Shimmer and Burn – Mary Taranta

Shimmer and BurnFrom the publisher, “Faris grew up fighting to survive in the slums of Brindaigel while caring for her sister, Cadence. But when Cadence is caught trying to flee the kingdom and is sold into slavery, Faris reluctantly agrees to a lucrative scheme to buy her back, inadvertently binding herself to the power-hungry Princess Bryn, who wants to steal her father’s throne.

Now Faris must smuggle stolen magic into neighboring Avinea to incite its prince to alliance—magic that addicts in the war-torn country can sense in her blood and can steal with a touch. She and Bryn turn to a handsome traveling magician, North, who offers protection from Avinea’s many dangers, but he cannot save Faris from Bryn’s cruelty as she leverages Cadence’s freedom to force Faris to do anything—or kill anyone—she asks. Yet Faris is as fierce as Bryn, and even as she finds herself falling for North, she develops schemes of her own.

With the fate of kingdoms at stake, Faris, Bryn, and North maneuver through a dangerous game of magical and political machinations, where lives can be destroyed—or saved—with only a touch.”

This nonstop political fantasy does not let the reader catch a breath!  On the first page, when Faris was only 6, her mother stabbed her.  Next, we are in the sewers for a dramatic escape gone horribly wrong.  Faris is a fantastic heroine, strong yet vulnerable and refuses to be the pawn that she seems to be to just about everyone.  North is the brave and gallant hero, doing his very best and against great odds.  There are no mis-steps in this book.  The sequel, Splendor and Spark will be published in the Summer of 2018.  I am eager to read what is next for Faris and North.  Highly recommend!

eGalley review                                                    Publication date 8.8.17

Posted in fantasy, highly recommend, Uncategorized | Tagged

The Last Tudor – Philippa Gregory

the Last TudorJane, Katherine, Mary, the Grey daughters, were very unlike. Jane was quiet, religious, very intelligent. Katherine was the beauty, happy, loving life and wanting to experience everything it had to offer. Mary, the lovely little dwarf, stayed carefully in the background, watching everything, keeping secrets. The girls should have led uneventful, luxurious, lives. But that was not to be, for they were cousins to Queen Elizabeth, granddaughters to the sister of Henry VIII, heirs to the throne.

The book is told in three parts, three voices, each of the girls having their say. As usual, Gregory painted an historically accurate background and made the characters live. These women were new to me. Of course, I’d heard about the Nine Days Queen, Jane Grey, but knew very little about her, and nothing of the sisters. I found this tragic story to be very interesting.

eGalley review                                     Publication date 8.8.17

Posted in adult, biography, historical fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged

The Wood – Chelsea Bobulski

The WoodFrom the publisher, “When Winter’s dad goes missing during his nightly patrol of the wood, it falls to her to patrol the time portals and protect the travelers who slip through them.  Winter can’t help but think there’s more to her dad’s disappearance than she’s being told.  She soon finds a young man traveling in the wood named Henry who knows more than he should.  He believes if they can work together to find his missing parents, they could discover the truth about Winter’s dad.  The wood is poisoned, changing into something sinister – torturing travelers lost in it.  Winter must put her trust in Henry in order to find the truth and those they’ve lost.”

I found the premise interesting and visioned a Wood with time portals similar to Narnia’s world puddles.  The action in the Wood was good and the struggle that Winter and her father faced with being condemned to a future as a guardian of the Wood was well portrayed.  However, bits of the story bogged down.  The high school interactions really weren’t necessary – I wanted to get back to the Wood and the plots that lurked there.  The pages spent on Henry’s (from several hundred years in the past) discovering modern amenities were nothing new.  This is not a time-travel book, but an evil-goings on in a Wood.  Not horror, not really suspense, more adventure/personal struggles/mystery.

