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Look for the Girl on the Golden Coin

Girl on the Golden Coin

Title: Girl on the Golden Coin: A novel of Frances Stuart

Author: Marci Jefferson

Genre: Historical fiction

Source: Galley from author in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewer: Kristen R.

Summary (From Goodreads):

Impoverished and exiled to the French countryside after the overthrow of the English Crown, Frances Stuart survives merely by her blood-relation to the Stuart Royals. But in 1660, the Restoration of Stuart Monarchy in England returns her family to favor. Frances discards threadbare gowns and springs to gilded Fontainebleau Palace, where she soon catches King Louis XIV’s eye. But Frances is no ordinary court beauty, she has Stuart secrets to keep and people to protect. The king turns vengeful when she rejects his offer to become his Official Mistress. He banishes her to England with orders to seduce King Charles II and stop a war.

Armed in pearls and silk, Frances maneuvers through the political turbulence of Whitehall Palace, but still can’t afford to stir a scandal. Her tactic to inspire King Charles to greatness captivates him. He believes her love can make him an honest man and even chooses Frances to pose as Britannia for England’s coins. Frances survives the Great Fire, the Great Plague, and the debauchery of the Restoration Court, yet loses her heart to the very king she must control. Until she is forced to choose between love or war.

On the eve of England’s Glorious Revolution, James II forces Frances to decide whether to remain loyal to her Stuart heritage or, like England, make her stand for Liberty. Her portrait as Britannia is minted on every copper coin. There she remains for generations, an enduring symbol of Britain’s independent spirit and her own struggle for freedom.

My review:

Girl on the Golden Coin is a well written and entertaining book. This is a period of history that I have little knowledge of so it was fun to be immersed in Frances Stuart’s world. She is a fascinating character and life in the court of Charles II is filled with political intrigue and danger, especially for a single woman in the Queen’s service.

Francis is one smart girl and is able to use her personality and charm to make a place for herself in England and to protect her family from destitution. As she moves her way through the court she has to decide how far she is willing to go to uphold promises made to the King of France and the Queen Mother, while also maintaining her virtue. Because of her beauty and grace she is not only loved by two kings, but by many in court as well.

Marci Jefferson’s writing style is fast paced and engaging and the book is hard to put down. All of the characters are well developed. Frances is endearing and realistic. The reader experiences dilemma after dilemma with Frances and we get to see how she maneuvers her way through her uncertain world. Charles II is not simply the king, but is a passionate man who is filled with his own inner struggles about his personal and political life.

My rating:

4.5 out of 5 bookmarks. If you like historical fiction pick up this book. Even if you are not into reading historical fiction you should read this book. The writing is fantastic and this is a fascinating time period to explore.

 

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Review for Tempered by Karina Cooper

tempered

Title: Tempered

Author: Karina Cooper

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Steampunk

Series: Book 4 of the St. Croix Chronicles.

Source: Galley received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewer: Kristen R.

Summary:

Cherry St. Croix has been in a downward spiral since the murder of her husband on the day of their wedding. Ever since she has had one thing to comfort her as she disappeared from society and into the filthy streets of the London below: opium. However, now she has hit rock bottom and can no longer dwell in either London society or the dark underside of London.

Her guardian, Mr. Oliver Ashmore, is involved and she has to deal with something even harder to come to terms with: sobriety.

My Review:

I have been reading right along with this series and I have not been disappointed yet! In fact, I think that this was a great story because many of the plot points from the past three books have been tied up and we find Cherry up against a very different kind of enemy: herself. We are taken out of the environment of London and are placed in a more introspective place. She must battle her own demons, and eventually those of her parents. Unfortunately for Cherry, things are not straightforward with her guardian either and she learns that there was more to her parents’ lives and deaths than what she has been told.

In the last three books we have watched Cherry become more and more reliant on the opium that she has used since her days in the traveling carnival as a child. As things got worse and worse for her she spiraled down, relying on tar rather than simply a draught of opium to help her sleep. On top of this her life in the London Underground has come to an end after she was saved from total humiliation at the Menagerie.

It is painful to watch Cherry work her way through the process of becoming sober. We are right along with her as she is desperate for more opium, willing to do anything to get it, and finally stops caring about living. Ashmore is there with her as well, and since she barely knows him it is interesting to watch her learn about him in her compromised state.

