A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess


A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
Random House: September 20, 2016
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Source: Free From Library

The view was nice, but the food was bad.

A Shadow Bright and Burning is a YA historical fantasy novel and while entertaining, I didn’t think that Bright and Burning offered readers anything new. We’ve got some romance and some personal turmoil being the chosen one. Both of which many will recognize if anyone’s pictured up a fantastical YA read at some point in the recent past.

Miss Henrietta Howell is a young lady with a secret. Henrietta can control and create fire, something that she is struggling to conceal. After all there are no lady sorcerers anymore, not since the last one started a war. Naturally, Henrietta is discovered. Instead of punishment, Henrietta is thought to be the chosen one, prophesied to end the war with Ancients. While not everyone is convinced, Henrietta is taken to London to study, learning things about herself, her past, and those closest to her. (more…)

Monstress: Awakening

Monstress, Vol. 1: The Awakening by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda
Image Comics: July 19, 2016
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Free From Publisher

I’d go there again!

Monstress is the first volume in a a historical fantasy graphic novel series, and it’s amazing. Like, really amazing. The artwork is gorgeous and the storyline is compelling and mysterious. Fantasy fans out there will rejoice at the sheer level of complexity of the world that has been created in this graphic novel.

Maika is a teenage girl who’s out for revenge. She orchestrates her own capture in order to infiltrate those she believes to have the information that she needs. Something has happened to Maika and she finds herself changing, becoming more violent as she’s influenced by an unknown force. Maika struggles to control the monster that is living inside her, but it’s a constant struggle and at this point Maika doesn’t have much control over the mysterious creature the compels her to do things she wouldn’t otherwise. (more…)

Rook – Dystopian Scarlet Pimpernel

rookRook by Sharon Cameron
Scholastic: April 28, 2015 (Young Adult / Dystopia)*

I’ll go there again!
suitcase suitcase suitcase suitcase

A re-imagined The Scarlet Pimpernel, Rook wraps the classic tale of espionage, heroism, and romance in the packaging of a futuristic, dystopian and steampunk Europe in the middle of a new French Revolution.

The world-building is grounded in the historical events of the French Revolution and the fictional events in The Scarlet Pimpernel. There is a believable and consistent explanation for the unsettled, broken state of the world (and the city-sized crater in Paris). Paris, dubbed the Sunken City on account of the crater, is a hotbed of political intrigue and revolution. The political outline will be familiar to any who studied the French Revolution in school. The twist: some believe technology is responsible for the ills of their society, while others believe it has the power to transform lives in a good way. Overall, technology has been outlawed in Europe.


An Unusual Heroine in “The Diabolical Miss Hyde”

22308742The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr
Harper Voyage: February 10, 2015 (Steampunk)*

Beach vacation vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

The Diabolical Miss Hyde is the first in a steampunk series, and it’s a debut that I’m not at all certain about. I really liked the atmosphere and the extension of the Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde text, but there were a couple of things that I had issues with.

Dr. Eliza Jekyll is the daughter of the famous Doctor Jekyll. Her father has since died and Eliza has also set herself up as a doctor. At present she works with the police as it’s difficult for a woman to find and retain patients in Victorian England. However, Eliza has one very large secret. Like her father, Eliza also has an alter ego, her’s is Lizzie Hyde.

Lizzie Hyde is everything that Eliza is not. She’s not proper or worried about appearances. When she gets free of Eliza she makes the most of her freedom with a night on the town. However, when Eliza finds herself at risk during an investigation, it’s Lizzie that she just might have to rely on to help her. If only she didn’t have to worry about being under investigation herself. (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…)

Joint Review: Gunpowder Alchemy

22837890Gunpowder Alchemy by Jeannie Lin (The Gunpowder Chronicles #1)
InterMix: November 18, 2014 (Steampunk)*

In 1842, the gunpowder might of China’s Qing Dynasty fell to Britain’s steam engines. Furious, the Emperor ordered the death of his engineers—and killed China’s best chance of fighting back…

Since her father’s execution eight years ago, Jin Soling kept her family from falling into poverty. But her meager savings are running out, leaving her with no choice but to sell the last of her father’s possessions—her last memento of him.

Only, while attempting to find a buyer, Soling is caught and brought before the Crown Prince. Unlike his father, the Emperor, the Prince knows that the only chance of expelling the English invaders is to once again unite China’s cleverest minds to create fantastic weapons. He also realizes that Soling is the one person who could convince her father’s former allies—many who have turned rebel—to once again work for the Empire. He promises to restore her family name if she’ll help him in his cause.

