obligations of her bloodline, Princess Amethysta Serelle finds the royal life anything but enchanting.

     Betrothed to a nefarious highborn, Amethysta’s heart mourns her lost chance at love—that is, until she becomes mesmerized by someone other than her suitor, and her heart begins to beat anew.

     Desperate to keep her daughter on the path toward duty and the throne, the queen keeps a deadly secret. But as Amethysta balances the burden of expectations and freedom, the glowing, blue truth will not stay hidden for much longer.

     Desire and duty battle on, further complicated by strange occurrences happening to Amethysta’s body. She struggles for control as her once unquestioned reality is obliterated.

     Will she discover the truth, in her heart and hands, before it’s too late?

     Buy the book on Amazon.


Author Bio



     Sara Secora has a passion for all things gamer and nerdy, as evidenced on her YouTube channel, AviGaming. She is also a well-branded voice over artist.

     Secora has always been in love with writing, and in 2007 she turned her talents to the arduous endeavor of authoring an exciting fantasy trilogy. Her whimsical stories are full of enchantment, mystique, and insight—destined to intrigue readers of any age.

     Secora lives in Detroit, Michigan, where she continues to explore old and new avenues for her talent and hard work. You can visit her on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk: A Book Review

Wolf Hollow
Author: Lauren Wolk
Genre: Children, Historical Fiction
Publisher:  Dutton Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Pages: 304
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.

     Brilliantly crafted, Wolf Hollow is a haunting tale of America at a crossroads and a time when one girl’s resilience and strength help to illuminate the darkest corners of our history.

     My Review: In a small Pennsylvania town, a tragic event has occurred. Annabelle is a young girl who has been bullied by an older girl named Betty. When Betty suddenly disappears, the suspicion falls on an outsider, Toby, whom Annabelle has befriended. Annabelle must master her courage to fight for the injustice of her friend. Can Annabelle save her friend or is it too late?

    Annabelle is a strong protagonist that audiences will root for. She is very fierce and loving. She will do anything to protect her family and also the first to befriend a stranger. She is also a young woman who must conquer her fear. Because she has been bullied by Betty, she becomes afraid of her. Yet, she must stand up to Betty and her lies to not only help herself but for her friend. Annabelle is also very brilliant. She is observant and is able figure out the mystery before anyone else. There were many times that Annabelle came off more like an adult than an eleven year old child, yet I liked this character that I was able to ignore her mature voice.

    Overall, this story is about family, friendship, injustice, and courage. The message of the book is to stand up for what is right. Wolf Hollow is a fast-paced mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end. I really did like the characters. I do wish that Betty’s character was developed a bit more. I would have liked to understand her motives rather than her just being a mean girl to further the plot. While this is a children’s story, I believe that due to the story elements and the writing style that this book is more for mature teens and adults. Nevertheless, it would be good source material for teachers to read aloud in the classroom alongside The Watsons Went to Birmingham. Still, I recommend that parents read this novel first and discuss the themes with their children. I recommend this novel for fans of Bud, Not Buddy, Sounder, and Where the Red Fern Grows.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Setting the World on Fire: The Brief, Astonishing Life of St. Catherine of Siena by Shelley Emling: A Book Review

Setting the World on Fire: The Brief, Astonishing Life of St. Catherine of Siena
Author: Shelley Emling
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Biography, Religion
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Pages: 256
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: One of only two patron saints of Italy, the other being St. Francis of Assisi, St. Catherine was ahead of her time. As a political powerhouse in late 14th century Europe, a time of war, social unrest and one of the worst natural disasters of all time--the plague, she worked for peace between Christians while campaigning for a holy crusade against Muslims. She was illiterate but grew into a great writer by dictating to assistants. She was frail and punished herself mercilessly, often starving herself, while offering moral guidance and inspiration to kings, queens and popes.