eGalley review                                    Publication date 8.1.17

Posted in fantasy, mystery, Uncategorized

The Half-Drowned King – Linnea Hartsuyker

The Half-Drowned KingRagnvald knew he would drown, and it would not be a terrible death, better than dying from the wound in his face. The cold had penetrated his body. It would not be long now. Then he felt something pull on his ankle, pulling him down into the deep, cold fjord. He was in a great hall and saw sea maidens who brought food and drink. The doors of the hall opened and a golden wolf came in. Ragnvald touched its fur and it was warm, so warm. He wanted to embrace the wolf, but something caught his ankle and he struggled against the hands that pulled him from the water. The story takes place in ninth century Norway, where many kings ruled over their small holdings. It is based on the saga of Harald Fairhair, written in the thirteenth century. Ragnvald is trying to avenge the wrongs of his stepfather. His sister, Svanhild, is escaping from an unwanted marriage. Ragnvald’s story is of blood-soaked battles and betrayals as it follows the path of Harald seeking to unite Norway. I much preferred Svanhild’s story, a story of a strong-willed woman, unwilling to submit and live as a farm wife. The book captures the mindset of a people who were accustomed to hardship and brutality and it is filled with scenes of the beautiful Norwegian landscape, the deep fjords, the majestic mountains. I liked it very much and am eagerly awaiting the second volume.

eGalley review                                                 Publication date 8.1.17

Posted in historical fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

The Painted Queen – Elizabeth Peters, Joan Hess

The Painted QueenAfter a long and tiring trip, Amelia and Emerson are at last in Cairo, settling into their usual rooms at Shepheard’s. At least Amelia is settling in.  Emerson has been summoned to the presence of Maspero, director of the Service des Antiquites. A bath seemed most appropriate and Amelia was just sinking into a pile of scented bubbles when the door opened and a large man burst in, said “Murder!”, and fell, the knife still in his back. Of course this sort of thing seems to happen to Amelia with regularity, so she was not unduly alarmed. It is 1912, and Emerson has been asked to continue with an excavation in Amarna which had been abandoned. There they uncover the workshop of the sculptor Thutmose and the bust of Nefertiti, which soon disappears. As they search for the bust, danger appears on all fronts. It was great to have one last adventure with Amelia Peabody. Barbara Mertz (aka Elizabeth Peters) died in 2013 while working on The Painted Queen. There were extensive notes, the plot was developed to a certain point, and she had written the final page. Joan Hess, her dear friend and mystery writer, completed the book with the help of archaeologist Dr. Sallima Ikram. She did a remarkable job, completely capturing the style of Peters, but this was a bittersweet read.

eGalley review                                                  Publication date 7.25.17

Posted in adult, historical fiction, mystery, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

The Lying Game – Ruth Ware

The Lying GameFatima, Thea and Isabel were living their lives.  Trying to keep their lives normal and in order.  Trying to forget the secret they shared. Then the text came on each of their phones, the text they hoped they would never get . . . ”I need you”. And they knew it was from Kate, and they knew they had to go. The four had been best friends at boarding school. They were rebellious, outrageous, always finding ways to break the rules and not get caught (mostly). And they played the Lying Game, making people believe almost anything. It came with strict rules, the most important being, never lie to each other. Ruth Ware has done it again. This beautifully crafted story has characters with depth, a plot that moves and never lets your interest stray, a setting on the cliffs of the English Channel. It is a book that can’t be put down, a book that will haunt you for a long time. Highly recommend.

eGalley review                                                       Publication date 7.25.17

Posted in adult, highly recommend, mystery, Uncategorized | Tagged

What Goes Up – Katie Kennedy

What Goes UpFrom the publisher, “Rosa and Eddie are among hundreds of teens applying to NASA’s mysterious Interworlds Agency. They’re not exactly sure what the top-secret program entails, but they know they want in. Rosa has her brilliant parents’ legacies to live up to, and Eddie has nowhere else to go–he’s certainly not going to stick around and wait for his violent father to get out of jail. Even if they are selected, they have no idea what lies in store. But first they have to make it through round after round of crazy-competitive testing.

And then something happens that even NASA’s scientists couldn’t predict . . .”

The competitions the teens went through were the best part of the book.  It was fun to watch how Eddie and Rosa reacted and Trevor is a fantastic third-wheel.  I really enjoyed the author’s Learning to Swear in America and once again, the author shines in developing interesting, witty, humorous and brave characters.  Oddly, I’m fine with multiple universe theories but the aerial stunts, with teens getting in and out of moving aircraft, bother me.  That’s minor though.  This is a fun, engaging read and I look forward to more from the author.

eGalley review                                                       Publication date 7.18.17

Posted in science fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,