Friday, March 31, 2017

Blog Tour: Night Witches by Kathryn Lasky

NIGHT WITCHES
Author: Kathryn Lasky
Pub. Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 224
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Find it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads
Synopsis: From bestselling and award-winning author Kathryn Lasky comes an explosive adventure following the teen girl fighter pilots who took on Hitler's army . . . and won.

     Fifteen-year-old Valya knows what it feels like to fly. She's a pilot who's always felt more at home soaring through the sky than down on earth. But since the Germans surrounded Stalingrad, Valya's been forced to stay on the ground and watch her city crumble.

     When her mother is killed during the siege, Valya is left with one burning desire: to join up with her older sister, a member of the famous and feared Night Witches -- a brigade of young female pilots.

     Using all her wits, Valya manages to get past the German blockade and find the Night Witches' base . . . and that's when the REAL danger starts. The women have been assigned a critical mission. If they succeed, they'll inflict serious damage on the Nazis. If they fail, they'll face death . . . or even worse horrors.

     Historical fiction master Lasky sheds light on the war's unsung heroes -- daredevil girls who took to the skies to fight for their country -- in an action-packed thrill ride that'll leave you electrified and breathless.


About Kathryn:



     Kathryn Lasky is the American author of many critically acclaimed books, including several Dear America books, several Royal Diaries books, 1984 Newbery Honor winning Sugaring Time, The Night Journey, and the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series.

     She was born June 24, 1944, and grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is married to Christopher Knight, with whom she lives in Massachusetts.

     Book 15, The War of the Ember, is currently the last book in the Ga'Hoole series. The Rise of a Legend is the 16th book but is a prequel to the series. Lasky has also written Guide Book To The Great Tree and Lost Tales Of Ga'Hoole which are companion books.



Giveaway Details:



3 winners will receive a finished copy of NIGHT WITCHES, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:


Week One:
3/20/2017- The Best Books Ever - Excerpt
3/21/2017- My Thoughts Literally- Review
3/22/2017- Wandering Bark Books- Guest Post
3/23/2017- La La in the Library- Review
3/24/2017- YA Books Central- Interview

Week Two:
3/27/2017- Quartzfeather- Review
3/28/2017- BookHounds YA- Guest Post
3/29/2017- Under the Book Cover- Spotlight
3/30/2017- Bibliobibuli YA- Interview
3/31/2017- History from a Woman's Perspective- Spotlight



Thursday, March 30, 2017

Blog Tour: The Wolf Mirror by Caroline Healy

The Wolf Mirror 
Caroline Healy
Publication date: February 14th 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance, Young Adult

Synopsis: Changing places doesn’t always help you see things differently.
     Cassie throws the first punch in a brawl at Winchester Abbey Girl’s School. Her subsequent suspension is a glitch in Cassie’s master plan; Finish School/Get Job/Leave Home (and never come back). As punishment her mother banishes her to Ludlow Park, their creepy ancestral home. In the dark of a stormy night Cassie finds herself transported to 1714, the beginning of the Georgian period.
     With the help of a lady’s maid and an obnoxious gentleman, Mr Charles Stafford, Cassie must unravel the mysterious illness afflicting Lord Miller. If Lord Miller kicks the bucket the house goes to Reginald Huxley, the brainless cousin from London.
 Cassie’s task is to figure out who is poisoning the Lord of Ludlow without exposing herself to the ridicule of her peers, getting herself committed to the asylum or worse, married off to the first man who will have her.

     Cassie must learn to hold her tongue, keep her pride in check and reign in her rebellious nature – because the fate of her entire family, for generations, rests on her shoulders.

     Meanwhile, Lady Cassandra Miller frantically searches for her smelling salts or her trusted governess Miss. Blythe, whose soothing advice she would dearly love. Instead Cassandra finds some woman and a boy squatting in the Ludlow mansion; her father, her lady’s maid and all the servants have magically disappeared.

     Tell-a-vision, the In-her-net, horseless carriages and women wearing pantaloons; Cassandra is afraid that she might have inhaled fowl air causing her to temporarily lose her senses.

     Only when both girls can get over their pride, societal prejudices and self-importance will they be able to return to their rightful century. Until then, they are free to wreak maximum damage on their respective centuries.


Excerpt:


     Lady Cassandra Miller woke with a jolt. The silk, damask cover had slipped from her bed during the night. She shivered in the chill. Ludlow Park was eerily quiet. It seemed as if the house was holding its breath in expectation. Of what, she could not imagine. 

     Under the covers, she pulled the lace end of her night shift past her knees, down towards her shins, wrapping it around her toes. Winter was coming and the nights were getting colder. She had foolishly ignored Miss Blythe’s advice and refused a warming pan, declaring that it was too early in the year for frost. She snuggled deeper in the bed, regretting her decree. 

