Book Review: The Traitor’s Kingdom by Erin Beaty

“Outside, the world was full of assassins, bitter politics, and the threat of war, but her, in this one place, for one night, everything was perfect.”

Chapter 65, page 310 of The Traitor’s Kingdom

The Traitor’s Kingdom by Erin Beaty is the final book in The Traitor’s trilogy that begins with The Traitor’s Kiss and The Traitor’s Ruin. You can read my review of The Traitor’s Ruin here.

As trilogies go, this one kept me interested and I anxiously awaited the final book. The Traitor’s Kingdom didn’t disappoint—it’s exciting, well-written, and offers a more-than-satisfying conclusion to the story of Sage Fowler.

From author Erin Beaty’s website:

A new queen under threat. 

An ambassador with a desperate scheme. 

Two kingdoms with everything to lose.

Sage Fowler has evolved from matchmaker’s assistant to ambassador representing Demora. She’s traveled far from home, fallen in love, and sacrificed much for her kingdom. Book three opens with Sage working on her duties as an ambassador, keeping up with combat training, and pining for her beloved, Major Alex Quinn.

Author Beaty quickly launches the reader into the political intrigue that readers will be familiar with from the first two books in this trilogy. The one thing that The Traitor’s trilogy doesn’t lack is intrigue, double-crosses, and action. Sage has grown up in this final book, but she’s still just as gutsy and stubborn. I like her in the role of ambassador and wish the book would have had more Sage. I sometimes found the segments featuring the soldiers to be less interesting and I was anxious to get back to whatever Sage was doing.

I liked the introduction of the new queen and her storyline. It was also interesting to watch Clare develop even further and how she deals with her sister. Overall, I thought The Traitor’s Kingdom was a good conclusion to the trilogy. It had enough twists to keep me guessing, but nothing that made me raise an eyebrow because it was too “convenient”. Erin Beaty tells a compelling story and her main characters are definitely likable even when they’re doing things that make me yell at the pages.

The final wrap-up I found to be very satisfying. I really like the endings for Sage and Alex as well as the others. The Traitor’s trilogy is one I’m glad I own, because I definitely will reread it again.

Don’t miss the first two books in Erin Beaty’s The Traitor’s trilogy.


Book Review: With Love, Wherever You Are by Dandi Daley Mackall

“Helen wondered how many couples had walked this very aisle today, this week, this month. Were they all insane to be marrying with a war going on, knowing they’d be starting their lives together, apart?”

With Love, Wherever You Are by Dandi Daley Mackall, pg. 158
Photo by Barb Hopkins 2019

Readers who enjoy historical fiction mixed with romance won’t be disappointed when they pick up With Love, Wherever You Are by Dandi Daley Mackall.

I’ll admit, this is not the usual type of book I pick up (and you totally can tell that if you follow my book reviews or have scrolled through the pages on my site.) However, I’m so glad my neighbor recommended it and I listened to her and read it.

With Love, Wherever You Are is a book of fiction based on two real people: Helen Eberhart Daley and Frank Daley, M.D. Not only did Helen and Frank really exist, they are author’s, Dandi Daley Mackall’s, parents. Mackall has woven a beautiful, at times heart-wrenching, narrative that tells the fictionalized story of an army nurse and an army doctor who meet during World War II. It’s a tale of a whirlwind romance and wedding, followed by separation due to war and duty.

I read this book over the course of two days because I became so enthralled with Helen’s and Frank’s story. From their first meeting to the final days of the war, their story kept me turning pages. Without spoilers I will tell you that the place they met definitely was not a place where a young woman and man would normally meet in 1944. Author Dandi Daley Mackall takes readers on a journey, that is at its heart a love story set amid the horrors of the Second World War.

