Book Review: Half the World by Joe Abercrombie

Book Review: Half the World by Joe AbercrombieHalf the World by Joe Abercrombie
Series: Shattered Sea #2
Published by Del Rey on February 17, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
5 Stars
Sometimes a girl is touched by Mother War.

Thorn is such a girl. Desperate to avenge her dead father, she lives to fight. But she has been named a murderer by the very man who trained her to kill.

Sometimes a woman becomes a warrior.

She finds herself caught up in the schemes of Father Yarvi, Gettland’s deeply cunning minister. Crossing half the world to find allies against the ruthless High King, she learns harsh lessons of blood and deceit.

Sometimes a warrior becomes a weapon.

Beside her on the journey is Brand, a young warrior who hates to kill, a failure in his eyes and hers, but with one chance at redemption.

And weapons are made for one purpose.

Will Thorn forever be a pawn in the hands of the powerful, or can she carve her own path?

Book Review:

In 2014, the first book in Joe Abercrombie’s Shattered Sea trilogy, HALF A KING, was one of my favorite books of the year. I’m two months into 2015 and I already know the second book, HALF THE WORLD, will be one of my favorites for this year.

Some awesome things about HALF THE WORLD:

♥ It’s the second book in a trilogy, but you DO NOT need to be familiar with book one. I recommend you read HALF A KINGbecause Yarvi’s story is fantastic. But if you skip it, you won’t be confused. The author fills you in on what you need to know.

♥ If you like kick butt, prickly, determined, stubborn female main characters, you’ll probably love Thorn Bathu. Thorn’s my kind of girl — she wants to be a warrior, the first female warrior to stand in the shield wall. But everyone’s against her, and when her trainer names her a murderer, she almost loses her life. Father Yarvi rescues her from death, but is his rescue really a rescue? If you read HALF A KING, you’ll know Yarvi plays his own game, and even if you haven’t, his actions show his character in HALF THE WORLD. The short version? Thorn comes out even stronger in the end of the book than she was in the beginning, but it’s a bumpy ride. Even worse than hauling a ship overland.

♥ As the title implies, HALF THE WORLD shows a great deal of the world of the Shattered Sea. The characters do journey over half the world trying to find support for their country. As much as I like the Viking feel of Gettland, it was cool to see other cultures and peoples. HALF THE WORLD feels epic in scope without clocking in at 700+ pages. I love big fat fantasies, but sometimes it’s nice to read something that’s less than 400 pages and still get the same feeling.

♥ This is quite unusual for me, but I actually liked the romance in HALF THE WORLD. It’s not a big part of the book, but it is there. At first, I rolled my eyes when I saw that Thorn and Brand were attracted to each other, because I didn’t want the book to be full of them making eyes at each other and falling in loooove right away. It’s not. Anyway, Thorn and Brand have some missteps, and spend a good portion of the book mad at each other for reasons a lot of people will recognize. I thought the romance bit was a lot more realistic than you usually see, which is why I liked it.

In case you can’t tell, I thought HALF THE WORLD was fantastic. I think I liked it even more than HALF A KING! I cannot wait to see how everything ties up in the last book, HALF A WAR, due out later this year. I need my Yarvi and Thorn fix!

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Joe Abercrombie:
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– leeanna

Book Review: In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis

Book Review: In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnisIn a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis
Series: Not a Drop to Drink #2
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on September 23, 2014
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
3 Stars
The only thing bigger than the world is fear.

Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.

When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.

In this companion to Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis thrillingly combines the heart-swelling hope of a journey, the challenges of establishing your own place in the world, and the gripping physical danger of nature in a futuristic frontier.

Book Review:

I was blown away by the bleak world and strong characters in Mindy McGinnis’s NOT A DROP TO DRINK so I was intrigued to see a companion book set in the same world. IN A HANDFUL OF DUST picks up about ten years after NOT A DROP TO DRINK, and while it’s not necessary to have read the first book, I’d encourage it. Otherwise you’re missing out on a great book.

IN A HANDFUL OF DUST is different for two reasons: it’s from Lucy’s perspective and it shows the wider world outside of the pond. Lucy is much more naive than Lynn, more inclined to see the good in others and situations, more trusting and vulnerable. Lynn was my spirit animal in NOT A DROP TO DRINK, and I couldn’t help but wish this book was also from her point-of-view, since I liked her view of the world so much.

