Fiction, Fiction Reviews, Reviews, Series Reviews, Young Adult books, Young Adult Reveiws

Review: Manners and Mutiny by Gail Carriger

Manners & Mutiny (Finishing School)Manners & Mutiny (Finishing School, #4)

My Rating: 4 Stars of 5
Amazon’s Rating: 4.5
Pages: 352

The final book of the Finishing series by Gail Carriger is packed full of excitement, fluttering eyelashes, and deadly acquaintances.

Sophronia is an young lady of good graces, as far as appearances go, but appearances are deceiving.

Taken from Goodreads,

If one must flirt…flirt with danger.
Lessons in the art of espionage aboard Mademoiselle Geraldine’s floating dirigible have become tedious without Sophronia’s sootie Soap nearby. She would rather thwart dastardly Picklemen, yet her concerns about their wicked intentions are ignored.

Who can she trust? Royal werewolf dewan? Stylish vampire Lord Akeldama? Only one thing is certain: a large-scale plot is under way. Sophronia must be ready to save her friends, her school, and all of London from disaster.

If you’ve been following this series, the final book is fun and a satisfying close. There is even an epilogue that helps put some of the “I wonder what happen to…” questions to rest. All in all, I would recommend this series to anyone who enjoys steampunk, Victorian easy reads.

Buy from Amazon ($10.97), here.

Fiction, Fiction Reviews, Reviews, Series Reviews, Young Adult books, Young Adult Reveiws

Review: Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger

Waistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School, #3)London. Supernaturals. Petticoats. Bladed Fans. Espionage. That’s all it took for me to be interested in this series, and book Three, Waistcoats & Weaponry does not disappoint.

Sophronia is back at finishing school (a.k.a. Espionage School) and is faced with a whole new set of problems. Add to a young teen girl trying to save the British Empire, annoying boys are vying for her affections. Sophronia doesn’t let this stop her, fluttering eyelashes or no.

Need more depth? As summarized on Goodreads:

Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style—with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland.

No one suspected what—or who—they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all.

Check out the Finishing School series on Amazon.

More Books in the Series:

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School, #2)Manners & Mutiny (Finishing School, #4)

(Links are affiliate links for Amazon.)

Fiction, Fiction Reviews, Reviews, Series Reviews

Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series

Rivers of London (Peter Grant, #1)Moon Over Soho (Peter Grant, #2)

****4 Stars out of 5

The Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch is a series I have wanted to read since 2012, when I was studying in London. As you can see from the cover, Diana Gabaldon pitched it as grown-up Harry Potter. I mean, come on. How could I not love this series?

I started reading this series a couple of months ago, and yes, I love it. It is not Harry Potter by any means, but that’s okay. The main character, Peter Grant, is a young police constable, who by happenstance of meeting a ghost, is appointed an apprentice to a magician investigator. There are vampires, and river spirits, ghosts, and of course magic, all this fantasy is mixed in a very believable depiction of the London Metropolitan Police.

This is a light read series, of course. It is intriguing and the main character is very likeable. Peter is a POC, which is refreshing, and the novels do mention that fact in ways other than just character descriptions.

All in all, if you like Urban fantasy, I would recommend this series. So far, I have only read the first two novels, Midnight Riot (Rivers of London-UK name) and Moon over Soho, but I will continue with the series.

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Update: What I Read in March…

update2015

March was a slow month for me. I read most of my To-Read list, but not all of it. April will be a better month. In March I read:

Mini Review: “The Last Flight of Poxl West” by Daniel Torday

Review: “Legend” by Marie Lu

Review: “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr

Review: “Afterworlds” by Scott Westerfeld

Review: “Making History” by Stephen Fry

ICYMI: All the above titles are links to reviews.

Review: Denton Little’s Deathdate (Review coming in April)

Fiction, Fiction Reviews, Reviews, Series Reviews, Young Adult books, Young Adult Reveiws

Review: “Legend” by Marie Lu

3.5 stars of 5 ★★★★☆

I thought I was over dystopians. Well, I was wrong. There’s just something so satisfying about tyrannical governments losing their sh*t all because of the actions of some normal, but extremely capable, teenagers.

Legend is fast-paced, original, and the book design is stunning. It’s rare that a book gets the approval to use different fonts for different character’s POV, much less different colors. That means marketing really liked this book. They though it was going to soar over The Hunger Games knock-offs back in 2011. That didn’t really happen, and you know why? Divergent was also published in 2011. Legend is a younger teen read, whereas Divergent is an older teen read, and for whatever reason, it eclipsed Marie Lu’s work and her series fell under the radar.

I think that’s a damn shame, too, because I see teenage boys( a demographic that it’s virtually impossible to get interested in reading) really enjoying this series.

This series is not unknown by any means, and it has gained popularity since the movie versions of THG, Divergent, The Giver, and The Maze Runner have piped interest into the genre.  I hope it continues to draw interest, because it really is an entertaining read for younger teens.

