Monday, March 6, 2017

The Girl Who Fought Napoleon by Linda Lafferty ~ Review


Title: The Girl Who Fought Napoleon
Author: Linda Lafferty
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction
Length: 444 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Source: First Reads
Reviewed by: Jasmyn
In a sweeping story straight out of Russian history, Tsar Alexander I and a courageous girl named Nadezhda Durova join forces against Napoleon.
It’s 1803, and an adolescent Nadya is determined not to follow in her overbearing Ukrainian mother’s footsteps. She’s a horsewoman, not a housewife. When Tsar Paul is assassinated in St. Petersburg and a reluctant and naive Alexander is crowned emperor, Nadya runs away from home and joins the Russian cavalry in the war against Napoleon. Disguised as a boy and riding her spirited stallion, Alcides, Nadya rises in the ranks, even as her father begs the tsar to find his daughter and send her home.
Both Nadya and Alexander defy expectations—she as a heroic fighter and he as a spiritual seeker—while the battles of Austerlitz, Friedland, Borodino, and Smolensk rage on.
In a captivating tale that brings Durova’s memoirs to life, from bloody battlefields to glittering palaces, two rebels dare to break free of their expected roles and discover themselves in the process.
**********
A fascinating tale, but a bit of a misleading title. Why Nadezhda does fight Napoleon eventually, I felt like the story was about a whole lot more than just that. It follows an unusual life of a little girl that never really felt like she fit in. A tale that people can relate to emotionally even today.

Nadya wasn't a strong character in the way I thought she would be. She wasn't a war hero, she didn't kill hundreds of enemies or save hundreds of lives. But she did manage to rally people around her name, meet the czar, and become a special part of Russian history. She survived a war that many did not, and she managed to do it gracefully and with humility. 

While told primarily from Nadya's point of view, we also get to see into the mind and life of Tsar Alexander. He was another interesting character and quite a revolutionary at heart. It's too bad he wasn't able to follow through with all his ideas and passions. There's a bit of a mystery surrounding the Tsar and his wife that I hadn't heard before, and the story wrapped up with quite a content reader.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Scarlett Legacy by K.N. Lee ~ Review


Title: The Scarlett Legacy (Woodland Creek)
Author: K.N. Lee
Genre: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Length: 344 pages
Publisher: Indie
Release Date: November 22, 2015
Source: Purchased
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

Wizards. Shifters. Sexy mobsters. 
Welcome to Woodland Creek, where one family of wizards gives new meaning to organized crime. 

Evie Scarlett wanted two things: marry Parker Drake and her family of wizards behind. 
But when Hugh Prince, a dangerous crime boss, is mysteriously murdered while awaiting trial for her father's murder, all eyes turn to the Scarlett family. 

The arrival of Hugh's youngest son, Avalon returns from Scotland to bring a century-old feud to a dangerous climax. This vengeful wizard gives Evie's older brother a choice: die or give Evie to him. 

When Evie's plans for escape are broken by familial duty, she must find a way to protect those she loves and win back her freedom. What she finds is an ancient power that she never knew she had. 

Evie knew that evil was coming to Woodland Creek. She just never expected to be so attracted to him.

**********

This was a hard book to rate. We start out with the story of Olivia and Wes, and their mission to take out a rival wizard mafia lord. And it was really exciting and I thought we were really going to get to know this unusual couple. I wanted to see how they met, how they fell in love, and how the rivalry began. But we don't. We skip right over their story and right into the story of Evie.

This transition was a little confusing. We don't see how the first scene ties into her story right away and it seemed like it was all out of place. I was also unsure as to why Evie was so protected by her mother. While this was explained eventually, knowing this ahead of time, even if it was just 'reader knowledge,' would have added a nice element to how the story built. The big reveal also seemed a little forced and out of place in the rest of the plot.

It meandered along, introducing us to a few of Evie's friends, and her too good to be true boyfriend. While I enjoyed the story a lot, I think it would have been better served as two books. One with the history of Wes and Olivia leading up to the mission that starts this book, and one that was dedicated to Evie's story. I loved the dark feel to this. K.N. Lee did a great job building atmosphere and characters, I'm curious what else will be coming out of Woodland Creek.