Lucy just kind of grated on my nerves, since she grew up in a disaster-ridden world, knew life was dangerous, but wanted to see the best in things anyway. I’m not that type of person, so I had a hard time seeing her make mistakes due to being too trusting or not thinking before acting. I guess I thought no-nonsense Lynn would have rubbed off more, although Lynn did talk about not wanting Lucy to be like her.

The road trip aspect of IN A HANDFUL OF DUST showed off the effects of the Shortage on more of the world. I did find that interesting, since I’m always curious to see how authors will develop a post-apocalyptic world. But the road trip just didn’t grab my attention like Lynn’s fight for survival by the pond did. It was almost … tame in comparison, although Lucy and Lynn do get in a few dangerous situations.

The ending of the book threw me, too. I’m not going to spoil it, but all I can say is what??

Overall, while I didn’t like IN A HANDFUL OF DUST as much as I liked NOT A DROP TO DRINK, I’m still happy I read it, because I did like knowing what happened to Lucy and Lynn after the events of the first book.

Socialize with the author:

Mindy McGinnis:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Web (Fianna Trilogy #2) by Megan Chance

Book Review: The Web (Fianna Trilogy #2) by Megan ChanceThe Web by Megan Chance
Series: Fianna Trilogy #2
Published by Skyscape on January 20, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mythology, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, NetGalley
Goodreads
2 Stars
In Victorian New York, seventeen-year-old Grace Knox is tangled in the web of an ancient prophecy.

The Fianna, legendary Irish warriors, have been magically called from their undying sleep to aid Ireland in its rebellion against Britain. But the Fianna have awakened in New York alongside their bitter enemies, the Fomori. A prophecy demands that a Druid priestess—a veleda—must choose between these two sides. Grace is this veleda.

But being the veleda means she must sacrifice her power—and her life—to her choice. On one side are her fiancé, Patrick Devlin, and the Fomori. On the other are the Fianna—and the warrior Diarmid Ua Duibhne, with whom Grace shares an undeniable connection. Patrick has promised to find a way to save her life. In three months, at the ancient ritual, Diarmid must wield the knife that kills her.

Grace doesn’t know whom to trust. As dark forces converge on the city, she struggles to discover the truth about her power. Can she change her own destiny? Can she escape the shadows of the past and reach for a future she could never have imagined?

Book Review:

THE WEB is the second book in Megan Chance’s Fianna Trilogy. The series is a cross between historical fiction and fantasy, set in Victorian era New York where heroes of Irish lore have come back to life.

The first book, THE SHADOWS, was just okay for me. My favorite part was the Celtic mythology/fantasy. My biggest complaint with THE SHADOWS was that not a lot happened, and unfortunately, that’s the same complaint I have with THE WEB.

THE WEB suffers from Second Book Syndrome: the plot barely advances, Graces mopes and angsts over being attracted to Derry, and … that’s it, I think. I finished the book about an hour ago, and I can’t think of much to say about it.

Supposedly a Druid priestess, Grace is stuck between the Fianna and the Fomori, heroes and villains of Irish folklore. Between gang boy Derry and her fiancé Patrick. Yup, there’s a love triangle here, but THE WEB focuses mainly on the Grace and Derry leg. I didn’t buy it, especially since they started talking about how much they loved each other in this book. But then I tend to be very critical of romance in YA.

And that’s about it, really. For the length of the book (~380 pages), more should have happened. I wanted more plot and less romance. After the cliffhanger in THE SHADOWS, I just expected more from THE WEB.

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Megan Chance:
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– leeanna

Waiting on Wednesday: Grave Matters by Lauren M. Roy

waiting on wednesday

grave matters by lauren m. royGrave Matters (Night Owls #2) by Lauren M. Roy
Release Date: February 24, 2015

Night Owls bookstore always keeps a light on and evil creatures out. But, as Lauren M. Roy’s thrilling sequel continues, even its supernatural staff isn’t prepared for the dead to come back to life…

Elly grew up training to kill things that go bump in the night, so she’s still getting used to working alongside them. While she’s learned to trust the eclectic group of vampires, Renfields, and succubi at Night Owls bookstore, her new job guarding Boston’s most powerful vampire has her on edge—especially when she realizes something strange is going on with her employer, something even deadlier than usual…

Cavale isn’t thrilled that his sister works for vampires, but he’s determined to repair their relationship, and that means trusting her choices—until Elly’s job lands all of the Night Owls in deep trouble with a vengeful necromancer. And even their collective paranormal skills might not be enough to keep them from becoming part of the necromancer’s undead army…

Last February, I reviewed the first book in the Night Owls series, NIGHT OWLS. I loved the idea of a vampire running a bookstore. I thought it was a solid urban fantasy debut, and so I was quite excited to see there’s another book coming at the end of this month, GRAVE MATTERS! Also, it’s probably horrible, but I’m eager to see what sort of necromancer the author has in store. Her supernatural creatures are pretty true to form, so no sparkly vampires here.

Socialize with the author:

Lauren M. Roy:
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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

– leeanna

Book Review: The Shadows (Fianna Trilogy #1) by Megan Chance

Book Review: The Shadows (Fianna Trilogy #1) by Megan ChanceThe Shadows by Megan Chance
Series: Fianna Trilogy #1
Published by Skyscape on June 3, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mythology, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 389
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
Grace Knox has grown up hearing the folktales of her Irish ancestors, especially about the warriors who fought for control of Ireland. In 19th-century New York City, however, these legends are far from Grace's mind. She's much more concerned with how to protect her family from debt collectors, and whether her childhood friend Patrick Devlin will propose. Patrick is a member of the Fenian Brotherhood, a group of young Irish American men intent on fighting for the independence of their homeland, whatever the cost. Patrick and the Brotherhood use ancient magic to summon mythical warriors to join their fight to protect Ireland. One of them, Diarmid, finds himself drawn to Grace, and she to him. When Diarmid discovers that, in their desperation, the Brotherhood has also summoned a rival group of ancient warriors, he warns Patrick that there will be bloodshed. Grace is caught in the middle of two men she loves, and discovers she alone holds the power to save Ireland?but at a dangerous price.

Book Review:

THE SHADOWS is the first book in a YA historical fiction/fantasy trilogy, mixing Victorian era New York with Celtic mythology. I was curious about the book because of the Celtic connection; I haven’t read a lot of it before, and I’m always interested in learning more and seeing new interpretations.

Overall, THE SHADOWS is an okay book. The Celtic mythology/fantasy aspect was my favorite part. There are a lot of YA cliches, including a love triangle, love at first sight, the well-off boy wanting to rescue the impoverished heroine, a heroine possessing unknown magical powers, etc.

Once you wade through all that, not that much happens. THE SHADOWS feels like setup for the rest of the trilogy, information dumping everything now so action can come later. The book does read quickly, but it’s long at 400 pages — too long for the little that happens within. And to top things off, the book ends on a cliffhanger. A really big cliffhanger.

THE SHADOWS is told from the perspectives of each important character: Grace, Patrick, and Derry. Grace’s chapters are first person point-of-view and the boys are third; Patrick and Derry sounded identical to me. Grace is the impoverished heroine, trying to do what’s right to save her family. Patrick is the rich young friend who has always loved her and wants to marry her. He also wants to see an independent Ireland. Derry is actually Diarmid Ua Duibhne, one of the Fianna. The Fianna are heroes of myth, reawoken to save Ireland.

As I said above, the Celtic mythology/fantasy was my favorite part. I did some quick searching and I don’t think the author deviated a lot from the original sources. But it was new to me, so I enjoyed it.

I was disappointed that THE SHADOWS ends on such a big cliffhanger. After so much buildup there’s a really quick battle scene and then wham! Cliffhanger. I wish more had actually happened in book one, rather than so much setup.

Socialize with the author:

Megan Chance:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Dearest (Woodcutter Sisters #3) by Alethea Kontis

Book Review: Dearest (Woodcutter Sisters #3) by Alethea KontisDearest by Alethea Kontis
Series: Woodcutter Sisters #3
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on February 3, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
Readers met the Woodcutter sisters (named after the days of the week) in Enchanted and Hero. In this delightful third book, Alethea Kontis weaves together some fine-feathered fairy tales to focus on Friday Woodcutter, the kind and loving seamstress. When Friday stumbles upon seven sleeping brothers in her sister Sunday's palace, she takes one look at Tristan and knows he's her future. But the brothers are cursed to be swans by day. Can Friday's unique magic somehow break the spell?

Book Review:

The cover of DEAREST labels the book a companion to Alethea Kontis’s other Woodcutter Sisters books, ENCHANTED and HERO. To me, calling DEAREST a “companion” implied that I didn’t need to read the other books, but I didn’t find that to be true. I spent the first 50 or so pages of the book quite confused, trying to figure out the multitude of characters and whether a scene was a dream or real.

I was confused for a lot of DEAREST. There’s the assumption that you’ve read the other two books, because most of the characters had no introduction. I couldn’t keep most of Friday’s sisters straight, and really, most of her sisters didn’t even need to be mentioned, because they played no role in the story. Maybe I would have appreciated those mentions more if I’d read ENCHANTED and HERO, but regardless of if you’ve read all the books in a series or not, there needs to be some introduction or background when they appear on the page.

As for the story itself … disjointed describes it for me. Friday was somewhat bland: everyone loves her and she loves everyone. There’s nothing she can’t do and everyone wants to help her in every way they can. DEAREST kicks off with a mysterious ocean sundering Arilland; I was more interested in that ocean than Friday, but the flood seemed to only serve the purpose of bringing everyone in the country together in the same spot. I just expected more from such a big event. I also expected more explanations for a lot of other things in the book, such as Friday and Tristan’s instant connection. But the author uses magic as a catch-all — this happened because it’s magic! — which left me feeling like DEAREST was missing some needed elements.

DEAREST is likely a good book for readers who have enjoyed the author’s other Woodcutter Sisters books, but if you haven’t read those yet, I’d skip this.

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Alethea Kontis:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard

Book Review: Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria AveyardRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen #1
Published by HarperTeen on February 10, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 383
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard's sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king's palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood--those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard--a growing Red rebellion--even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

Book Review:

RED QUEEN is a book with a lot of hype behind it. Does it deserve the hype?

First, the book has a gorgeous cover — simple yet eye-catching. I mean, wouldn’t a crown dripping blood catch your attention? And then there’s the summary. I’m a sucker for these types of books where the downtrodden group is ruled by people with special powers. Mare, a Red, ends up working in the palace of the Silver king … and discovers she has powers just like the Silvers who rule her world. All good stuff for me.

But then I started reading RED QUEEN. And like most books that have a lot of hype behind them, RED QUEEN disappointed me. It feels like a mashup of other popular books, with a meandering story, way too many love interests (3!), and an all over the place main character. I did rate the book 3 stars, because the author got my attention for a while and I will probably read the next book to see what happens. But I wasn’t blown away by RED QUEEN like I’d hoped to be, so 3 stars was generous.

I finished the book about a week ago, and I’ve been stumped on what to say about it. It’s just … okay. RED QUEEN tries to be super ambitious but doesn’t deliver on all it wants to do. There’s a lack of worldbuilding, and if you think too hard about what IS explained, you’ll say, “Just HOW does that make sense?” The author tries to show that you can’t trust anyone in the Silver world, but I saw the big betrayal coming way, way ahead of time. So I spent most of the book being frustrated that Mare couldn’t open her eyes a bit more and think about the new world she was dropped into.

I’m really picky with romance, and none of the love interests worked out for me in RED QUEEN. It was totally implausible to me that two Silvers, princes no less, would be interested in Mare. Any time there was a hint of romance, I just wanted to skip to the next scene.

Lastly, Mare. She seemed smart enough at the beginning of the book, explaining that she saw through First Fridays as a way for the Silvers to keep Reds in their place. But then after that, she made one silly decision after another. Yeah, I get that she was tossed into a dangerous life, one she didn’t want, but that doesn’t mean everything suddenly revolves around you. She had constant reminders that her life was now dangerous, but everything magically worked out, every single time.

So what did I like about RED QUEEN? The last few chapters. Those are good, probably the best part of the whole book. They’re what led to me wanting to see what happens next to Mare.

