On Wednesdays I’m now required to enter the grand assembly in the Hall of Mirrors on his arm like a glowing trophy. Not the kind of trophy one wins for completing a challenge, the kind one stuffs and hangs on the wall after killing it.

Title: Glitter

Author: Aprilynne Pike

Series: Standalone

Publication: October 25th 2016 by Random House Books for Young Readers

Pages: 384

Source: Netgalley

Summary from Goodreads:

 Outside the palace of Versailles, it’s modern day. Inside, the people dress, eat, and act like it’s the eighteenth century—with the added bonus of technology to make court life lavish, privileged, and frivolous. The palace has every indulgence, but for one pretty young thing, it’s about to become a very beautiful prison.

When Danica witnesses an act of murder by the young king, her mother makes a cruel power play . . . blackmailing the king into making Dani his queen. When she turns eighteen, Dani will marry the most ruthless and dangerous man of the court. She has six months to escape her terrifying destiny. Six months to raise enough money to disappear into the real world beyond the palace gates.

Her ticket out? Glitter. A drug so powerful that a tiny pinch mixed into a pot of rouge or lip gloss can make the wearer hopelessly addicted. Addicted to a drug Dani can sell for more money than she ever dreamed.
But in Versailles, secrets are impossible to keep. And the most dangerous secret—falling for a drug dealer outside the palace walls—is one risk she has to take.

My Thoughts:

My gosh. My head is spinning so quickly I cannot begin to fathom what to say. Perhaps “Glitter… a novel that sparkles and shines much in the same way as its namesake”. Or maybe “Glitter the high stakes fairy tale that is made from the glimmering dust of nightmares.” You get the idea. Glitter is the type of book that just builds, and builds, and builds itself up so high on the most unstable foundation in existence. It is the epitome of anxiety inducing bliss, as it were. High stakes, indeed.

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Iron Cast

More than anything, she wanted to kiss him. He was so bright and beautiful and vulnerable in the daylight. But she couldn’t let herself.

Title: Iron Cast

Author: Destiny Soria

Series: Standalone

Publication:  October 11th 2016 by Amulet Books

Pages: 384

Source: Netgalley

Summary from Goodreads:

It’s Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths—whose “afflicted” blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art—captivate their audience. Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny’s crowds, and by day they con Boston’s elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, they realize how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron’s hires are shot, and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn.

A Listical of Thoughts:

  • Gorgeously written historical environment. I mean, seriously. It’s awesome.
  • Magical best friends are also awesome
  • Hemopath magic is terrifying. (Like Wanda in Age of Ultron with the visions)

  • Friends who con together, stay together

  • Each and every character has a different approach/take on their magic. The writing itself shifts flawlessly between the various uses and descriptions. It’s beautiful.
  • All the characters are fleshed out. They’re impossible not to believe.
  • Graceful and poignant handling of racism.
  • So many feels. The emotions run rampant, they really, really do.

Filled with plot twists, believably irresistible characters, and a uniquely compelling take on magic, Iron Cast is a vivid portrayal of friendship, sacrifice, betrayal, and romance. It is beyond enjoyable.



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My Lady Jane

“You’re wrong,” Lord Dudley said. “You’ve always been a fool.”

“The fool thinks he is wise,” G retorted. “But the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

Title: My Lady Jane

Authors: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Series: Standalone

Publication: June 7th 2016 by HarperTeen

Pages: 491

Source: OwlCrate

Summary from Goodreads:

The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane gets to be Queen of England.

A Listical of Feelings about My Lady Jane:

  • brilliant satire with a masterful mix of history and fantasy
  • Jane loves books. The end.

“Put down the book.” She wanted to look away, as he seemed distracted from holding the trousers in place, but she couldn’t take her eyes off the book. What if he hurt it? What if he followed through with his threat?
“No horse jokes,”he said.
“My lord, I apologize for the horse joke. If you put down the book—unharmed!—I will give you a carrot.”

  • Alternate history that is more entertaining than actual history – but still awesomely historical.
  • Gifford wins best horsey-husband of the year award.
  • Hilarious narration/author commentary as part of the actual book.

They collapsed into each other, and although it would be indelicate to detail what happened next, these narrators will tell you that a “very special hug” does not begin to describe it.
P.S. They totally consummated.

  • A creative cast of creatures that put all zoos to shame. I never would have thought of a skunk or a ferret, just sayin’.
  • An adorable, slow-burning romance that both adds to the overall hilarity and will make your heart go all pitter-patter
  • While it is very long, it doesn’t drag and, by the end, all you want is more.

  • The whole thing is freakishly charming. It sucks you in, like a good pie that you don’t realize you’re eating until it’s all gone.

My Lady Jane is a book I did not expect to like. I love historical fiction, and the book had raving reviews, but I was nervous because of how much I love history. But, have no fear, My Lady Jane is a brilliant, engaging, and unique masterpiece of rehashed history with a bit of magical flair thrown in. I was in love by the time I’d finished the prologue. If you’re a fan of The Princess Bride or Monty Python and the Holy Grail, you will fall head over heels in love with this motley cast of misfits.



