Book Review: Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Book Review: Of Fire and Stars by Audrey CoulthurstOf Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
Series: Of Fire and Stars #1
Published by Balzer & Bray on November 22, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, LGBT, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads
5 Stars
Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine (called Mare), sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, each discovers there’s more to the other than she thought. Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. Soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

Book Review:

Every so often I read a book I love so much that it’s hard for me to review because I love it so much. OF FIRE AND STARS is one of those books.

I’ve been looking forward to OF FIRE AND STARS since February 2016, if not longer. I try not to develop too many expectations for a book, but: princesses! magic! horses! fantasy! princess loving princess!

Princess Dennaleia is sent to Mynaria as a bride for its prince, to cement the treaty between her country and his. She’s been preparing for this her entire life, but lessons haven’t included how to hide her Affinity for fire, which could get her killed because Mynaria doesn’t like magic. Princess Amaranthine, or Mare as she prefers to be known, is the prince’s thorny sister, who bucks against authority and expectations at every possible chance. She’d rather be training horses than at a royal dinner.

When Dennaleia needs to learn how to ride — horses are woven through Mynaria’s culture, even in court ceremonies — Mare’s assigned to teach her. Which results in an enemies-to-friends-and-then-more relationship. Denna’s in awe of Mare and wants Mare to like her. Mare’s not so impressed by Denna, but over time, she can’t help but change her mind.

OF FIRE AND STARS reminded me a bit of a Tamora Pierce book, or at least the nostalgia I have for those books. I liked the prickly banter between Denna and Mare, the slow melting of Mare’s dislike as she learned more about Denna, and that ending. Oh man, that ending. Let’s just say I can’t wait for the next book in the series. Also, I know I’ll be rereading OF OF FIRE AND STARS when I need a pick-me up or when I’m in a reading slump.

Okay, I give up. I’m meandering all over the place in this review, because all I really want to say is: I ♥♥♥ OF FIRE AND STARS. This is the princess loving princess, with magic and horses, fantasy book I’ve always wanted. The whole time I was reading, I kept thinking “Is this real? Am I really reading this book I’ve wanted forever?” And yes, yes I was.

Socialize with the author:

Audrey Coulthurst:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Belle Chasse by Suzanne Johnson

Book Review: Belle Chasse by Suzanne JohnsonBelle Chasse by Suzanne Johnson
Series: Sentinels of New Orleans #5
Published by Tor on November 8, 2016
Genres: Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Blog Tour
Goodreads
4 Stars
With the wizard-elven treaty on the verge of collapse, the preternatural world stands on the brink of war. Unless former wizard sentinel DJ Jaco manages to keep the elven leader, Quince Randolph, focused on peace and not personal matters.

With no one on the throne, Faerie is in chaos, with rival princes battling for power. The still-undead pirate, Jean Lafitte, is building his own army of misfits, and DJ—stripped of her job and hiding in the Beyond to avoid the death sentence handed down by the wizard Council of Elders—can’t get anywhere near her beloved New Orleans or her significant something-or-other, Alex.

It's time to choose sides. Friends will become enemies, enemies will become allies, and not everyone will survive. DJ and her friends will learn a hard lesson: sometimes, even the ultimate sacrifice isn’t enough.

belle chasse by suzanne johnson blog tour

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for BELLE CHASSE by Suzanne Johnson. The tour is hosted by Bewitching Book Tours and you can visit all the stops here. There’s a tour-wide giveaway after my review. This is a series I’ve enjoyed over the years, so I was excited to see BELLE CHASSE release!

Book Review:

“There was a bounty on my head, it was four days before Christmas, and I was having turtle gumbo with a merman, an undead pirate king, two loups-garou, and my best friend–a human pregnant with the half-elven child who had unknowingly helped set this whole debacle in motion. Plus a newbie vampire upstairs who didn’t like the smell of food anymore.”

And so kicks off BELLE CHASSE, the fifth book in Suzanne Johnson’s Sentinels of New Orleans series. BELLE CHASSE picks up immediately after the game-changing events of PIRATE’S ALLEY; the author gives a good refresher if it’s been a while since you read that book.