     She wished her mother was here. This time of year, coming into the darkness of winter, Cassandra felt her absence the most; her Mama, the exquisitely beautiful Lady Augustine Miller. If the stories of her youth were to be believed, she had commanded the attentions of not three but four prominent gentlemen during her début. Cassandra smiled to herself before twisting around in an effort to get comfortable. The horse hair mattress was lumpy. She would instruct Molly, her new maid, to beat it in the morning. 

     ‘How am I expected to sleep in such discomfort?’ she said to the darkness before sitting bolt upright, her frustration rising. ‘Insufferable!’ She turned and punched her eider down pillow. 

     The room had recently been renovated, her furniture repositioned. Wallpaper had been purchased from London and a new canopy of light green silk had been added to the four posters of her bed. A mahogany writing desk and matching chair had been imported from France. According to Miss Taylor of Upton Manor, they were the most fashionable of furnishings and a necessity in any lady’s bedroom. 

     ‘Simpering idiot,’ she said into the dark. 

     Miss. Taylor was very free with her opinion, an opinion that Cassandra usually disagreed with. Much to her dismay, it was her duty to suffer the companionship of the ladies of the neighbourhood once a month. It was a tradition that her mother had established, before Cassandra was born. The gatherings were an opportunity to become better acquainted with the families of the parish.

     Cassandra loathed the events. In truth, as far as Cassandra could make out, the occasion was an excuse for gossip, a way to show off the latest fashion and a means of securing a match with someone’s brother, uncle or at times, even father. 

     These thoughts irked her. There would be no going back to sleep now, her blood pumping with discontent.  

     She reached to the chair beside her bed and pulled a well-worn shawl over her shoulders. If Miss. Blythe was to see her wearing such an item of clothing, she would scold her no end. Oh Miss. Miller, so unbefitting for a lady of your stature. Her governess still called her Miss., even though by rights, since her mother’s death, Cassandra was now the Lady of the house. 

     However Miss. Blythe, for all her remonstrations, had been a tower of strength and sense in the last three years. She had taken Cassandra under her wing and instilled all the knowledge she possessed. Cassandra had learned to move in polite society, to host social engagements, to handle the servants. In truth she had learned how to administer a large estate in a relatively short period of time; a fact that she was particularly proud of.

    For a simple governess, Miss. Blythe’s knowledge of society was quite impressive. Yet sometimes Cassandra found her cautious nature overbearing. Every now and then she wanted to throw discretion to the wind, order beef instead of mutton for a dinner party. Or perhaps go out in the carriage without a bonnet. Such recklessness would not be acceptable of course. It would seriously hamper her chances of attracting a suitable husband.





Author Bio: 

     Caroline Healy is a writer and community arts facilitator. She recently completed her M.A. in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University. She alternates her time between procrastination and making art.

     In 2012 her award winning short story collection A Stitch in Time was published by Doire Press. Fiction and commentary has been featured in publications across Ireland, the U.K. and more recently in the U.S. Caroline’s work can be found in journals such as Wordlegs,The Bohemyth, Short Story Ireland, Short Stop U.K., Five Stop Story, Prole, Literary Orphans and the Irish Writers’ Centre Lonely Voice.

      Her debut Y.A. novel, Blood Entwines was published by Bloomsbury Spark in August 2014 and she is in the process of writing the second book in the series, Blood Betrayal, as well as a short story collection, The House of Water.

     She has a fondness for dark chocolate, cups of tea and winter woollies.

     (More details can be found on her website www.carolinehealy.com)



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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Beautiful Pretender (A Medieval Fairy Tale #2) by Melanie Dickerson: A Book Review

The Beautiful Pretender (A Medieval Fairy Tale #2)
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Christian
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: 2016
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. 
Synopsis: What happens when a margrave realizes he’s fallen in love with a servant?

     The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble-born ladies from around the country to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

     Avelina is only responsible for two things: making sure her deception goes undetected and avoiding being selected as the margrave’s bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

     Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost?

     My Review: Reinhart, the Margrave of Thornbeck, is advised by a king to find a wife. He invites noble women from around the country to come to his castle to which which of them will be his wife. Avelina is a maidservant of Lady Dorothea of Plimmwald. When Lady Dorothea is summoned to go to Thornbeck Castle to be a possible bride for the Margrave, she flees with her lover. Not wanting to offend the margrave, the Earl of Plimmwald orders Avelina to stand in his daughter’s place. Avelina doesn’t wish for anyone to find out her real identity and tries to linger in the background so she wouldn’t be notice. However, due to her wit and compassion, Avelina stands out among the crowd and catches Reinhart’s eye. What will happen once Reinhart discovers Avelina’s secret? Will they learn to love each other despite her deception? Could Reinhart marry for love instead of duty?

