Review: The Boleyn Deceit by Laura Andersen

Title: The Boleyn Deceit
Author: Laura Andersen
Series: The Boleyn Trilogy
Rating:
 ★★★★★

If a book is good, it makes me feel a lot of emotions. If a book is amazing, it makes me feel too many emotions and I end up face-first on the floor because the emotions take over and I can’t function. The Boleyn Deceit had me on the floor, unable to figure out what to do with my emotions and wondering why history wasn’t Andersen’s books.

The Boleyn Deceit follows shortly after The Boleyn King. Minuette and Dominic are in love, but William has his heart set on Minuette. Elizabeth is wishing she could admit her feelings for Robert Dudley without repercussions. Minuette is still searching for the person behind the death of her friend, and is becoming the center of rumors and death threats. All the drama and intrigue of the Tudor court is there and it’s hard to believe this isn’t how history happened.

Elizabeth is the same, stubborn, strong, determined woman in this series as she is written in the history books. She is levelheaded most of the time, but both she and William have the Tudor temper to deal with at times. Dominic is calm, controlled, and rational. Minuette is innocent, but not as naive as others believe. She may not be as experienced in the darker side of court life, but that doesn’t mean she can’t play the game.

The dynamic between these four has changed from the first novel. In the beginning, the weight of responsibilities didn’t weigh so heavy on them. They were never carefree, but they were able to forget their troubles, if only for a little while, and just be friends. William looked to these three to be his support, to always tell him the truth because they are the only ones he trusts. In The Boleyn Deceit, secrets have changed their relationships and even though they say they still trust each other completely, William becoming king means that is not always true. As William adjusts to being king, his relationships become more about usefulness and that in turn changes the relationships between the close four.

The weaving of the deception and trickery is so fantastic that just when I thought everything had been revealed, Andersen adds another twist that fits to perfectly that I couldn’t believe I didn’t see it coming. There are layers of deceit and just as one knot unravels, another forms. It’s deliciously tangled and I love it.

The Boleyn Deceit is a novel just as amazing and breathtaking as any story from history. Andersen has created characters and plots that are so perfectly in tune with the period that I forget I’m reading an alternate history novel. I’m a huge history buff and while I contemplate how things would have turned out if one thing were changed in the story, I’m usually sticking with the facts. Andersen makes me wish this is how everything turned out. Her writing and story are so perfect that for once, I want to change history. The Boleyn Reckoning cannot get here soon enough.

If The Boleyn Deceit sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
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Thank you to Random House publishers and NetGalley for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock

Title: Hemlock
Author: Kathleen Peacock
Series: Hemlock
Rating:
★★★★

I really wasn’t sure about Hemlock. It had an interesting idea behind it, but I felt like the werewolf storyline could really go bad. It had the potential to end up kind of cheesy and unbelievable. Somewhere between the first few chapters and a third of the way through the novel, all my fears were gone and I was hooked. I stayed up way too late to finish this book, but it was completely worth it.

Mackenzie lost her best friend Amy to a werewolf attack five months ago. The wolf was never found and without a sense of closure, Amy is haunting Mac’s dreams. Jason, Amy’s boyfriend at the time, has turned to drinking and bad life choices to forget. Kyle, the last member of their group, has tried to be there for his friends, but he’s had to deal with Amy’s death as well. When there’s another werewolf attack in town, the past is brought back up and the three of them must face secrets that threaten not only their friendships, but the town as well.

Mac is a perfectly flawed character that works to overcome her demons. She’s not a strong fighter or the best thinker, and she lets the past cloud her judgment, but she fights as hard as she can for those she cares about. She isn’t softhearted, but she is sympathetic to the werewolf plight, even though one killed her best friend. She knows one is not a reflection of them all and she believes they still deserve to have rights. She’s worried about the people she loves leaving her because her mother left when she was a baby and her father took off a few years later. She keeps everyone at a slight distance so it supposedly won’t hurt as much when they leave her. All of these little pieces come together to create one of the best characters I’ve read in a Young Adult novel.

Jason and Kyle are the not-really-a-love-triangle counterparts. Mac cares for both of them, but it is obvious where her heart lies, at least in Hemlock. Jason’s idea of honoring Amy’s death is revenge. He loses himself in the bottom of an alcohol bottle and vows to destroy the creatures that destroyed Amy. Kyle feels responsible for Amy’s death and beats himself up over that guilt every day. He doesn’t self-destruct, though, and vows to never let something like that happen to someone he cares about again. Each boy takes drastically different paths when it comes to how they deal with Amy’s death. Having these two complete opposites was interesting to read and made for some extremely tense moments.