I’ve been looking forward to this book ever since DJ had to run for her life, and it delivers everything about this series that I like. There’s humor, deadly moments, preternatural politics, Rene, Jean Lafitte, wizards being stupid, New Orleans flavor, and even a jaunt into Faery. As a fan of Jean Lafitte (I got a question right on Jeopardy about him, thanks to this series!) and Rene, I was very happy to see both of them get plenty of page and plot time. Plus, I snickered every time I thought about Rene buying DJ pink items on his shopping trips.

Thanks to all the political maneuverings, I felt like BELLE CHASSE was longer than it actually is. I mean that in a good way — the preternatural is on the verge of war, and there’s a lot of factions to consider and plenty of people out for themselves. This series has some a long way from the first book; it’s one of those series that gets better with every installment. I had no idea the series would end up here back when I read ROYAL STREET in 2012. Sentinel DJ has come such a long way, it’s seriously incredible.

When I reviewed PIRATE’S ALLEY, I said that book was setting the scene for some serious preternatural action. Some of that action is in BELLE CHASSE, but this installment also increases the buildup, really raising the stakes for everyone involved, be it wizard, elf, or outlaw. DJ really has to think through her own loyalties and assumptions about the different factions, realizing what she can change and what she can’t. I admired her dedication to Eugenie, the determination to do what’s best for her friend while not compromising her moral values.

I was happy to return to DJ’s New Orleans, and after reading BELLE CHASSE, I’m eager for even more of this fantastic series!

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:

author suzanne johnsonSuzanne Johnson is the author of the award-winning Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series but perhaps is best known for her romantic suspense and paranormal romance books written as Susannah Sandlin, including the Penton Vampire Legacy paranormal romance series, the Wilds of the Bayou suspense series, and The Collectors romantic thriller series. Her awards include two Holt Medallions in 2013 and 2015, a 2015 Booksellers Best Award in romantic suspense, and nominations in 2014 and 2015 for the RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Award. A displaced New Orleanian, she currently lives in Auburn, Alabama. Suzanne loves SEC football, fried gator on a stick, all things Cajun, and redneck reality TV.
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– leeanna

Book Review: Glitter by Aprilynne Pike

Book Review: Glitter by Aprilynne PikeGlitter by Aprilynne Pike
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on October 25, 2016
Genres: Romance, Science Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
Outside the palace of Versailles, it’s modern day. Inside, the people dress, eat, and act like it’s the eighteenth century—with the added bonus of technology to make court life lavish, privileged, and frivolous. The palace has every indulgence, but for one pretty young thing, it’s about to become a very beautiful prison.

When Danica witnesses an act of murder by the young king, her mother makes a cruel power play . . . blackmailing the king into making Dani his queen. When she turns eighteen, Dani will marry the most ruthless and dangerous man of the court. She has six months to escape her terrifying destiny. Six months to raise enough money to disappear into the real world beyond the palace gates.

Her ticket out? Glitter. A drug so powerful that a tiny pinch mixed into a pot of rouge or lip gloss can make the wearer hopelessly addicted. Addicted to a drug Dani can sell for more money than she ever dreamed.

But in Versailles, secrets are impossible to keep. And the most dangerous secret—falling for a drug dealer outside the palace walls—is one risk she has to take.

Book Review:

I have to stop falling for books with eye-catching covers and intriguing premises. I thought GLITTER sounded kinda cool, different from a lot of what’s out there. Drug dealing in a futuristic but era-appropriate Versailles setting? Unfortunately, GLITTER didn’t hold my attention and I had to force myself to finish.

Only to be disappointed by the massive cliffhanger. Honestly, I’m really miffed. Based on that ending, I assume GLITTER is the first in a series, but at this time, I don’t know if there’s a second book or not.

So, very annoying cliffhanger aside, what else about GLITTER turned me off? Danica’s supposed to be a drug dealer, selling Glitter to make enough money for her escape. But she doesn’t start selling until after page 100. The beginning of the book was super slow and confusing for me, more about fancy dresses and Sonoman-Versailles customs. I still don’t entirely understand the whole Sonoman-Versailles thing. I also don’t know why the King needed Danica’s votes so badly — why did the board want to oust him from his kingdom?