   Avelina is a loveable character. She is caring, compassionate, and a loyal friend. She is very romantic and naive. She is very opinionated and cares about women’s rights. I found her character to be very similar to Odette in how they both share their compassion for the poor and are very loyal friends. I like how Avelina doesn’t wish to fall in love with Reinhart, but she unexpectedly does anyway. She loves him unconditionally and is willing to go to many lengths to save him. 

   Reinhart, on the other hand, I did not like him. I thought he was a jerk, and he did mean things to Avelina once he learned her secret. I didn’t see how Avelina could still love and forgive after the things he has done. Honestly, I think that she deserved better. Throughout, the novel, Reinhart comes across as snobby. He was also a very weak character and was blind to the villains throughout the novel. 

   Overall, this book was about love, friendship, and trust. Avelina’s character was fleshed out, but Reinhart needed more development to make me like him. He didn’t completely changed after falling in love with Avelina. While the plot was fast-paced, the action was lacking. There was no action in this book. While the bad guys invaded his home, the two main characters both hid until they were rescued. The author gave the characters a safety net and didn’t put them in the throw of the danger. Thus, I found the climax of the story to be very weak and a letdown. The relationship between Reinhart and Avelina seems to be very unconvincing. I did not like them as much as Jorgen and Odette for they were a much more believable couple. While I did not like the main couple, I did like the supporting characters. Jorgen and Odette were fun characters and very mischievous. I loved their schemes in helping Reinhart choose his perfect bride. Magdalen, Avelina’s friend, was a very caring woman who did not care about people’s station in life. I look forward to reading the next novel, The Noble Servant, because it will have Magdalen as its protagonist. Thus, I recommend this to fans of Kiera Cass’s The Selection, Jody Hedlund’s An Uncertain Choice, and Richelle Mead’s The Glittering Court. However, The Huntress of Thornbeck is a stronger novel than The Beautiful Pretender for it has a believable romance and engaging characters.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Leaving Everything Most Loved (Maisie Dobbs #10) by Jacqueline Winspear: A Book Review

Leaving Everything Most Loved (Maisie Dobbs #10)
Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery 
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: 2013
Pages: 357
Source: This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: In Leaving Everything Most Loved by New York Times bestselling author Jacqueline Winspear, Maisie Dobbs investigates the murder of Indian immigrants in London.

The year is 1933. Maisie Dobbs is contacted by an Indian gentleman who has come to England in the hopes of finding out who killed his sister two months ago. Scotland Yard failed to make any arrest in the case, and there is reason to believe they failed to conduct a thorough investigation. The case becomes even more challenging when another Indian woman is murdered just hours before a scheduled interview. Meanwhile, unfinished business from a previous case becomes a distraction, as does a new development in Maisie's personal life.

Bringing a crucial chapter in the life and times of Maisie Dobbs to a close, Leaving Everything Most Loved marks a pivotal moment in this outstanding mystery series.
  
     My Review: Maisie Dobbs is contemplating leaving England for India. Before she makes her decision and her arrangements, she must solve the death of an Indian woman. Usha Pramal’s body has been found in a canal, and her brother hires Maisie to solve the case because he is frustrated with how Usha’s death has been handled by the Scotland Yard. Maisie sets out to find the truth and to bring the killer to justice.

   This novel has an air of melancholy. Maisie is still grieving for the death of her mentor and wants to experience something new in her life. In the series, it takes Maisie on an unexpected journey because she is about to leave her home and her loved ones behind for a different change. Maisie is very depressed and she doesn’t have her usual charm. Leaving Behind Everything Most Loved focuses on Maisie’s decisions and spends very little time with her case. The case for Maisie seems like a nice distraction from her personal life. Maisie comes across as a woman in a crisis and very distant from those she loves. While this book tells us her motivations for wanting to leave, I found it to be very unconvincing, and I couldn’t believe she would leave all her family and friends behind. It seemed sudden and selfish.

    Overall, this book is about a woman who is about to make many life-changing decisions. There were very little appearances from many of the supporting characters. The novel read more like a filler because the mystery seemed to be an add-on. It was pushed to the side to make way for Maisie’s personal life. I was very disappointed in this mystery because I found it to be predictable, and I wanted to learn more about the victim. I like the aspect about Indian immigrants. However, I didn’t like how Maisie was portrayed in this novel. The pacing was slow. The writing was stilted and repetitive. Thus, I recommend this novel for those who have not read any of the Maisie Dobbs books and would happily await the next chapter in her life.  However, for fans of the series, you will be coming away disappointed and wished that Maisie did not leave many beloved characters behind.

