This is Philippa and Angelya’s joint audio review for Eleanor Herman’s new YA historical book, Legacy of Kings. The review is an extract from episode 33 of Tea in the Treetops Podcast, originally recorded on September 25, 2015.
You might also like to read the prequel to Legacy of Kings, a novella titled Voice of Gods. It’s currently available on Amazon for free.
Legacy of Kings has been optioned by Warner Bros Studios to be produced by Simon Helberg.
Mentioned Lion of Macedon by David Gemmell
Quotes from the review:
A: A bit Game-of-Thrones-y…
P: Also a bit Hunger-Games-esque. It’s worth getting through the first bits (that are similar to Hunger Games).
A: There are a lot of different points of view, and not all of them meet each other.
P: I didn’t really care what happened to the characters.
A: But I loved the Queen. She was the perfect villain!
P: I feel like I’ve given this a bad rap but I really did enjoy reading it.
This novel is set in historical, 19th century America and delves into the fine lines between what is normal versus what makes one insane. Set in a timThis novel is set in historical, 19th century America and delves into the fine lines between what is normal versus what makes one insane. Set in a time where it takes very little to judge one mad, this book provides an enjoyable "whodunit" premise while making a subtler argument that social construct and empathy can sometimes be the only thing standing between an individual and a verdict of insanity.
Our main character Grace starts off in a very dark place. Imprisoned in an asylum in Boston, pregnant and mute due to the traumatic stress of actions that have occurred in her life, this novel makes one very glad to be living in the 21st century. Due to mishandling and rape triggers at the hands of the asylum director, things manage to get even worse for Grace when she finds herself “thrown away” into the cellars of the madhouse. This is where patients are sent away and forgotten about – the ones that dry up funding and need radical lobotomising in order to become suitable for the upstairs wards.
Things soon look up for Grace when she is befriended by Falsteed, a Dr in his own right who was locked up for reasons the reader will discover are most definitely bad, though is completely sane on all other levels and the sole reason Grace lives through the horrors of her first nights underground. Falsteed enlists the help of a visiting surgeon – Thornhollow who agrees to help rescue her in exchange for her services as his apprentice.
Thornhollow and Grace move into a new style “ethical” asylum where the staff treat the patients humanely and as the people they are. Here Grace is befriended by two girls and for the first time in her life starts to know happiness. As Thornhollow’s apprentice she is quickly embroiled in the study of criminology and the two of them become involved in a serial killer case.
This was a neat little historical thriller and while it suffered a bit with plot pacing problems, I overall really enjoyed the writing and our protagonist – Grace. My problem with this novel is that it had the potential to really get into the dark side of mental illness and social conformity however it seemed to just lightly skim the surface of these fascinating and explorative topics. I also felt the ended was taken possibly too far with the court case and could have very simply ended before it, things all seemed just a little too spelled out for my taste.
Overall this is a fun little murder mystery that I did enjoy and providing you aren't looking for something deep and thought provoking I think this one is worth picking up....more
I will admit about 20% through this book I nearly put it down as a DNF, even though it had a beautiful cover and the synopsis had me intrigued I was fI will admit about 20% through this book I nearly put it down as a DNF, even though it had a beautiful cover and the synopsis had me intrigued I was finding it very difficult to get into. Thankfully I kept going because I then finished the remaining 80% in one sitting and this ended up being a very nifty gothic middle grade novel that I’m sure I would have lapped up in my primary school years.
Set in the past on the mysterious and technologically advanced Biltmore Estate you are introduced to protagonist, Serafina – a half wild child who is up most of the night catching rats, living undetected in the boiler room of the great house with her father, a servant of the family.
One night while hunting down some pesky rats, Serafina gets more than she bargains for when she witnesses a most chilling scene involving a gentrified man complete with top hat and gloves stealing the very soul and life force of one the young girls visiting the estate with her parents. After nearly being caught herself, Serafina is soon mixed up in the mystery and hunt to find the mysterious man and his cloak before anyone else is harmed.
This is a pretty dark book and I am incredibly glad that I didn’t read this one to my four year old – it had me pretty spooked in parts and I don’t think I was quite ready to introduce my young child to the horror genre just yet! I think the reason I found this a little difficult to get into at first is the horrible conditions and background of young Serafina. While it does fit with the era and the story, it is still somewhat hard to read about a young child living in virtual poverty and being kept from all human contact except for her father. There is back story given as to why the father does it – Serafina isn’t quite all human (not a spoiler I promise!) and while through the protagonists eyes you understand she can’t quite see what’s different about her , she knows, and so you the reader knows that you can tell by simply looking at her that something is just not quite right about her.