I also didn’t get the whole Saber/Danica relationship. It would’ve worked much better for me if they’d gone from “I dislike you” to friends rather than falling in love. Because the moment when their relationship changed from frosty to hot was, well, it didn’t ring true to me. If I was a guy, and I saw a girl threatened and hurt by her fiance, I wouldn’t think kissing her would be the best move. But that’s just me, and I’m usually critical of romances.

Danica annoyed me for a lot of GLITTER. I get that she’s supposed to be an anti-heroine, more concerned with her own survival than anyone else. That’s fine with me. But I didn’t feel like I got to know her, and because of her first-person POV, I didn’t get to know anyone else, either.

I rated GLITTER two stars because there were a few twists I didn’t anticipate, and I appreciated that bad stuff happened to Danica. But would I check out a sequel? Probably not.

Socialize with the author:

Aprilynne Pike:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Book Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare BlakeThree Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Series: Three Dark Crowns #1
Published by HarperTeen on September 20, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
3 Stars
Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

Book Review:

THREE DARK CROWNS is the first in a new dark fantasy series about three queens, only one of which will survive to take the throne. The queens are sisters, and after their sixteenth birthday, they have a year to kill each other. The last one standing wins the crown.

I was intrigued by THREE DARK CROWNS because I love me some dark and twisted fantasy. Sisters killing each other for the throne? Gimme. Each a user of a different type of magic? Gimme. Political factions scheming for power? Gimme.

THREE DARK CROWNS was a good series starter, but just a bit too slow for me. The majority of this first book is set up, introducing the sisters and their people, the different types of magic, and meandering along to the ceremony of Beltane. I think the author did a good job of describing the sisters’ current situations, but I was lost on the worldbuilding as a whole. For the longest time, I thought each sister was on a separate island, and I didn’t understand references to the mainland. Yes, I know there’s a map, but it was hard for me to make out land boundaries.

Because the pacing was slow, the middle of the book was a bit of a slog for me. I would’ve preferred more action and a less token romance. Each sister had her own romance subplot, and I’m not a romance fan, so that was a lot for me. Now, I should say I liked how Arsinoe handled her suitor. That was good. But her buddy Jules? Meh.

But the end of THREE DARK CROWNS redeemed that slow middle for me, and this is a series I’ll continue. With all the set up out of the way, I’m hoping the second book will be a lot darker. For a book about three queens who must murder each other, there was surprisingly little Bad Stuff happening.

Socialize with the author:

Kendare Blake:
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– leeanna

Book Review: First Position by Melissa Brayden

Book Review: First Position by Melissa BraydenFirst Position by Melissa Brayden
Published by Bold Strokes Books on August 16, 2016
Genres: LGBT, Romance
Pages: 249
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
5 Stars
Anastasia Mikhelson is the rising star of the New York City Ballet. She’s sacrificed creature comforts, a social life, as well as her own physical well-being for perfection in dance. Even her reputation as The Ice Queen doesn’t faze her. Though Ana’s at the peak of her career, competition from a new and noteworthy dancer puts all she’s worked for in jeopardy.

While Natalie Frederico has shown herself to be a prodigy when it comes to ballet, she much prefers modern dance and living on her own terms. Life is too short for anything else. However, when the opportunity to dance with the New York City Ballet is thrust upon her, it’s not like she could say no. Dealing with the company’s uptight lead is another story, however. When the two are forced to work side-by-side, sparks begin to fly onstage and off.

Book Review:

The first time I read FIRST POSITION, I sped through it so quickly I knew I’d have a hard time writing a good review. It’s rare that a contemporary romance book grabs me so strongly. I originally wanted to read the book because it’s set in the ballet world — I’ve got a thing for ballet books — so getting a ballet book with two great characters and a sweet romance was a real bonus.

Ana is your typical overachieving, dedicated ballet dancer. At the start of the book, she’s finally promoted to principal dancer after years of hard work. Convinced this is her year — as long as she figures out how to bring more emotion to her dancing — Ana’s shocked to have newcomer Natalie share the biggest role of her life. Natalie is everything Ana’s not: the life of the party, a slacker, and almost flippant about her dance talent.