For those who are wondering, here’s the summary( via Goodreads):

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

I definitely recommend this series to folks that love dsytopia, but aren’t looking for anything too complicated. This is a straight the government is bad, we have the power to change that, and it’s going to be hard but worth it. I’ll be staying with this series until the end.

Here are the other books in the series:

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Update: What I read in February…

feb2015

Y’all. I actually read the books I said I was going to read for February! I did it! Yay! *Pats self on the back*

Here’s to hoping March will be just as productive!

Fiction Reviews, Reviews, Series Reviews, Young Adult books, Young Adult Reveiws

Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

3 stars of 5★★★☆☆

Okay. Okay. Okay. I was sort of/but not really expecting that ending. I mean, I’m not going to spoil anything, but I had my suspicions about Celaena’s ancestry. I knew about the hook-up (thanks untagged Tumblr posts). Dorian’s and Celaena’s secrets? Nehemia?…No, I did not see those coming.

Those parts of the novel were really entertaining, and I devoured those sections. The sections in between, meh. It just was not as gripping as Throne of Glass. There could have been more exciting things in this novel  but on the whole, it was good. Here’s the summary( via Goodreads):

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie…and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

So, if you enjoyed Throne of Glass, hells yeah buy, borrow, or loan this book ASAP. I mean, it’s got a kick-ass girl assassin that is also feminine and a platonic relationship between a girl and a boy(yeah, said boy was kind of in love with said girl, but he got over it), not to mention the whole political chasm that’s opening around the characters. So, if you’re looking to be entertained, look no further.

Other books in the Throne of Glass series:

Author Spotlight, Book Lists, Favorites List, Fiction Reviews, Series Reviews

Author Spotlight on One of My Favorites: Dodie Smith

Back a few years ago, I was looking at J.K. Rowling’s influences, adding her favorite novels to my To-Read list, when I came across the name Dodie Smith.

Rowling said a fan told her to read Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle, and she did and she loved it. In fact, Rowling went on to add a byline review (or whatever you call them) on the most recent version of the novel, stating that “[t]his book has one of the most charismatic narrators I’ve ever met” which is a perfect way of characterizing Cassandra Mortimer. It was the first Dodie Smith novel I read and I immediately fell in love with this author.

Smith’s autobiographies are just as interesting and colorful as her novels and plays. There are four: Look Back with Love, Look Back with Mixed Feelings, Look Back with Astonishment, and Look Back with Gratitude.  They are hard to find(and expensive when you do find them). They only when through a few printings but they are fascinating and well worth the read if you can get your hands on them.

Here are a few of her novels, the more well-known ones:

 “Dodie Smith’s first novel transcends the oft-stodgy definition of “a classic” by being as brightly witty and adventuresome as it was when published nearly fifty years ago.” -Goodreads

An eccentric family in a crumbling castle, set against the beautiful English countryside, the Mortimers are the weirdest bunch of folks around, but they’re kind, smart, and willing to do anything to get the dad to write another novel. I LOVE THIS BOOK.

 

 

 

 

 “Pongo and Missis had a lovely life. With their human owners, the Dearlys, to look after them, they lived in a comfortable home in London with their 15 adorable Dalmatian puppies, loved and admired by all. Especially the Dearlys’ neighbor Cruella de Vil, a fur-fancying fashion plate with designs on the Dalmatians’ spotted coats! So, when the puppies are stolen from the Dearly home, and even Scotland Yard is unable to find them, Pongo and Missis know they must take matters into their own paws!” -Goodreads

Yep, you read that right. She wrote The 101 Dalmatians and its sequel, Starlight Barking. Don’t get me started on how she was screwed over by a certain movie magic-making company, but she was the person who created Cruella de Vil and co.  The sequel is weird, but it’s a great story. Not her best, to be honest, but it’s good.

 

 

         “When Jane Minton arrives at Dome House as a secretary-housekeeper, she finds herself sharing the comfortable country home of four attractive young people. Their handsome widower father, Rupert Carrington, too occupied with his London business to see very much of them, merely provides for them generously and leaves them to cultivate their talents — which they energetically do. Richard, the eldest, is a composer; Clare, whose true talent (if it can be called that) has never disclosed itself, attempts to paint; Drew is collecting material for a novel to be set in the Edwardian era; and Merry, still at school, already works hard towards a stage career. Jane Minton, warmly welcomed into this happy household, feels her luck is too good to be true. And it is certainly too good to last. The delightful private world of Dome House is fated to break up.
It is Jane who learns from Rupert Carrington that he is in danger of prosectuion for fraud and must leave England. He asks her to break the news to his children — who must now fend completely for themselves — and do what she can to help. She is very willing to, for his sake as well as theirs, as she is greatly attracted by him. What happens then makes an engrossing and unpredicable story, for the Carringtons are not usual young people, and it is, perhaps, their own basic originality which draws to them unusual adventures, in which humor and more than a touch of strangeness are often inextricably blended.” -Goodreads

I LOVE THIS STORY TOO.