Rating: 2½ out of 5 stars

Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs #1) by Jacqueline Winspear: A Book Review

Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs #1)
Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery 
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: 2003
Pages: 305
Source: Borrowed from my State Public Library
Synopsis: "A female investigator every bit as brainy and battle-hardened as Lisbeth Salander." 
—Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air, on Maisie Dobbs

     Maisie Dobbs got her start as a maid in an aristocratic London household when she was thirteen. Her employer, suffragette Lady Rowan Compton, soon became her patron, taking the remarkably bright youngster under her wing. Lady Rowan's friend, Maurice Blanche, often retained as an investigator by the European elite, recognized Maisie’s intuitive gifts and helped her earn admission to the prestigious Girton College in Cambridge, where Maisie planned to complete her education.

     The outbreak of war changed everything. Maisie trained as a nurse, then left for France to serve at the Front, where she found—and lost—an important part of herself. Ten years after the Armistice, in the spring of 1929, Maisie sets out on her own as a private investigator, one who has learned that coincidences are meaningful, and truth elusive. Her very first case involves suspected infidelity but reveals something very different.

     In the aftermath of the Great War, a former officer has founded a working farm known as The Retreat, that acts as a convalescent refuge for ex-soldiers too shattered to resume normal life. When Fate brings Maisie a second case involving The Retreat, she must finally confront the ghost that has haunted her for over a decade.

     My Review: Maisie Dobbs, who was once a maid for an aristocratic family, is now a private investigator. One day a man comes into her office and asks if she could investigate if his wife is having an affair. Maisie soon realizes that there is more to this case than meets the eyes. For what seems like a domestic case, actually reveals a truth much darker. Evidence shows that the investigation may have a connection to a murder case. Can Maisie find the killer or will the killer be able to get away with murder?

     Maisie seems to be a very capable young woman. She is clever, resourceful, and hard-working. However, there is more to her than meets the eye.  The reader learns the story of Maisie’s accomplishments, obstacles, and tragedies. She is an emotionally distraught young woman, who has been scared by WWI. Because of the problems facing her, I found her to be a strong, courageous, and compassionate woman. She is very devoted to those she loves. Thus, Maisie is not only a likable character, but is also very sympathetic. Readers can relate to Maisie’s struggles as she tries to find a place in the world after the war and peace.

     Overall, this book is about people trying to heal and recover after the war. The novel has interesting characters, and I would like to know more about them. I think Maisie Dobbs would have been more enjoyable if it were two novels instead of one. The beginning starts with the mystery, then for half the book, it embarks on Maisie’s background, then the last quarter jumps back to the mystery again. Because Maisie’s background didn’t really seem to have anything to do with the mystery, it was out of place. Maisie Dobbs would have been much better if it focused solely on Maisie’s background, and the next book would have been the mystery aspect. Maisie Dobbs storyline of how she became a detective seems very far-fetched and was more like a fairy-tale. Still, this novel left me wanting to read more of the Maisie Dobbs series. I recommend this novel to fans of the Phryne Fisher, Bess Crawford, and Mary Russell series.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

   

Monday, March 27, 2017

Blog Tour: The Mapping of Love and Death (Maisie Dobbs #7) by Jacqueline Winspear: A Book Review

The Mapping of Love and Death (Maisie Dobbs #7)
Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: 2010
Pages: 482
Source: This book was given to me by TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: In the New York Times bestselling series, Maisie Dobbs must unravel a case of wartime love and death—an investigation that leads her to a long-hidden affair between a young cartographer and a mysterious nurse.

     August 1914. Michael Clifton is mapping the land he has just purchased in California's beautiful Santa Ynez Valley, certain that oil lies beneath its surface. But as the young cartographer prepares to return home to Boston, war is declared in Europe. Michael—the youngest son of an expatriate Englishman—puts duty first and sails for his father's native country to serve in the British army. Three years later, he is listed among those missing in action.

     April 1932. London psychologist and investigator Maisie Dobbs is retained by Michael's parents, who have recently learned that their son's remains have been unearthed in France. They want Maisie to find the unnamed nurse whose love letters were among Michael's belongings—a quest that takes Maisie back to her own bittersweet wartime love. Her inquiries, and the stunning discovery that Michael Clifton was murdered in his trench, unleash a web of intrigue and violence that threatens to engulf the soldier's family and even Maisie herself. Over the course of her investigation, Maisie must cope with the approaching loss of her mentor, Maurice Blanche, and her growing awareness that she is once again falling in love.

