Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory

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Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory

Fairmile #2

Published November 24th 2020 by Atria Books

464 Pages

Goodreads Summary: Midsummer Eve 1670. Two unexpected visitors arrive at a shabby warehouse on the south side of the River Thames. The first is a wealthy man hoping to find the lover he deserted twenty-one years before. James Avery has everything to offer, including the favour of the newly restored King Charles II, and he believes that the warehouse’s poor owner Alinor has the one thing his money cannot buy—his son and heir.

The second visitor is a beautiful widow from Venice in deepest mourning. She claims Alinor as her mother-in-law and has come to tell Alinor that her son Rob has drowned in the dark tides of the Venice lagoon.

Alinor writes to her brother Ned, newly arrived in faraway New England and trying to make a life between the worlds of the English newcomers and the American Indians as they move toward inevitable war. Alinor tells him that she knows—without doubt—that her son is alive and the widow is an imposter.

Set in the poverty and glamour of Restoration London, in the golden streets of Venice, and on the tensely contested frontier of early America, this is a novel of greed and desire: for love, for wealth, for a child, and for home

Review: Quick reminder that this is the second book of the series so if you have not read the first book, there may be spoilers ahead.

I was a little on the fence about reading this sequel because I didn’t quite hit it off with the first book but I decided to give it a shot anyways because I love Philippa Gregory. I was also intrigued by the addition of some new characters from Venice. The storyline seemed a little bit far fetched at times but it ended up really working for the book as a whole. I was a little surprised at how easily Alys was ready to accept Livia’s story of Rob at face value… it seemed a little out of character for her. I was very glad to see that Alinor wasn’t going to be taken in at all until she had solid proof. I really enjoyed Sarah’s journey to Venice to investigate Livia’s claims. She really seemed to come into her own and I loved having a strong female character in this story. James, though…. Oh James… what an absolute idiot. First he tries to come back into Alinor’s life to claim his son 21 years later and then completely falls under Livia’s ridiculous spell. I don’t want to say a whole lot more about all of that drama because for one, spoilers, and for another, you just have to read it to believe it.

One thing that I really didn’t think was necessary in this book was Ned’s part of the story. He’s living in America but the only times he really connects to his family is when Alinor writes him a letter or he sends them goods. I feel like his scenes could have just been cut because they kind of distracted me in a bad way from the drama still going on in England and Venice.

Overall I did end up enjoying this book and kind of hoping there will be a third book.

4 Stars

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Blood Countess by Lana Popović

43908877Blood Countess by Lana Popović

Lady Slayers #1

Published January 28th 2020 by Harry N. Abrams

293 Pages

Goodreads Summary: A historical YA horror novel based on the infamous real-life inspiration for Countess Dracula

In 16th century Hungary, Anna Darvulia has just begun working as a scullery maid for the young and glamorous Countess Elizabeth Báthory. When Elizabeth takes a liking to Anna, she’s vaulted to the dream role of chambermaid, a far cry from the filthy servants’ quarters below. She receives wages generous enough to provide for her family, and the Countess begins to groom Anna as her friend and confidante. It’s not long before Anna falls completely under the Countess’s spell—and the Countess takes full advantage. Isolated from her former friends, family, and fiancé, Anna realizes she’s not a friend but a prisoner of the increasingly cruel Elizabeth. Then come the murders, and Anna knows it’s only a matter of time before the Blood Countess turns on her, too.

Review: I was so excited to see a historical YA horror novel based on Countess Elizabeth Bathory! I’ve read a few other books and have watched a couple of those ghost hunter shows investigate her castle. There is just something strangely compelling about her. The main character, Anna Darvulia, is actually based on the real life Anna Darvolya. Three of the other servants in the book also seem to be based on real life servants of the countess. I really liked that the author actually used characters based on real people that were connected to the countess. That all makes it so much more real. I’ve read that Anna Darvolya was actually considered to be the one who honed the Countess’s torture skills and instructed the other servants. However, in this novel, the author does a little reimagining. Anna is an innocently naive village girl, trained as a midwife under her mother. She has a chance meeting with Elizabeth and her entire life changes from there.

There were things about this book that I liked but also lots of things that didn’t really click with me. Right off the bat the book seemed to be a little overwritten for my taste. Every noun seemed to have a descriptive word, some words I even had to look up and when I did they didn’t quite seem to fit the context. I also didn’t like how naive Anna was portrayed. She overlooked every single terrible thing Elizabeth had done or that Anna’s fellow scullery maids told her they had heard. It also seemed strange to me how high up Elizabeth ended up putting Anna. A countess throwing a ball for a commoner… maybe it happened, but seems a little far fetched. I know a lot of people were excited about the F/F romance aspect in this book but this one was honestly too much for the story I think. I mean, I guess I could see how a young village girl who had never been anywhere or seen anything could fall hard for a Countess who is lifting her up so high but what I really didn’t like was Anna making excuses for Elizabeth when she started to see what she was truly like. No spoilers so I won’t talk about how the book ended but it felt too easy. In the end I don’t think this even works as a horror story. It felt more like a historical romance gone wrong. Overall this book was just okay for me.

