Friday, February 26, 2021

#Review - A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer #YA #Fantasy

Series: The Cursebreaker Series # 3
Format: Hardcover, 416 pages
Release Date: January 26, 2021
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

Brigid Kemmerer’s bestselling Cursebreaker series continues as old enemies resurface and friends become foes.

Face your fears, fight the battle.

Emberfall is torn between those who follow Rhen and those who are eager to begin a new era under the true heir, Grey. Grey has agreed to wait two months before attacking Rhen, and in that time, Rhen has sought the assistance of a spy despite Harper's doubts.

Fight the battle, save the kingdom.

Meanwhile, Lia Mara struggles to rule Syhl Shallow with a gentler hand than her mother. But some of her subjects aren't happy that Lia Mara has an enchanted prince and magical scraver by her side. As Grey's deadline draws nearer, Lia Mara is forced to question whether or not she can remain allied to his cause.
This compulsively readable saga continues as two kingdoms come closer to conflict—and an old enemy resurfaces who could destroy them all. 

A Vow So Bold and Deadly is the third and final installment in author Brigid Kemmerer's Cursebreakers. What began as a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, has turned into something else entirely. This story revolves around four characters: Grey, Rhen, Harper, and Lia Mara. The story begins with Grey in Syhl Swallow after he granted Rhen 60 days to prepare for war. Meanwhile, Rhen, whose curse was broken by Harper, is holed up in Ironrose Castle trying to bring his Grand Marshal's to an agreement to provide troops, but they don't trust him after he was stuck in beast form after having been cursed by Lilith. 

With rumors spreading far and wide about an unknown heir, his own people are turning against him as well. What does he have to do to earn their respect? He's also holding a damaging secret about Lilith that could shatter his relationship with Harper. Harper, who is still playing the part of a Princess from Disi, is hearing rumblings that she's a traitor for not providing the necessary resources to protect Emberfall from Grey. Syhl Swallow is where we also find Lia Mara as the new Queen who is struggling to find a common ground with her people. She desperately wants peace and doesn't to go to war against Rhen. 

Her last meeting with Rhen didn't go all that well, but she has Harper to thank for saving her life. Lia Mara at least has Grey by her side helping train her soldiers to prepare for war if it comes to it. Lia Mia is being pushed and pulled not only by her advisers, but by her own sister Nolla Verin who seems not to have the courage to stand by Lia Mia until much later in the program. Nolla was also the heir designated until Lia Mia took the crown from her mother. A faction of her own people are afraid of magic, and therefore Grey who is a magicsmith. Lia Mara also faces challenges by her inner circle who are aiming at a much grander scale for Syhl Swallow. 

Grey is also finding problems. He is now in a land where men are only valued for the ability to carry heavy loads and the willingness to die in battle when ordered. He faces language issues with Lia Mara's captains and soldiers. He continues to try to protect Tyche, while also learning magic from Iisak. He, like Lia Mara would love to find a peaceful solution to not going to war and killing thousands of innocent people, but how do you get thru to someone you gave years of your life to protect?

Once again, Harper, who has cerebral palsy, makes some really dumb mistakes in this story. But you don't want to hold it against her since she's dealing with her own weaknesses and failures by not going with Grey and her brother when they left, and not doing more by standing with Rhen against everything he's had to deal with. When tragedy hits Ironrose Castle, Harper gets credit for doing the near impossible in reaching out to Grey, who she still believes is her friend, and her own brother who has become Grey's second in command.  

Harper's terrifying journey to stop a war, and fight against Lilith, brings about a bit of hope and change with her. It makes what eventually happens that more satisfying. I think the more interesting aspect of this story is that there really is only one villain and that's Lilith. Lilith's machinations towards Rhen drive what happens in this book. Lilith's determination to crush anyone who takes a stand against her, makes for a very dark and bloody story. I do have a whole lot to say about the ending. 

First, it was too abrupt. All the build up to a war between Gray and Rhen fizzles out quickly. Rhen was so stubborn throughout the story, but in the end it took almost nothing for him to surrender and become a man with an unknown future. Grey, who stood by Rhen while he was cursed, is now thrust into a new position while Rhen is supposed to do what with his life now? It's not like Harper wants to return to a home that has no future for her or her brother. So, what next?

