**spoiler alert** First of all, I want to point out that this book is marked “young adult” but that’s grading it way too high. The writing is very sim**spoiler alert** First of all, I want to point out that this book is marked “young adult” but that’s grading it way too high. The writing is very simplistic and the characters, while supposedly teenagers, are written very young, especially Prince Alek. I would have guessed their ages to be eleven or twelve, not fourteen or fifteen. If you’re expecting romance, you’ll be disappointed. There aren’t even any supernatural aspects of this book, and several reviewers on Amazon call it a “steampunk novel.” As I know next to nothing about steampunk, I can’t comment on that.
Secondly, I am not the hugest fan of Westerfeld, as I could barely get through Uglies without stabbing myself in the eye. His Midnighters series, however, was brilliant and lovely and sad and perfect. (I’m not a big fan of Westerfeld as a person either, and you can read why here.) Despite my feelings, he is a good writer and after reading the Midnighters series, I was excited to read more.
WARNING: HERE BE SPOILERS
Leviathan is a retelling of the outbreak of World War I. While most of the history remains the same, there is one gigantic difference: machines. There are two factions, the Clunkers and the Darwinists. The Clunkers use metal only, building machines that, in my head at least, look like Imperial Walkers from Star Wars and other variations upon that theme. The Darwinists, named after the Darwin, use animal/machine hybrids both as transport and as weapons. I honestly can’t remember which nations were Clunkers and which were Darwinists, but I do know that Alek grew up Clunker and Deryn (from Scotland) grew up Darwinist.
Now, I am an animal lover, and there’s a lot of talk of how these Darwinist “beasties” can feel pain, fear, nervousness, et cetera. I had to skim through the parts where the animals get torn apart, because they made me so sad. As you can see, I’m not particularly on the side of the Darwinists, though, if Westerfeld keeps to the history, the Darwinists will win.
You know who’s side I am on though? Deryn’s. She’s awesome and a perfect contrast to Alek. Alek is rich, spoiled, arrogant, and whiny, pretty much everything I hate in a protagonist. Yes, his parents were killed. Yes, he was torn away from his nice cushy castle to live in some snowy “pile of rocks” in Switzerland. Yes, he’s been thrust into battle perhaps a little earlier than one would hope. All these things, however, mold Alek into a whiny pathetic mess of a boy, who in one chapter realizes his arrogance has given his fugitive party away and in the next returns to being his princely self. If I didn’t have this book on my Kindle, I would have thrown it at the wall by now.
Deryn, on the other hand, is amazing. She’s fourteen and sneaked her way into being an airman on the ship Leviathan. She holds her own as she pretends to be a boy, and she keeps her place on the ship when all but one of her peers are removed. Her father died years before in an accident, and her way of mourning him is to keep doing what he loved. Flying. She has to make hard decisions aboard the Leviathan and she does them with grace. I would add her to my list of my favorite females in fiction in a hot second. I hope that she straightens Alek out at some point.
A problem I had with this book is a problem I have with a lot of fantasy and sci-fi. Fantasy authors really enjoy describing outfits and traveling (sometimes endlessly), but they really enjoy writing fight scenes. Sci-fi authors really, really, really like describing their various machines and technology. I usually skim these parts, because honestly, I don’t care about tunics or landscapes or computer programs. The problem with Leviathan is that not only do Alek and his party travel in a giant machine, but they have a lot of fights, and Westerfeld goes on at length about joysticks and hydrogen and stuff I don’t want to read about. The same goes for Deryn on her ship (only it’s sadder because her ship is half whale). If I skim these parts, I have to skim two or three pages at a time. There’s a reason I prefer character-driven sci-fi over “hard” sci-fi. In other words, I like The Handmaid’s Tale more than Ender’s Game (and yes, I do realize that EG is not the hardest of sci-fi by a long shot).
So, in the end, my personal preferences forced me to give this book only two stars. I’m not sure if I’ll be reading the sequel, Behemoth, but if I do, you’ll find my review here!...more
So this is like my perfect book. Historical fiction + paranormal + interesting heroine = my kinda drug, you know what I mean? Natalie StNose in a Book
So this is like my perfect book. Historical fiction + paranormal + interesting heroine = my kinda drug, you know what I mean? Natalie Stewart is the daughter of an upper middle class father who is heavily involved in the new Metropolitan Museum of Art (which I love!). Ever since her mother died, Natalie has been unable to speak, prompting her father to send her to an “asylum,” which is really a boarding school for deaf and mute girls. At the beginning of the book, she comes home for a holiday and we learn that Natalie has has a connection with the supernatural since she was a child. She calls it The Whisper, and it does exactly what it says on the tin.