While Helen and Frank meet before D-Day, they don’t have much time to get married before they’re both sent overseas. They write many letters to each other throughout their deployment, more than 600 total according to the author notes, often writing two or three times a day. Before they are shipped out, the crafty couple devises a system, a code of sorts so they can tell each other where they are stationed. This had to be done because if they just wrote that out in a letter, the Army censors would have blackened those words out. Many of these letters are included throughout the book so you have a real sense of their emotions, personalities, and how the war affected these newlyweds.

When you pick up a copy of With Love, Wherever You Are be sure to read the author’s notes at the back, it’s a treasure trove and so much fun after spending 460 pages with Helen and Frank. She does tell the reader which characters were added for fiction, and other notes. I enjoyed that section as much as the story itself.

Please stop by Dandi Daley Mackall’s website and check out With Love, Wherever You Are and her other books.

Book Review: The Tesla Legacy by K. K. Pérez

“The truth was so much more X-Files than Lucy could have imagined.” (pg. 177)

Readers looking for a young adult, sci-fi thriller with mystery and even a bit of romance can find it all and more in The Tesla Legacy by K. K. Pérez. The story follows Lucy Phelps, an intelligent 18 year old in the last few weeks of her senior year of high school and the “shocking” information she uncovers about herself, her family, and the legendary Nikola Tesla.

Lucy has epilepsy, or so she’s been told her entire life. Because of that, she’s been sheltered by her parents shunned other kids, especially when she was younger. A budding and brilliant scientist, Lucy just wants to venture out on her own terms and that means getting away to college. She does have the love and support of her best friend Claudia, but things are a bit rocky with her boyfriend Cole. When Lucy accidentally discovers a hidden message in a photograph of her younger self, it leads her into New York City and an experience that will change her life.

After discovering the hidden Tesla room in New York, Lucy has her hands full. She’s promised Claudia she’d help with the lighting design for prom, there’s issues with her boyfriend, she needs to keep working on her science experiment, and there’s also this little (not!) issue of her newfound abilities that involve her ability to manipulate and control electricity. And let’s not forget the handsome new teaching assistant that’s taken an interest in her as well as the two rival, ancient, alchemical societies that each want Lucy for their own agendas.

I enjoyed The Tesla Legacy immensely. It kept me entertained and engaged, even during its science-y moments. For me, there was a nice balance between sci-fi and action as well as between the sci-fi and romantic elements. Lucy is a likable character and I found myself cheering her on as she takes a stand.

Author K. K. Pérez provides enough twists to keep a reader guessing, but not too many where it becomes tedious. I do like that we’re set up for a sequel and when it’s released, I’ll definitely be adding it to my TBR list.

Please go check out the other books by K. K. Pérez at her website and grab a copy of The Tesla Legacy today.

Book Review: Analiese Rising by Brenda Drake

“I can’t be weak now. I’m a human in a god’s war and I will surely die if I don’t get the hell out of here.”

(Analiese, chapter 39, page 312 of Analiese Rising by Brenda Drake)

I love mythology and some of my favorite books incorporate mythological characters, creatures, and tales so when I read the blurb for Analiese Rising by Brenda Drake, I knew I had to read the book.

ar

The story follows Analiese Jordan, a teen who lost her parents when she was very young. She’s been adopted by her uncle and his family that includes her cousin Dalton who over the years has become more like a brother. When Analiese and Dalton witness a hit-and-run, her life begins to change. The dying old man gives her his bag and asks her to get it to his grandson. How can she refuse? But when he calls her by name and tells her she’s in danger and needs to run, Analiese is confused and a bit scared. Then she finds a list of names in the bag. On the list and crossed out are the names of her parents and recently deceased uncle. The list also has her name on it.

Analiese Rising catapults the reader into a world where ancient gods walk among mortals and the Risers can bring the dead back to life, controlling them, but at a terrible cost. Analiese is a Riser, a descendant of the God of Death. When she learns of her true nature, the stakes become even higher. She places her trust in Marek Conte, the old man’s grandson. Together they’ll meet others like Analiese, form alliances, battle enemies, and ultimately be forced to take a stand in the long-simmering war between the immortals.

I enjoyed Analiese Rising from start to finish. Told in first person, present tense from Analiese’s perspective, author Brenda Drake drew me in and I found myself invested in the character and her story. It was fun being in Analiese’s head, from her introspection regarding the reality of gods and the supernatural to her growing romantic feelings for Marek.

In addition, I liked both the characters of Analiese and Marek because their personalities meshed well yet still offered enough conflict to keep me interested. The overall concept of the gods lost powers and their fight to get them back worked well, but it really was the chase that was my favorite part of the story. The journey from the U.S. to Italy and France takes readers on an epic journey and includes many sites you’ll want to put on your bucket list.

There’s a lot to like about Analiese Rising and I recommend picking up a copy today. It’s a fast-paced adventure that effortlessly blends romance, intrigue, and mythology.

Please head over to author Brenda Drake’s website and check out her books as well. Analiese Rising is a stand-alone but if you’re into series, she has those as well. Also, you can read my review of Drake’s other stand-alone book, Thunderstruck here on my site.

Book Review: Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

“She took Julian’s hand, and they stepped through.”

(Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare: chapter 33, page 835)

The Blackthorns are back in the third book of The Dark Artifices that’s titled The Queen of Air and Darkness. Cassandra Clare’s epic tale opens solemnly, which is fitting after the ending of Lord of Shadows (book two) ripped my heart out. If you haven’t read Lady Midnight or Lord of Shadows, books one and two respectively, you may want to skip this review as there are spoilers for those books. I won’t reveal spoilers for The Queen of Air and Darkness, though.

QueenAirDarkness

The Dark Artifices spans three books (so far?) and is a sequel series to Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. It begins in Los Angeles, five years since the concluding events in the Mortal Instruments and the story follows Emma Carstairs and the Blackthorn family, characters introduced in the Mortal Instruments.

If you missed it, catch up on my thoughts about Lady Midnight (book one) and Lord of Shadows (book two) before reading the rest of this review.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, all 880 pages. Yes, it’s crazy long and there’s a LOT going on, but I have discovered that Emma Carstairs is hands-down my favorite Shadowhunter. Because I love the character of Emma, I’ve flown through this series, even during a few of the draggy parts (of which I feel there were only a few.)

The story picks up after Livvy’s death at the hands of Annabel Blackthorn and Emma’s shattering of the Mortal Sword. The Blackthorn’s, Emma, Cristina, and the Lightwoods are all as shattered as the Mortal Sword, suffering huge losses and caught in the middle of another war with shifting alliances.

At the core of Queen of Air and Darkness is the fight for true love—even if it’s forbidden between two parabatai. Emma and Julian still are struggling with their feelings as their worlds continue to fall apart. There’s also the ongoing fight against bigotry and hatred, on many levels, and it’s woven throughout this series.

While the rest of the Blackthorn family returns to California, the parabatai embark on a mission into Faerie to bring back the Black Volume of the Dead. Their journey is arduous and ultimately, Emma and Julian will find themselves fully entrenched in the parabatai curse and unwilling participants in destruction that can destroy everyone and everything they love.

I enjoyed Emma and Julian’s story, but there are many others throughout this series that kept me turning pages.

Kit and Ty: I love the evolution of the relationship between Kit and Ty. Ty has been one of my favorite Blackthorn’s from the beginning and Kit has evolved into a very likable and interesting character. He fascinates me and by midpoint of this book, I had an idea about his lineage and I can’t wait to see more about him in another series.

Mark, Cristina, and Kieran: I love the three of them together and watching their journey through to the end of the book was fun, although at times frustrating. Definitely, intense in some moments.

Diana Wrayburn: She’s developed into a character I’d love to sit down and have a cup of coffee with and just talk. About everything and anything. I really like her and love the relationship she has with Gynn.

It’s also been a lot of fun to watch young Dru develop and mature. She’s definitely one you can’t ignore and hoping for more of her story in future series.

There also was a nice balance of Mortal Instruments characters interspersed, the tie-ins worked for me. I will say I could have had more Magnus, but then again, who doesn’t want more Magnus?