     It's easy to see why feminists through the years have sought to claim the patronage of St. Catherine. From her refusal to marry to her assertion that her physical appearance was of no importance, the famous Saint is ripe for modern interpretation. She was a peacemaker during Siena's revolution of 1368, sometimes addressing thousands of people in squares and streets; she convinced Pope Gregory XI to return the papacy to Rome at a time when the Catholic Church was unraveling.

     How did this girl, the second-youngest of 25 children of a middle-class dyer, grow to become one of the most beloved spiritual figures of all time, a theological giant to rank alongside the likes of Thomas Aquinas? In Setting the World on Fire, Emling gives an intimate portrayal of this fascinating and revolutionary woman.

     My Review: St. Catherine of Siena was not only one of the Catholic Church’s greatest mystic, she was also one of its greatest writers. She wrote a book called Dialogues, a conversation between God and the human soul about spiritual life. She is also one of the few women that was given the title of Doctors of the Church. In this biography of the saint, this novel focuses on her accomplishments as well as her struggles.

     St. Catherine of Siena was the daughter of a wool dyer. She was known as a happy child. When she was six years old, she received a vision of Jesus that profoundly changed her life. After this, she became melancholic. She also defied her family by not marrying and instead devoted her life to God, which eventually her family supported her. Soon, Catherine attracted a large group of followers and eventually she became involved in the political and social matters of the church. One of her accomplishments was that she brought Pope Gregory XI back to Rome. For seventy years, the popes left Rome and established their pontiff in Avignon, France. However, her accomplishment was short lived, for Pope Gregory died, and this divided the Church which led to the Great Schism, an event that spanned for four decades where the Catholic Church had two popes. Yet, while this event distressed her, she nevertheless continued to be a prolific secant of the church.

     Overall, this biography focused on St. Catherine of Siena’s legacies as well as disappointments. This novel only focuses on the basics of St. Catherine’s life, and I would have liked for the biographer to give more details to certain events of her life. However, this book was a quick and easy read. I recommend this book for the general reader and for those who do not know much about St. Catherine of Siena. Setting the World on Fire is a great tribute for a woman who worked until her dying breath to reform the Catholic Church and to try to bring about peace and prosperity.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi: A Book Review

The Star-Touched Queen
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Pages: 353
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you're only seventeen?

     Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

     But Akaran has its own secrets -- thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.

     A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. The Star-Touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.

     My Review: On the day that Maya was born, she was prophesied that her marriage would be of death and destruction. Since then she has been shunned by most of her family members and lives a life of obscurity. One day, her father, the Raja, forces Maya to commit suicide. Right when she is about to kill herself, Amar, the Raja of Akaran, saves her at the last minutes and marries her. With this marriage, she has a second chance of life. However, Amar and Akaran is not what it seems to be. Can Maya and Amar overcome the obstacles to find happiness?

     I found Maya to be a likable protagonist. I liked that she has a deep love for her sister. However, there were some moments where I found her to be a bit frustrating. She is a very lonely girl who has low-self confidence. She is willing to do whatever people tell her. She is also very gullible and believes everyone’s lies without questioning why. Therefore, for most of the book, she is a weak protagonist. Gradually, she becomes a strong woman. She realizes her mistakes and tries to correct them. Therefore, Maya is a heroine that readers can relate to because she learns her lesson.

     Overall, this book is about family, friendship, and love. The Star-Touched Queen is about a woman’s quest to recover what she has lost. The message of this book is to believe in yourself, and to appreciate each moment you have for your loved one because you do not know when that person may be gone. I did find this book to be predictable and slow in the middle. I also did not like that there was a star-crossed love story. Because of this, I thought that Amar’s character-depth was lacking along with the relationship. I also thought the secondary characters needed a bit more work so that I could truly understand them. Nevertheless, the writing is very evocative and lyrical. I also liked how it is heavily rooted with Indian mythology. I really thought it was a well-developed fantasy with a taste of adventure, and I look forward to reading her companion novel, A Crown of Wishes! I recommend this book to fans of Cruel Beauty, A Thousand Nights, and Ever.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars