Reviews

Review: Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

Etiquette & Espionage

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
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Synopsis
It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners–and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage–in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.

What I thought
This was a re-read for me, the first time I consumed this book as an audio book from my library. After listening to most of Gail’s book I decided that I absolutely loved her and decided to buy everything she has written. Which I have to do over time there really is quite a few. I really want to give this author so much support as I can, but I can only do it a little at a time. So at some point this year I decided that I wanted to read the books in chronological order, since I was getting them from my Library I was getting whichever series that I could at the time. Since I just love Gail so much I wanted to share the love and do a read-along. Starting in August 2018 we are going to pick up the book in the Parasolverse in chronological order until we finish all of the books in this world. This consists of three series (2 of which are already finished) and various stand-alone books. If you are interested in joining along please see my post talking about the read-along here I listed all of the books and the months we will be reading them. I confirmed my reading order with Gail before beginning this journey. 

Please also go and check out Nicole @ thebookwormdrinketh review as well!

I absolutely love this world that has been created, its a blend of  paranormal and steampunk with witty banter and I could go on and on.  In this series we are following Sophronia. Sophronia who is not what one would have called a proper young lady to her mothers dismay. This story starts off with Sophronia climbing a dumbwaiter and taking off the rubber so she can put it on her boots to better be able to climb places herself. Needless to day the dumbwaiter did not last long after this. Sophronia finds herself being whisked away to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. “Finishing” may not be what Sophronia and her mother think it is. Sophronia befriends three other new recruits Dimity, Sidheag and Agatha, some Sooties. Quite a go-getter our little Sophronia is.

I will say that this book is a little slow compared to her other books; however this book is technically the first book chronologically to set up this universe and this is the only set of books that were written as YA. I really loved the world she takes so many different elements and just throws them together. The amount of diversity is huge and the way its played off is wonderful. Everyone is just who they are and none of it is used as a reason why the character is there (what I am trying to say is that its never used as a plot point). One thing that I love is the use of balance characters.  Sophronia is balanced by her new BFF Dimity as wild as Sophronia is Dimity is reserved.  I love how she does this!

Since the Parasol Protectorate Series was wrote before the Finishing School Series you see references from the characters that carry over into the next series.  I absolutely love Vieve (Genevieve) reading this the second time around and some of the things that is said just sets up her character for down the line.  Each time I found myself smiling and going ahh I see what you did there.

All in all I am trying so hard not to gush and tell you anything that might spoil the story for you if you want to read it.

Beware there are Picklemen and flywaymen afoot.

My Rating: /5

4.5 stars

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Review: Time Crawlers by Varun Sayal

Time Crawlers
Time Crawlers
 by Varun Sayal
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Synopsis
Billions of universes run slightly parallel to our own universe; worlds full of infinite possibilities. There are many humans living in those parallel worlds, leading their lives, in a very similar way to how we are leading ours. But their respective realities differ from ours in some very peculiar ways.

Inhabitants of some worlds have already been visited and are being ruled by aliens. Some traveled through time, back and forth, and some have taken their space exploration to advanced stages using their powerful spaceships. Some created ruthless artificial intelligences that are fulfilling dark, human desires. Some developed advanced weapons technologies thousands of years before we did.
I believe a writer’s brain can somehow tap into this multitude of universes and take a peek into the events happening in each of them. This book, comprised of six stories, is my attempt to narrate to you tales from six different parallel universes. These stories are events that my brain somehow tapped into and captured in detail.
Let me know if your unconscious mind visited the same universes as mine.

Eclipse
No attacks, no blood-shed, yet there was an invasion and a conquest. Who are these shape-shifting aliens being hounded by an eclipse?

Death by Crowd
The dark desires of the masses; darknet websites fueled by a crypto-currency. What lurks in the background – an advanced artificial intelligence?

Genie
He rubbed a lamp alright, but what he got was the shock of his life. An entirely sci-fi take on the djinn myth.

Time Crawlers
There are individuals who existing in multiple time periods at once, and there are those who know about them….

The Cave
The fate of an advanced imperial race hangs in balance as a dark celestial entity meets a legendary protector.

Nark-astra, The Hell Weapon
The weapons he possesses make him the destroyer of worlds, and he burns for revenge. A high-tech take on ancient Indian mythology.

What I thought
Time Crawlers is a short story collection consisting of six short stories.  I was gifted a copy of the ebook for an honest review.

I have been wanting to try more books in the Sci-fi genre. Before picking up the collection my only exposure to sci-fi was steampunk, which I absolutely love.  So I though that a short story collection was a great place to dip my toes into. This story collection was not bad.  There was only one story that I could have lived without, not because it was bad but I just did not like the content so that one is solely on me.

Eclipse 3 Stars
Death by Crowd 2 Stars
Genie 3 Stars
Time Crawlers 3 Stars
The Cave 3 Stars
Nark-astra, The Hell Weapon  3 Stars

Four of the six stories are told in an interview style, purely dialog, not sure if that is the right term for it. Personally I do not enjoy that format for the whole story.  I like a good setting, and that is the main reflection in my rating.  All in all they were not bad and this is a debut publishing for this author.