        “During a summer festival in an English spa town Miles Quentin, a distinguished actor, and his devoted wife Jill, become friendly with the local member of Parliament, Geoffrey Thornton, and his young daughters, Robin and Kit. All these attractive, intelligent and fully occupied people are seemingly untroubled. But the surface of their lives is deceptive.
All, even the lively teenagers, have unusual problems which are only brought fully to light after the Quentins return to the London theatre world and the Thorntons to their Westminster house. Then the story becomes a far from conventional love story in which loyalty may prove more important than love; or it could be described as a story of different kinds of love. Few readers of its early sunny chapters will foresee its dramatic development, the outcome of which is uncertain until the very end.”

-Goodreads

 

      “London’s theatre world of the 1920’s provides a glittering backdrop for Mouse, an eighteen-year-old Lancashire girl intent on a stage career. She tells the story herself with the utmost frankness and with an authenticity which derives from Dodie Smith’s own wide experience as both actress and playwright.
Mouse never felt that her nickname fully suited her; tiny she might be, but timid never. Within a day of her arrival in town she had bluffed her way into an audition at a famous theatre, infuriated its forceful young stage director, amused its kind if quite amoral actor-manager, Rex Crossway, and finally landed not a part but a toehold as a junior secretary. From then on she was involved in the engrossing affairs of the Crossway Theatre.
She was also involved with her friends at the club where she lived — Molly, a baby-faced six-footer, and elegant, ambitious LIlian who was fated to clash disastrously with Mouse, though even then they could find something to laugh at together. And later there was Zelle, rich, generous, enigmatic, and responsible for an outing to a Suffolk village pageant which proved a turning point for them all.”-Goodreads

These are just a few of the wonderful works of Dodie Smith. She was a woman who was not afraid to include important topics (like adultery, homosexuality, shortcomings of the aristocracy, shortcomings of the literary world, politics, and so much more) in books that were considered “light reading”. She was also a woman who knew her mind. She was a suffragette, a war entertainer, and actress and some one who deserves more credit. She was a really great writer, maybe not one of the greats, but a great writer, nonetheless.

Fiction Reviews, Reviews, Series Reviews, Young Adult books, Young Adult Reveiws

Review: “Throne of Glass” by Sarah J. Maas

4.5 stars of 5 ★★★★★

So you like pretty dresses? Sharp blades? Girl assassins? Corrupt governments? Then gather ’round and I’ll tell you about a tale called Throne of Glass. Here’s the summary:

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

It’s like if you take Arya and Sasha from Game of Thrones and throw them into a less horrible, but still bad world. Celaena’s world and personality reminds me of Kristin Cashore’s main character in Graceling (It’s been like 10 yrs since I read the story so I don’t remember her name). She’s lived a hard life and it’s remarkable in that she is still alive after a year in slavery. She was once the most feared assassin in all the land, and she has been given a chance to put those skills back into use to possibly win her freedom.

The course of the novel takes the reader through various challenges, Celaena facing no real challenges other than a brute named Cain. She trains to defeat him. She becomes friends with her rescuers and other officials of the kingdom. She also becomes helpful on the detective front as well once gruesome murders begin to occur.

It’s really an entertaining read. It would be great for lovers of Game of Thrones, His Fair Assassin series, Kristin Cashore’s work, and Tamora Pierce. It’s got some baby feminist ideals in there too, so that makes it even better. I definitely recommend it.

Other books in this series include:

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Review: “K-9” by Rohan Gavin (Knightley and Son book 2)

4 stars of 5 ★★★★☆

Publication date: 2-17-15

*This book was provided free on Netgalley in return for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this novel. It was very well written, the characters were very fleshed out, and the story was well thought-out and engaging for kids, teens, and adults to enjoy. Plus, it reminded me( a little) of Starlight Barking by Dodie Smith (who is one of my all-time favorites). I can see reluctant readers and avid readers alike being drawn into this story. Here’s the summary:

Darkus Knightley, tweed-wearing, mega-brained, thoroughly logical 13-year-old investigator of the weird, was just getting used to having his dad back in his life. Then Alan Knightley went off-radar, again, leaving Darkus with a traumatised ex-bomb-disposal dog as his only partner in crime-solving. Now things are getting even stranger. Family pets are being savaged by a beast at a top London beauty spot. Policemen have been tracked and attacked by a particularly aggressive canine. And two curiously alert hounds seem to be watching Darkus’s house. No one is using the word werewolf – yet – but as the full moon approaches, it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to work out that someone or something sinister is messing with the minds of London’s dog population. A mysterious canine conspiracy is howling for the attention of Knightley & Son . . .Criminally good detective adventure, perfect for fans of Sherlock and sharp-minded sleuths of all shapes and sizes.

This is the second installment of the Knightley and Son series, but I honestly read a detailed summary of the first book and moved on to this one and it was still enjoyable. That’s mainly because this is a Middle Grade/Tween book so it heavily explained what happened in the last book so kids can remember without having to re-read. The first book is called Knightley and Son. I’ve moved it further up on my to-read list after reading its sequel. Click the picture below for more information:

I definitely recommend both books for lovers of Middle Grade/YA mystery.