Friday, March 6, 2015

Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran

Standalone
368 p.
Publisher: Touchstone
Published: 3/3/15
Source: From NetGalley and publisher for review
When the British Empire sets its sights on India in the 1850s, it expects a quick and easy conquest. After all, India is not even a country, but a collection of kingdoms on the subcontinent. But when the British arrive in the Kingdom of Jhansi, expecting its queen to forfeit her crown, they are met with a surprise. Instead of surrendering, Queen Lakshmi raises two armies—one male, one female—and rides into battle like Joan of Arc. Although her soldiers are little match against superior British weaponry and training, Lakshmi fights against an empire determined to take away the land she loves. 
Told from the perspective of Sita, one of the guards in Lakshmi's all-female army and the queen’s most trusted warrior, The Last Queen of India traces the astonishing tale of a fearless ruler making her way in a world dominated by men. In the tradition of her bestselling novel Nefertiti, which Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, called “a heroic story with a very human heart,” Michelle Moran once again brings a time and place rarely explored in historical fiction to rich, vibrant life.
My thoughts:
When you usually get a story during this time period you almost always get it from the perspective of the Brittish. You may get a woman's perspective in this area and she might even be Indian but it is never truly her story. This book not only gives you the woman's perspective but puts you on the side of Sita a guard of a Queen who ended up having legends in her own right.

As you can tell I really enjoyed this perspective. It is really Sita's life but it brings in full color the problems in India at the time. Not just with the Brittish conflict, but how women were treated then. Sita breaks from a horrible life her grandmother had in store for her because she was treated as a worthy daughter by her father. It is her father that sets her new life in motion. You had to love this guy who loved his daughters as much as he would have any son.

Even though Sita is quite young throughout most of the book, I would caution those very young kids about reading this one. I would place it as an adult book but can be read by older YA readers. I recommend it for the older YA set because there is war in the pages and the author does not shy away from that fact.

I give this book 5 stars. I love that it brings to life a culture during a time period when we don't get too much from that perspective. That alone would make me recommend it. However, Sita is a great heroine and one I enjoyed following.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Review and Giveaway: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Series: Seraphina #1
512 p.
Publisher: Random House Kids
Published: 7/10/12
Source: From publisher for review
In her New York Times bestselling and Morris Award-winning debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. Eragon-author Christopher Paolini calls them, "Some of the most interesting dragons I've read in fantasy." 
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high. 
Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.
My thoughts:

I have wanted to read this book since it first debuted. When I heard it had music and dragons I was only surprised that I let my large tbr prevent me from reading the book. Still, I waited since I knew it was only the first book and I can devour them one after another when the others come out. I didn't realize that it was a duology. I guess that means I can really catch up! :)

I loved the premise of this book. The worldbuilding was so interesting and different. A few questions still abound but then these are questions that all of our characters still have even after finishing the book. The world hadn't even considered the possibility of interbreeding so my question of how and why will have to wait with the rest of the characters.

Seraphina is a likable character but a bit taciturn and bland in her personality. It makes sense in the book since she holds secrets which could get her and her family killed. This did not put me off of the character and it also allowed the worldbuilding to shine even more. When she started questioning her right to be who she is and was tired of hating who she was the character really took off for me. Her personality started to blossom. I love a book with a lot of personal growth in it.

I give this book 4 stars. It is a great book for those that are a bit reluctant to get into the fantasy genre. I think you will find a engaging story with lots of growth and adventure.


Giveaway!
The publisher, Random House Kids, has allowed me to give away one book! It is open to those in the US and Canada. Just fill out the rafflecopter form below to enter. Good Luck! Oh and those wanting the second book, Shadow Scale, don't forget to come back next Wed for a review and giveaway of that book!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Seraphina: The Audition by Rachel Hartman


Series: Seraphina #0.5
17 p.
Published: 6/19/12
Source: TBR Pile

Free HERE

The Audition is a free prequel to Seraphina available online. It takes place a few weeks prior to Seraphina, covering Seraphina Dombegh's audition to become Viridius's assistant and thus Glisselda's music tutor.

My thoughts:
 I'm about to start the first book but thought I'd read the little novella I've had in my possession for a while now. It was an incredibly quick read (very few pages) but it does establish some important characters. It does what it should and make you want to know more. So, I give this short novella 4 stars.