Thursday, February 25, 2021

#Review - Dragonfly Girl by Marti Leimbach #YA #Thriller #Suspense

Series: Not a Standalone!
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Release Date: February 23, 2021
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Thrillers & Suspense

When a high school student discovers how to cure death, she learns how that knowledge will change her life—or end it—in this propulsive and spellbinding thriller and YA debut from bestselling author Marti Leimbach.

Kira Adams is finding high school difficult. She’s awkward and shy, plus she may flunk out if she doesn’t stop obsessing over science, her passion and the one thing she’s good at.

Desperate to pay off her mother’s debts, she enters a prestigious science contest with a big cash prize. But the contest isn’t for students, and Kira must spend a week at a conference with other prizewinners, pretending to be an adult with a PhD, not a timid high school senior.

There, Kira draws the attention of the celebrated scientist Dr. Gregory Munn as well as his handsome assistant, landing a part-time job at his famous laboratory. Her job is mostly about cleaning floors and lab equipment but then, one night, Kira stumbles across a way of reviving a lab rat that has died in her care. Suddenly she’s the remarkable wunderkind, the girl who can cure death. For a moment her future seems secure.

But as Kira discovers, science can be a dangerous business. She’s soon swept up in an international rivalry, with forces at work she’d never imagined and consequences that threaten her life. Overcoming her shyness and using her unique intelligence will be the keys to her survival.

Immersive and spellbinding, Marti Leimbach’s Dragonfly Girl is a page-turning origin story filled with international intrigue, romance, and death-defying adventure.


Dragonfly, by author Marti Leimbach, is not a standalone. From what the author has posted, it is the first installment in a trilogy. This story follows Kira Adams. While Kira may be a scientific genius, she’s awkward and shy and a social outcast at school. She's only good in two subjects: math and science and has only one real friend in Lauren. Kira works as many part-time jobs as she can to help her cancer-stricken mother. But things are about to change. After entering into a science essay contest, Kira shockingly wins. Winning means that Kira can pay off the loan shark that has been hounding her and her mother. 
Winning also means traveling outside the country for the first time in her life to participate in the Science of Our Future Conference in Stockholm, Sweden. Kira soon finds herself in more trouble than she could ever imagine. Starting with meeting the mysterious Dr. Munn of the Mellin Institute as well as the seemingly bitter Will Drummond. Kira is bombarded with people who want to push her in several different directions and others who want to stop her from gaining the recognition she deserves. 
She's told under no uncertain terms is to take a job working for Munn, that someone else has their eyes on her research and it's possibilities. After arriving back home, Kira is offered a job working with Dr. Gregory Munn who runs a prestigious lab in Oakland which is near her home. Unfortunately, her supervisor is the same jerk who caused her problems in Stockholm and who seems determined to teach her nothing and force her to quit. Fortunately, she meets Dmitry who takes her under his wing and makes her feel welcomed. While working with Dmitry, Kira discovers a procedure that brings a rat back to life.
Kira's world is about to get much, much bitter, and more dangerous than she could ever imagine. What's obvious is that everyone whats Kira's discovery. She's kidnapped along with her nemesis Will and taken to Russia where she is forced to share her procedure and pressured to join a rich man's stable of young scientific geniuses. Until she manages to escape...I don't want to give any spoilers, but suffice to say she ends up in the very last place on earth she ever expected and must rely on her smarts to keep herself alive.

Leimbach takes readers on a wild ride to European capitals, underground labs, elegant ballrooms and even to the Hall of Mirrors where the first Nobel Prize was awarded. She writes about the provocative and exploration of a medical and ethical dilemma about finding a way to stop death that will provoke thought and debate for teen readers. As I mentioned above, this is not a standalone. The ending very much indicates that the author intends to focus on Kira and her next steps in her evolution and what it means to her own future if she takes certain steps. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

#Review - The Invisible Woman by Erika Robuck #Historical #Contemporary #Women

Series: Standalone
Format: Paperback, 368 pages
Release Date: February 9, 2021
Publisher: Berkley Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Historical / Contemporary Women

Based on the remarkable true story of an American woman who defied the odds to become the most dangerous Allied spy in France during World War II, comes a gripping historical novel about strength, humanity, and bravery from the bestselling author of Hemingway’s Girl.

March 1944. Virginia Hall wasn’t like the other young society women back home in Baltimore—she never wanted the debutante ball or silk gloves. Instead, she traded a safe life for adventure in Europe, and when her beloved second home is thrust into the dark days of war, she leaps in headfirst.

Once she’s recruited as an Allied spy, subverting the Nazis becomes her calling. But even the most cunning agent can be bested, and in wartime trusting the wrong person can prove fatal. Virginia is haunted every day by the betrayal that ravaged her first operation, and will do everything in her power to avenge the brave people she lost.

While her future is anything but certain, this time more than ever Virginia knows that failure is not an option. Especially when she discovers what—and whom—she’s truly protecting.


 The Invisible Woman, by author Erika Robuck, is the story about one of America's best female spies: Virginia Hall. This is the first time anyone has written a novel about Virginia Hall, the Baltimore woman first rejected from the US Foreign service because an injury left her with one leg, who went on to become a secret agent who helped change the course of the war. This story takes place between 1926 and 1948. Virginia Hall was a true hero who was credited with doing extraordinary things during her career. Virginia was a brilliant woman who became quite adept at being a spy.

Virginia was a diplomat when World War II broke out and the Nazis invaded France. After escaping to Britain, she later posed as a reporter before America entered the war. But thanks to her prosthetic leg, she almost didn’t get a chance to prove her mettle to her supervisors. Thanks to Vera Atkins, as well as William Donovan, Virginia was given a chance to work with the SOE and OSS. (Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the OSS (Office of Strategic Services). On July 16, 1940, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill appointed a civilian, Hugh Dalton, to be SOE's political master and then promptly ordered him to 'set Europe ablaze!'

Bold words indeed from Churchill considering that SOE only had a few agents in the field and no effective wireless communications. The story begins on March 21, 1944. After a long delay, Virginia is returning to France to help the Maquis against the Nazis and their allies the Milice and preparing for what will eventually be D-Day, the invasion of Europe. The Milice fran├žaise (French Militia), generally called la Milice was a political paramilitary organization created on 30 January 1943 by the Vichy regime (with German aid) to help fight against the French Resistance during World War II.

You might say that they were even worse than the Nazi’s because they captured and killed their own people. Virginia knew there was a huge price on her head and if she’s captured, she will be executed, or worse. Virginia, who was 37 at the time, knew that she had 6 weeks to make a difference before her past, and the Germans caught up to her. She lasted for months. Disguised as an old woman, she moved around undetected through France assisting multiple groups of the Maquis. She is a 'pianist'. Communicating with HQ to set up drops of supplies under the full moon. She was a mentor for hundreds of young men who need direction.

She’s waiting for D-Day and the opportunity to overthrow the Nazis and liberate France. Her last mission to Lyons ended in failure after she was betrayed by someone she team trusted. Someone she’s willing to hunt down and may him pay for his actions. But she can’t afford to be betrayed again. Virginia’s mission is to find the Maquis before allies unleash Operation Overload. (Operation Overlord was the codename for the Battle of Normandy, the Allied operation that launched the successful invasion of German-occupied Western Europe during World War II. The operation was launched on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings.)

Virginia has been called a variety of names by those who wanted to get rid of her. Her compatriots in the French Resistance referred to her as La Dame Qui Boite, the lady who limps. The nickname was later uttered by the Gestapo in whispers about her successes against them. Virginia’s efforts to bring together a rag tag team of French rebels also had high probability of massive casualties. After all, the Nazi’s were out in force hunting the French resistance, and if Virginia were caught with them, she’d be the cherry on their cake as it were.

But if she can pull together, the allies just might find a way to free France and allow the allies to march towards Germany. Once you read The Invisible Woman, you will never forget her name. Virginia, code name Diane was the most formidable force within the (SOE/OSS and later the CIA. Tasked with conducting espionage, sabotage, and reconnaissance in Nazi infested France, Virginia became an expert in organizing resistance movements. Virginia’s unfaltering courage and self-sacrifice will be remembered once you finish the novel. 


