Duelist Return in “Legends and Liars”

25066585Legends and Liars by Julia Knight
Orbit: November 10, 2015
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Free From Library

The view was nice, but the food was bad

So Legends and Liars pretty much picked up after the ending of Swords and Scoundrels. I had felt rather ambivalent about Swords and Scoundrels and I can’t say that Legends and Liars really changed my mind. The characterization continuing to feel a bit weak and there was an over abundance of play-by-play description of all the fighting, which is never going to be my thing.

In Swords and Scoundrels, Kacha and Vocho fled the city of Reyes and into enemy territory. However, even in Ikaras the famed duelist are not safe. When the powers that rule Ikaras decide to move against Reyes, Kacha and Vocho have to decide whether or not they should lend a hand to save the city that has betrayed them. (more…)

Family Adventure in “Swords and Scoundrels”

24819531Swords and Scoundrels by Julia Knight
Orbit: October 6, 2015
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Free From Library

Beach Vacation

In all honesty I picked up Swords and Scoundrels because of the cover; seriously it looks badass. When I read the description I was even more intrigued. Here we have two siblings, Kacha and Vocho who are disgraced duelists, exiled from the guild for Vocho’s apparent murder of a priest, whom they were supposed to be guarding. Now having taken to a life of crime, Kacha and Vocho find themselves embroiled in a larger conspiracy when they rob the wrong carriage and come to the attention of dangerous men. (more…)

Happily Ever After for “The Hunter”

25398324The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne
St. Martin’s: February 2, 2016
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Free From Publisher

I’d go there again!

The Hunter is the follow-up to the much-hyped The Highwayman. I think I was in the minority camp with the previous book: I didn’t love The Highwayman (gasp!). And, initially when I started The Hunter I didn’t think that I would like it either. Morally ambiguous characters in the romance genre don’t really do it for me. But, The Hunter took me by surprise as the author transformed a cold-blooded assassin into a romance hero, and it…worked. Only in romancelandia does an assassin get a happily ever after. But, what really won me over was the author’s sensual style of writing and the author’s unique turns of phrase. I’ll be the first to admit that I read A LOT of historical romance, and they all start to blend together after awhile. With The Hunter I realized that I was reading something refreshingly different, and for that, I found The Hunter to be a really good read. (more…)

The Darkly Funny “Intern’s Handbook”

18144009The Intern’s Handbook by Shane Kuhn
Simon & Schuster: April 8, 2014 (Thriller)

I’d go there again!

So I picked up The Intern’s Handbook on a whim since I was in need of a new audiobook for the daily commute, and it totally and completely exceeded expectations. Not only was this darkly funny and action packed, but combined with pitch-perfect narration, it was one enjoyable listen.

John Lago is twenty-four and with his upcoming twenty-fifth birthday he’s nearing the age of retirement. Now what job has forced retirement at the age of twenty-five? Why, being an intern, of course. After all, “it is the cutoff point at which people begin to question anyone who would be willing to work for free” (p. 10) or at the very least call attention to the fact that you’re a “loser” and you absolutely do not want to call attention to yourself. John, you see, is a very special kind of intern. (more…)

Playwrights and the American Revolution: “Mistress Firebrand”

22450833Mistress Firebrand by Donna Thorland
NAL Trade: March 3, 2015 (Historical Fiction)*

I’d go there again! vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

Mistress Firebrand is the third in Thorland’s Renegades of the Revolution, a series that puts a romantic spin on the American Revolution. That said, despite the romance element in Mistress Firebrand, this in no way sugarcoats the challenges faced by people during this period. In particular, I was struck by the challenges faced be the heroine, Jennifer Leighton, an actress trying to make her way as a playwright. Unfortunately, being an independent and ambitious young woman during this time is not a path that is carved smoothly and you sense the almost sinister atmosphere that surrounds Jennifer in many of the decisions that she will be forced to make.

Mistress Firebrand is set in New York in 1775, right in the midst of the American Revolution. Jennifer Leighton has come to the city to stay with her aunt, a notorious and renowned actress who has fled scandal in England. Jenny has been writing plays for one of the playhouses in New York; however, with the revolution going on, the playhouses are being hit hard. What Jenny needs is a patron, and who happens to be in town, John Burgoyne, an English military leader who has great influence in the acting communities in England. Knowing that there is no future for a playwright in America, Jenny decides that she must obtain patronage from Burgoyne and make her way to England.

When Burgoyne receives Jenny’s invitation to see Jenny act, he considers it a different kind of invitation. Yet his protector, Severin Devere, has no intention of letting Burgoyne off his docked ship and into the hands of the Liberty Boys, so Devere is sent to fetch Jenny instead. Unfortunately, this invitation sets in motion some rather severe consequences, forcing Jenny and Severin, devoted spy to England, to make some hard decisions. (more…)

The Adventure Continues for the Spy-in-Training: “Curtsies & Conspiracies”

15723286Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: November 5, 2013 (Young Adult; Steampunk)

My rating: Beach vacation vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

Curtsies & Conspiracies is Carriger’s second book in her YA Finishing School series. Sophronia, our intrepid spy-in-training, has settled into life at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality; however, that’s not to say that school life has become routine. In fact, Sophronia’s closest friend, Dimity, faces kidnapping and it seems that the teachers are all bent on some sort of conspiracy. Never a dull day at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s.

