The Shadow Queen: Book Review

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“Her skin was as white as snow, her lips as red as blood, and her long hair as black as ebony.” — C.J. Redwine, The Shadow Queen

Title: The Shadow Queen

Series: Ravenspire

Author: C.J. Redwine

Genre: Fairy Tale Retelling

Published: February 16th, 2016

Reading Format: Audio book

Summary:

A retelling of Snow White were Snow White is a fugitive with magic named Lorelai. Her seven dwarfs come in the form of her brother, a former royal guard, and a Gyrfalcon named Sasha. And her huntsman/prince is a dragon king that both loves her and wants to kill her. Plus Lorelai is the only one who can stop the evil queen from destroying the kingdom of Ravenspire that rightfully belongs to Lorelai.

Review:

By my summary of the book you may be able to tell that The Shadow Queen isn’t exactly like the fairy tale of Snow White.  Mostly the book takes parts of Snow White but the author, C.J. Redwine, made the story her own with Lorelai. I also listened to this book through Audible and the narrator is what really sold my liking for The Shadow Queen. I truly felt like I was being told an old fairy tale by a great storyteller.

My favorite twist in this retelling is Kol. Kol’s character is both prince charming and the huntsman; he is also the new king of a neighboring land where the people there are both human and dragon.  Kol comes to Ravenspire to get help from the evil queen, Irina, where he makes a deal with her that if he brings Irina Lorelai’s heart, that the queen will then save his kingdom from the Ogres. Of course the predictably of the quest in this part of the story is that Kol does not bring Irina back the heart of Lorelai and thus Irina forces Kol into a pact to kill Lorelai that he cannot remove himself from.  The perfect twist to that plot line is that because Kol is human who can turn into a dragon, he possess both hearts of man and dragon.  Once Irina removes Kol’s human heart we as the reader get to see the internal struggle he has to control his dragon heart.

I thought The Shadow Queen was a great retelling for Snow White.  I usually stay away from retellings, as I can often find them predictable and lack surprise elements in the story line but I was not disappointed with C.J. Redwine’s version.  I just recently got the second book in the series The Wish Granter, a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, and I’ve been holding off on it to read other books but I’d like to get to it sooner rather than later.

Star Rating: 4.75/5 stars

Happy Reading,

Meghan

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Murder on the Moor: Book Review

*This book was sent to be from Bethany House Publishing for review purposes, all thoughts and opinions are my own

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Title:  Murder on the Moor

Series: A Drew Farthering Mystery

Author: Julianna Deering

Genre: Mystery/Historical/Christian Fiction

Reading Format: Paperback

Summary: 

Murder on the Moor follows Drew Farthering and his wife Madeline who travel to Bloodworth Park Lodge out on the Yorkshire Moor to investigate the murder of the local town vicar.  Invited by an old school friend named Beaky Bloodworth, Drew and his wife hunt for a killer several mysterious incidents seem to keep happening out on the Moor.

Review:

This is the fifth book in a series, which I did not know when I chose to read this but I learned quickly it is not a requirement to have read any of the other four previous to this one. In fact, after reading Murder on the Moor I’ve already decided that I’d like to read the others.

The best way to describe this mystery series is that it reminds me greatly of Downton Abbey with a mystery thrown in.  The book is set in 1930s England and Drew Farthering comes from a wealthier background much like the TV series.  I personally loved Downton Abbey when it was on and enjoyed the atmosphere of the setting for Murder on the Moor.  I also found Drew Farthering to be a very enjoyable character who could be quite funny at times, though his down fall for me in the series was his fixation on Beaky’s wife Sabrina who Drew believes to be a bit of a gold digger through out most of the novel.  Drew’s saving grace from this was his wife Madeline who seemed to have a more leveled head when it came to Sabrina and the things happening out on the moor.

The mystery part of the book was actually pretty good considering that I don’t tend lean toward the mystery genre much.  I found myself wanting to know what happens next and even some nights I would say just one more chapter and staying up way past my bedtime.

In all I would recommend Murder on the Moor and as I mentioned before I plan on reading the other books in the series. And on another note, before I forget, this is a Christian novel or at least that is how it is branded but unlike most that I have read it isn’t heavy with the topic. I always warn this mainly because while I’m a Christian and enjoy reading some fictional novels in this genre I know others may want to avoid it, but  Murder on the Moor is perhaps worth the read if you don’t mind a mention of God maybe a few times through out the story line.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Happy Reading

Meghan

Waves of Mercy Book Review

*I received this book from the publisher for review purposes, all opinions are my own*

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Title: Waves of Mercy

Author: Lynn Austin

Publish Date: October 4th, 2016

Publisher: Bethany House

Genre: Christian/Historical/Fiction

Summary:

Geesje de Jonge crossed the ocean at age seventeen with her parents and a small group of immigrants from the Netherlands to settle in the Michigan wilderness. Fifty years later, in 1897, she’s asked to write a memoir of her early experiences as the town celebrates its anniversary. Reluctant at first, she soon uncovers memories and emotions hidden all these years, including the story of her one true love.