We meet Evelyn Northe and her niece, Maggie, in the first chapter. Evelyn is a wealthy widow who collects objects of occult value, because she is a spiritualist. We learn that Evelyn knows sign language and can communicate with Natalie in way very few people can. Evelyn sees a kindred spirit in Natalie, one Evelyn doesn’t see in Maggie. Evelyn and Natalie are basically perfect in the beginning of the book, all fire and curiosity. Evelyn manages to buy the Denbury portrait out from under some of her enemies, Natalie begins seeing things, and everything starts getting weird.
This book has an Alice in Wonderland feel and that appeals to me too. Natalie is pulled through the painting, into Denbury’s world. He’s drawn to her as much as she is to him, and here is the first time I am yanked out of the story: she keeps referring to Denbury’s accent as “British.” But…there is no universal British accent, is there? There’s English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish accents, but what is a British accent? So that annoyed me and when I mentioned it to my boyfriend, he said, “Well, is it ignorance on the character’s part?” And you know what? No, it isn’t. Natalie knows Denbury is English, but she still refers to his accent as British. Anyway. That’s probably really picky of me.*
The reason this book is four and not five stars is somehow Natalie went from badass who takes no crap to consistently “pressing her face into his lapel” so that Denbury can protect her. She falls into the classic Victorian damsel-in-distress role really easily. Like she only needed to take care of herself until a man came along to care of her instead. This book also has some interesting religion, and sometimes I wondered if it was preaching at me, but I find myself wanting to defend this book. Natalie says some decidedly unfeminist things, typical of her time, but I took them that way–as a sign of her times. She does a lot more than most women in that era, but she has some really traditional thoughts on love. Let me be real: if a heroine talked the way Natalie does about men and love and bodies in a modern paranormal romance, I would be pissed and the book would probably lose another star. This book just really stuck out to me as historical fiction, and Natalie’s conservatism worked here for some reason.
This is apparently a series, but the book doesn’t leave a ton of loose ends, so no cliffhanger. I think the makeouts in this book are really, really hot and I love their formal speech. I recommend this one to anyone who likes historical fiction, paranormal romance, English accents and pretty words.
*Heiber contacted us and apparently there is a thing called a "British accent," though from what I understood, it's an acting thing....more
This book. This book! From the very first paragraph, I was sucked in and lost to the beauty that is Russia in the lOriginally posted at Nose in a Book
This book. This book! From the very first paragraph, I was sucked in and lost to the beauty that is Russia in the late 1800s. Katerina Alexanderovna, known to her friends as Katiya, is a young girl who is a part of the Romanov court, though she wants to be a doctor. She is dragged along to balls she finds silly and is happiest when she is given a book of anatomical sketches by Da Vinci. She is clear-headed and smart, and the world she moves through sounds ethereal, both beautiful and deadly. Because Katiya has a secret–she’s a necromancer. She lives in fear of her ability, which she calls a curse, and tells no one about it. Despite her secrecy, a few of her peers–some Montenegran princesses, who Katiya is convinced are witches–and some of the adults in her life hint around it. The Empress of Russia is also a Faery Queen of the Light Court (Queen Titania, anyone?), and Katiya’s mother is involved in supernatural activities and seances with the Dark fae, while her father is more practical. Katiya’s brother is in the military. Things are going swimmingly for Katiya (minus the meddling Montenegrins) until her cousin, Dariya, is poisoned.
Sadly, Katiya is no urban fantasy heroine, is really upset about her ability, and cries at the thought of killing anything. She believes in the occult one second, then thinks it’s all madness the next, even though she is proof that the occult exists. She can raise the dead, but she resists the idea that vampires could exist. This is more understandable in this historical novel than it would be in, say, a Kate Daniels novel, as Christianity is still a ruling power and science is just beginning to sink its hooks into the masses. Katiya, a girl who has loved science her whole life, has to try and reconcile her supernatural abilities with her devotion to science, all while balancing her belief in God. That’s tough, and she reacts accordingly. I never thought less of her for her reactions or thought her over-dramatic. I think she’s a perfect picture of the world at that time. The only thing that really annoyed me was when she was given a book on the history of necromantic powers, she refuses to use it. She thinks she’s raising the dead willy nilly without knowing how she’s doing it, but she refuses to read the book as it’s “unholy.” Girlfriend, you know your precious Tsar is in danger and you’re quite possibly inflicting revenants all over St. Petersburg, and you won’t even try? That bothered me a lot. She’s smarter than that, but she can be really self-absorbed sometimes.