By sharing the lead role in a new ballet, Ana’s supposed to brush up Natalie’s technique, and Natalie’s supposed to help Ana find emotion. They start out as rivals, but that turns to something more as that sharing spreads beyond the job. The romance in FIRST POSITION was a nice slow burn, with plenty of time for Ana and Natalie to get to know each other and spend time together. I really liked how they influenced each other and how each woman grew over the course of the book.

There’s also something really big that happens, and while I won’t spoil it, I liked how the author handled overcoming a disaster. I also liked how it eventually made Ana and Natalie’s relationship even stronger. I liked how Natalie brought Ana out of her shell and made her see there’s more to life than ballet, while Ana helped Natalie realize being serious once in a while was a good thing.

Notice how I’m using “I like” over and over? Yeah. I loved FIRST POSITION. I enjoyed this book enough to read it twice in a month, and I’m greedy enough to wish FIRST POSITION was double its length. This book was the perfect mix of slow romance, character development, fun sexy times, humor, seriousness, ballet, and good writing.

Socialize with the author:

Melissa Brayden:
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– leeanna

Book Review: A Class Act by T.L. Hayes

Book Review: A Class Act by T.L. HayesA Class Act by TL Hayes
Published by Bold Strokes Books on August 1, 2016
Genres: LGBT, Romance
Pages: 240
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
1 Stars
Twenty-five-year-old theater grad student Rory Morgan walks into her Intro to Theater class expecting it to be a piece of cake. She isn’t prepared for the diminutive little fireball of a professor who walks in. She is instantly captivated by Dr. Margaret Parks, her forty-year-old professor, and even works up the courage to flirt a little, which Dr. Parks quickly dismisses. After their first class, Rory finds herself thinking about the professor more and more and spends most of her class time watching the professor as she passionately does her job. Rory really wants to ask her out, but she doesn’t know if the professor is even gay, to say nothing of the fact that she’s her professor. What follows is a romance full of humor, passionate awakenings, and college politics. Can they overcome the hurdles that lie before them and still be a class act?

Book Review:

I’m not always a fan of romance, but as A CLASS ACT has two of the tropes I do like (older/younger and professor/student), I thought I would like it. Combining the two should have resulted in a make-me-happy romance, but I just couldn’t get into this one.

I almost put A CLASS ACT down after the first few chapters. Rory is so judgmental of other women that I got sick of her thoughts very quickly. From the first chapter: “She always fell for good conversationalists who could challenge her on any given topic and who were not slaves to fashion and makeup.” It’s like her brain is full of stereotypes on how butches should think and act.

But throw all that aside, because Rory’s immediately attracted to her professor, Margaret Parks. By chapter two, Margaret’s noticing how attractive Rory is. Soon after that, Rory’s pursuing Margaret, and the rest is mostly history. But here’s the thing: I never felt any chemistry between Rory and Margaret. I could have been reading about two stick figures.

I wanted to like A CLASS ACT. I did. I even pushed through my initial “this isn’t for me” feeling and finally finished. But all I remember is the blah characters, insta-love romance, writing full of cliches and honeyed dialogue (Rory and Margaret refer to each other as “my love” 30+ times), and a lame conflict.

– leeanna

Book Review: Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton

Book Review: Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle ClaytonShiny Broken Pieces by Dhonielle Clayton, Sona Charaipotra
Series: Tiny Pretty Things #2
Published by HarperTeen on July 12, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Diversity, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads
5 Stars
June, Bette, and Gigi have given their all to dance at Manhattan’s most elite ballet school. Now they are competing one final time for a spot at the prestigious American Ballet Company. With the stakes higher than ever, these girls have everything to lose…and no one is playing nice.

June is starting to finally see herself as a prima ballerina. However, getting what she wants might cost her everything—including the only boy she’s ever loved. Legacy dancer Bette is determined to clear her name after she was suspended and accused of hurting her rival, Gigi. Even if she returns, though, will she ever regain the spotlight she craves? And Gigi is not going to let Bette—or the other dancers who bullied her—go unpunished. But as revenge consumes her, Gigi may be the one who pays the price.