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

#Review - Amelia Unabridged by Ashley Schumacher #YA #Romance #Contemporary

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Release Date: February 16, 2021
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Source: Publisher
Genre:Young Adult / Romance / Contemporary

Sparks fly between two teens as they grapple with grief, love, and the future in this unforgettable debut novel sure to entice fans of Jandy Nelson and Jennifer E. Smith

Eighteen-year-old Amelia Griffin is obsessed with the famous Orman Chronicles, written by the young and reclusive prodigy N. E. Endsley. They’re the books that brought her and her best friend Jenna together after Amelia’s father left and her family imploded. So when Amelia and Jenna get the opportunity to attend a book festival with Endsley in attendance, Amelia is ecstatic. It’s the perfect way to start off their last summer before college.

In a heartbeat, everything goes horribly wrong. When Jenna gets a chance to meet the author and Amelia doesn’t, the two have a blowout fight like they’ve never had before. And before Amelia has a chance to mend things, Jenna dies in a freak car accident. Grief-stricken, and without her best friend to guide her, Amelia questions everything she had planned for the future.

When a mysterious, rare edition of the Orman Chronicles arrives, Amelia is convinced that it somehow came from Jenna. Tracking the book to an obscure but enchanting bookstore in Michigan, Amelia is shocked to find herself face-to-face with the enigmatic and handsome N. E. Endsley himself, the reason for Amelia’s and Jenna’s fight and perhaps the clue to what Jenna wanted to tell her all along.

Ashley Schumacher's devastating and beautiful debut, Amelia Unabridged, is about finding hope and strength within yourself, and maybe, just maybe, falling in love while you do it. 18-year old Amelia Griffin's life has had it's ups and downs. First, her father left her and her mother for a newer version and disappeared. On that same day, Amelia meets Jenna Williams at a bookstore who takes her under her wing, and makes her feel welcomed. This includes Jenna's parents who are always happy to have her over for dinner or whatever she needs.

Jenna introduces Amelia to the Orman Chronicles by N.E. Endsley and his characters Emmeline and Ainsley. The girls form a special bound and Amelia is saved by the Orman Chronicles, getting lost in magical world of two sisters who are competing with each other winning the right to wear the crown. Both of them start finding similarities between them and those little sisters. So much so that after graduation, they travel to see him in an event in California. If you've ever been to a book convention, you know what I am speaking of. 

Unfortunately, Amelia misses out on meeting her favorite author after he cancels out and leaves suddenly. What makes things even more aggravating is that Jenna claims that she did meet him briefly before he left the convention. Knowing how much the author means to her, Amelia feels like she’s been betrayed by her best friend. To make matters even worse for Amelia, before she left, they had a fight which was lingering when Jenna dies in an unfortunate accident while traveling to Ireland. 

Grief-stricken, heart broken, and without her best friend to guide her, they both planned on attended college in Montana, Amelia questions everything she had planned for the future. Amelia stops reading because she feels that if she opens a book she may betray the last memory of her best friend. When a mysterious, rare edition of the Orman Chronicles arrives, Amelia is convinced that it somehow came from Jenna. 

Tracking the book to an obscure but enchanting bookstore in Michigan, Amelia is shocked to find herself face-to-face with the enigmatic, handsome, and reclusive Nolan Endsley himself, the reason for Amelia’s and Jenna’s fight and perhaps the clue to what Jenna wanted to tell her all along. What Amelia learns is that she's not the only one who has faced tragedy. Here she'll meet Valerie, Alex, and Wally, the dog who will eat anything. Here she'll learn courage and secrets about herself and Nolan which forms a beautiful connection between the two characters. Here she'll discover who she is, and her own future not laid out by someone else. 

"Everything is a story, not just writing. You need to find the story that means something to you, a story you like telling."

I have walked in Amelia's shoes. I could relate to what she was going through. But I never had anyone like Jenna who tried to plan my life out for me. I loved Nolan. He's really a special character whose own background is tragic. His loss ended up with him writing the Orman Chronicles. One could say that it was his way of crying out for help which was finally heard by Amelia. Alex is a very likable character and a hard worker. He's straight up protective of Nolan and gets upset if anyone upsets him in any way. 
They are like brothers who stick together and rely on each other thru thick and thin. Val is the mother that Amelia lost when her own mother checked out after her husband walked out. Val decided to do something with her life and opened a book store, and teaches music, Amelia's mother decided that TV was more important than her own daughter. I liked Jenna's parents as well, but they could be just a bit overbearing. However, they were there for Amelia when her own parents weren't. Of course, there's also Wally the dog who is a menace to society but also adorable, and lovable. 