One of the best parts of this book is the lush description of the landscape, particularly Russia in winter. I’m not normally a girl who loves description; dialogue is more my thing. But this book is different! The descriptions aren’t endless, so they actually contribute to your understanding of the story. I have a picture in my head of the Black Ball and it is breathtaking! The images invoked by descriptions of monsters is pretty awesome too. I like the idea of vampire being an overarching term, at least in this novel, for no real reason other that I enjoy the idea of beautiful women turning into large, moth-like creatures to suck the blood of men.
With any other novel, that second paragraph would have made me drop a star, but not this one. This one is compelling even when irritating. I couldn’t put it down even if I wanted to! I love it beyond words. If you’re a fan of the Romanov era, with Nicholas II as a teenager supporting character; if you love Victorian Russia; if you like lush descriptions and powerful magic, this is the book for you....more
This book was written in verse, which was slightly disappointing to me, but it’s not annoying. In lieu of chapteOriginally published at Nose in a Book
This book was written in verse, which was slightly disappointing to me, but it’s not annoying. In lieu of chapters, there are short little poems detailing all manner of things, from Maria’s father’s history to the glassblowing profession. It was incredibly easy to read, and only took me a few hours. I still remember reading a David Eddings novel where a character tells the protag “glass is just melted sand.” I never forgot that, for some reason, and glassblowing has always held some appeal to me. Maria is an artist among glassblowers, and once her family sat with the Doge at church. But then, someone stole her father’s cristallo recipe, and all was lost. When I first started reading, this struck me as very simplistic, less YA and more middle-grade, but that doesn’t diminish it. Maria knows Giovanna resents her, and that resentment comes through very clearly in the poems. Maria very clearly loves glassblowing, but she’s stuck in her role. Eventually, she is no longer allowed to draw, as she must stay clean as a lady. Maria really chafes at being a lady.
After the initial introduction, we start meeting Maria’s suitors. It’s pretty amusing watching Maria bumble around, and the descriptions of the men are hysterical. One of them says Maria’s age (15) is too old and I gagged a little, but that was the only overtly creepy thing I noticed in these chapters. You know what the suitors’ chapters reminded me of? That scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding were Toula’s father keeps inviting weirdos over to woo her. Each one makes you cringe in a different way. The saddest part is how sad Giovanna is and how it makes her lash out at Maria. Maria is only somewhat baffled by Vanna’s behavior and it made me hurt for them both. Vanna becomes almost vicious in her resentment, and it made me glad I only have brothers. And then, Luca shows up. Luca, who is ungrateful and snobby when we first meet him even though he’s from the laboring class, much lower than Maria’s family in status.
Luca, of course, has a story. He’s not just a jerk, he’s a jerk for a reason. I had my suspicions about him from the very first word he spoke, but I won’t spoil anything. He’s got his issues, but he’s like most other YA heroes, really. Aren’t all hero/ines in YA the same in the end? I think they are. It takes a lot to make them stand out on their own. Even some of my favorites (Evie from Paranormalcy, Clara from Unearthly, etc) are cut from a standard cloth. Near the middle of the book, Vanna seems to have a change of heart, though I remained suspicious of her as well. Maria doesn’t really realize what’s happening between herself and Luca, plus she feels this intense pressure to help her family, especially after a storm hits their island. And maybe this is just because of the poems, but I didn’t feel anything between Luca and Maria. We were being told instead of shown, I think. I really didn’t see any passion between them. They hardly see each other at all up to this point.