After years of grueling auditions, torn ribbons, and broken hearts, it all comes down to this last dance. Who will make the cut? And who will lose her dream forever?

Book Review:

I loved TINY PRETTY THINGS last year. I read it twice before I reviewed it. I gushed about it. I couldn’t wait for the sequel.

SHINY BROKEN PIECES is just as good as TINY PRETTY THINGS. As with the first book, I read it twice and loved it each time. I read it twice because I sped through too quickly the first time to be able to write a coherent review.

First, I love me a good ballet book. You know how sometimes there’s no actual dancing in a ballet book? That’s so not the case here. Yep, there’s plenty of drama in SHINY BROKEN PIECES, but there’s also sooooo much dancing. The ballet this time is Swan Lake, and I greatly enjoyed watching everyone practice and perform.

Second, the characters. Bette, Gigi, and June are back. After last year’s accident, Bette’s been suspended from the school, because everyone suspects she pushed Gigi. But Bette isn’t going to sit in the shadows and give up quietly. I liked the mystery aspect of SHINY BROKEN PIECES, where Bette is trying to clear her name. The authors had me thinking this person or that did it; the big reveal had me going :O.

But back to the characters. Everyone is dealing with a lot. Gigi’s trying to recover from the accident, but is also drifting into mean girl territory. June is battling her eating disorder while figuring out what she wants in the future. The characters have grown and changed from the first book, and there’s something to like/dislike about each of them.

Really, the short version of what I’m trying to say is: I love Bette, Gigi, and June. They’re cutthroat, dedicated, driven, and not above a little backstabbing when necessary. I also love that Gigi and June both address the lack of diversity in the ballet world.

Third, everything else. Yeah, this isn’t turning out to be a good review, but I just love this series something fierce, and that’s rare for me. I swear, Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton could write a cereal box and I’d be enthralled. I sincerely hope there’s another book in the Tiny Pretty Things series — while SHINY BROKEN PIECES does tie up a lot of the storylines, I’m greedy and want more!

Socialize with the authors:
Sona Charaipotra:
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Dhonielle Clayton:
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– leeanna

Book Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

Book Review: And I Darken by Kiersten WhiteAnd I Darken by Kiersten White
Series: The Conquerors Saga #1
Published by Delacorte Press on June 28, 2016
Genres: Alternate Universe, Historical Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 496
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
4 Stars
NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL.

And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

Book Review:

AND I DARKEN asks one very cool question: what if Vlad the Impaler had been a girl? That was all I needed to pick up this book, because I really liked the idea of gender-swapping Vlad into Lada.

THE GOOD:

–Lada. Lada is the real standout of AND I DARKEN. I absolutely loved that she was vicious and mean. Sometimes she’s almost a silly caricature (because she’s always so bloodthirsty), but I so adored having a female character who didn’t want to be liked and didn’t care about what other people thought of her. If I were Lada, stuck in her world where women were supposed to embroider and be gentle and marry like chattel for the advantage of their fathers, I’d be just as nasty and determined to find my own way. Vlad the Impaler didn’t have an easy childhood, and neither does Lada.

–The love triangle. I’m quite surprised that I liked the love triangle aspect of this book. Well, I liked some of it. There’s no obvious choice here. Mehmed really could have Lada or Radu or both. I liked that the author explored the toxic branches of the triangle, the jealousy and hard choices it made for Lada and Radu.

THE BAD:

–Too long. AND I DARKEN is almost 500 pages. It’s the first book in a trilogy. AND I DARKEN is way too long. There were parts where I wanted to put the book down and take a snooze. I appreciate the author trying to make sure the reader understood the various politics of the time, but I wish she had condensed some of it.

–Mehmed. I didn’t like Mehmed at all. I didn’t really know why Lada and Radu were both attracted to him. The author kept telling me he was charismatic and a great guy, but she never showed me he was. She did show me he was a jerk — I can’t believe he told Lada the women of the harem were just a duty, not special like she was. I can’t see vicious Lada buying that, can you?