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Against the Wind by Rebecca Zanetti ~ Review


Title: Against the Wind (Rising Storm: Season 2: Episode 1)
Author: Rebecca Zanetti
Genre: Adult, Contemporary
Length: 105 pages
Publisher: Evil Eye Concepts
Source: Purchased
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

Secrets, Sex and Scandals … 

Welcome to Storm, Texas, where passion runs hot, desire runs deep, and secrets have the power to destroy… Get ready. The storm is coming. 

As Tate Johnson works to find a balance between his ambitions for political office and the fallout of his brother’s betrayal, Zeke is confronted with his brother Chase’s return home. And while Bryce and Tara Douglas try to hold onto their marriage, Kristin continues to entice Travis into breaking his vows… 


**********

Season two starts off with a bang, and the drama just keeps on coming. We see a lot more from Tate as he tries to find his place in the political arena. But his ongoing feud with his brother and his betrayal sends waves through his campaign that he may find hard to overcome.

There's just lots of cheating lately - some done on the sly, some done because they went about things in the wrong order. I'm really starting to dislike Travis and Bryce - I really need to seem something redeeming about them soon, or they will have just gone too long without some good action.

Dakota is still at the heart of the recent scandal, and she can't seem to let it go. Somewhere in there, there has to be a sane and rational person. I hope we see a glimpse of it soon, because it looks like her world is about to be rocked yet again.


Rising Storm
Season One

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Otherwise Known as Possum by Maria D Laso


Title: Otherwise Known as Possum
Author: Maria D Laso
Genre: Middle Grade
Length: 240 Pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Source: Amazon Vine
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

Possum Porter has had it with change. First she lost Mama, leaving a hole nothing can fill. And now, instead of trying to return to some kind of normal, Daddy's sending Possum to school. A real school, where you have to wear SHOES. Where some Yankee teacher will try to erase all the useful things Mama taught Possum during their lessons at home.

So Possum comes up with a plan. If she can prove that she already knows everything worth knowing, Daddy will let her quit school and stay where she belongs. She won't have to deal with snooty classmates, or worry about tarnishing Mama's memory. 

But unfortunately, Possum doesn't shoot to the top of the class like she expected. Even worse, the unmarried Yankee teacher seems to have her eyes on someone . . . Possum's Daddy. With time running out, Possum decides to do something drastic to get away from school-and get Daddy out of Ms. Arthington's clutches-or risk losing everything that's keeping her broken heart glued together.

**********
I fell in love with Possum Porter from day one. A young girl growing up in a small town that doesn't have much but gossip. Still reeling from the death of her mother and baby brother, I was instantly thrust into Possum's world and didn't want to leave.  Possum is quite the tom-girl, more comfortable in her cover-alls and bare feet, running through the woods and learning from the world around her.

But her father is lost without her mother. Deciding she needs to go to school, against her wishes he tells her she must attend the one-room school house. Determined to prove she doesn't need it, she goes up against the school bully, attempts to win an essay contest, and makes new friends. Learning all the way.

There are tons of great characters in the book that surround Possum. From the teacher, the school kids, and even one of their parents. Life was very different back then and I fell like Maria D Laso captured that feeling perfectly.

In the end, I bawled my eyes out. Yes, a middle grade book made me cry and I'm not ashamed to admit it. The last scene was beyond touching. It moved me in ways I find hard to explain. I think this book needs to be in every library and every school. Capturing this girl's moment in time was priceless.

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book**

The Supernatural Pet Sitter by Diane Moat ~ Review


The Supernatural Pet Sitter
Diane Moat
(The Magic Thief, #1)
Publication date: March 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Middle-Grade
Pepper is a 12 year old who pet sits magical animals. When someone steals their magic, Pepper must find the thief before the thief finds her!


















Author Bio:
Diane is a Tennessee transplant, animal rescuer, and nurse. Dog Gone is her debut novel, born from years of hearing animal rescuers say about animal abusers, “If only I could get my hands on that person...” Diane is assisted by her many rescue dogs.