     Following the critically acclaimed bestseller Among the Mad, The Mapping of Love and Death delivers the most gripping and satisfying chapter yet in the life of Maisie Dobbs.

     My Review: In 1914, Michael Clifton, an American who joined the British army to fight in WWI, bought a piece of land in the Santa Ynez Valley of California. He was never to return to America again. Believing he was killed in action, Michael Clifton’s parents discover Michael’s journal and a box of love letters and hires Maisie Dobbs to find the author of the letters. As Maisie sets out to find the woman who loved Michael Clifton, she learns that there may be more to Michael’s death. She comes to the realization that instead of being killed in war, Michael most likely had been murdered.

     I really like Maisie Dobbs in this novel. She was a strong, sensible heroine. Maisie comes across to me as a workaholic. She is devoted to her case, and never stops working to get to the bottom of the truth. Maisie is also a caring woman. She cares about the victim, whom she never met, and his family. Even though she is persistent in her case, Maisie experiences moments of sadness and also love that she never thought was possible. Thus, Maisie has to navigate through her profession and her personal life. Maisie is forced to make hard choices in order to find happiness.

   Overall, this book explores the dreams and ambitions of a young American soldier that sadly never came to fruition. The characters are fleshed out, and I wished that there were more appearances of the side characters, for instance, Maisie’s father, James Compton, and Priscilla. The mystery was predictable. You would know who the bad guys are as soon as they make their appearance on the page. However, I didn't mind about the mystery, I was more enthralled with the victim’s story and wanted to know more about him. The time period seemed to come alive, and I felt as if I had transported back into the 1930s. Thus, this was a solid mystery, and I look forward to reading more of the Maisie Dobbs series.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars




About Jacqueline Winspear




Jacqueline Winspear is the author of the New York Times bestselling Maisie Dobbs series, which includes In This Grave Hour, Journey to Munich, A Dangerous Place, Leaving Everything Most Loved, Elegy for Eddie, and eight other novels. Her standalone novel, The Care and Management of Lies, was also a New York Times bestseller and a Dayton Literary Peace Prize finalist. Originally from the United Kingdom, she now lives in California.

Find out more about Jacqueline at her website, www.jacquelinewinspear.com, and find her on Facebook.





Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton: A Book Review

The Secret Keeper
Author: Kate Morton
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery & Suspense
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: 2012
Pages: 597
Source: Personal collection
Synopsis: From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Distant Hours, The Forgotten Garden, and The House at Riverton, a spellbinding new novel filled with mystery, thievery, murder, and enduring love. 

     During a summer party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is happily dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and watches as her mother speaks to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime. A crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy—her vivacious, loving, nearly perfect mother. 

     Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress living in London. The family is gathering at Greenacres farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this may be her last chance, Laurel searches for answers to the questions that still haunt her from that long-ago day, answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past. 

     Dorothy’s story takes the reader from pre–WWII England through the blitz, to the ’60s and beyond. It is the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined. The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams and the unexpected consequences they sometimes bring. It is an unforgettable story of lovers and friends, deception and passion that is told—in Morton’s signature style—against a backdrop of events that changed the world.

     My Review: At a summer party, sixteen year-old Laurel witnesses her mother, Dorothy, killing a man. Fifty years later, Laurel is a successful actress, yet that day still haunts her. There are still many questions that her curious mind wants to know. Her chance arrives at her mother’s ninetieth birthday. Laurel searches into Dorothy’s past to understand her motives for killing a stranger. This novel takes us into two time periods, Modern day and pre-WWII era, in an attempt for readers to understand Dorothy.

     I was really looking forward to reading this book because I adored Kate Morton’s The Lake House. As soon as I bought The Secret Keeper, I began to read the first pages. I was hoping that this novel would give me a few days of an enjoyable read during a lazy afternoon. However, because of the dragging plot, I found myself spending two years to get through this book. Reading this didn’t seem like a pleasure anymore. Instead, it became a chore, and I dreaded opening the pages.

    Besides the dragging plot, I would have enjoyed this story more if I liked the characters. I really like Laurel. She was very sensible and also very imaginative. She had a strong head on her shoulders. I could relate to Laurel for she had been haunted by the terrifying scene and was curious to know why her mother killed him. I liked the modern storyline better than the historical aspect. I really disliked Dorothy. She was manipulative and selfish. She did horrible things to her friends. I hated reading Dorothy’s parts and contemplated skipping them, but I didn’t because they may be important in the future. Instead, I read with bored interest, and I learned that most of her storyline didn’t matter in the end. 