In the end, there is some of the passion I was looking for between Luca and Maria, but what was really interesting was the sisterly scheming. I really liked the relationship between Vanna and Maria (once Vanna stopped being a jerk). I felt like this was more a story of family and change than a romance, and I liked it better for it. If you like little historical romances, I think this one is going to be for you. It’s short and sweet, and the verse really flows after you get used to it. It comes out in exactly two weeks!...more
So yeah, I loved this book from the very beginning. It’s written beautifully, not really stylistically, but withOriginally published at Nose in a Book
So yeah, I loved this book from the very beginning. It’s written beautifully, not really stylistically, but with a nice formal feel. It reminded me a little of the way Jacqueline Carey writes the Kushiel series. It’s just so dark and gothy, and I love Ismae’s name. I mean, these women are like angels of death. How could I not love that? I am also a sucker for “your organization is lying to you” type plots, so when Gavriel Duval shows up, causing Ismae to question not only her organization, but her feelings about men in general…well, there was no going back for me. Something else of note: in the beginning we also meet Sybella, and when she disappeared after a chapter, I found myself wanting more from her as well as Ismae. Something I wondered as I was reading the beginning was, how can this girl, who flinches at every sound, every touch, possibly be considered ready for an assignment of this magnitude? I mean, I know it’s a novel and we wouldn’t have a story otherwise, but I thought it was a huge oversight on the abbess’ part. I was also slightly annoyed by the old “I don’t understand my body” trope, where the protag doesn’t get why her stomach feels funny whenever they see their romantic interest. Come on!
Duval brings up all kinds of good points. How does Ismae know the convent follows the word of Mortain and not their own interests? I started to suspect that Duval had a marque, just because he was so interested in them. And when we haven’t heard from Sybella since that early chapter, I decided I had a theory. The convent plans for treason and uses hurt orphaned girls to get it. Since we know Ismae will eventually be tasked with killing Duval, I don’t think that’s too far-fetched, especially considering what we learn around him in the beginning. When Ismae is faced with an accusation of treason against Duval, from one of his enemies no less, I was disappointed that she bought it so fast. Duval has a clearly antagonistic relationship with his mother, he is very clearly devoted to the Duchess, and there’s been literally no indication that he’s a traitor. Luckily, Ismae is not a moron, and confronts Duval as soon as she can. So I’m not tempted to spoil, let me just say that the twelve-year-old Duchess is amazing and hardcore and at the same time a sympathetic character. I liked her and her sick sister, Isabeau, a lot.
We do finally see Sybella again, but I want to save everything else for you to read! The plot really starts moving quickly around the three-quarter mark, and then we learn who Ismae is destined to kill. Things are so intense and I just felt for Ismae and Anne and Isabeau so much, but they didn’t need it. They were all so strong, and even though this one had its flaws, I think they were perfect. This book is so lushly written, and I usually hate stuff like that, but this one just worked for me. Maybe the gothy elements helped, since I was a bit gothy myself in high school, but I also think it was the story. I thought it was a strong one, with a few weak points, but I was so engrossed that I’m willing to overlook any weaknesses. I think this one is great, and it’s only my second five-star book of the year! If you like dark alt-historical fiction (the paranormal is so slight as to almost not exist), this one is definitely for you.
P.S. The next book is about Sybella! My face will be all :D all day now!...more
With the summary telling you everything you need to know about the beginning of this novel, let me just say thaOriginally published at Nose in a Book.
With the summary telling you everything you need to know about the beginning of this novel, let me just say that I loved the way it was written. It was simple enough to not be annoying but it really helped put me in the scene, in Venice in a time when women were legally owned. Laura's story begins as one owned by her father--she is put into a convent at age ten so her father does not have to provide for two daughters, she is taken out of the convent (again, to secure her father greater fortune) when her sister dies, and she is destined to marry her sister's fiancé. She doesn't have much to be happy about, seeing as how her newfound freedom from God is turning out to be another prison. This changes when she meets Allegreza and the Segreta. Laura knows something about the Doge, and she trades it for safety.
Of course, she's not really safe. The Segreta is more than what they seem, and Laura quickly realizes that the women of the society are more malicious than kind. And honestly, I liked them. Politics, especially medieval politics, are messy. People get hurt. Tough decisions must be made. So while these women are most likely liars and manipulators, at least they're doing more than wringing their hands over finding a rich suitor. In the midst of all this, Laura meets Giacomo, a royal painter who definitely has secrets. Laura is, predictably, something of an idiot about him, making rash decisions and jumping to conclusions, but that's just something I've come to expect from girls in YA. And in another YA trope, one of Laura's only friends turns out to be a malicious liar. That made me sad.