If parallel universes and aliens are your thing check this collection out.

My Rating: /53 stars

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Review: The Coven Princess by Lily Luchesik

The Coven Princess
The Coven Princess
by Lily Luchesi
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Your blood does not define you.

Synopsis
Harley Torrance’s parents were killed in a home invasion when she was three. Adopted by a nice couple, Harley begins to develop strange powers. At fourteen she brews a potion so strong it gains the attention of the Coven King, and changes her world forever.
She’s not human, she’s a witch.

Now a part of the magical community, Harley must learn to control her powers lest the Darkness already in her blood overcomes her. Can she dampen her lust for power in order to stop the Dark from taking over the Coven and killing everyone in their way?

What I thought

Let me start by saying that I received a copy of the eBook from the Author for an honest review.

When I saw this book I thought the synopsis sounded awesome and after reading the first chapter I decided to purchase a physical copy, because I read ebooks very slowly. I only explain this because if you go look on amazon (where I was asked to leave my review)  its a verified purchase even though I was gifted a copy.

Writing this review took me a while because I want to be honest and respectful to the author. I also had trouble thinking of how to put everything down so parts of this will read as a list. Not my normal format I know but its what I am working with.

The one positive thing that I can say about this book is that the writing was good. However, the content of the story I did not like.  Now hear me out this book has a 4.6 on Goodreads. And the exact reason that people seemed to love this book is why I could not continue after page 82. This story is strongly influenced by Harry Potter and I found the more I looked back at what I read I found more and more similarities that just bothered me. By the time I put this book down I felt like I was reading the highlights of the first two Harry Potter movies. I  understand wanting your story to be in the same realm as some this like Harry Potter, but there is a line and for me it was crossed. Here is a small list of all of the main points that I was writing down while I was reading it.

  • Harley’s parents are killed in a home invasion.
  • Harley is adopted by non-magical parents that fear her abilities.
  • Harley is wicked away to a magical school.
  • Once in the magical community, the family she is staying with has multiple kids all with strawberry blond hair. Older brothers that have already moved out are talked about. There is also a set of twins.
  • There are dueling lessons because of the danger.
  • There is even a Lockheartish teacher. Who is just as useless during the dueling lessons.
  • Those that are dying are non magical born. And no one knows who or why. They suspect this dark group that formed…you see where I am going.

This is all in the first 80 pages!

I am not saying it’s a bad book. I wanted to know why it had such a high rating on Goodreads so I released down through some of the reviews. What I found is that those that loved it, loved it for its similarities. So I’m not saying not to read it but it was not meant for me. I have too much love for the world of Harry Potter and for me there is just too much we borrowed.

My Rating: /5

DNF

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Review: Stormbringers by Philippa Gregory

Stormbringers
Stormbringers
by Philippa Gregory
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Synopsis
Italy, 1453. Luca and Isolde grow more and more attracted to each other as they continue their journey to unravel the mysteries throughout Christendom. But their travels are delayed by the uprising of an intense religious crusade that threatens the balance of the civilized world. Death lingers in the air as war ravages on, but this religious conflict is nothing compared to the arrival of an intense and deadly storm.

Caught in the midst of unimaginable chaos, Luca and Isolde must rely on one another in order to survive.

What I thought
Stormbringers is the second installment in the Order of Darkness series. At the end of the first book our group decided to travel together, much to Brother Peters dismay, until the girls could find another group to travel with. Our group stops at the sea side town of Piccolo in route to their next destination. While in Piccolo a crusade of children come to into the town by the thousands. They are heading across the sea and they believe that the sea will part for them and they will be able to walk across. They are lead by a boy named Johann, now the question is he a true or false prophet. Luca’s journey is now delayed as he is to make an inquisition to determine what Johann’s end goal is.

This was an interesting second installment for this series. You learn more about the secret order of darkness and its mysterious leader (I have some guesses as to his motivations) and you see Luca grow as he begins to question things both about the order and the direction his life is headed. Since Luca has not taken his vows to become a priest you see him fighting his path and his feelings for Isolde. Isolde is conflicted between what she wants and what she was raised to believe how a Lady should always act propriety and her heart seem to be at odds

I am interested to see what happens in the third book. I can’t decide if this is going to become a romance heavy story since you are beginning to see some of the characters pair off.

My Rating: /53 starsFollow me on other platforms:
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Review: Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson *Pride and Prejudice Vibes*

Blackmoore 
Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson
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Synopsis
Kate Worthington knows her heart and she knows she will never marry. Her plan is to travel to India instead—if only to find peace for her restless spirit and to escape the family she abhors. But Kate’s meddlesome mother has other plans. She makes a bargain with Kate: India, yes, but only after Kate has secured—and rejected—three marriage proposals.