     Overall, this story is about family, friendship, and secrets. It is about a daughter who wants to understand her mother. The characters were not very fleshed out. Most of them were one-dimensional. The story dragged, reminiscent of a Sunday afternoon. I think the novel should have been shortened by at least hundred and fifty pages because the middle and Dorothy's storyline was mostly filler. The mystery was predictable, and the reader could see it many miles away. Thus, The Secret Keeper was a disappointing read. I was really ecstatic to finally be done with this novel. I have bought all of Kate Morton’s novels on the same day, and was really looking forward to having a Kate Morton marathon, but since this book took me two years, I am very hesitant to pick another of her books right up. However, I really did love The Lake House, and Kate Morton has interesting ideas, and can write beautiful sentences, so maybe I’ll pick up another book of hers. It will have to be very much later because I have to get rid of the bitter taste in my mouth. The Secret Keeper may appeal to readers of Susanna Kearsley, Hannah Richell, and Chris Bohjalian.

Rating: 2½ out of 5 stars

Here is the official book trailer for Kate Morton's The Secret Keeper:



This is a video of Kate Morton talking about her novel, The Secret Keeper:

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Enemies of Versailles (The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy #3) by Sally Christie: A Book Review

The Enemies of Versailles (The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy #3)
Author: Sally Christie
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: March 21, 2017
Pages: 416
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: In the final installment of Sally Christie’s “tantalizing” (New York Daily News) Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, Jeanne Becu, a woman of astounding beauty but humble birth, works her way from the grimy back streets of Paris to the palace of Versailles, where the aging King Louis XV has become a jaded and bitter old philanderer. Jeanne bursts into his life and, as the Comtesse du Barry, quickly becomes his official mistress.

     “That beastly bourgeois Pompadour was one thing; a common prostitute is quite another kettle of fish.”

     After decades of suffering the King's endless stream of Royal Favorites, the princesses of the Court have reached a breaking point. Horrified that he would bring the lowborn Comtesse du Barry into the hallowed halls of Versailles, Louis XV’s daughters, led by the indomitable Madame Adelaide, vow eternal enmity and enlist the young dauphiness Marie Antoinette in their fight against the new mistress. But as tensions rise and the French Revolution draws closer, a prostitute in the palace soon becomes the least of the nobility’s concerns.

     Told in Christie’s witty and engaging style, the final book in The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the sumptuous and cruel world of eighteenth century Versailles, and France as it approaches irrevocable change.

      My Review: The Enemies of Versailles is the third book in The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy. The story is told from Madame du Barry’s perspective and her enemy, Princess Adelaide. Jeanne Becu rose from her humble beginnings only to find herself at the top spot in France. She has become the official mistress to Louis XV. However, Jeanne has made many enemies who disapprove of her humble beginnings. One of these is Princess Adelaide, who is tired of her father parading his mistresses at court. In order to get Madame du Barry to leave, she persuades Marie Antoinette to fight against Madame du Barry. However, the fight between Marie Antoinette and Madame du Barry takes a backseat as the French Revolution looms near.

      I found the characters of Madame du Barry and Madame Adelaide to be very unlikable. In some ways Madame du Barry is very similar to Madame de Pompadour. She is very selfish and proud. There were some moments that it seemed that she may have truly cared for Louis XV. However, I found her to use him more for her own benefit. During the French Revolution, I did start to care for her and empathized with her. Her fate in the French Revolution didn’t seem fair.

     I also didn’t like Princess Adelaide, while I agreed with most of her opinions about Madame du Barry, I found her to be a narrator that you could hardly trust. Princess Adelaide was very judgemental. She was also very manipulative. The thing that I did not like about her was that she didn’t care about the deaths in the French Revolution, especially Madame du Barry. She didn’t care about the chaos in France because it didn’t affect her for she had sought refuge.

    Overall, this novel was a very superficial novel of Madame du Barry. The writing was the same. It was stilted and repetitious. The dialogue was still juvenile. The plot was so fast-paced that it didn’t take the time to flesh out the characters. This left me very disappointed because I wanted to learn more about Jeanne’s background and to understand her character more by the time she arrived at Versailles. The book still has trouble with the narration. The story is mostly told and not shown. This novel should have been a nonfiction book. Still, the thing that I did like in the novel was the French Revolution. I thought the death of Madame du Barry to be very moving, and thought that she didn’t deserve her fate. Even though I didn’t like the last two books as much as I did The Sisters of Versailles, I recommend that you should read this trilogy. It is very worthwhile. While the trilogy is about the mistresses of Louis XV, it is actually about Louis XV himself. The author does a good job showing how Louis XV changed throughout his life. At first, he wanted to be a good king and be faithful to his wife. Through the course of the trilogy, Louis XV has a series of mistresses and helped bring about the French Revolution. These books helps us to understand how Louis XV managed to reach this point. Overall, I recommend this series to fans of Juliet Grey,  Heather Webb, and Laura Purcell.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Friday, March 24, 2017

Blog Tour: Beauty of the Beast by Rachel L. Demeter: A Book Review


Beauty of the Beast


by Rachel L. Demeter Fairy Tale Retellings, #1 Publication Date: March 15, 2017 Genres: Historical Romance, Fairy Tale Retelling, Gothic Romance, Adult


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🌹 Book Blurb 🌹

    
 Experience the world’s most enchanting and timeless love story—retold with a dark and realistic twist.