The ending was kind of jarring, to be honest, because the villain shows up and, of course, they're chatty and also insane, which comes kind of out of left field. Everything is sort of tied up in a nice bow, despite the slightly open-ended ending. (I honestly didn't think it was being set up for a sequel, but I'm not sure.) The romance was nice, the mystery was interesting until I figured it out about three quarters of the way through, the descriptions were nice... That's all I can think of to say. I enjoyed the book, but it wasn't life-changing. There wasn't too much of an emphasis on the romance, which I liked as well. It's pretty short too, so if you're looking for an easy historical YA novel, this one might be for you....more
Ugh, I was a moron with this one and forgot to download the galley before it expired, so I had to search for agOriginally published at Nose in a Book.
Ugh, I was a moron with this one and forgot to download the galley before it expired, so I had to search for ages to find it at a library near me. I finally just bought it and I’m happy! I love a good Jack the Ripper tale, and I’ll take him in any form, from John Druitt from Sanctuary to a murdering ghost in Maureen Johnson’s The Name of the Star. I’ve been obsessed since I saw a PBS documentary in middle school. I read this one while also reading The Book of Blood and Shadow, so it was a nice counterpoint to that. In Ripper, women are getting murdered, but the tone doesn’t start off as dark as it does in, say, Shadow and Bone. Anyway, I loved Abbie. She’s exactly my type of back-talking Victorian heroine. I really loved that she figured out her visions on her own. She’s smart and resourceful and witty and snarky, but she seems to fall for the jerky doctor, William. I do not like William, though I do like Simon, and I sensed a love triangle beginning. Luckily, I had the feeling the romance in this one would simmer on the back burner for awhile (and I wasn’t wrong).
The language is a little weird in this one, especially when William mentions his father “cheating on” his wife. I don’t know if Victorians used that phrase, but it was weird to see it coming out of William’s mouth. It’s funny, but the older I get, the less drawn in I am by the romances in historical novels. I don’t know why, but even if I enjoy a romance, I find I’m still pretty open to its change. That’s how it was with William. He intrigued Abbie, he had an unusual artistic upbringing, but I didn’t find him interesting. Simon was better, but we learned even less about him. In fact, I found I was more suspicious of them than anything else, wondering which of them would turn out to be the Ripper. So I’ll admit to being a little annoyed at yet another male introduction, mysterious green-eyed Max.
This book can be a little slow, but that didn’t bother me much. We crawl along with Abbie while she’s at the hospital, the first Ripper murder getting only a few paragraphs. While I enjoyed reading those parts, I found myself wondering where the murders went. And then Abbie befriended Mary Kelly, and I started feeling dread, hoping the murders wouldn’t come. If you know anything about the Ripper murders, you know Mary Kelly is the final victim of the Canonical Five. Fortunately, the love triangle I sensed at the beginning was really nothing of the sort. While Abbie is attracted to William, Simon is attracted to Abbie, so the whole thing is kind of sad. I decided I liked Simon more than William, and so was halfway rooting for him when I actually remembered the romance. Otherwise I was dying for another Ripper victim, despite really liking Mary and knowing her fate.
It was nice to see Abbie interact within a society of men, and this line was lovely, “Unfortunately, [the conversation] had become monopolized by Alistair, a Conservative who viewed the poor as “idle,” and Colin, who believed more government money should be given to the parishes.” (p. 186 of the Kindle edition) This is the point at which my suspicions about Simon changed. Abbie mentions his late-night surgeries, and here I started believing Simon was using the hospital to perform illegal abortions. Which I think is awesome, actually. You go, male Victorian feminists (though of course William rushes to assure Abbie that he only performs them “when necessary,” while Abbie isn’t offended at all by the idea). I felt like this book was less about the Ripper murders and more about Abbie’s ascension into doctorliness. Which is fine.
In the end, I thought this one was just okay. It’s a nice story, but I didn’t like the ending or the ultimate ship, and things got kind of out of control with Abbie’s powers. It was all a little too easy in the end, you know? Either way, Ripper was an entertaining read and I’ll probably pick up its sequel, Renegade, when it’s available next year....more
So this one is a like like The Other Countess in plot; Jane pines for James, James doesn’t realize it, et ceteraOriginally published at Nose in a Book
So this one is a like like The Other Countess in plot; Jane pines for James, James doesn’t realize it, et cetera. Jane seems more relateable since we last saw her, and James has PTSD like crazy from witnessing the Spanish slaughter of the Dutch. Will, who is now a father, wants to send James to the New World to clear his head and expand the Laceys’ interests. Jane is a widow in an Anna Nicole Smith situation-her much older stepsons are intimidating her and even corner he in a garden at one point. Jane and James spar a bit when they first meet again, as James is under the impression that Jane thinks she’s too good for the Laceys. When Jane admits that she refused Will’s suit for Ellie’s sake, James warms up to her again. So, my predictions as to plot points in this novel were as follows: Jane versus the Rievaulx sons; James versus the New World; and How James and Jane Get Married.