At the nearby Hotel Ottawa Resort on the shore of Lake Michigan, twenty-three-year-old Anna Nicholson is trying to ease the pain of a broken engagement to a wealthy Chicago banker. But her time of introspection is disturbed after a violent storm aboard a steamship stirs up memories of a childhood nightmare. As more memories and dreams surface, Anna begins to question who she is and whether she wants to return to her wealthy life in Chicago. When she befriends a young seminary student who is working at the hotel for the summer, she finds herself asking him all the questions that have been troubling her.

Neither Geesje nor Anna, who are different in every possible way, can foresee the life-altering surprises awaiting them before the summer ends.

Review:

I’ve heard a lot about the author of this book, Lynn Austin, and many people seem to love her books. This is the first book of her’s that I have read and when I read the summary I was intrigued by the story especially because I love multiple prospective narratives and historical fiction. For the most part this is a lovely story and it shows the reader the lives of two women, Anna and Geesje, both of whom have had to overcome obstacles and questions in their lives and in their faiths.

I enjoyed learning about Geesje’s past and how her and her family immigrated from the Netherlands to come to America in the 1800’s. This was an area of history I wasn’t aware of in terms of the religious persecution that happened to those who did not choose to worship in the state churches in the Netherlands. Anna also faces this persecution from her own fiance and family as she decides to listen to the sermons of an evangelical preacher that is not apart of her family’s church. Anna is even faced with the ending of her engagement due to her continuing involvement with the church and this leads her character to go through a personal journey of what it is she wants and what it is she is looking for.

Like most Christian fiction, this book was slightly sappy and I am not a particularly sappy person. There were moments in the book where I found myself rolling my eyes in certain scenes. Also it should be noted about the narrative of the book is that we get two perspectives from Geesje, one is from 1897 and the other starts 50 years before then of her detailing her life from the Netherlands to living in America. The transition between these narratives is sometimes odd as Geesje in 1897 explains the actions she is taking to write her story in 1847. This sometimes threw me off when reading the story and would distract me from the flow of the story.

Overall this was a nice story. I didn’t love it and nor am I going to pretend I enjoyed the book all the way through. It would be boring in some sections and drag on in describing the characters feelings, but again I’m not sappy person so that’s a  more personal perspective of the book.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Happy Reading,

Meghan

Book Review: Falling Kingdoms

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Title: Falling Kingdoms

Series: Falling Kingdoms

Author: Morgan Rhodes

Publisher: Razorbill

Publish Date: December 11th, 2012

Genre: Fantasy

Reading Format: Paperback

Summary:

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface. (Goodreads summary)

What I liked about Falling Kingdoms:

I loved the characters in this story and the way Falling Kingdoms is told.

Falling Kingdoms is written from the third person perspective of the 4 main characters of this book. Cleo in the beginning is a spoiled princess in the wealthiest land in Mytica, Auranos. She grows the most to me character wise and was admittedly my favorite out of the characters thus far. Cleo experiences a lot in the first book , so I can’t imagine what Morgan Rhodes, the author, might have in store for her over the course of the entire series but I can’t wait to find out.

Jonas comes from Paelsia and he is from the poorest kingdom in Mytica. I didn’t love him in the beginning but by the end I was all for Jonas. He represents the change that Palesia needs in order for the people there to experience positive change. Much like Cleo watching his character development over the series is going to be great to read I’m sure. Jonas’ potential was only just starting in book 1.

Magnus is the heir to the Limeros throne. His father is known as the King of blood and trust me King Gaius lives up to that reputation. Magnus is an interesting character, he has to live in the shadow of his father and battle some demons in Falling Kingdoms. He also has an interesting relationship with his adopted sister that really plays into whether or not Magnus will inherit this King of Blood reputation like his father.

Lastly, Princess Lucia is Magnus’ adopted sister. She discovers a lot about herself that essentially has been kept from her her entire life. Lucia learns that she posses something that Mytica hasn’t seen in a long time, which is magic. I will say she is probably my least favorite of the 4 but she is still interesting none the less. And the way she and what she can do is being used by her father will probably lead to even more destruction in the next books.

What I didn’t like about Falling Kingdoms:

I don’t really have any dislikes for Falling Kingdoms, it was better than I thought it was going to be.

