Joint Review

In which Jac and Stacey both share similar opinions of books we’ve both read

Joint Review: “Tower of Thorns”

22567177Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier
Roc: November 3, 2015
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Review Source: free from publisher.

Last year, Jaclyn read and loved Dreamer’s Pool. Stacey was less enthralled but has always been a big fan of Marillier. When the chance to read the second title in the Blackthorn & Grim series arrived, both jumped on it. For Jaclyn, it was an outstanding and beautiful read. For Stacey…

Read on for our full thoughts on the book!

The Book…

Disillusioned healer Blackthorn and her companion, Grim, have settled in Dalriada to wait out the seven years of Blackthorn’s bond to her fey mentor, hoping to avoid any dire challenges. But trouble has a way of seeking out Blackthorn and Grim.

Lady Geiléis, a noblewoman from the northern border, has asked for the prince of Dalriada’s help in expelling a howling creature from an old tower on her land—one surrounded by an impenetrable hedge of thorns. Casting a blight over the entire district, and impossible to drive out by ordinary means, it threatens both the safety and the sanity of all who live nearby. With no ready solutions to offer, the prince consults Blackthorn and Grim.

As Blackthorn and Grim begin to put the pieces of this puzzle together, it’s apparent that a powerful adversary is working behind the scenes. Their quest is about to become a life and death struggle—a conflict in which even the closest of friends can find themselves on opposite sides. (more…)

In Which We Jointly Review “I Spy a Duke” – and find it falls short of expectations

I Spy a DukeI Spy a Duke by Erica Monroe
Quillfire Publishing: October 5th, 2015 (Historical Romance)

Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley

At long last, another joint review! Jaclyn and I compete for your attention in this post.

We had high hopes for this one, but this was a bit of a dud for both of us. Do you agree with us? Disagree? What did you think of I Spy a Duke?

If you were hoping for a duel, or a joint review in which we at least both liked the book, don’t despair! We’ll have another joint post coming up in which we review Juliet Marillier’s Tower of Thorns.

The Book…

In the first in an adventurous new series, USA Today Bestselling Author Erica Monroe introduces the Covert Heiresses: four women who by day are the talk of the ton, and by night England’s top spies.

She wants revenge…

When bluestocking Vivian Loren becomes the governess for the wealthy Spencer family, she’s searching for clues about the murder of her brother, not a husband. But Vivian didn’t count on James Spencer, the infuriatingly handsome Duke of Abermont.

He needs a wife…

As head of Britain’s elite intelligence agency, James has no time to woo a wife. When he discovers Vivian’s quest for answers has made her a pawn in a treacherous plot, James realizes they can help each other. She’ll become his duchess, and he’ll keep her safe from one of Napoleon’s deadliest spies.

What begins as a marriage of convenience quickly becomes anything but, as they find out love is the most dangerous mission of all.

(more…)

Joint Review: “Uprooted” Exceeds Expectations

22544764Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Del Rey: May 19, 2015 (Fantasy Romance; Retellings)*

The Book…

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

The Outstanding Adventure…

Uprooted was a wonderful read, in fact, both Stacey and I rated this one an outstanding adventure! Of course, that doesn’t mean that we didn’t love different things about the book. (more…)

Joint Review: “The Eterna Files” Falls Flat

22238164The Eterna Files by Leanna Renee Hieber
Tor: February 3, 2014 (Steampunk)*

The view was nice, but the food was bad vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

Jaclyn’s Review

I really liked the idea behind The Eterna Files. Secret government organization in Victorian England? Yes, please! Unfortunately, this one missed the mark for me. Some of the characters were interesting, but I never felt that I spent enough time with them to truly get invested in their stories.

Harold Spire has been appointed by Queen Victoria to Special Branch Division Omega, and he’s not happy about it. Spire had been in the midst of a very difficult case and he doesn’t want to let it go unsolved to lead a secret branch of the government that’s bent on investigation the extraordinary. He does not believe in that sort of thing. Spire’s first order of business is to investigate the supposed discovery of the Eterna Compound. Apparently it grants immortality, and if the Americans have it, the British definitely want to get their hands on it. (more…)

Somewhere in France – A Joint Review

18090117Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson
William Morrow & Company, December 31, 2013 (Historical Fiction)*

Stacey and I were lucky enough to receive advance copies of this wonderful book at the same time, so naturally we decided it was an opportune time to do another joint review.

Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford, or Lily, as she prefers to be called, is trapped by her status in life. Her family expects no more from her than a well-connected marriage. While Lily dreams of more, she has no idea how to go after what she wants: an education, an occupation, and a life with meaning. However, when war breaks, Lily finally finds the impetus she needs to overthrow her parents’ constraints. With perseverance, she obtains employment as an ambulance driver and contrives to get herself stationed near her brother’s best friend, Robbie Fraser.