     A BEAST LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF HIS PAST


     Reclusive and severely scarred Prince Adam Delacroix has remained hidden inside a secluded, decrepit castle ever since he witnessed his family’s brutal massacre. Cloaked in shadow, with only the lamentations of past ghosts for company, he has abandoned all hope, allowing the world to believe he died on that tragic eve twenty-five years ago.


     A BEAUTY IN PURSUIT OF A BETTER FUTURE


     Caught in a fierce snowstorm, beautiful and strong-willed Isabelle Rose seeks shelter at a castle—unaware that its beastly and disfigured master is much more than he appears to be. When he imprisons her gravely ill and blind father, she bravely offers herself in his place.


     BEAUTY AND THE BEAST


     Stripped of his emotional defenses, Adam’s humanity reawakens as he encounters a kindred soul in Isabelle. Together they will wade through darkness and discover beauty and passion in the most unlikely of places. But when a monster from Isabelle’s former life threatens their new love, Demrov’s forgotten prince must emerge from his shadows and face the world once more…


     Perfect for fans of Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera, Beauty of the Beast brings a familiar and well-loved fairy tale to life with a rich setting in the kingdom of Demrov and a captivating, Gothic voice.


     Beauty of the Beast is the first standalone installment in a series of classic fairy tales reimagined with a dark and realistic twist.

     Disclaimer: This is an edgy retelling of the classic fairy tale. Due to strong sexual content, profanity, and dark subject matter, including an instance of sexual assault committed by the villain, Beauty of the Beast is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

     My Review: After witnessing a brutal massacre that killed all his family, especially his infant baby sister, Prince Alex of Demrov finds all hope lost in the world. Angry, depressed, and melancholy, he hides himself away from the world and seeks refuge in his lonely castle and made his kingdom believe that he was dead.  His life remains in quiet solitude as he spends his time haunted by the memories of the dead. Until one day his life changes when a beautiful young woman named Isabella arrives at the castle with her father. In a rage, the prince imprisons her father. However, Isabelle makes a deal to trade her life instead of her father. Prince Alex accepts. Could the two look beneath the outward appearances and find the beauty within? Could the two find love, hope, and redemption in a cruel and unforgiving world? 

       I found the two to be very likable characters. Both Isabelle and Alex are emotionally scarred by what happened to them in the past. Isabella is a fierce, determined, and strong-willed character. She cares deeply and loves her father more than herself. She dreams of running away with her father from her village, where she can be free from her selfish step-sisters and her monster fiance. I also adore her relationship with Alex. Both of them eventually come to need and love each other. They are eventually able to give each other comfort and warmth. Thus, I was rooting for both Isabella and Alex and hoped that they would find their happily ever after.

     Overall, this book was about hope, friendship, love, and redemption. The characters were very fleshed out. The setting was dark and atmospheric like a grim fairy tale. I found the writing to be beautiful, haunting, and lyrical. Ms. Demeter’s retelling of Beauty and the Beast sucked me in from the very first page. While there were a few scenes that I didn’t like in the story, it didn’t detract from the novel. Both Alex and Isabelle are compelling characters and their relationship left me fascinated. The pace of the book is slow, but it was a character-driven novel. This retelling was very faithful to the original. I think that this is Rachel L. Demeter’s best book yet, and I look forward to reading more of her fairytale retellings. This book will appeal to fans of Tanith Lee’s White as Snow, Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest, and Neil Gaiman's Stardust.


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Book Trailer 🎬






🌹 EXCERPT 🌹


~ The East Tower ~

     Arms sprang out from the darkness. They spun her full circle and slammed her body against the king’s portrait. Isabelle gasped, more in shock than from pain, as she stared into Adam’s deformed face. The lantern flickered behind his massive form, casting his cloaked body in silhouette. But she saw enough to know he was far from pleased. Rage and frustration radiated from his body like a palpable force.