Don't believe me? Then try the book below! :D (You can increase the size of the pic with the icons right below the book). Don't forget to come back Wed for a review and giveaway of the first book!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Smexy Reads: The Master by Kresley Cole


Series: The Game Maker #2
448 p.
Publisher: Gallery Books
Published; 2/17/15
Source: From publisher for review
Everyone fears the Master… 
Rich, irresistible politician/Mafiya boss Maksimilian Sevastyan prefers tall, obedient blondes to fulfill his…complicated desires. That is, until the icy Russian encounters a disobedient brunette whose exquisite little body threatens his legendary restraint. 
Except her. 
Catarina Marín was a well-off young wife until her world fell apart. Now she’s hiding out, forced to start working as an escort in Miami. Her very first client is beyond gorgeous, but when he tells her what he plans to do to her, Cat almost walks out of the door. 
If pleasure is a game, play to win. 
After their mind-blowing encounter burns out of control, the lovers crave more. If they escape the deadly threats surrounding them, can Maksim overcome his past—to offer Cat his future? Only then will she tempt him with what he really wants: her, all tied up with a bow.
My thoughts:

I have had a hard time writing this one. I have mixed feelings about it and I'm not sure how to star rate it. Hm... hopefully I'll figure that out when I write the rest of the review. :)

I had a few problems with the book and it all centers around Máxim (Maksimilian). Cat often called him pendejo (spanish if you need to look it up... lol) and I feel that the name is apt. I never warmed up to him, even in the end. Plus, he instigated a couple of scenes I really didn't like. One was when he "kidnapped" her. Even though she could have easily slipped out, I still didn't buy that a woman with her background would let him do something like that to her. The other scene is one I'm not sure how to mention. Some will see it the way I see it and not like it, and others will feel differently. I don't want to color your take on it too much but I fear I have already with what I have said. Let me just say it wasn't enough to make me stop the book.

Okay, with all that you might think I hated this book. No! My favorite character was Cat and it was she who kept me reading. When Máxim would anger me usually Cat would come around and tell him exactly what I was thinking. YES! This is exactly what I need in the other books that frustrate me in the same way. Usually the girl either sits quietly by or just ignores the behavior. UGH! I hate that. Cat doesn't and calls it like it is! She is a great character.

So, this is my problem. I still think that Máxim is a pendejo but Cat really does rule this book. It is an erotica book and in most of these books you have to overlook the ridiculous. I think I will give this book 3 1/2 stars because I got a character to root for. Those that don't enjoy BDSM, I would call it BDSM light. Not really that bad but it is very smexy.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki

Standalone
512 p.
Publisher: Howard Books
Published: 2/17/15
Source: Kismet Book Tours for review
The year is 1853, and the Habsburgs are Europe’s most powerful ruling family. With his empire stretching from Austria to Russia, from Germany to Italy, Emperor Franz Joseph is young, rich, and ready to marry. 
Fifteen-year-old Elisabeth, “Sisi,” Duchess of Bavaria, travels to the Habsburg Court with her older sister, who is betrothed to the young emperor. But shortly after her arrival at court, Sisi finds herself in an unexpected dilemma: she has inadvertently fallen for and won the heart of her sister’s groom. Franz Joseph reneges on his earlier proposal and declares his intention to marry Sisi instead.

Thrust onto the throne of Europe’s most treacherous imperial court, Sisi upsets political and familial loyalties in her quest to win, and keep, the love of her emperor, her people, and of the world. 
With Pataki’s rich period detail and cast of complex, bewitching characters, The Accidental Empress offers a captivating glimpse into one of history’s most intriguing royal families, shedding new light on the glittering Hapsburg Empire and its most mesmerizing, most beloved “Fairy Queen.”

My thoughts:

While reading this book I became curious as to how close the history was to the real Empress of Austria. What I found by doing a quick search is that the book closely aligns itself to what was reported and what happened. She brings clarity to some aspects of the Empress Sisi's life with reasons that made perfect sense to me. Where some of the details just fantasy? No doubt, but yet it felt like reasonable assumptions.

While I did like Sisi I really didn't like the Emperor's mother Sophia. Ugh. I so wanted to see Sisi throw her out a turret window! I won't say why but when you read it, I have no doubt you would agree. I also didn't care for Franz, the Emperor when it came to being a husband and who still acted as a child when it came to his mother. These parts worked in the book, however, since I don't think we were supposed to praise either one highly.

I give this book 4 stars. I recommend it to those that have an interest in history. This follows her life well and gives potential insight to her behavior and the world this was set.

Bloggy Note:
Don't forget to visit the blog post by Allison Pataki describing how she researched the book! Also there is a great giveaway for $120 gift certificate to the ebook retailer of the winner's choice. Just click HERE to go to the post!