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Into the Dim

“You have more knowledge of history, and archaic languages, than many learned professors could absorb in their lifetime. Do you now understand why? You’ve been training for this since you were four years old. We need that knowledge. We need you.”

Title: Into the Dim

Author: Janet B. Taylor

Series: Into the Dim # 1

Publication: March 1st 2016 by HMH Books for Young Readers

Pages: 428

Source: Purchased

Summary from Goodreads:

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.

My Thoughts:

Into the Dim is what younger fans of Outlander have been waiting for. With a solid gut punch of first line and one hell of a cool story line, Into the Dim is a easy book to fall in love with. If you don’t enjoy Hope’s wit and memorizing Eidetic memory, you’re sure to fall in love with the Scottish Highlands, Bran Cameron, and the captivating prospect of traveling through time.

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The Crown’s Game

“Imagine, and it shall be. There are no limits.⁠⁠⁠⁠”

Title: The Crown’s Game

Author: Evelyn Skye

Series: The Crown’s Game # 1

Publication: May 17th 2016 by Balzer + Bray

Pages: 400

Source: Purchased

Summary from Goodreads:

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love… or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear… the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

My Thoughts:

Hmm….. well, I really don’t know what to think. I’m torn. I liked it, I really did – but it sort of fell flat in a lot of different areas. I heard so many amazing things about The Crown’s Game and while it did live up to some of them, in other areas it left me decidedly wanting.

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Empire of Dust

Title: Empire of Dust

Author: Eleanor Herman

Series: Blood of Gods and Royals # 2

Publication:  June 28th 2016 by Harlequin Teen

Pages: 432

Source: Netgalley

Summary from Goodreads:

In Macedon, war rises like smoke, forbidden romance blooms and ancient magic tempered with rage threatens to turn an empire to dust

After winning his first battle, Prince Alexander fights to become the ruler his kingdom demands—but the line between leader and tyrant blurs with each new threat.

Meanwhile, Hephaestion, cast aside by Alexander for killing the wrong man, must conceal the devastating secret of a divine prophecy from Katerina even as the two of them are thrust together on a dangerous mission to Egypt.

The warrior, Jacob, determined to forget his first love, vows to eradicate the ancient Blood Magics and believes that royal prisoner Cynane holds the key to Macedon’s undoing.

And in chains, the Persian princess Zofia still longs to find the Spirit Eaters, but first must grapple with the secrets of her handsome—and deadly—captor.

New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman entwines the real scandals of history with epic fantasy to reimagine the world’s most brilliant ruler, Alexander the Great, in the second book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.

My Thoughts:

Well… bah humbug. That was really, really disappointing. Empire of Dust illustrates one of my biggest bookish pet peeves, hell, one of my biggest writing pet peeves: no growth. Empire of Dust is chalked full of the exact same problems I had with the first novel. Those being too many characters, not enough development, shoddy world building and descriptions, and just this overall bleh that keeps everything from improving along the way. It is simply ridiculous. I was not a big fan of Legacy of Kings not in the slightest, so I really have no idea why I decided this was a good idea. Hope, maybe? Who knows.

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Series Review: The Secret Daughter of the Tsar and The Tsarina’s Legacy

“It’s important to believe in something bigger than yourself.”

Title: The Secret Daughter of the Tsar

Author: Jennifer Laam

Series: First of a standalone set

Publication: October 22nd 2013 by St. Martin’s Griffin

Pages: 344

Source: Publisher in exchange for a honest review

Summary from Goodreads:

A compelling alternate history of the Romanov family in which a secret fifth daughter—smuggled out of Russia before the revolution—continues the royal lineage to dramatic consequences

In her riveting debut novel, The Secret Daughter of the Tsar, Jennifer Laam seamlessly braids together the stories of three women: Veronica, Lena, and Charlotte. Veronica is an aspiring historian living in present-day Los Angeles when she meets a mysterious man who may be heir to the Russian throne. As she sets about investigating the legitimacy of his claim through a winding path of romance and deception, the ghosts of her own past begin to haunt her. Lena, a servant in the imperial Russian court of 1902, is approached by the desperate Empress Alexandra. After conceiving four daughters, the Empress is determined to sire a son and believes Lena can help her. Once elevated to the Romanov’s treacherous inner circle, Lena finds herself under the watchful eye of the meddling Dowager Empress Marie. Charlotte, a former ballerina living in World War II occupied Paris, receives a surprise visit from a German officer. Determined to protect her son from the Nazis, Charlotte escapes the city, but not before learning that the officer’s interest in her stems from his longstanding obsession with the fate of the Russian monarchy. Then as Veronica’s passion intensifies, and her search for the true heir to the throne takes a dangerous turn, the reader learns just how these three vastly different women are connected. The Secret Daughter of the Tsar is thrilling from its first intense moments until its final, unexpected conclusion.