     “I warned you to stay out of here,” he said, his voice dangerously cold and deep. Those rugged vocals vibrated against her body and seeped into her marrow. “What part of forbidden didn’t you comprehend?” His voice lashed out from the darkness like a hurtled knife, and the word “forbidden” seemed to whisper another meaning altogether. Isabelle tried to answer but failed to find her voice. Indeed, her vocal cords had turned to solid ice, as numb and cold as the blood rushing through her veins. She couldn’t breathe; she felt like she was suffocating.

     “My mother gave me that musical box on my fourth birthday,” he said, the sensual lull of his voice causing the fine hairs on her nape to stand erect. “And now your recklessness has destroyed it. Have you nothing to say?”

     “I—I’m sorry.” He offered no reply; only the ragged sound of his breathing and the hammering blizzard broke the silence. “Please—I didn’t mean any harm.”

     She struggled under the weight of Adam’s colossal body and battled to free herself. He merely gave a low chuckle and pressed her firmly against the portrait. He looked otherworldly at that moment, like an angel of death seeking vengeance. Both beautiful and monstrous, his cool, sapphire eyes overflowed with warring emotions. In spite of his harsh and ruthless exterior, she detected a quaver in his voice and saw that his large, cloaked shoulders trembled. The darkness in his soul cast a shadow that embraced her; as she peered up at him, she knew he was drowning in the turbulent waters of a past time.

     “What a disappointment,” he went on, his voice growing deeper still, mocking her words from so many days ago, “You’re like any other woman.”

     “I—I’m sorry. Please, Adam. I—” Her gaze shot past his body and over the wreckage of a past life. She thought of her private chamber again—of the stale perfumes and outdated garments.

     Her flight or fight instinct seized hold of her. She attempted to scramble free, but he merely grabbed her shoulder and whirled her back against the portrait. Gloves wrapped his hands; his long, silk-clad fingers grasped her shoulder and kept her firmly in place.

     He stood intimately close.

     Far too close.

     As close as Raphael had been that night.

    “Going somewhere, ma belle? After you’ve worked so hard to find my East Tower?”

     Hands like two steel bands held her wrists in place. Hot breaths, which faintly smelled of wine, seared her cheeks and assaulted her senses. Her breasts flattened against the pressure of his strong chest, and she felt that same chest swell and deflate in perfect sync with her own. One large hand slipped down her elbow and glided across her extended arm. The lush material of his gloves drew a shudder from her heaving chest. His breathing grew more ragged, shallower, and the erratic beat of his heart banged against her own.

     Anger and desire warred on his face, twisting his features into a mess of both monster and man. “Find anything of interest, aside from my musical box? Come, come. You went through such great trouble to get here,” he asked, his voice now threaded with both anger and something else.

      Yes, Isabelle recognized that something else. It was the same note that had entered Raphael’s voice that night…

     She attempted to duck under his arm, but he moved swiftly, capturing her in the crook of his elbow. Reeling her toward him, he emitted a low, haunting chuckle that swelled the eastern tower to its rafters. She was back where she’d started—pinned against the portrait, Adam’s body serving as a flesh-and-blood blockade.

     Hunger radiated from him, enfolding her in a current of sizzling power. His silk-clad hand grazed the curve of her breast as it moved down her body in a painfully slow caress. Even more alarming was her reaction to him. Her treacherous body responded with a crush of hot and cold pulsating waves. Then he whispered a taunt in her ear, and his liquid baritone slid down her backbone like honey; it swirled inside her, finding its home in her most intimate area.

     He leaned closer still. His face’s uneven skin brushed against her neck, the black waves of his hair tickled her chin... His thick arousal expanded against her, reminding her of what he was capable of—and of her sheer vulnerability.

     His lips teased the base of her throat. Cursing her traitorous body, Isabelle gasped at the gentle scraping of his teeth. His tongue and lips tormented her throbbing pulse—just barely, stirring her skin in a mere ghost of a touch.


🌹 Meet the Author 🌹


 

     Rachel L. Demeter lives in the beautiful hills of Anaheim, California with Teddy, her goofy lowland sheepdog, and her high school sweetheart of fourteen years. She enjoys writing poignant romances that challenge the reader’s emotions and explore the redeeming power of love. Imagining dynamic worlds and characters has been Rachel’s passion for longer than she can remember. Before learning how to read or write, she would dictate stories while her mother would record them for her. She holds a special affinity for the tortured hero and unconventional romances. Whether crafting the protagonist or antagonist, she ensures every character is given a soul. Rachel endeavors to defy conventions by blending elements of romance, suspense, and horror. Some themes her stories never stray too far from: forbidden romance, soul mates, the power of love to redeem, mend all wounds, and triumph over darkness. Her dream is to move readers and leave an emotional impact through her words. Don’t be a stranger! Rachel loves to connect and interact with her readers:




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