Kate journeys to the stately manor of Blackmoore determined to fulfill her end of the bargain and enlists the help of her dearest childhood friend, Henry Delafield. But when it comes to matters of love, bargains are meaningless and plans are changeable. There on the wild lands of Blackmoore, Kate must face the truth that has kept her heart captive. Will the proposal she is determined to reject actually be the one thing that will set her heart free?

Set in Northern England in 1820, Blackmoore is a Regency romance that tells the story of a young woman struggling to learn how to follow her heart. It is Wuthering Heights meets Little Women with a delicious must-read twist.

What I thought
Blackmoore is a Historical Fiction (Proper Romance) and takes place during the Regency era. Kate who is 18 has decided that she will never marry (explanation comes late in the book so I can’t go into it here). Henry will one day inherit Blackmoore and the sicker his grandfather gets the closer that day will come.  Kate and Sylvia,Henry’s little sister, have been friends since they were young. Every summer Henry and Sylvia would disappear to to Blackmoore for the summer and Kate would be left behind.  She wanted to go to Blackmoore more than anything, and this summer Henry is taking Kate with him. 

This was such a cute story you can tell from the beginning who the romance was going to be between. What you do not know is why Kate refuses to admit her feelings. with the potential of Henry marring whom his mother has chosen has make Kate want to go to India with her aunt. The way you learn the back story is by sections dedicated to the specific instance that had an effect on Kate. I really liked the way that it was handled it was not  at all jarring.

I got Pride and Prejudice Vibes from this book. If you know the story you will be able to pick up on some of the nods. I don’t know if they were intentional but they were there none the less.

In end if you like these kind of stories then you need to read this one. Yes Kate can be really annoying, but oh to be young and in love.

My Rating: /55 Stars

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Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
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Synopsis
Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

What I thought

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a young adult historical fiction novel.  In this story you follow Monty who is accompanied by his best friend Percy and his sister Felicity on on his grand tour. When he returns home he will be expected to take over his family’s estate.

I loved this book.  At first I was not sold on it, but as I heard others talk about it I wanted to give it a try. I am very happy that I did.  There were times that I found myself laughing out loud to some of the witty things that were said.  I loved how this story touched on so many things. One of the undertones was abuse, and they way that it was handled by the other characters was on point not once did they excuse it. For personal reasons this meant a lot to me. Those around Monty repeatedly told him it wasn’t okay even when he said he deserved it. I know that the abuse in this book is never talked about when people review it, but it explains a lot of what Monty does and how he thinks about himself. Yes he is in love with his best friend but he thinks that he does not deserve him so he does really stupid things that makes you want to shake him and say just stop and open your eyes. (yes I realize shaking him isn’t right but you know what I mean).

The love story is a slow burn and I really enjoyed it.  You know from the beginning that they are in love with each other but they do not know this, so you get to watch the whole thing bloom. The transformation is just beautiful.

I absolutely loved Facility, she was the perfect balance for Monty. He could be so over the top and she was so down to earth. I really can not wait for the next book in this world since she is the lead in it.

My Rating: /5

5 Stars

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Review: Notes of Magic by Jessica Bucher

Notes of Magic
Notes of Magic
by Jessica Bucher
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Synopsis
Enchanted city. Old magic. New threat.

Taq, a young fiddler, comes to Prague with dreams of joining the Bohemians—a band of immortal, magic-wielding street performers. With a mission to right past wrongs, things don’t go as planned when he meets the beautiful performer, Katia. Now, he must decide if revealing his secret is worth losing her heart.

Katia has spent one hundred years chained to the city, broken-hearted and silent,
waiting for her chance to be free. But with an impending threat on Bohemia itself and a mysterious newcomer, peace is starting look farther than ever. Now she must decide if she should trust Taq or put her faith in the one who broke her heart—the tyrannical Magistrate of Bohemia.
Curses can be broken, but at what cost?

What I thought
I received an e-copy of the story for an honest review.  I enjoyed it so much that I purchased a physical copy. 

Notes of Magic is the first book in a young adult fantasy series. The story takes place in a futuristic Prague. People with Magic come to Prague (Bohemia) for the Magistrate’s protection. The Bohemians trade 100 years of their life for protection and Immortality during that time, in exchange, they perform on the city streets using their gifts whether they be by performing magic tricks or playing music. The two main POV’s are Katia and Taq. Taq had traveled to Bohemia to make things right. Katia is not happy and is counting down her remaining days until she is free.  The last thing either of them expected was to fall for each other.

I loved the atmosphere of old-world Prague. The love story is very cute. Katia is very naive but if you were stuck at 17 for 99 years…and the Bohemians as a whole are very sheltered by their leader (The Magistrate). The Magistrate shelters them out of fear because of what he went through what he had to endure. The one main downfall that I had with the book is the story is sold as being steampunk; however, it only has one character that has any steampunk elements and these were the only steampunk elements present in the story. I was really bumbed out about it because that was what really sold me on the book.  I really hope that there are more steampunk characters in the future books in this series.

All in All, it was still a good read and I will be continuing on with book 2.

My Rating: /5

4 Stars

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