Overall thoughts:

If you like high fantasy you should read this story. I can’t wait to start the next book, but I promised myself I’d take a break for the fantasy genre for a little bit. However I honestly don’t know if I’ll be able to with this series

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Happy Reading,

Meghan

Book Review: A Desperate Fortune

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Title: A Desperate Fortune

Author: Susanna Kearsley

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Publish Date: April 7th, 2015

Genre: Contemporary/Historical Fiction/Romance

Reading Format: E-book

Summary from the Publisher:

For nearly 300 years, the mysterious journal of Jacobite exile Mary Dundas has lain unread-its secrets safe from prying eyes. Now, amateur codebreaker Sara Thomas has been hired by a once-famous historian to crack the journal’s cipher.

But when she arrives in Paris, Sara finds herself besieged by complications from all sides: the journal’s reclusive owner, her charming Parisian neighbor, and Mary, whose journal doesn’t hold the secrets Sara expects. As Mary’s tale grows more and more dire, Sara, too, must carefully choose which turning to take… to find the road that will lead her safely home.

What I liked about A Desperate Fortune:

The first thing I liked about A Desperate Fortune was the way the story was told. We get Sara’s modern day perspective and Mary’s views from 1723; that really made the story interesting to me because while they sometimes intermingled both stories for the most part it felt somewhat separate and as though you were getting two stories for one.

I also really loved Sara’s character because it was the first time for me reading from the perspective of a main character that has Asperger’s.  Getting read how her mind works and the overall development she makes as a character was really satisfying to me. I’ve never read a book from the perspective of anyone who has a disorder or wouldn’t be classified as “normal” but Sara is a lovely main character.

And lastly I really found the romantic story elements were some of my favorite they have the slow build up I’m looking for and they make you feel all warm inside.

What I did not like about A Desperate Fortune:

The only thing I didn’t like was Sara’s cousin Jacqui. She was too overbearing of Sara for my liking and at times I felt she was holding her back more than helping her move forward.

Overall thoughts:

This is one of my favorite stories I’ve read this year. I highly recommend it!

Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

Happy Reading,

Meghan

Book Review: The Paper Magician

I’ve reformatted the way I write my book reviews. I might still be making a few changes on occasion but I’m trying to find the best layout for this blog.


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Title: The Paper Magician

Series: The Paper Magician Trilogy

Author: Charlie N. Holmberg

Publisher: Brilliance Audio/47North

Publish Date: September 1, 2014

Genre: YA Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Reading Format: Audibook

Summary:

Ceony Twill has just graduated top of her class at Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, however her dreams are dashed once she learns she will be an apprentice for paper magic and not a smelter as she had always planned. Ceony holds her apprenticeship under Professor Thane who charms her into learning the world of paper magic. All is well until an excisioner, or dark magician, literally rips Professor Thane’s heart from his own chest. Ceony must take what little magic she has learned and save her teacher, which comes with a little bit of a twist as Ceony finds herself confined  within his still beating heart.

What I liked about The Paper Magician:

I though the story was charming and I really enjoyed the narration. Choosing to do this book as an audio I think made it more enjoyable to me than if I were to read it.  I found the beginning of the book to be magical and getting to learn about Ceony’s magic was interesting.

What I did not like about The Paper Magician:

The Paper Magician can be a bit boring during the middle when Ceony is trapped inside Thane’s heart (this by the way is not a spoiler it is literally written on the back of the book). Those chapters can be long and at times I couldn’t see the point to why the scenes inside the heart needed to last for so long.

Overall thoughts:

Overall, I liked The Paper Magician. I didn’t love it but I will continue on with the series. I’m interested enough to know what happens with Ceony and Thane as they move on from the events that take place in the first book. I’ll probably continue the series as an audibook though because I think I might become uninterested with the stories if I were to read them.

Rating:

4 out of 5 stars

Happy Reading,

Meghan

TBR Thursday: The Kitchen House

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The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Give me a historical fiction set on a plantation and I’ll read it almost every time. The Kitchen House was a Kindle deal once upon a time and I immediately scooped it up, but like most TBR Thursday picks its been in my library for a while without me ever reading it.

The Kitchen House is about an orphaned Irish girl named Lavinia who is brought to America to work and live on a tobacco plantation in the kitchen house with Belle, the master’s illegitimate daughter and also a slave.  The story tells of how Lavinia becomes deeply bonded with her adopted family in the kitchen house but how she is also separated from them because of her skin tone.

I get excited about this book every time I read the summary but I will admit I do forget I have it and therefore I end up neglecting it. But I know I have to read it soon, I just hope it doesn’t end up being disappointing.

Happy Reading,

Meghan