Monday, February 22, 2021

#Review - City of Villains by Estelle Laure #YA #Fantasy #Fairy Tales

Series: City of Villains # 1
Format: Hardcover, 240 pages
Release Date: January 26, 2021
Publisher:  Disney-Hyperion
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Fairy Tales & Folklore

Disney’s Villains meet Gotham in this gritty fairy tale-inspired crime series.

Mary Elizabeth Heart is a high school senior by day, but by night she’s an intern at the Monarch City police department. She watches with envy from behind a desk as detectives come and go, trying to contain the city’s growing crime rate. For years, tension has simmered between the city’s wealthy elite, and their plans to gentrify the decaying neighborhood called the Scar—once upon a time the epicenter of all things magic.

When the daughter of one of the city’s most powerful businessmen goes missing, Mary Elizabeth is thrilled when the Chief actually puts her on the case. But what begins as one missing person’s report soon multiplies, leading her down the rabbit hole of a city in turmoil. There she finds a girl with horns, a boyfriend with secrets, and what seems to be a sea monster lurking in a poison lake. As the mystery circles closer to home, Mary finds herself caught in the fight between those who once had magic, and those who will do anything to bring it back.

This dark and edgy YA series explores the reimagined origins of Maleficent, Ursula, Captain Hook, and other infamous Disney Villains like you’ve never seen before.

City of Villains is the first installment in author Estelle Laure's City of Villains trilogy. I like to think of this book as a villains re-imaging story. The story takes place 20 years After the Fall when magic disappeared. It's also the 2 year anniversary of the night the Ward, the crown jewel of the Scar, came crashing down killing thousands Legacies who worked at the tower in the center of their corner of the city. Now, the only thing remaining is a lake made of black water that is highly toxic where the building used to be. 17-year old Mary Elizabeth lives in an area called the Scar. The Scar is an area where magic once thrived, but now supposedly no longer exists. 

Having lost her family and now living with her Aunt Gia, Mary's main goal is to one day become a police officer under the woman who allegedly found her families killer. In addition to her schooling, Mary interns for the Monarch City Police Department where she is pretty much a paperwork pusher. Things change when a classmate, Mally Saint, disappears without her trusty side kick Hellion. Police Chief Ito actually assigns her to the case along with a Isabella (Bella), a young police officer tired of being ignored and disrespected by her male partner. 

Mary sees this as her chance to seal a position within the department after she finishes school. Mary and Bella begin their investigation, but instead of gaining any clarity, the mystery only thickens. After Mary's best friend, Ursula Atlantica, (yes, that Ursula from the Little Mermaid), disappears as well, Mary knows something more sinister is happening than just kids running away from the Scar, but who will believe her? Her boyfriend James is acting strangely. 

The same James who knows when someone is betraying him, or when someone is lying, or when someone is a lost cause. But James has a few secrets of his own which is bottling Mary up inside knowing that he may hold the answers she needs to help her friends. I think it's fair to call this a villains origin story featuring Maleficent, Ursula and Captain Hook. But there are others mentioned as well: Belle, Flora, Fauna, Merrywether (three protagonists in Walt Disney's 1959 film Sleeping Beauty), Gaston (the main antagonist of Disney's 1991 animated feature film, Beauty and the Beast), and The Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland.

This book is set in a Gotham-style setting where there are those descended from magical families called Legacies, and those that aren't called Narrows. As the Narrows multiply in Scar, the heated rivalry between these two groups threatens to boil over into the streets. Mary belongs to the Legacy group. The disappearance of magic is a driving force of many of the events in the book, and a large source of conflict between different groups in the novel (i.e. Magicalists vs. Naturalists). There's a third group known as Amagicalists who are not fully against magic where we find Mary's Aunt Gia and her friends. 

City of Villains ended up being a better book than I thought. There is a stunning cliffhanger ending that will leave readers curious about what's next. I disagree with others that this is aimed at Middle Grade or Young Adults. I do think Young Adult and some adults will enjoy the darkness of this story as well as the appeal of discovering new origins of some of their favorite Disney villains. Mary Elizabeth is an interesting character to follow but I would have liked to learn more about her family and what makes her a Legacy.