I was right about Jane’s stepsons, but her father comes in to spice things up a bit, and by that I mean he is completely despicable. Jane’s brother, Henry, shows up as well, sleeping with Jane’s maid again and acting generally like the sociopath he is. She is humiliated in court more than once by her stepsons and then again when her father forces her into an engagement with a very effeminate Frenchman. I cringed the whole time for her. Henry is horrible and there’s no redeeming him, in my opinion. He uses the only things Jane holds dear against her to achieve his own ends. She can’t trust anyone, not her maid, not her brother, no one.
James is dealing with a feeling of worthlessness. As I mentioned above, he has PTSD, or at least a serious case of Edward “I’m Not Good Enough For You” Cullen syndrome. He’s in love with Jane, but feels he can’t offer her peace or stability in his present state. I felt for him too, maybe even more so than Jane. There was no real psychiatry in Tudor England and certainly no anti-depressants. He has a bit of a martyr complex as well, if you ask me, which is just exacerbated by the PTSD and the feeling of being cut loose from his family now that Will has an heir.
I loved the little side plots with Diego and Christopher though. Milly seems like a sweet, if underdeveloped, character, and it was cool to see her fighting against medieval racism. I like that Edwards inserted that sort of character and gave the African foreigner a love story. I was also really touched by the scene in which Christopher meets Will and Tobias. It was really sweet and I hope we get Christopher’s story next. I’d be interested in reading less about the court and more about Cheapside and the theater. ...more
Originally published at Nose in a Book Okay, right off the bat, I want to tell you how weird this one was. Lots of casual talk of virginity, enemas, raOriginally published at Nose in a Book Okay, right off the bat, I want to tell you how weird this one was. Lots of casual talk of virginity, enemas, rape, et cetera. Beth’s mother is this insane caricature of a mad syphilis patient, screaming (in the King’s presence) about preserving her daughter’s virginity at all costs. At one point, she even makes a field doctor inspect Beth to make sure she’s still a virgin. It’s pretty gross. I’m not sure why Sullivan went with that plot line, but it drove me nuts. Want to know who else drives me nuts? Zabby. Her name is freaking Zabby, how could she not annoy me? She’s in love with the King, but is in denial. She doesn’t want him to try and seduce her, but she’s depressed when he doesn’t. Make up your mind, Zabby. King’s mistresses had their lives set if they played it the right way, you know. Eliza…elicited very little response from me, though I imagine she looks like Rumer Willis with the way she’s described. Luckily, the book moves rather quickly and the story is really easy to get into.
Because this is romance, the book focuses mainly on, what else, the girls’ romances! I already mentioned Zabby’s crush on the King. Eliza is sneaking around with a playwright or an actor (I can’t remember which), pretending she’s a man, because the best way to catch a man is to pretend you’re his best friend. Oh, Eliza. You and Zabby are in the same boat, romantically. Finally we have Beth, who is in love with Harry Something, a man with no fortune who has turned to highway robbery to make his way. Wow. So, Beth picked a real winner there. They are all equally sure of their feelings and equally naive, just in different ways. Zabby annoyed me the most because all she did was moan and talk about science, but Beth came in close second with her talk of “true love” and all kinds of stuff I personally don’t believe in. I never really felt close to any of these characters either, which was sad.
Something that really bothered me about this one? Rape. There are constant references to rape, rape of women, rape of love, rape, rape, rape. It’s really jarring, and though it seems to have its place in the story, I think the story could have been told quite sufficiently without all the casual mentions of rape and ravishment. I was uncomfortable and wanted to walk away whenever something like that was brought up. It freaked me out a lot. It’s not even just rape, but sex in general was brought up much much more than it needed to be. Now, I like sex, I like romance, I like reading about it, but in this novel it just felt gratuitous and sleazy. It sort of ruined it for me.