2 Stars

I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

44015108. sy475 The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

Camelot Rising #1

Published November 5, 2019 by Delacorte Press

352 Pages

Goodreads Summary: From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes a new fantasy series reimagining the Arthurian legend, set in the magical world of Camelot.

There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.

Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.

To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.

Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?

Review: I started off reading this book during a reading slump so for the first 8% I was a little out of touch with what was going on. I was really intrigued by Guinevere’s personality and back story. She is not all she appears to be, hence the title of the book. There are so many twists in this book that I’m not even sure how much I should say about the story or characters. When I got out of my reading slump, this book clicked so well with me. I loved everything that was going on and was on the edge of my seat. I was starting to ship Guinevere with a character who was NOT Arthur about halfway through. There is a mysterious character referred to as the patchwork knight and I was so sure I knew what was going to happen with this person but I was really surprised when I hit that particular twist. I’m not completely familiar with Arthurian legend but I really loved how Kiersten White approached this retelling. SUPER shocked about the major twist at the end. I seriously cannot wait until the next book comes out. I will definitely be buying myself a copy of this book and recommending it to fantasy fans.

4 stars

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Ash Family by Molly Dektar

41573546The Ash Family by Molly Dektar

Expected publication: April 9th 2019 by Simon & Schuster

352 Pages

Goodreads Summary: When a young woman leaves her family—and the civilized world—to join an off-the-grid community headed by an enigmatic leader, she discovers that belonging comes with a deadly cost, in this lush and searing debut novel.

At nineteen, Berie encounters a seductive and mysterious man at a bus station near her home in North Carolina. Shut off from the people around her, she finds herself compelled by his promise of a new life. He ferries her into a place of order and chaos: the Ash Family farm. There, she joins an intentional community living off the fertile land of the mountains, bound together by high ideals and through relationships she can’t untangle. Berie—now renamed Harmony—renounces her old life and settles into her new one on the farm. She begins to make friends. And then they start to disappear.

Thrilling and profound, The Ash Family explores what we will sacrifice in the search for happiness, and the beautiful and grotesque power of the human spirit as it seeks its ultimate place of belonging.

Review: Okay, let’s try this again. Long story short, I had a nice, long review ready for this and WordPress deleted it.

I must admit that during the first 25% of this book, I contemplated putting it down and DNFing it. I normally find these types of scenarios fascinating but for some reason I just did not click with this main character, Berie. I felt like she was overly naïve and a bit stupid if I’m being perfectly honest. Who in their right mind would go off with a random guy they met at a bus stop to join his off-the-grid commune in the mountains?! Especially considering the way this guy is described. He sounds super dirty, and a bit slimy. At one point, it was described in detail that his pants are basically water proof because they are never washed and are incredibly grimy. And his feet smell like vinegar. Yeah… no thanks. And yet, Berie seems to idolize him and almost falls in love with him at first sight.

When Berie arrives on the farm, she is told not to talk about the past… the “fake world” as they call it. Everyone has left their “fake world” name behind and have been given a new name by the man who created this family, Dice. Everyone works for the good of the family. Berie, now called Harmony, is put in charge of taking care of the sheep. She tries to gain the trust of both Bay and Dice so she can go on one of their protests. So many crazy things happen that make you really wonder why anybody agreed to live there. Everyone shares everything. Clothes, beds, partners, etc. No couples. No children. No leaving unless given a task or permission.

I was bit underwhelmed by the ending. Shit hits the fan but then it seems to end just as quickly as it began. I felt like the ending could have been drawn out a little more but I don’t want to say how because that would give it away. Overall, I’m kind of in the middle on this book. I didn’t not like it, but I also didn’t really like it. If you are interested in cults and commune type scenarios you might be interested in reading this book.

3 Stars

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Happenings

Hey everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend! Most of my weekend was cleaning house and getting ready for this winter storm that started this morning.  We’re supposed to get 12+ inches where I live.  Not looking forward to it. But anyways…  One of the things I did this weekend when I was cleaning was to tidy and dust my bookshelves.  And I had just enough light to take some photos.

20180120_12304420180120_123109These are only three of my bookshelves but they are the only ones that fit in our office space right now. Eventually when my parents move out, the whole room will be mine so I will be getting my full wall of shelves that I’ve always wanted.  I also took a few closeup shots of some of my favorite shelves.