The entire story is not made up of these intense emotions because she finally pulls through, but this leaves her with other aspects of her past to deal with, things that she is surprised to discover about her family and the unknown Mr. Ashmore.

My Rating:

4.5 out of 5 bookmarks. This books cannot be read out of order, so take the time to read the earlier books in the series. You will be glad that you did. I have enjoyed this entire series. This was different from the rest, making the story fresh and moving it along from the plot that had occupied the first three books. I would recommend this series to anyone who wants to read steampunk set in an alternative London. I cannot wait to read the rest of the books to find out what happens since there are still loose ends to deal with.

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Review for Hang Wire

hang wire

Title: Hang Wire

Author: Christopher Adam

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Horror (Stand alone)

Source: Galley received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewer: Kristen R.

Summary:

Ted is a Bay area blogger. He doesn’t feel quite right after a strange event at his birthday party involving an exploding fortune cookie. Around town there have been horrific murders by the Hang Wire Killer and Ted’s own sleepwalking tendencies seem to coincide with the occurrences of the crimes.

At the same time a new carnival has come to town and it boasts an eclectic set of performances, including Celtic dancers and an amazing high wire act. With the carnival comes Victorian carnival rides and there is something about these rides that is not quite right as violent and bloody events surround them and their operator, Joel.

There are forces at work around San Francisco, both good and bad, as immortals search for the ancient power stirring beneath the city that has the potential to destroy the world and the unsuspecting mortals that are caught up in the middle.

My review:

This is a quirky tale that was a bit confusing at first, but once I got into the story it was intriguing. The reader starts out just as confused as Ted. After the fortune cookie incident he is exhausted despite all of his efforts to rest and recover. After a full night’s sleep he is still sore and he starts waking up in places that he does not remember going. The phrase from his exploding fortune cookie shows up all around him “You are the master of every situation.” On his laptop, other places that he goes, over and over again…

At the same time the reader is taken to scenes from the past and the present and is not allowed to view one character for long. Mixed into the modern day scenes are glimpses of the past. It is not at first clear how these relate to the story, but as the reader is introduced to more characters in the present the connection develops that links them to those in the past.

This back and forth method of storytelling is a refreshing way to show the evil forces that the characters are up against. Instead of simply telling about how evil the carnival rides and their operator are and where the evil comes from, the reader discovers it through the flashbacks to earlier times. The story of the rides and the one who is searching for their pieces builds up as the flashbacks continue and the true nature of the situation comes to light. As the events lead closer to the present day and we learn about the immortals in the current day, the reader learns just what peril the people of San Francisco, and the world, face in this tale.

It soon becomes clear that some of the characters may, in fact, be the same people, even if they do not realize it quite yet. The downside to all of this jumping around is that we do not get to learn as much about the characters as one might like. This does make it a bit difficult to care about the main characters as much as one might desire but in the end it creates a compelling story.

 My rating:

4 out of 5 bookmarks.  Your enjoyment of this book depends on the type of storytelling you like. Be prepared for something different and just go with the flow, even if you are a little lost at first. Take your time with this book. Read carefully. The different parts of the story come together and it makes it all the more creepy and exciting.

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by | April 10, 2014 · 12:36 am

Review of The Damsel and the Daggerman

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Title: The Damsel and The Daggerman

Author: Delilah S. Dawson

Series: Blud 2.5

Genre: Carniepunk e-novella

Source: Galley received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewer: Kristen R.

Summary (From Goodreads):

“Bad boy knife-thrower Marco Taresque is the hottest and most dangerous performer in the caravan. He keeps to himself until a pesky female journalist arrives, anxious to interview him about his checkered past—his last assistant disappeared under mysterious and bloody circumstances, earning him the nickname “The Deadly Daggerman.”