Like the first book, Etiquette & Espionage, I also listened to this one on audiobook. Once again, I have to say that the narration was inspired. Moria Quirk really brings life to her narration immersing the listener right into Carriger’s paranormal world. Quirk’s narration just makes this a really fun read. (more…)

“Raven Flight” Doesn’t Really Take Off

17237161Raven Flight by Juliet Marillier
Knopf Books for Young Reader: July 9, 2013 (Young Adult; Fantasy)

My rating: Beach vacation vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

Raven Flight is the second in Juliet Marillier’s Shadowfell trilogy. In book one, Neryn discovered she was a Caller, one who possesses the gifts to call the Good Folk forward to fight on the side of the humans. It was a rough go for Neryn. She didn’t know who to trust or even if she wanted to be the Caller.

In Raven Flight Neryn has come to terms with her role as the Caller and it’s now time for her to hone her gifts. She’s used her ability in the past, but her lack of training makes her a danger to those around her. To learn more about her abilities Neryn will need to go on a journey and learn from the four Guardians. The journey is long and time is running short. (more…)

A New Kind of Finishing School in “Etiquette & Espionage”

10874177Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: February 5, 2013 (Young Adult; Steampunk)

My rating: Beach vacation vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

Etiquette & Espionage is my latest foray into the world of audiobooks, and I gotta say, after finishing this one I feel that I should be speaking in a British accent.

Carriger’s YA novel was a lot of fun! I had read her adult mystery, Soulless, but never finished the series. The YA book caught my eye and brought back everything I enjoyed about Soulless.

Set in the same world as Soulless, Etiquette & Espionage focuses on Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing School for Young Ladies of Quality. However, when Miss Sophronia Temminnick is unexpectedly enrolled, she soon finds out there is a great deal more involved in “finishing” than the normal expectations for young ladies. It seems Mademoiselle Geraldine’s is a school training it’s young charges to become not only ladies, but intelligencers as well; not even the headmistress knows. (more…)

Not your average heroes: “The Young Elites”

17984141The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Putnam Books for Young Readers, October 7, 2014 (Young Adult; Fantasy)*

My rating: I’d go there again! (3.5/5)

The Young Elites was an unusual story set in a world that I was not expecting. I had heard of the author’s Legend trilogy and assumed that The Young Elites would also fit into that futuristic, dystopian genre. I am very glad that I was wrong. I enjoy teen dystopias, but at the moment, I think the market is flooded with them, so The Young Elites is a refreshing change. While The Young Elites is definitely a departure from the futuristic dystopia, it still retains many elements that I think will appeal to fans of that genre. There’s government control, racism and political machinations, what more could a dystopian fan ask for? Perhaps a unique new historical setting?

The Young Elites does have a wonderful historical setting that is unexpected and works completely with the themes that the author explores here. In this world a plague has come and gone, leaving many of the children afflicted with extraordinary abilities. As expected, those who have developed these abilities are looked upon with both disgust and opportunity. (more…)

Summer Vacation Itinerary: Nine Adventures

I always wish I had more time to read in the summer, but there are so many other attractions! When I get the chance, though, I’ll be reading these:

Strange Chemistry, a YA imprint of Angry Robot Books, has been discontinued. Which is why I finally purchased actual, new, books: The Assassin’s Curse duology by Cassandra Rose Clarke, published by Strange Chemistry. I’ve heard great reviews from Jaclyn and others, so obviously I have to try it. And it wasn’t too hard to rationalize the purchase.

The Assassin's Curse (The Assassin's Curse #1)

The Pirate's Wish (The Assassin's Curse #2)

I’ve been thinking about Madeleine E. Robin‘s Sarah Tolerance series for ages, and as I haven’t read the third one, The Sleeping Partner, and I can’t find the first two at the library (another sad lack in libraryland), these are next on my to-buy-list. Sarah Tolerance is a swashbuckling, pants-wearing, crime-solving woman in a slightly altered 19th century. Think Sebastian St. Cyr, but female. With a little fantasy, a little mystery, and some serious fighting, this will make corn fields breeze by on your road trip.

The Sleeping Partner (Sarah Tolerance #3)

Alias Hook, by Lisa Jensen. Peter Pan, from Hook’s perspective. Enough said? Hook is not an evil villain, but a misguided, un-self-reflective, childish adult, who has some growing up to do. I’m reading this one now, and it’s the ultimate summer reading, with the top, adventure-story layer and the deeper, growing-up layer readers can choose to digest.

Alias Hook (more…)