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Victoria Aveyard:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Price of Blood (Emma #2) by Patricia Bracewell

Book Review: The Price of Blood (Emma #2) by Patricia BracewellThe Price of Blood by Patricia Bracewell
Series: Emma of Normandy #2
Published by Viking on February 5, 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 448
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
5 Stars
Menaced by Vikings and enemies at court, Queen Emma defends her children and her crown in a riveting medieval adventure.

Readers first met Emma of Normandy in Patricia Bracewell’s gripping debut novel, Shadow on the Crown. Unwillingly thrust into marriage to England’s King Æthelred, Emma has given the king a son and heir, but theirs has never been a happy marriage. In The Price of Blood, Bracewell returns to 1006 when a beleaguered Æthelred, still haunted by his brother’s ghost, governs with an iron fist and a royal policy that embraces murder.

As tensions escalate and enmities solidify, Emma forges alliances to protect her young son from ambitious men—even from the man she loves. In the north there is treachery brewing, and when Viking armies ravage England, loyalties are shattered and no one is safe from the sword.

Rich with intrigue, compelling personalities, and fascinating detail about a little-known period in history, The Price of Blood will captivate fans of both historical fiction and fantasy novels such as George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series.

Book Review:

In 2013, I read an amazing historical fiction book that stuck with me. I named SHADOW ON THE CROWN, the first book in Patricia Bracewell’s trilogy about Emma of Normandy, one of my favorite books for 2013. Every so often, I would check to see when the next book was coming, because I needed more of Emma’s story.

I had to wait two years for more, but THE PRICE OF BLOOD was more than worth the wait. I just hope I don’t have to wait another two years for the last book of the trilogy. After reading the last page of THE PRICE OF BLOOD, my greedy self needs more again. But you would too, because this book is fantastic. I highly recommend it if you like historical fiction. The author interested me in a period of history I never cared about before, which is a mark of successful historical fiction for me.

Like SHADOW ON THE CROWN, THE PRICE OF BLOOD is told from four viewpoints: Emma, Queen of England; Æthelred, King of England; Athelstan, the king’s oldest son; and Elgiva, daughter of one of the king’s chief rivals. It’s easy to know who’s who, and the different characters give a more complete picture of what’s going on in 1006 England. In the first book, Emma was my favorite. But in this book, I also enjoyed Athelstan and Elgiva, as I felt like their stories really expanded. Athelstan has to deal with his paranoid father who thinks Athelstan wants the throne at any cost. Like Emma, Elgiva is a woman in a man’s world, but they go about trying to acquire power and influence in very different ways. Emma uses knowledge and connections while Elgiva uses sex and attempts to manipulate men into doing what she wants. It was an interesting contrast for me.

There’s a lot going on in THE PRICE OF BLOOD, but in the best way possible. Since it had been two years since I was last in this world, I was lost at the beginning. The book includes a helpful glossary, dramatis personae, and map, and after a few chapters, I found my footing. I couldn’t read quickly enough. Patricia Bracewell penned an intricately written tale, bringing together all four characters and their individual struggles to show the effect of Viking invasions on England. Let’s just say the title is an apt one.

THE PRICE OF BLOOD is almost like watching an episode of Vikings — but from the view of the English. The author doesn’t shy away from describing anything, from an ugly battle to a woman being claimed by an unwanted husband to the stark difficulties of living in a country that can’t fight off a more powerful enemy. I actually felt like I was beside the characters, waiting for the next town to be burned. There’s a high level of historical detail in this book, but it doesn’t feel overly researched or like the author’s trying to cram facts down your throat. Patricia Bracewell’s just trying to tell a great story, and she does a brilliant job of it.

Extra!

The publisher, Viking, and the author have created an online book club kit. It’s pretty cool — there’s a recipe, suggested music, little known facts for the time period, and a Q&A with the author. Be sure to give it a look!