With any Shadowhunters book, author Cassandra Clare weaves stories for multiple characters across multiple landscapes. Despite the length of the book and many story lines, I never found it difficult to keep track of the different characters. I think this mainly is because each character is distinct with a specific purpose. I particularly liked the way she quick-shifted scenes to give the reader the feeling that certain moments were happen simultaneously.

Overall, I definitely recommend Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare, but highly advise you to read books one and two first. You can find additional information about The Dark Artifices series and Clare’s other books at her website: www.cassandraclare.com.

Book Review: The Traitor’s Ruin by Erin Beaty

“Her writing was witty and entertaining but carefully neutral in describing camp workings and routines, which would give no enemy significant information if it was intercepted.”

(THE TRAITOR’S RUIN by Erin Beaty, Chapter 28, page 108)

The Traitor’s Ruin by Erin Beaty is the second in a trilogy that begins with The Traitor’s Kiss and will conclude with the The Traitor’s Kingdom releasing in July 2019.

TraitorsRuin

The young adult fantasy continues the story of Sage Fowler, former apprentice to the matchmaker Darnessa, current tutor to the children of the Demoran royal family, and betrothed of Captain Alex Quinn. I like Sage because she’s intelligent, fiercely independent, and kindhearted. This story has her back in the thick of things, this time even more fully entrenched as a spy and definitely with higher stakes.

At the bequest of the Queen, Sage sets off with the newly formed Norsari, an elite group of soldiers led by her Captain Quinn. While Alex is not happy to have Sage along, there’s no denying her skill for languages and critical thinking that may play an important role in the mission. And it does. Unfortunately, when Sage’s student, the young prince Nicholas, is the target of a kidnapping, the two become separated from the Alex and the Nosari during the fighting. Sage and Nicholas find themselves with the Casumi, soldiers from a far-off land who also are at odds with Kimisar.

Like the first book, author Beaty takes the reader through a world filled with political intrigue, a specific social hierarchy, and cultural customs specific to each of the different lands. There’s a lot going on in this book and at times, in particular in the first half, it was a challenge to keep it all straight due to the unique names and language. However, I enjoy a spy story and Sage is a character that keeps me turning pages. In The Traitor’s Ruin we get to see her relationship with Alex evolve and how she handles keeping secrets from him, much in the same manner he kept secrets from her in the first book.

I don’t do spoilers, but I will reveal that both Sage and Alex find themselves in mortal danger and that not all characters from book one survive book two. There are many action-packed fight scenes plus just the right amount of romance and levity in the right spots. Overall, I enjoyed The Traitor’s Ruin by Erin Beaty and look forward to reading book three when it’s released in 2019.

If you want to check out this trilogy and author Erin Beaty, this is her website: www. erinbeaty.com 

Book Review: The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil

“And why can’t you understand. . . I don’t get what’s so wrong with being happy where you are.”

(Alba, Chapter 8, page 138)

CinnamonGirl

Melissa Keil brings incredible fun and laughter to the end of the world with The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl. It’s a book that pulled me in from the prologue and kept me engaged until the very sweet end. This is the third book by Keil that I’ve read and I’m hungry for more, along with a piece of apple strudel from Albany’s.

Sarah Jane Albany, known as Alba, calls the small town of Eden Valley home. Alba and her mom live in the residence behind their bakery named Albany’s. She’s a comic-book loving artist and the creator of Cinnamon Girl, her newest character who’s being slightly troublesome, almost as much as the events that quickly begin to unfold in Alba’s once even-paced life.

For Alba, tradition and routine are just fine. Why mess it all up with with changes like leaving Eden Valley and going to college? She loves her corner of the world that includes the bakery, her friends, and especially her best friend Domenic Grady, known simply as Grady.