Hemlock completely surprised me. I really was not expecting to find myself so invested and involved with these characters. The ending has me needing the next book and I’m very happy I waited to read Hemlock because I don’t have to wait for Thornhill. This is a fantastic read that blends the real world and the world Peacock has created perfectly. This is an amazing start to what I hope is an equally amazing series.

If Hemlock sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
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Posting Update

Some of you may have noticed the blog has gone back to posting just reviews. I promise, that is not my intention. I liked writing Can’t Wait For Mondays and Book Talks. However, I’ve been fighting back against some health issues and I haven’t been able to create posts like I would like. I haven’t even been able to read many books. Most of the posts were set up over a month ago.

I’m hoping I’ll be able to get back to reading and posting as much as I was a couple months ago. I enjoyed hearing your opinions and I hope you enjoy reading the reviews.

Until then, I’ll be working on getting back to a healthy point, reading when I can, and writing reviews when time allows.

 

Review: Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Title: Wings
Author: Aprilynne Pike
Series: Wings
Rating:
★★★★

I had not heard of Aprilynne Pike until I was in a small conversation with her and a couple other authors on Twitter. After that conversation, I looked into her books and decided to give them a try. Wings is the first of a series and the first book of Pike’s that I read. I went in expecting nothing and was pleasantly surprised.

Laurel has always been just a little different, but it was always explainable. She stood out, but not too much. She’s starting public school for the first time after being homeschooled for most of her life. She’s making friends and trying to blend in. She never expected to be so different from everyone else. When she starts growing petals out of her back, she can’t run from the truth. She turns to David, her first friend, to help her understand what is happening and from there the story grows.

Laurel isn’t quite the strong character I love, but I can understand why. She’s young, starting public school for the first time, dealing with things she expected and some things she never expected. She grows through the novel, though, and that’s why I don’t mind it. She’s gaining strength and confidence and that’s what I find important. She’s learning to accept her new life and find a way to live her human life while accepting her faerie life. I’m looking forward to seeing where Pike takes her in the next novels.

David is the perfect first relationship. They start as friends and grow from there. It’s sweet and swoony, and I’m glad Pike has written a relationship like this. It feels real and is a good connection for Laurel to the human world. David keeps her thinking and rational, when everything happening around her screams at her to lose that rational side. I’ll be interested to see how this relationship grows and changes in the coming novels after what happened at the end of Wings.

As far as a first novel goes, this provides great set-up and world building. There was a little action and plot development, but for the most part, Wings is centered on establishing the faerie world and Laurel’s journey to accepting who she is. There is plenty of time to create action and drama, so I’m relived Pike focused instead on her characters in this novel. I feel like I know them and that’s a good feeling to have when I read the rest of the series.

Wings was a great first novel. Pike has built an interesting world that has drawn me in and made me care about her characters. There are puzzle pieces being dropped and it’ll be fun to see where Pike takes the rest of the story.

If Wings sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
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Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Title: Graceling
Author: Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm
Rating:
★★★★★

I’ve been hearing good things about Graceling for a while. People I trust have enjoyed it, so I went in expecting a good book. Instead I got a fantastic book.

In the world of Katsa, some people are born with a gift, called a Grace. These people are feared and the ones that have certain gifts are exploited and used. Katsa is one of those people. She is skilled at killing and her uncle the king takes advantage of her to get rid of people he views as problems. Unbeknownst to him, she is working with a group of people, the Council, towards a more peaceful world. In one of the Council’s missions, she meets Po. Neither of them is ready for how their lives will intertwine from that first meeting.

Katsa is an extremely strong character, especially once she stands up for herself against the king. She’s an amazing fighter, but it’s more than that. She wants a different world than the one she’s living in and she works towards that goal, even though she knows it’s risky. She doesn’t want to live in a world where people are feared for their gifts, or a world where a minor disagreement results in death. Once she meets Po, she sees that she can take even more control of her own fate and once she does, she continues to grow as a person.

Po is one of my new favorite love interests. He loves Katsa so fully, and he loves every piece of her. He knows that she isn’t the usual type of girl and he loves and accepts that about her. He accepts that their relationship may never be a normal one, but that’s a piece of her that he loves. As long as she comes back to him, he is willing to love her any way she will allow. Their relationship starts out complicated and unique, but it grows into something consuming and beautiful.