Overall, I liked the idea of AND I DARKEN. The execution was off at times, but it’s a series I would continue. I need more of Lada in my life!

Socialize with the author:

Kiersten White:
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– leeanna

Book Review: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Book Review: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi MeadowsMy Lady Jane Published by HarperTeen on June 7, 2016
Genres: Alternate Universe, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 512
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
4 Stars
Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…

Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…

Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.

The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?

Book Review:

MY LADY JANE is a book that shouldn’t work, but it does. There’s a mishmash of things: shapeshifters, pop culture references, fourth wall breaking, tons of humor, and alternate history. Jane is still Queen of England for nine days, but Edward lives and is on a quest to retake his throne after Mary deposes Jane. And, maybe most importantly, MY LADY JANE is hilarious.

Humor can be hit or miss for me, especially in written form, but I must share a sense of humor with the authors, because I found their writing super funny. That said, I’ve never seen/read THE PRINCESS BRIDE, and I think there’s a lot of references to it in MY LADY JANE. But there were plenty of other things to keep me laughing: Jane’s bookworm antics, Gifford turning into a horse every day, Edward hearing he’s a spoiled brat, etc.

In this version of England, there are two factions. Shapeshifters (E∂ians) and non-shapeshifters (Verities). They’re not religious factions, but as people have taken sides, it’s very reminiscent of Protestants versus Catholics. Just a whole lot more fun. The authors take the idea that King Edward was poisoned and run with it, giving him a happily ever after just as they do with Jane. This is first book I’ve read that develops Edward as a real person, and I’ve read a lot of Tudor books. Same with Gifford, aka G, aka Guildford Dudley. He’s not the jerk I always assumed him to be. I had a lot of fun with the authors’ alternate versions of such famous historical figures.

I liked a whole lot about MY LADY JANE:
♥The alternate history, as I already mentioned. Jane Grey deserves a happy ending, and I’m really happy to see her get one.

♥The E∂ian concept was fun, although at one point I thought Oprah was passing out shapeshifting forms (and you get a dog! and you get a horse! and you get a bird!).

♥The romances. Jane and G are arranged, just like they are in history. But here, G turns into a horse every single day, leaving almost no time for him and Jane to get to know each other. And at first, Jane’s furious she had to marry G, who she assumes is a philanderer, because no one knows the truth about him. Over the course of the book, they really develop as a couple, with plenty of misunderstandings and tender moments. They go from enemies to friends at a believable clip.

MY LADY JANE is perfect for when you need a combination of history and humor.

Socialize with the authors:

Cynthia Hand:
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Brodi Ashton:
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Jodi Meadows:
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– leeanna

Book Review: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Book Review: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith RussoIf I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Published by Flatiron Books on May 3, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
4 Stars
Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school in Lambertville, Tennessee. Like any other girl, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. There’s a reason why she transferred schools for her senior year, and why she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

And then she meets Grant Everett. Grant is unlike anyone she’s ever met—open, honest, kind—and Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself…including her past. But she’s terrified that once she tells Grant the truth, he won't be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that she used to be Andrew.

Book Review:

IF I WAS YOUR GIRL is an #OwnVoices book. I am so happy that there’s finally a book about a trans teen by a transwoman author published by a big company. I’m not devaluing the importance of small/indie presses, it’s just those books have less of a chance of finding their way into libraries/hands of teens who need them.

And let’s not forget the #OwnVoices, because that’s a really big thing. Imagine if you were in Amanda’s shoes, and you saw the author went through many of the same things her character did, and came out stronger on the other side? It’s a big deal.

In some ways, I feel IF I WAS YOUR GIRL is just a bit too easy and hopeful, but on the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with that. Amanda does have a relatively easy time in the South, even going to church once with extreme conservatives, and having an accepting group of friends, but… it just shows that you can possibly find support anywhere. And not every trans story needs to be full of doom and gloom. Yes, there’s some of that here, but it’s more about Amanda learning to really live her life, to overcome fears and realize she deserves to be loved as she is.

Socialize with the author:

Meredith Russo:
Website

– leeanna