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Patricia Bracewell:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Diabolical Miss Hyde (Electric Empire #1) by Viola Carr

Book Review: The Diabolical Miss Hyde (Electric Empire #1) by Viola CarrThe Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr
Series: Electric Empire #1
Published by Harper Voyager on February 10, 2015
Genres: Alternate Universe, Fantasy, Mystery, Steampunk
Pages: 464
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads
4 Stars
Magic, mystery, and romance mix in this edgy retelling of the classic The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde–in which Dr. Eliza Jekyll is the daughter of the infamous Henry.

In an electric-powered Victorian London, Dr. Eliza Jekyll is a crime scene investigator, hunting killers with inventive new technological gadgets. Now, a new killer is splattering London with blood, drugging beautiful women and slicing off their limbs. Catching "the Chopper" could make Eliza's career—or get her burned. Because Eliza has a dark secret. A seductive second self, set free by her father's forbidden magical elixir: wild, impulsive Lizzie Hyde.

When the Royal Society sends their enforcer, the mercurial Captain Lafayette, to prove she's a sorceress, Eliza must resist the elixir with all her power. But as the Chopper case draws her into London's luminous, magical underworld, Eliza will need all the help she can get. Even if it means getting close to Lafayette, who harbors an evil curse of his own.

Even if it means risking everything and setting vengeful Lizzie free . . .

Book Review:

THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE originally caught my attention because it looked like it had steampunk elements, fantasy, evil curses, magical forensics, and a dark twin. This is one of those books that’s difficult to describe, but in a good way. Happily, the book had all it promised and more — I’m already looking forward to the next book in the Electric Empire series.

THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE is narrated in turn by Dr. Eliza Jekyll and Lizzie Hyde. Both are the same person, but with very different personalities and abilities. Those last names should sound familiar — remember the classic Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? The author goes off that a bit, but makes it all her own.

Viola Carr wrote Eliza and Lizzie so differently that I never had any trouble telling them apart. Although they share a body, they felt like two distinct characters, and their dual narration/personalities was probably my favorite part of the book. It can bug the heck out of me when an author switches perspective mid-chapter or even mid-scene, but it really worked here. I loved the way one would take over from another. At first, Eliza tries to keep Lizzie subdued with alchemy, and when Lizzie does get out, Eliza’s relieved she can’t remember anything Lizzie does. But over the course of THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE, Eliza begins to trust and rely on Lizzie, and vice versa.

Dr. Eliza Jekyll is something of a forensic scientist, using her knowledge, experience, and gadgets to help the police solve crimes. Given the time period of an alternate London, many on the force aren’t willing to work with her, but Eliza trudges onwards in the search for justice. The case in THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE is a gruesome one: a serial killer takes body parts from each victim with surgical precision. Why? The appearance of a Royal Society watchdog hampers the investigation. Does the Society suspect Eliza of using unorthodox science?

The murder mystery was pretty twisty for me. The last quarter of THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE really surprised me, which is always something I enjoy.

I would have liked more worldbuilding, because the glimpses I got to see were fascinating. There’s an underworld of fae creatures, but other than a few scenes, we don’t learn much about them. Sadface. I also wanted to know more about Eliza’s London, where the crown decides what is allowed science and what is witchcraft. Sometimes, THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE felt like setup for the rest of the series, moving characters here and there, giving out this bit of vital information or that. Also, Eliza has a fascination with a killer she put away before the book started; I felt like I was missing some important background on the Todd/Eliza equation.

Aside from a bit of nitpicking, I really enjoyed THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE. It has an alchemical je ne sais quoi to it. Bring on more of the Electric Empire!

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– leeanna

Waiting on Wednesday: The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

waiting on wednesday

the orphan queen by jodi meadowsThe Orphan Queen (Orphan Queen #1) by Jodi Meadows
Release Date: March 10, 2015

Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

I’m a big fan of Jodi Meadows. I’ve been looking forward to THE ORPHAN QUEEN ever since it was announced. I really enjoyed her first fantasy series, Newsoul, and I’m curious to see what other worlds and characters she’ll create. Plus, this series is a duology, so I won’t have to wait 3 years for the whole story.

One more awesome thing? In the book, Wil is great at calligraphy. So Jodi decided to learn it too, and has been sharing tons of photos. I even got a card with quotes from her first series!

Thank you, @unicornwarlord! Even prettier in person.

A photo posted by Leeanna (@leeannadotme) on

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

– leeanna