The story picked up for me as she tentatively befriends the young master of the house, Braeden, nephew to the Lord and Lady of Biltmore Estate. Braeden like Serafina isn’t quite like most people and their blossoming friendship in amongst the action and thrills is a sweet and innocent chord of the story, and for me perhaps the shining light of this tale. The story is also very much a coming of age book with Serafina leaving the confines of the estate basement and trying to uncover her past and her heritage. Like all great coming of age novels there is a lot of emphasis on the understanding of good and evil and that what you see on the outside in no way determines the real moral fibre of a person:
She was beginning to see how difficult it was to determine who was good and who was bad, who she could trust and who she had to watch out for. Every person was a hero in his own mind, fighting for what he thought was right, or just fighting to survive another day, but no one thought they were evil.
The actual plot has 2 mysteries for the reader to uncover – one of which I found was fairly easy to guess and the other took me much by surprise. The main mystery of who the man with the black cloak is and how to stop him is quite a terrifying read and it very cleverly intertwines with the other more subtle mystery of who Serafina’s parents are and how she is different. Both stories weave together quite cleverly at the end and the reader is left most satisfied with a neat tie up and lots of good warm fuzzy feelings.
If your looking for a great novel for your primary age children with good levels of terror and thrills I think this one is a sure winner – I’m definitely glad I stuck with it! ...more
It's just a mini review today as I promised Angelya we would do a proper review/discussionFind this review and others on my blog Tea in the Treetops!
It's just a mini review today as I promised Angelya we would do a proper review/discussion of this one in our podcast next week as she's still reading it.
Anyone who listens to our podcast will most likely know that ever since attending PTA Live Brisbane earlier in the year I have been intrigued by this book, it ticked a lot of boxes for me. I had given up on having a shot at a review copy originally as I didn't see it appear on Netgalley but then to my delight about a week ago it appeared, I was approved and I started reading it pretty much straight away!
I'm happy to say that this one gets a big thumbs up from me, I really enjoyed it though I am hoping there is the possibility of a sequel as I had so many questions at the end that I want to know the answers to! So without going into too much detail I will give a quick rundown on what I really loved.
The Characters - I loved that this was told from a multitude of perspectives and they all wove together really well. Veronica was my favourite storyline but I also quite enjoyed the storyline of Bastian too though I wasn't sure at the end if he was a bit empty headed and selfish or had the potential of a noble alpha male type.
The Setting - I knew virtually nothing about Carnevale or historical Venice though it was very clear to me that this book had been thoroughly researched - there were lots of little details given that gave the story a richness of culture which I loved.
Book Layout - I loved that this book almost felt like a Shakespeare comedy. At about 60% through there is a scene where Bastion has this grand idea that is just so complex and ridiculous yet also highly inventive and entertaining that I could almost imagine it being on a stage.
What drove me mad? Argh the questions! I firstly can't tell if this has been set up to possibly have a sequel or not, it finishes like a stand alone novel but there were so many unanswered storylines. I must know what happens between Veronica and Luca! The story of Orelia's parents - I want more details I felt we only just skimmed the surface of the mystery. Angelique... does she eventually find true love? and the aftermath of Claudia and her brother Marco, I want to know more. I really hope there is a sequel to come I lost a lot of much needed sleep in the wee hours of the morning wondering about these things!
Anyone looking for something a little bit different to your standard love triangle YA book should definitely give this one a go and make sure you listen in to our podcast next week for a further discussion! ...more
I loved the sound of this book from the synopsis, it was historical and it was also a fantasy book with dragons and beautiful gothic castles! While I did enjoy reading this book the entire time I just felt that something was missing, I wondered if this was a spin off of another book series or set in the same world as another book series at least. I wasn't surprised to discover that Shana Abe, while this is her first foray into Young Adult literature has quite a bit of experience writing adult romances and I guessed right, there is another adult series set loosely within the same universe.
The writing in this novel is beautiful though I felt that it left the main characters at times coming off as distant. Lora while sweet I never really felt sorry for her even though it would be tough living in a boarding school surrounded by wealthy girls. She was an interesting character however and I am interested in finding out more about her powers linking music with precious gems I found that really different and fascinating!
The two boys which make up your typical YA love triangle are both interesting though I do this this triangle is quite off kilter especially with how the book turns out. I'll be interested to see how Abe pulls off the romance angle in book 2. Jesse is all sweetest and light and theirs truly is a star crossed lovers romance. On the other hand there is Armand who is arrogant, rich and has an intense heat within him. Normally I'm more drawn to the arrogant alpha types in romances but I really loved Jesse and I think that his talents are fascinating and such a beautiful compliment to Lora.
The actual storyline is a little slow and if I think back, not that much actually happens. Abe is definitely playing to her strengths and this is foremost a romance with a smidgen of supernatural added in for good measure. If you are looking for a story that is romantic with some strong character building then I think you would enjoy The Sweetest Dark.
Thank you Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. The Sweetest Dark is released on the 2nd April 2013 and can be purchased via the links below. ...more
This book was released shortly after I started book bloggingThis review was originally posted on Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales on the 3rd July 2012.