Saying all that, however, I really liked the ending. I don’t know why. It just worked for me in a way the majority of this one didn’t. I’m not sure how I want to end this one, with a recommendation or with a warning. Maybe a bit of both. If sleazy sex and casual rape doesn’t bother you or if you’re better at ignoring things than me, you’ll like this one, because the history is interesting and the girls have personalities. I think for my next historical adventure, I’ll stay away from the romance....more
When I first picked this one up, I was immediately reminded of Catherine, Called Birdy, which was one of my favoOriginally published at Nose in a Book
When I first picked this one up, I was immediately reminded of Catherine, Called Birdy, which was one of my favorite books as a middle schooler. It has the same tone to it, and the way Cecily talks reminds me a lot of Catherine. Cecily, however, thinks quite highly of herself and is rude and arrogant. She remains sympathetic somehow, maybe because she’s a girl who lost her mother, or because she’s just been uprooted from all she knows. She looks down on the Welsh, worries about being murdered in the street, and is horrified that servants dare look her in the eye. When she is forced to go to Baron Court for speaking harshly to a guard, she starts seeing that maybe things aren’t so great here for the Welsh. Notice I said “starts.” She still treats everyone like crap.
Cecily knows very little about life in Wales before she showed up, while Gwenhwyfar knows too much. Cecily is courted by a burgess; Gwenhwyfar is starving. Cecily worries about having enough gowns; Gwenhwyfar’s cow is repossessed. When Gwenhwyfar’s brother, Gruffydd, begins working at Cecily’s home, Cecily seems on a mission to ruin him because he dared look her in the eye. I have to admit, I hated Cecily just as much as I liked her, which says a lot to how well-written this one is. I felt like I was on a rollercoaster of emotion: from sympathy to disgust to horror to sadness.
When, as the summary says, things reach their breaking point, I was horrified. Cecily suffers a lot, not that I begrudge those her hurt her. She didn’t realize what she was doing, but she deserves to be punished for how she treated the Welsh. I was so relieved when I realized that there wouldn’t be a love story between Cecily and Gruffydd. The power imbalance would just be too much to overcome. It would be gross and creepy to read about. I’m all about rough ships, but not this one. This wasn’t about romance at all. It was raw historical fiction from both sides of this horrible war. I loved it. It was amazingly well-written, plus it was just such an easy read. This one is well worth your while, and I really think you should check it out!...more
Now, I normally leave the romance novels to my fellow reviewers-in-arms, but historical fiction was like my firsOriginally published at Nose in a Book
Now, I normally leave the romance novels to my fellow reviewers-in-arms, but historical fiction was like my first serious genre boyfriend. This is set in Queen Elizabeth’s reign, which is my favorite era in history, the era of the Tudors. Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn have been an obsession of mine for a long time, so I couldn’t resist, and honestly, I found this really cute. Will is a bit of a dick to Ellie when he learns who she is, but I find myself forgiving him, not because he’s charming, but because he is dumb. He’ll figure it out, and Ellie has enough fire and spirit to throw some of his insults back in his face. He even seems to have some remorse in him, which is more than can be said for some male protags (*cough, cough* Noah from Mara Dyer *cough, cough*). The third main character is missing from the summary, and she’s Lady Jane Perceval, who seems to be a stuck up aristocrat who lost her virginity to Sir Walter Raleigh (before he was a Sir). She’s hilariously mean, but is brought out of her shell more than once, and her meanness can be justified. I like her a lot.
This is such a romance, and I don’t mean to be derisive. I just mean that the plot is mainly Will falling in love with Ellie, and vice versa, and Will fretting about having to marry Jane. There’s a little side plot about Ellie and her father’s poverty and how they’re kicked out of the castle, but this book is mostly about Will and Ellie’s journey to one another. And they do get there, I’m not sure if that’s a spoiler, but you HAD TO KNOW it works out for them.
There’s not much to say about this one, really. I liked Jane and Ellie’s friendship, I liked how Will was self-aware enough to realize he was a jerk to Ellie, I like how realistically Edwards presents Queen Elizabeth. I like how medieval life was only romanticized a little bit and I liked how much of a jerk Edwards made Sir Walter Raleigh. This one is historical romance through and through, so if that’s your bag, check this one out! I’ll be reviewing the sequel, The Queen’s Lady, which is about Lady Jane, here as well. Check this space later in the week!...more