But after the betrayal of her family all those years ago, Soling is unsure if she can trust anyone in the Forbidden City—even if her heart is longing to believe in the engineer with a hidden past who was once meant to be her husband… (more…)

Journey Down the Nile in ‘The Sacred River’

17729563The Sacred River by Wendy Wallace
Scribner, July 4, 2014 (Historical)*

My Rating: I’d go there again (4/5)

The Sacred River was a lovely historical novel, beautifully written, and totally evocative of colonial Egypt. It was a somber novel, filled with the themes of death; however, it ends with rebirth, bringing a sense of hope to the final chapters.

The novel focuses on a short period for three very different, but related women. First, we have Harriet Heron, a young woman, who has been bedridden for most of her life due to asthma. When her doctor hints that there’s very little that he can do for her, Harriet begs him to recommend to her parents that she should travel to a warmer climate to help her breathing. Harriet has long had a fascination with Egypt and would love to explore the city of Thebes before she dies.

Harriet’s mother, Louisa, is convinced that traveling to Egypt will help her daughter so she cautiously takes on the adventure without the accompaniment of her husband. What Louisa doesn’t count on is the resurrection of her past during the journey. A past she desperately doesn’t want anyone to kow about.

Lastly, Louisa’s sister-in-law and Harriet’s aunt, Yael, is also joining the ladies on the journey to Egypt. Yael is the last person to ever want to go on a spontaneous adventure, but her brother insists and Yael finds herself growing in the foreign city in an unexpected way. A staunch charity worker and devout woman, Yael finds herself learning much about the city and gaining a sense of freedom that she’s never before experienced. (more…)

Ruin and Rising – It all comes to an end

14061957Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha #3)
Henry Holt & Co., June 17, 2014 (Young Adult; Fantasy)

My rating: Outstanding Adventure (5/5)

Ruin and Rising was one of my most anticipated reads this summer. The more reviews I read about it, the more eager I was to get my hands on a copy. There was no question of waiting for my library to order a copy – I was getting myself to the bookstore on release day. And folks, the hype lived up to the book. This was a fantastic and satisfying conclusion to a trilogy. The main character did not die (Allegiant, you know I’m looking at you) and all of the complications that were thrown Alina’s way were resolved. If you know nothing about the first two books in the series, I also reviewed them on Monday and Wednesday as I re-read them.

The final book of The Grisha picks up soon after Siege and Storm. Alina has not succeeded in defeating the Darkling and she has barely escaped with her life. And now that she is essentially held prisoner underground, she has no hope of getting stronger, her link to her power all but gone. Getting back to the surface and it’s sunshine is the only way that Alina can get strong, so her cohorts stage an escape from the priestly order “protecting” the Sun Summoner. (more…)

Mystery and Magic in ‘The Golden City’

17707612The Golden City by J. Kathleen Cheney
Roc, November 5, 2013 (Fantasy; Mystery)

My rating: Liked the place, but the food was bad (2/5)

The Golden City is fantasy-historical-romance-mystery novel that had so much potential, but ultimately fell flat for me. I loved the concept of selkie’s and sereia’s living hidden amongst the human population of early 20th century Portugal, but I found myself plodding through this read.

Oriana Paredes is a spy for her people, the sereia (think mermaid, but with legs), and in doing her job, she has taken a position as a lady’s companion to Lady Isabel. By rubbing shoulders with the aristocracy, Oriana hopes to learn insider information that may help the ostracized sereia and keep them protected from any incursions by the humans. On top of her spying duties, Oriana still has to play the real ladies’ companion, which is why she finds herself helping Isabel execute an elopement. Unfortunately, this elopement ends in  Isabel’s death in a strange water art installation, which seems to have a much more sinister purpose than grotesque art.  (more…)

The Lady Investigates

Today I thought I’d take a break from reviews (especially considering I’m behind on reading) and focus on a list near and dear to my heart. For the most part, I’m not really a fan of mysteries; however, this is one trope that I have found that I absolutely adored in the mystery genre: lady investigators. I love a good historical setting and the idea of a woman living beyond her prescribed social role very much appeals to me. Not all of women on this list are aristocratic, but they all make for an interesting investigator.

The Anatomist's Wife (Lady Darby, #1) Silent in the Grave (Lady Julia, #1) The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (Pink Carnation, #1) Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1) The Iron Duke (Iron Seas, #1)