Robbie is surgeon of low (Scottish!) birth working near the front lines. After Robbie gets thrown out of a party at Lily’s parents’ house, he drops out of Lily’s life. When she begins her search for purpose and work to help the war efforts, they become reacquainted. Robbie and Lily start up a correspondence at beginning of the war, and while he admires her commitment, he’s thrown for a loop when Lily shows up at his hospital, which is much closer to danger than he would like Lily to be. Robbie struggles with his growing feelings for Lily because of his fear for her safety but also because of their difference in social station. He wonders what will happen when the war ends. Will Lily return to her parents and her life of privilege? Would it be better to simply end things before they get a chance to begin? (more…)

Joint Review: we love Blackmoore

15795628Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Date: September 9th, 2013
Genre: Historical Romance; Young Adult
Source: NetGalley

Blackmoore marks the inaugural joint review between Stacey and me. For the most part, we have very similar taste in books; however, there are some books we differ in opinion. Happily, Blackmoore is not one of those books. We both loved this one! But there are, of course, different things that we enjoyed about it.

Kate Worthington longs to escape her scandalous family and visit her close friends’ home, Blackmoore. For as long as she has known Henry and his sister, Sylvia Delafield, she has waited for them during the summer when they inhabit Henry’s inheritance, Blackmoore. Henry has promised to bring Kate there, and in July 1820, it seems Kate is finally going to Blackmoore.

Unfortunately for Kate, her manipulative mother decides to revoke her permission for the trip, unless Kate agrees to a bargain. If Kate receives three marriage proposals while at Blackmoore her mother will not only allow her to go, but will also allow her to travel to India with Kate’s aunt. Yet when Kate arrives at Blackmoore, she receives a much colder welcome than expected.

Jaclyn’s Adventure:

Rating: I’d go there again!

I completely adored this “proper romance.” I haven’t read Donaldson’s Edenbrook but you can guarantee that is now going on my reading list.

Kate was a wonderful character. She was so obviously not perfect, but that was what made her such a fantastic character. She was completely trapped in her station in life. She wanted freedom, and you could just feel the cage that was wrapping around her. She was doing the best that she could with the limited options available to her.

And the romance. Seriously, I had no idea that sweet romances could be written in such an engaging and sensual way. I just haven’t come across novels that have been labeled “Christian” or “clean” that have this kind of emotion. The longing between Henry and Kate was so evident, even on Henry’s part, which is difficult considering that the novel is from Kate’s point of view. I loved the fact that both Kate and Henry were willing to make sacrifices for each other’s happiness, although I have to admit I felt they were a little over dramatic, but such is young love.

So why not five stars? I really wanted to give this one a five star review and I would have had the ending been a tad more fleshed out. For the entire book we have this fantastic and drawn out relationship between Kate and Henry. They’re star crossed lovers and it seems that they’ll never get their happily ever after. But, one chapter solves this problem. One chapter! I don’t want to spoil what happens, but I was some what dissatisfied with the quick resolution, and I would have liked to know what happened with Henry and Kate’s mothers, who couldn’t have been more manipulative throughout the story. The resolution just seemed a little quick to me. But, do not let this stop you from reading this because the lead up was so engaging, I could barely put the book down.

Ultimately, this is a fantastic historical romance that I think would also appeal to teens and for those who aren’t fans of the steamy romances in that section of the library. There is great characterization here and a beautiful atmospheric setting that will grab you from the first chapter.

Stacey’s Adventure:

Rating: I’d go there again! Or maybe even Outstanding Adventure

Most of the story is actually told through flashbacks, as Kitty tells her readers about her childhood, and explains why Blackmoore means so much to her. At first, I was exasperated by the flashbacks. In general, I find flashbacks distracting and even as negative techniques, that take away from the drama and speed of the main plot. But the masterful way the author reveals the growing and changing relationships between the three young people (Our protagonist, who in my notes is Kitty, and her friends Henry and Sophia), and especially between Henry and Kitty, soon had me anticipating each flashback.

The romance is sweet and lovely, slow and dramatic. Henry is my favorite kind of hero – patient, kind and subtle but honest with himself about his feelings. Kitty spends most of the novel being oblivious and naive, but she does a lot of growing up over the course of the book. Each character lives in his or her own head, unaware of the other’s feelings. I LOVE how Henry’s feelings for Kitty are slowly revealed to the reader as she remembers the ways that he taken care of her her whole life, and I really enjoyed Kitty’s journey to self-awareness.

The story is very simple, in that the history between the neighboring families is vague and obscure, and Kitty’s desire to travel to India with her aunt is pretty nebulous. The focus is truly on the budding romance between Kitty and Henry. I only vaguely remember the ending being abrupt, I was so pleased with the rest of it. However, the romance makes up for these shortcomings, in my opinion. Like Jaclyn, you can bet all books by Julianne Donaldson are going on my to-read list, starting with Edenbrooke.

Read-Alikes:

An Inquiry Into Love and Death Wildwood Dancing (Wildwood #1)A Tryst with TroubleShades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories #1)Shadows on the NileThe Stanforth Secrets (Lovers and Ladies #1)The Caged GravesArabella