The plot and action of the novel are extremely well written. The world is thought out and built beautifully. I could visualize every piece of the land Katsa travelled and I could feel the seasons on my skin. The fight scenes aren’t gratuitously violent or gory; they detail the fight enough I could see what was happening but not to the point where I would see the blood and gore. The story was wrapped up nicely, but there was definitely room for more, and I’ll definitely be reading the rest of the series.

Graceling lived up to my expectations and then some. It had everything I look for in a novel. It made my heart beat faster; there was action and development, and a complete storyline. Cashore has written an excellent novel and I can’t wait to see where she takes me next.

If Graceling sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
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Review: Changeling by Philippa Gregory

Title: Changeling
Author: Philippa Gregory
Series: Order of Darkness
Rating:
★★★★

This is Gregory’s first venture into the world of Young Adult. I know she can write adult historical fiction novels I love, so I decided to give her Young Adult novel a try and see if she could write that genre as well. As it turns out, she can.

17-year-old Luca has grown up in the monastery, but when he starts asking questions, he’s cast out and accused of heresy. He is recruited by a mysterious order to travel and investigate the evils and dangers people are seeing in the world around them. He must do as he is told and not question his orders, although in his role of inquisitor he will be asking many questions of others. He agrees to become a part of the order; understanding that he is one step away from death and this is his salvation.

Isolde is only 17 when her father dies, leaving her to her brother’s care. Despite being raised to know how to run the home just as well as any man, upon his death her father had changed his will to say she would either marry or be sent to the nunnery. She choses to be sent to the nunnery, but as soon as she arrives, strange things begin to happen that make everyone in the nunnery frightened.

It is these strange occurrences that bring Luca to Isolde, but it is a respect for each other and the truth that keeps them together. I’m glad there’s a slow build between these two. I think anything else wouldn’t feel right, especially given the time period in which the story takes place. I think I can see where this relationship is going and I think I’m going to like it.

The plot is interesting and has me drawn in. I want to see where Luca and Isolde travel and what they face. There were only a couple inquisitions in this novel, but Luca clearly has a level head and thinks things out before taking action. He might be serving the Pope, but he is not going to let emotions cloud his judgment. It will be interesting to see where Gregory takes these characters next.

Changeling is Gregory’s first Young Adult novel, but not her first historical fiction. I knew she’d be able to get the historical feelings across, and I’m happy to say she can write Young Adult just as well as she writes for adults. Gregory has proved, once again, why she’s one of my favorite authors to read.

If Changeling sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
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Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Rating:
★★★★

This book took my heart on a roller coaster ride. It was soaring higher and higher, but I know there’d be a drop at some point. Even though I knew the bad was coming, every page was filled with a simple sweetness that had me smiling like a giddy schoolgirl experiencing her first crush for the first time.

Eleanor stands out. She’s got bright red hair, wears a strange collection of clothing, and isn’t the skinny girl everyone else is. Park is just on the edge of being part of the “cool crowd.” When Park grudgingly lets Eleanor share his school bus seat, neither of them have any idea of the friendship nor relationship they are about to begin. Park doesn’t really like Eleanor to begin with, but after he catches her reading his comics, a friendship starts up. From there, things just continue to grow until they’re experiencing their first taste of young, teen love. It’s simple, sweet, and perfect.

Eleanor doesn’t have the best home life, but I loved how she didn’t let that get her too down. It affected her attitude, but it didn’t bring her down. She still faced every day with determination, and after Park became her boyfriend, happiness. She’s incredibly strong, in that she doesn’t give up even though it would be so easy for her to say that getting out of bed wasn’t worth trying.

Park knows the group of cool kids, and calls himself friends with them, but he’s not really a part of their life. He’s just on the outside, but not enough for it to affect his high school credibility. He worries about what others think of him and that affects his relationship with Eleanor. Even so, they are able to work through it and come out stronger for it. He has so many sweet little moments throughout the book that I lost track of them all.

There were so many little hints as to what would be happening to Eleanor and Park that I knew when everything came out, it would hurt. It wasn’t difficult to figure out where the problem would come from, but when everything finally came out, my heart just seized up. It was sudden and horrible, but even in the midst of all the bad, Park remained his sweet and steady self, and I think that’s what made it hurt even more.

Eleanor & Park is one of those books that makes you as happy as it does crushes your heart. Even so, you can’t help but fall in love with Eleanor, Park, and their young love. It will leave you twitterpated. I’m looking forward to reading more from Rowell, especially if it gives me the flutters Eleanor & Park gave me.

If Eleanor & Park sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
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