Friday, February 19, 2021

#Review - The Watchers of Moniah by Barbara V. Evers #Fantasy #Romance

Series: The Watchers of Moniah # 1
Format: Kindle, 346 pages
Release Date: December 15, 2020
Publisher: New Mythology Press
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Genre: Fantasy / Romance

An elite Watcher trainee, fifteen-year-old Princess Adana had everything going for her. Everything, that is, until her mother, the queen, dies. Too young to be queen herself, her mother’s last royal act is a decree that seals Adana’s fate—she’s to be sent to the neighboring Kingdom of Elwar for her own protection. She’ll be alone there, as the only person Adana knew in Elwar—her betrothed, Prince Serrin—dies at the same time as her mother.

The three-year stay in Elwar seems like a death sentence, as she will be separated from her telepathically-bonded giraffe and removed from her Watcher training. It only gets worse when she meets the person who will be teaching her about the rules of court protocol and politics—Serrin’s stepmother, Queen Quilla, a sharp-tongued woman who dislikes everything Adana stands for.

When a vision shows her the existence of Maligon—a tyrant thought killed twenty years prior—she realizes everything is not as it seems in the Four Kingdoms. Evil is at work in the shadows, and Maligon will stop at nothing short of total control over the Four Kingdoms. Will she be ready in time to claim her birthright, or will Maligon succeed with his malevolent plans?

The Watchers of Moniah is the first installment in author Barbara V. Evers series by the same name. In this world, there are four countries: Moniah, Elwar, Belwyn, and Teletia. The story manly takes place in Moniah and Elwar with brief glimpses at Belwyn and Teletia. 20 years ago, Queen Chiora of Chiora was forced to banish a man named Maligan who she deemed to be a traitor to the crown and the country. Maligon's Treacherous War is still being read by royals 20 years later. Maligan was trusted by Chiora so his betrayal cut deeply. At the same time, she has a vision of a child who will face insurmountable struggles. That child is Adana.

15-year old Princess Adana has trained with the elite Watchers of Moniah which are all women. At 15, Adana can't become Queen of Moniah until she turns 18 which makes the situation dire when her mother suddenly dies along with Adana's betrothed, Prince Serrin of Elwar. Chiora's last order is that Adana spend 3 years in Elwar under Queen Quilla learning how to become a Queen. One of the more interesting aspects of this story is how Adana is connected to a Giraffe which you see on the cover of this book. Adana, like her mother, is bonded to a Giraffe. Adana's is called Am'brosia.
Through Am'brosia, Adana learns a shocking truth. Maligon is alive and attacking villages in Moniah. While Adana and her protection detail is heading for Elwar, readers discover that yes, Maligon is alive and well, and regrouping. He's made alliances with people who believe in his vision of a united kingdom under his rule thanks to a young Watcher who saved his life after being strapped to a donkey and sent to wander the desert and die by Chiora. He apparently has plans for Adana who is the daughter of the woman he once loved. He honestly believes that what he's doing is what Chiora wanted to happen until she found Micah, the man who help save her country.
In the Kingdom of Elwar, Prince Kiffen is mourning the loss of his younger brother, Serrin. Afflicted with the same illness that took the life of Chiora, Kiffen's life is about to change in ways he couldn't image. Told by Serrin and his father King Donel to watch over and protect Adana at all costs, that she knows nothing of their ways, and Queen Quilla is vicious as a snake, Kiffen accepts the challenge and soon grows close to the girl. Kiffen is put between a woman, Queen Quilla, who isn't all that likable, and a young girl who will one day be Queen of Moniah if she survives. The battle between the two women will take up a large portion of the story while Maligon and his supporters slowly divide and conquers.
As a Kingdoms Council is taking place in Elwar where all the main players will attend, including King Micah, it may already be too late to stop Maligon from completing his mission and for Adana getting involved in a war before her Recognition Ceremony truly makes her Queen of Moniah. As you would expect, this book takes place over a period of 3 years. Adana also begins to have visions of things to come. Things that will eventually play out exactly how her visions show her. Some of the story is even told in Belwyn and Teletia where the leaders of the country encounter a world of hurt. 
As this is the first installment in the trilogy, there is a huge cliffhanger ending. As always, I refuse to discuss the ending, and will continue on with reading The Watchers in Exile shortly. There are a lot of players in this story. Thankfully, the author lists all of the important ones at the end of this story.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

#Review - Muse by Brittany Cavallaro #YA #Historical #Fantasy

Series: Muse # 1
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Historical

American Royals meets The Winner’s Curse in the first book of a new YA duology from New York Times bestselling author Brittany Cavallaro, set in an alternate history American monarchy where a girl grapples for control of her own life in the middle of a looming war.

