Meg Lytton is a witch - a real one - which is a very dangerous secret to have for a young woman in Tudor England in 1554. She has been trained in herMeg Lytton is a witch - a real one - which is a very dangerous secret to have for a young woman in Tudor England in 1554. She has been trained in her craft by her Aunt Jane, and she knows she never wants to give it up. Unfortunately, the cruel witch finder Marcus Dent has taken a liking to Meg and wants to marry her, and he must not discover her secret. For a time, Meg has avoided him, as she has been sent to serve Elizabeth, Henry VIII's daughter, who has been sent by her older sister, Queen Mary, to live at the ruined palace at Woodstock.
Not long after Meg arrives at Woodstock, two Spanish priests arrive, sent by Elizabeth's older sister, who is against the Protestant religion. One of these priests, Alejandro, is young and handsome, and Meg is attracted to him, even though a witch and a priest could never be together. And there is still the problem of Meg's unwanted suitor, Marcus Dent, who she fears will learn her secret - and the punishment for witchcraft is death.
I particularly enjoy books set in Tudor England, so I loved the historical setting for Witchstruck. Meg is a likeable heroine in a very difficult situation. I think this is the first book I have read with a historical setting about a "real" witch facing persecution (rather than a girl wrongly accused of being a witch). I also really liked the inclusion of the young Elizabeth as a side character. I was hoping for a bit more development of the romance between Meg and Alejandro based on the back cover summary, but as this is the first book in a series, I am sure there will be more development of their relationship later on. If you like historical fantasy, or are looking for a paranormal romance that's different than the usual, I think you will really enjoy Witchstruck.
Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher. ...more
Wentworth Hall is set in 1912 England at the estate of the Darlington family. The estate has been in the family for almost three hundred years. The DaWentworth Hall is set in 1912 England at the estate of the Darlington family. The estate has been in the family for almost three hundred years. The Darlingtons were once very wealthy, but most of the money is gone now, and the world is changing. Eighteen-year-old Maggie Darlington has recently returned from a year away, and to everyone who knew her, she seems quite changed. Maggie's younger sister, sixteen-year-old Lila, misses her old relationship with her sister and wishes her parents would see that she is growing up. Also living at Wentworth Hall are the two teenage servants, Michael and Nora, that the Darlington sisters grew up with, and used to play with as children, and Therese, the new nanny who returned with Maggie and her mother from France to care for the new baby, James. Shortly after the start of the novel, two wealthy teenage orphans, Teddy and Jessica Fitzhugh, come to stay with the Darlingtons until they turn eighteen and can claim their inheritance.
The story is mostly about how all of these characters have secrets that could cause a great deal of trouble if revealed. Some of these secrets I guessed in advance, but others surprised me. There's also a plotline involving someone in the household writing unkind satires about the family, which are published in the local newspaper. The satires, about the "Worthless Family," are included to read and are quite amusing, since all the details are so exaggerated - the grand house, which they can't afford to repair, is literally collapsing on the poor Worthless family!
Although Wentworth Hall is set in 1912 and there's very obvious class differences between the characters, other than that this book was rather light on the history, similar to the Luxe series by Anna Godbersen. This book was a quick and fun read and had a satisfying ending. I'm tired of everything being a series so I liked that this book appears to be a standalone novel. I think a lot of different readers would enjoy this book - fans of Downton Abbey (since it's set in the same time period), readers who love historical fiction, and even those readers who don't usually read historical fiction but love stories with lots of gossip and secrets and scandals.
Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher. ...more
Thirteen-year-old Zardi lives in the kingdom of Arribitha, where the sultan has banned magic, and anyone even heard talking about magic can be arresteThirteen-year-old Zardi lives in the kingdom of Arribitha, where the sultan has banned magic, and anyone even heard talking about magic can be arrested. Her best friend is Rhidan, a mysterious foreigner who was found abandoned as a baby and raised by Zardi's family. Rhidan longs to know of his origins, and receives a clue from Sinbad the Sailor, but he must flee before Rhidan can get more answers.
The sultan of Arribitha is cruel and evil, and forces young girls to be take the position of "Praisemaker" - they are forced to announce executions and are eventually killed. Zardi's parents try to have her and her sister married off so they cannot be chosen, but before they can do that, her older sister is picked to be the next Praisemaker. Zardi and Rhidan must then go on a journey to save Zardi's sister and discover the truth about Rhidan's origins.
Book of Wonders is an enjoyable middle grade fantasy inspired by the Arabian Nights stories. The main characters were very likable and I enjoyed the author's descriptions of all the exotic places they visited. This book is very different from anything I have read recently, and since I am sick of urban fantasy I am always looking for fantasy with a more historical or magical setting. If you are like me and enjoy fantasy with unusual settings, I think you would enjoy Book of Wonders.
Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher....more