My Thoughts:

AHHHHHH!!! Romanov alternate history? Where has this been all my life? Just… just… YAY! The Secret Daughter of the Tsar is exactly what it sounds like: A Romanov heir that no one knew existed – and yes, that means no Anastasia or Alexi (even though Anastasia is my favorite movie ever… shhh…) I was really drawn to this novel for two reasons besides the obvious one I’ve screamed about above. One, it is a smooth flow of three different women – all of whom have a key part to play. It was wonderful. Two, history and mystery! Some of my favorite rhyming words.

Veronica is a down on her luck professor who is attempting to piece together the history of Alexandra, the Empress of Russia. Veronica has always felt like an outsider, like she didn’t belong. She is an orphan, raised by her grandmother. Let’s just say, she learns of the possibility of a secret Romanov heir and jumps on the chance… chaos is eminent. Along with Veronica, we are introduced to Charlotte and Lena – women from Imperial Russia, whom, while in a different time period,  set a path that brings this mystery to its head.

I love history, and, in all honesty, that was my favorite part of this book – and the sequel. It is a wild tapestry of threads spreading through time and across Europe, and there was nothing more satisfying than seeing it all come together in the end. Despite the fact that it was fairly easy to predict, because history – duh – there was still an element of surprise to certain events that made me catch my breath.

This story does require a faint suspension of disbelief, but if you can manage that, I think you’ll find yourself thoroughly enjoying a sprawling historical fiction novel. It is different, it is ambitious, and it is beautifully researched. This book is a matter of taste, if you like long winded books like Outlander, you’ll love this.



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“A cluttered mind seeks solace in ritual and routine.”

Title: The Tsarina’s Legacy

Author: Jennifer Laam

Series: Second in a set of standalones

Publication: April 5th 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin

Pages: 352

Source: Publisher in Exchange for a honest review

Summary from Goodreads:

Then…Grigory “Grisha” Potemkin has had a successful long association with the powerful Empress Catherine of Russia. But Catherine and Grisha are older now and face new threats, both from powers outside of Russia and from those close to them. Haunted by the horrors of his campaign against the Muslim Turks, Grisha hopes to construct a mosque in the heart of the empire. Unfortunately, Catherine’s much younger new lover, the ambitious Platon Zubov, stands in his way. Grisha determines that to preserve Catherine’s legacy he must save her from Zubov’s dangerous influence and win back her heart.

Now…When she learns she is the lost heiress to the Romanov throne, Veronica Herrera’s life turns upside down. Dmitry Potemkin, one of Grisha’s descendants, invites Veronica to Russia to accept a ceremonial position as Russia’s new tsarina. Seeking purpose, Veronica agrees to act as an advocate to free a Russian artist sentenced to prison for displaying paintings critical of the church and government. Veronica is both celebrated and chastised. As her political role comes under fire, Veronica is forced to decide between the glamorous perks of European royalty and staying true to herself.

In Jennifer Laam’s The Tsarina’s Legacy, unexpected connections between Grisha and Veronica are revealed as they struggle to make peace with the ghosts of their past and help secure a better future for themselves and the country they both love.

My Thoughts:

As I’m sure all of you know by now, I love historical fiction. I love, love, love, love, love it – especially when it is done with accuracy and a certain bit of flair. The Tsarina’s Legacy does just that. This book is a follow up to her debut, The Secret Daughter of the Tsar, which St. Martin’s was also kind enough to send me so that I would not be lost out of my wits. Which, if you haven’t noticed, I’ve reviewed above. Muahahaha!

Much like the first book, I loved the detail and the attention to the smallest historical nonsense. Because of the slight flowery, hum-drummy language, it actually feels like you’re there, you know? There is a certain grace to historical fiction, especially ones such as these where the whole thing is trying to change the course of history. I found myself, once again, thoroughly impressed by the amount of accuracy, research, and the detail of the scenery and depth of the characters. The cool thing about this books is that it isn’t an all or nothing sort of deal. There is a delicate balance of actual history and then a faint smattering of “but what if”s thrown in for good measure. It makes for something exciting, even if you think you know what is going on.

One of the biggest differences in this book, if you can’t tell from the synopsis, is that we have the heir to the Romanov throne. Cue the bagpipes! I’m not saying a word, though the synopsis is a bit spoliery – so, oops. I really did like it though, it provided an extra layer of feels after reading the first book, if you get what I’m saying.

Once again, though, I think the strongest parts of this book were the historical elements – the facts and the way it was all weaved into the setting was impeccable. My love for history sort of saved this book for me. While I liked the characters and the plot line and whatnot, on its own it just wasn’t enough to make my heart race or make me care. But, throw in some high historical stakes with complete accuracy? That is one sail boat I would love to be on.

This book is a book worth reading. The Tsarina’s Legacy is a legacy worth picking up and devouring, even if you are unsure about the outcome. The power shifts, the power struggles in the politics, the romance, all of it was handled with a finely toothed comb, and I loved it.



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