The year is 1893, and war is brewing in the First American Kingdom. But Claire Emerson has a bigger problem. While her father prepares to reveal the mighty weapon he’s created to showcase the might of their province, St. Cloud, in the World’s Fair, Claire is crafting a plan to escape.

Claire’s father is a sought-after inventor, but he believes his genius is a gift, granted to him by his daughter’s touch. He’s kept Claire under his control for years. As St. Cloud prepares for war, Claire plans to claim her life for herself, even as her best friend, Beatrix, tries to convince her to stay and help with the growing resistance movement that wants to see a woman on the throne. At any cost.

When her father’s weapon fails to fire on the fair’s opening day, Claire is taken captive by Governor Remy Duchamp, St. Cloud’s young, untried ruler. Remy believes that Claire’s touch bestows graces he’s never had, and with his governing power weakening and many political rivals planning his demise, Claire might be his only and best ally. But the last thing that Claire has ever wanted is to be someone else’s muse. Still, affections can change as quickly as the winds of war. And Claire has a choice to make: Will she quietly remake her world from the shadows—or bring it down in flames?



American Royals meets The Winner’s Curse in the first book of bestselling author Brittany Cavallaro’s new duology, set in an alternate history American monarchy where a girl grapples for control of her own life in the middle of a looming war. In 1782, after winning the war for Independence, George Washington makes the decision to become a King thus begins the First American Kingdom. It is also decreed that the country will be separated into provinces, each led by a Governor selected from Washington's trusted lieutenants. 

The decree creates Alta California (West Coast), Nuevo Mexico (South), Duchies of West and East Florida, Livingston-Monroe made up of the heartland, St. Cloud which encapsulates the Mississippi River, and King of New Columbia which encapsulates the entire Eastern seaboard except Florida. Flash forward to the year 1893, where we find Claire Emerson, daughter of a mad inventor named Jeremiah Emerson. Jeremiah has been paid to create a weapon that will show the power of St. Cloud and avoid a conflict with Livingston-Monroe which has been making aggressive moves.

To make things even more interesting, the story takes place during the long delayed 1893 World’s Fair which is supposed to show the world what St. Cloud is capable of. Claire’s father believes his genius is a gift granted to him by his daughter’s touch. He’s kept Claire under his control for years, but Claire has made plans to escape even if it means marrying someone she has no love for. Even as her best friend, Beatrix Lovell, a brilliant glider-inventor, tries to convince her to stay and help with the growing resistance movement that wants to see a woman on the throne, Claire doesn’t want to be a pawn in anyone’s game.

After Jeremiah’s gun called Barrage fires after Claire touches it, she becomes what she hoped not to become. A pawn. Remy Duchamp, the young Governor of St. Cloud, insists that Claire stay at the governor’s mansion until he can figure out what makes her tick. Claire is an observer and an idealist who ends up having to navigate a treacherous road which includes a complex political rivalry between Remy, a malicious general who has made unwanted advances towards Claire, Nikolas Tesla who has something up his own sleeve, and a group of rebel women (Daughters of the American Crown) who are tired of having no say in what happens in their country. Claire will have to pick a side as she changes the First Kingdom of America forever.

Claire is a girl who you should root for to make her own choices and not be led by a string to do other people’s bidding. Even though her friend Beatrix means well, she’s got an ulterior motive which puts the focus on Claire. Claire has no idea how powerful she really is until she ends up right in the middle of a dangerous situation. Claire was taught calculus and geometry by her mother. Subjects that women aren’t allowed to be taught. Claire’s relationship with Remy is a curious one which I hope to see grow. Tesla is a really interesting character, especially when it comes for his love for cats, and his weapons he creates.

Since this is a duology, we won’t have to wait 3 years until we find out what happens to Claire and if she makes the right choices for herself, while keeping herself sane. I’m happy to see actual historical characters appear in this book.