Pals since the playpen because their mothers are best friends, Alba and Grady haven’t really spent a day apart in their lives. But, with Grady’s plans to go off and study law, Alba is in a bit of funk, especially because she’s really not sure what she wants or where she’ll fit in once her best friend leaves for his own adventure. And then there’s this pesky little issue of the world ending. Literally.

So what happens when the end of high school also coincides with the end of the world?

Alba struggles to make sense of her place in the world and the changes that are about to befall her, Grady, and their group of friends. When an obscure television personality predicts the planet’s demise and names Eden Valley as the only place that will survive, their tiny Australian town quickly becomes the center of global attention, filling with end-of-the-world zealots, personalities, and a particular hunky teen actor who also happens to be a former friend of Alba’s and Grady’s.

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the quirky characters, including Alba’s entire gang of friends. Author Keil creates a great cast of supporting characters that developed and contributed perfectly to the main story, while at the same time drawing you in—I’d totally read a book that focused on Tia and Petey. The dialogue is witty yet easy to read and believable. Keil paints a picture with her words, giving readers a clear view of Eden Valley and the chaos that an end-of-the-world prediction would bring to a small town.

The illustrations at the beginning of each chapter were awesome! Loved them as artwork and how they connected seamlessly with the story.

Go grab yourself a copy of The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil. It’s a romance spiced with a quirky-sweet main character plus banter, universal truths, and laugh-out-loud moments.

You can check out Melissa Keil’s other books at her website. Also, my review of her book The Secret Science of Magic is here.

Book Review: The Secret Science of Magic by Melissa Keil

“I believe she will shortly describe me as

‘that dipshit who’s always smiling at himself.’”

(Joshua, page 3)

The Secret Science of Magic by Melissa Keil is smart, funny, and one of my favorite reads of 2018.

secret science of magic

Its blurb via author Melissa Keil’s website:

Sophia is smart. Like, genius-calculator-brain smart. But there are some things no amount of genius can prepare you for, and the messiness of real life is one of them. When everything she knows is falling apart, how can she crack the puzzle of what to do with her life?

Joshua spends his time honing magic tricks and planning how to win Sophia’s heart. But when your best trick is making schoolwork disappear, how do you possibly romance a genius? In life and love, timing is everything.

It was pure chance I stumbled on this book and I’m so happy it happened. While at my local library to pick up a few books for research purposes, I couldn’t help but make a detour into the Young Adult section. Big surprise, right?

The Secret Science of Magic caught my eye from its place on the “new” shelves, just by its title. After reading the jacket blurb, I knew it was coming home with me. Then I opened the book and it began with with a quote from Harry Houdini. I was all in.

How could I not want to know what would happen when a young magician attempts to win the heart of a genius?

This is not your typical high school romance novel. Set in Melbourne, Australia, author Melissa Keil gives readers alternating POV from Sophia and Joshua. Sophia is a genius, particularly skilled in mathematics, while Joshua does well in history class, his overall interest in studying and homework is minimal. His passion is magic. Neither are part of the popular social circles at school.

There were many elements about this book that I loved. Normally, I’m not a fan of first person POV but I really liked it here as it kept me close to the characters. From the first pages, I became invested in Sophia and Joshua. I laughed out loud more than once before finishing chapter one. Keil’s writing style is sharp and witty. She has created characters that you want to know inside and out, and then shows us all their messy truths but in ways that are completely relatable.

I also enjoyed the numerous pop culture references, in particular the Doctor Who tidbits. As a fan of Eleven, I swooned and giggled with the tiny fez hats that “magically” appear on Sophia’s pencils when she opens her pencilcase.

As we all know, the course of teenage romance rarely runs smooth, and in the case of Sophia and Joshua the odds are stacked against them. However, it was a joy to be able to tag along for their journey. The Secret Science of Magic kept me entertained from start to finish and I’m still chuckling over several moments. I highly recommend it.

Melissa Keil is the author of The Secret Science of Magic, Life in Outer Space, and The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl.

I already have Life in Outer Space on reserve at my library, so keep an eye out for my thoughts on that one.