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Monday, February 27, 2017

Arcana Rising by Kresley Cole ~ Review


Title: Arcana Rising (The Arcana Chronicles #4
Author: Kresley Cole
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopian
Length: 280 pages
Publisher: Valkyrie Press
Release Date: August 15, 2016
Source: Purchased
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

Losses mount and deadly new threats converge in this next action-packed tale of the Arcana Chronicles by #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole. 

When the battle is done . . . 
The Emperor unleashes hell and annihilates an army, jeopardizing the future of mankind--but Circe strikes back. The epic clash between them devastates the Arcana world and nearly kills Evie, separating her from her allies.

And all hope is lost . . . 
With Aric missing and no sign that Jack and Selena escaped Richter's reach, Evie turns more and more to the darkness lurking inside her. Two Arcana emerge as game changers: one who could be her salvation, the other her worst nightmare.

Vengeance becomes everything.
To take on Richter, Evie must reunite with Death and mend their broken bond. But as she learns more about her role in the future--and her chilling past--will she become a monster like the Emperor? Or can Evie and her allies rise up from Richter's ashes, stronger than ever before?


**********
Things are going really crazy here! Evie is on her own. Jack seems to be dead, and she is swept away from Arik by a monster wave courtesy of Circe. I liked seeing her on her own a little. She was able to really explore her capabilities and test the limits of not just her power, but of what she was willing to do with it.

In Day Zero, the novella sharing the beginnings of the Arcana, we meet the rest of the deck, and they begin to make their appearance here. They are a twisted lot, some more than others, and some just doing whatever it takes to stay alive. As Evie encounters each one, the decisions she's forced to make on her own have major consequences for everyone. There are new enemies, new friends, and some that I'm just not quite sure of yet.

The love triangle style of romance really comes to a head here after Richter washes Jack away in a sea of lava. Evie no longer has to choose, but that doesn't seem right to her. She wants what she can't have, and she wants what's still around to have. She want's her past, and she wants her present. Another big decision Evie will have to make on her own.

There's a lot of growth and development in the Arcana in this book. They are all forced to look at their lives and their plans for the future, adapting as things change faster than they can really keep up. I'm interested to see what the Fool has up his sleeve, and how it will change the game in the next book - which is supposed to be coming pretty soon!


The Arcana Chronicles

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Moribund by Genevieve Iseult Eldredge ~ Cover Reveal


Moribund
Genevieve Iseult Eldredge
(Circuit Fae, #1)
Published by: Monster House Books
Publication date: September 12th 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
High school sophomore Syl Skye is an ordinary girl. At least, she’s trying to be. School photographer and all-around geek, she introverts hard and keeps her crush on sexy-hot glam-Goth star Euphoria on the down-low. But when a freak accident Awakens her slumbering power, Syl is forced to accept a destiny she never wanted—as the last sleeper-princess of the fair Fae. 
Suddenly hunted by the dark Fae, Syl’s pretty sure things can’t get any worse. Until she discovers her secret crush, Euphoria, is really a dark Circuit Fae able to harness the killing magic in technology. Even worse, she’s been sent to destroy Syl. With mean girls and magic and dark Fae trying to kill her, it’ll take more than just “clap if you believe in fairies” to save Syl’s bacon—not to mention, her heart.



Author Bio:
Genevieve Iseult Eldredge writes LGBTQ YA because as a young adult, she never had any lesbian heroes like her.
Now she brings together her love of LGBTQ literature, urban fantasy, young adult fiction, and the secret world of the Fae in her lesbian YA series, Circuit Fae--so that young adults of the LGBTQ community can have heroes that understand, that think and act, live and love like them.
GIE is also an MFA grad, a martial artist, a self-rescuing princess, and all-around strong female character. She’s multi-published, and in her role as an editor has helped hundreds of authors make their dream of being published a reality.
GIE believes in fairies (in fact, she’s clapping right now), true love (not “to blave”), and championing the often-unheard female voice. She might be using D&D figures to plot out an epic fight scene right now.

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