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My Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings shelf!  I have so many GoT Funkos that I ran out of room and had to move some to the shelf below it.  Same with LOTR.  The Balrog is also sitting on my desktop PC because it’s so big!

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My lovely Laini Taylor shelf!  Definitely going to need more space for some Strange the Dreamer paperbacks and room for the sequel and any other book she writes in the future! And I am still so in love with my custom Karou funko from Cait @ A Page With A View (link to her Etsy shop here)!  She does great work on all her custom Funkos! I NEED to get the Alina and The Darkling Funkos that she has for my Leigh Bardugo shelf!

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Eventually Leigh will need enough space for her own shelf completely but for now she shares with a couple of my other favorites – Susan Dennard and Mary E. Pearson!  Completely random placement for Meiko and Pocahontas, I know, but don’t really have anywhere else to put them at the moment haha.

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I can’t wait to get the new shelves I want because I’m running out of room for my favorite authors! My Jay Kristoff shelf is going to be overflowing this year with LIFEL1K3, Obsidio, and hopefully Nevernight #3 coming out! Plus, I need the Godsgrave paperbacks when those release haha.

Coming up this weekend, Ethan and I are both taking Friday off work for our 6th wedding anniversary and heading up north!  I’m so excited to go back up and the weather is going to be great for this time of year.  I’m really looking forward to some time out in the fresh clean air and just relaxing for the weekend.

In book news, I’m currently reading The Cruel Prince and even though I didn’t get any reading done this weekend I am loving it! Target had it for 15% off on Cartwheel so I ended up picking up a copy on Friday after work.  I’m hoping to get up to a Barnes & Noble sometime soon to try and find a copy of their exclusive black cover edition.

I have a few ARCs in my pipeline as well.  I was recently invited to review three upcoming titles for Ballantine Books, Simon & Schuster, and St. Martin’s Press.


32912154PAPER GHOSTS by Julia Heaberlin (4/17/18) Ballantine Books

An obsessive young woman has been waiting half her life—since she was twelve years old—for this moment. She has planned. Researched. Trained. Imagined every scenario. Now she is almost certain the man who kidnapped and murdered her sister sits in the passenger seat beside her.

Carl Louis Feldman is a documentary photographer. The young woman claims to be his long-lost daughter. He doesn’t believe her. He claims no memory of murdering girls across Texas, in a string of places where he shot eerie pictures. She doesn’t believe him.

Determined to find the truth, she lures him out of a halfway house and proposes a dangerous idea: a ten-day road trip, just the two of them, to examine cold cases linked to his haunting photographs.

Is he a liar or a broken old man? Is he a pathological con artist? Or is she? Julia Heaberlin once again swerves the serial killer genre in a new direction. With taut, captivating prose, Heaberlin deftly explores the ghosts that live in our minds—and the ones that stare back from photographs. You won’t see the final, terrifying twist spinning your way until the very last mile.


36347830SONG OF BLOOD & STONE by L. Penelope (5/1/18) St. Martin’s Press

Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive–an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.

Jack’s mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it’s people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda’s Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.

The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.


35297405SCHOOL FOR PSYCHICS by K. C. Archer (4/3/18) Simon & Schuster

An entrancing new series starring a funny, impulsive, and sometimes self-congratulatory young woman who discovers she has psychic abilities—and then must decide whether she will use her skills for good or…not.

Teddy Cannon isn’t your typical twenty-something woman. She’s resourceful. She’s bright. She’s scrappy. She can also read people with uncanny precision. What she doesn’t realize: she’s actually psychic.

When a series of bad decisions leads Teddy to a run-in with the police, a mysterious stranger intervenes. He invites her to apply to the School for Psychics, a facility hidden off the coast of San Francisco where students are trained like Delta Force operatives: it’s competitive, cutthroat, and highly secretive. They’ll learn telepathy, telekinesis, investigative skills, and SWAT tactics. And if students survive their training, they go on to serve at the highest levels of government, using their skills to protect America, and the world.

In class, Teddy befriends Lucas, a rebel without a cause who can start and manipulate fire; Jillian, a hipster who can mediate communication between animals and humans; and Molly, a hacker who can apprehend the emotional state of another individual. But just as Teddy feels like she’s found where she might belong, strange things begin to happen: break-ins, missing students, and more. It leads Teddy to accept a dangerous mission that will ultimately cause her to question everything—her teachers, her friends, her family, and even herself.

Set in a world very much like our own, School for Psychics is the first book in a stay-up-all night series.


Have any exciting reads that you’re planning or other exciting things in general?