Book Review: Thunderstruck by Brenda Drake

“There are more than two choices. Always another way we cannot see for our minds are too close to the heart.”

(Thunderstruck by Brenda Drake)

This weekend I dove into Thunderstruck by Brenda Drake, a YA novel that effortlessly combines Norse mythology, action-adventure, and sweet romance.

Thunderstruck

As a kid, my mom introduced me early to Greek mythology because it was one of her passions. And I fell in love with those stories. Now as an adult, I’ve discovered the Norse myths and they hold me equally entranced. I enjoyed reading Thunderstruck a lot. I had zero preconceptions regarding the story and it’s my first time reading Brenda Drake — so glad I picked up this book!

Quick synopsis (or read the full one on Brenda Drake’s website):

Blake Foster is not your average high school kid. He’s actually Einar, the son of Norse god Thor. He’s been sent to retrieve the powerful horn of Heimdall before all the worlds fall into chaos and destruction. Stevie Moon is your average high school kid, well mostly. She does have a heart condition and a secret identity as well. She’s not a Norse god but she is Comic Cam, a vlog celebrity who unknowingly has ties to Asgard. Blake and Stevie, along with Blake’s brother Kyle/Lajos will work together to prevent Ragnarok and save both Midgard/Earth and Asgard.

Overall, Thunderstruck had a nice balance between the mythology and modern world. I loved watching Blake learn about being a Midgard teen and the distinct contrasts between him and Kyle. There were several little moments throughout the book that made me chuckle and smile. I loved some of Blake/Einar’s observations and thoughts about Midgard. Things like,

“He tugged at the gray tie around his neck. He hated the contraption and wondered why it was a style on Midgard. Was it a leash for lovers to keep their men at bay?” (page 92)

I also enjoyed Stevie’s character. She’s not a damsel in distress — she’s smart, funny, and a good friend. Her parents were slightly absent, but their absence was plausible and offset by the presence of Dr. May Hompluem, a veterinarian who has firsthand knowledge of Norse gods and Asgard.

Thunderstruck is a stand-alone read, not super long, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys engaging characters, a fast-paced plot, and a bit of romance while battling trolls and evil gods.

Discover more Brenda Drake books here. She’s the author of the Library Jumpers series and The Fated series as well.

Book Review: The Firstborn by Quenby Olson

Happy Release Day to author Quenby Olson and her newest book, The Firstborn!

I loved The Firstborn by Quenby Olson because as I read, I forgot I was reading. It’s that simple. When I can lose myself in a book like that, it’s a winner. I was looking for a book to distract me from the chaos of life and The Firstborn kept me captivated, giving me characters I wanted to spend time with in a setting that I’d like to visit if I could time travel.

The Firstborn

Set in Regency England, The Firstborn is Sophia’s story. She’s smart, loving, and loyal to her family — so much so that she’s sacrificed everything for her younger sister, Lucy and the girl’s illegitimate baby, George. Sophia has created a ruse, assuming the role of a young widow and pretending to be George’s mom. Now Lucy has run off and Lord Finnian Haughton appears on Sophia’s doorstep making inquiries about the child. It seems his younger brother is George’s father and Lord Haughton does not want a scandal.

The Firstborn is an engaging story and I enjoyed the back-and-forth between Sophia and Lord Haughton (Finn). From Sophia’s obvious dislike for him upon first meeting to their mutual desire to ensure little George is safe and cared for despite two very irresponsible birth parents. Author Olson also gives us some wonderful secondary characters. I particularly liked Lord Haughton’s sister and the elderly Lady Rutledge.

While I did receive my copy of The Firstborn as an ARC, but I’m looking forward to adding it to my paper book collection of Quenby Olson titles. If you’re looking for a charming, well-written romance, then grab a copy of The Firstborn as soon as you can.

Definitely check out author Quenby Olson’s other books at her website. And my review for her YA book Knotted.

Here’s the Amazon link for The Firstborn (don’t say I never gave you anything!)

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07117P4BK