This book was released shortly after I started book blogging and I seemed to see rave reviews for it everywhere. I desperately wanted to read it and while it took me nearly 3 months to get onto it, it was worth the wait - the book really does live up to the hype!
The only real negative I have for this book was that the opening couple of chapters didn't really pull me in, I found the scenes with her father and arranged marriage a little confusing and at the time I started to already file the book into the "average" category. Thankfully these are very quick and short lived chapters with the majority of the story being about Ismae's journey after she discovers her life as a daughter of death and things become very interesting very quickly.
Ismae is a wonderful character, after coming from such a rough background of fear, ridicule and physical abuse she takes to her role as an assassain or "daughter of death" quite well. The introductory segment of her life in the convent isn't long but gives you the distinct impression of a kinder time in her life that cultivates her thirst for veageance and distrust of men.
During her time at the convent you meet her 2 friends - Sybella and Annith who I'm assuming we'll see more of in the remainder of the trilogy as they are given a fair bit of air time but don't seem that important to the plot of Grave Mercy.
The real heart and soul of this novel however is the time spent on the road and in court with Duval. This is where the sheltered Ismae really begins to understand the impact of death and the complexity of guilt, innoncence, right and wrong and it really makes this a stand out piece of literature.
The political intrigue and plot twists in this book are thoroughly enjoyable and while not at the level of complexity that some high fantasy series manage to excel at, still brilliantly executed considering the book's length.
The romance between Duval and Ismae is carefully drawn out and incredibly believable in the storytelling. There is no love at first sight though chemistry is definitely sparking off the pages early on. I really enjoy books that don't hurry the romance and instead let it come to life on its own throughout the story and this book delivers exactly that.
I can't say enough how much I enjoyed this book and can not wait until the sequel comes out. Anyone who enjoys traditional fantasy novels but wants something a little less intense and slightly more Young Adult should give this book a go.
Grave Mercy is my new go to book now when people ask me for book recommendations!...more
I had high hopes for this novel, it was Young Adult, it had tiThis review was originally posted at Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales on 7th August 2012.
I had high hopes for this novel, it was Young Adult, it had time travel and Shakespeare all things that make up a “me” kind of book. Unfortunately my high hopes were dashed and fairly early on I might add - this book was unfortunately a very light read, without much substance and the actual plot I found very difficult to swallow.
Miranda is kidnapped from the present day by a time traveller called Stephen Langford so that she can travel back in time to the 1500s and seduce Shakespeare in order to keep him from becoming a priest, forever altering the world as we know it. Without more than a minute of protest she goes off in time and agrees to sleep with Shakespeare by posing as Stephens’s sister and before you know it she's a co-conspirator of this crazy plot. Miranda is chosen by Stephen for this task as she is well versed in Shakespeare’s works and for this reason will fit into life during the 16th century without any problems.
This entire summary really displays how weak the storyline of Kissing Shakespeare is, and in fact reading back over it has me rolling my eyes all over again. How or why anyone could be friendly with someone who had taken them against their will is beyond me, and I absolutely hate virginal female leads who are willing to "give it up" for the most ridiculous and flimsy reasons. Your either open to sex and sexual encounters or you’re not, one minute Miranda was all for it, the next she wasn't because she wasn't a "slut" that type of melodrama really gets on my nerves. I also felt that any modern day teenager would severely struggle with the etiquette and lifestyles of someone in the 1500s let alone be expected to impersonate someone.
The characters really let this story down in general. Stephen wasn't particularly likeable though he was clearly meant to be a wonderful considerate man. Miranda while sweet was a little stupid at times which I found quite irritating and Shakespeare himself was written as a bit of a womaniser and flirt. The entire time Miranda was trying to seduce him I couldn't quite work out why Stephen thought that this would be the best option. To me it was fairly clear that Shakespeare really needed some good friends who he could be honest with about his writing passion and thoughts about priesthood. I actually thought that this seemed a much more rational approach and could have easily turned into a romantic liaison if that’s what the author wanted and it would have seemed much more believable to the reader.
What this book did well was that it moved quickly and was well written making this very easy to read and overall enjoyable if you were willing to overlook the actual main plot. The descriptions of the English countryside and life of the 16th century was nicely handled, I really liked hearing about it without there being too much descriptiveness unnecessarily bulking out the story. I was a bit surprised by the ending - I really had thought things were going to be different and was surprised that Stephen didn't explain that he had seen Miranda as some brilliant Shakespearean actor in her future leading him to choose her. I will be interested to see if this stays as a stand alone or if the author decides to write sequels either with Mirander or Stephen as the main character.
While this book wasn't by any means a favourite of mine I still did enjoy the reading experience for the most part. I think that if you are after a fairly fast easy to read YA novel and you like time travel or historical romances this is worth picking up.
Thank you Netgalley and Random House Children's Books for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Kissing Shakespeare is released on 14th August 2012 and can be purchased via the links below....more