Unsinkable journalist and adventurer Jacinda Harville doesn’t take no for an answer, and she’s determined to wear down Marco no matter how threatening—or incredibly desirable—he might appear. He agrees to an interview—but only if she’ll let him strap her to a spinning table and throw knives at her body. How can she say no? And how can she resist him when he leans close for a kiss that strikes her more sharply than any blade? It’s the first time she’s let a man get the better of her, and she’s determined it will be the last…”

My review:

The Blud series has been enjoyable to read from the start and this novella is no exception. We are brought back to Criminy’s Clockwork Carnival after the last book took us away to other parts of the world of Sang. We get to see Criminy and Tish once more (Wicked as they Come), as well as Madam Morpho and Mr. Murdoch from an earlier novella (The Mysterious Madam Morpho). There is something special about being with the caravan again and it gives us a chance to learn more about its cast of characters and their interesting culture.

Dawson once again comes through with unique and colorful characters for this story.  There is the independent and strong-willed reporter Jacinda.  She has her eye on the mysterious and deadly Daggerman, Marco. Will Marco reveal the truth to Jacinda as to whether he murdered his assistant? Jacinda is willing to do almost anything to get him to tell her what really happened and finds herself caught in a game of cat and mouse.

As always, there is a nice balance of steampunk flavor mixed with paranormal romance and set in a fascinating world. There are clockwork animals and vampires (Bludmen), as well as other supernatural creatures.  Due to the length of the story the reader only gets a taste of what the world of Sang is like, but there is certainly enough information to enjoy the story and what is revealed will entice first time readers to seek out the other titles.  

The relationship between Marco and Jacinda was a little too much about power to be completely appealing to me as a story element, though I know it can be a very appealing to others. Despite the fact that this element was not quite for me I could appreciate it because the interactions between the two characters were expertly done. Jacinda is headstrong and determined and  will do almost anything to get her story but is challenged by the feelings that Marco brings out in her when he is in control. Dawson is wonderful at creating complex characters with complicated backgrounds and putting them together with interesting results.       

 My rating:

4 out of 5 bookmarks.  This is a wonderful novella that can be enjoyed even without having read the earlier stories, though they are highly recommended.  If you like romance with a paranormal or steampunk twist you will like this novella.

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Harry Dresden-Wizard: A review of Storm Front by Jim Butcher

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Title: Storm Front

Author: Jim Butcher

Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy

Reviewer: Kristen Rinaldo

Storm Front is the first book in the Dresden Files series that is now up to 14 books and counting.  I read this book during college and have kept up with the series since then.  I wanted to reread this book to see if it held up in comparison to the rest of the series and to see how the story held up the second time around.

Harry Dresden is a wizard for hire in Chicago. His ad in the yellow pages reads:

Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations.

Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.

No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment

In the city of Chicago people are dying in a messy and frightening way. Black magic is afoot and the police do not know how to handle it so they call in their wizard on retainer, Harry Dresden. There are factions on all sides that do not want this mystery solved but the police are looking to Harry for answers and they need them before the killing happens again.  His past transgressions, no matter that they were in self defense, has Harry on the White Council’s watch list. This makes it risky for him to figure out what kind of spell is killing people and to find the murderer, but it is important for him to figure it all out before he is framed as the murderer or taken out by the killer himself. 

Harry is a great character and is my favorite part of the story.  He is funny, intelligent and is a genuinely good guy. He is a sucker for a damsel in distress. He may not always know exactly what to do but he will work hard to get the answers. Though he is a good man he is still tempted by evil.  He struggles with the temptation that comes with great power, especially when he encounters the magic that causes the murders.

Unfortunately for Harry Dresden, but fortunately for us, the author is not afraid to hurt his characters.  Both physically and emotionally the story is a gauntlet for Harry.  The story says NO to him just when things seem to be going right in the case and in life. This not only creates an entertaining story but also prevents things from going too easy for Harry.  This leads to character development that will be present across the entire series of books.

I tried to come up with a negative criticism of the book but I could not.  It has a well developed story line, well developed characters and the plot moves at a good pace.  The ending is well thought out without giving any crutches to the main character.

Earlier I mentioned the re-readability factor since I had read this before.  You may be able to tell from my review, but to make it clear it was just as good as I remember and rereading it was a great experience. If you have read this book in the past I would recommend doing so again. It contains all of the elements that have kept me loyal to the series over all of these years.

My rating:

5 out of 5 bookmarks. I would recommend this book to lovers of urban fantasy or mystery with paranormal elements.  If you read and like the first chapter you will get sucked into the book and into the series. Try it, you’ll like it.

 

 

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