Heartless

Heartless

Summary:

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

I found this story very compelling yet didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the other books in Marissa Meyer’s fairytale re-interpretations.  Unlike Meyer’s other heroines, Cath didn’t seem quite as quick to be able to stand up for herself which I found frustrating.  She instead let herself go with the flow and expected things to work out just fine until Jest intervenes to change directions.  I also felt that the romance was under-developed.  Jest and Cath have insta-love, which is impressive considering they only have two moments privately.  Although this would be forgivable, it’s this love that resulted in Cath’s ultimate demise so it should be extremely significant!

I understand that when telling the story of the queen of hearts you’re signing up for a certain kind of ending, yet I was still expecting more.  With all the talk of the looking glass I was also expecting to actually have some adventure out there!  This is one that gives me very mixed feelings, but would still recommend giving it a read.  Compelling story-telling, but the characters just didn’t quite work out for me.

Warning: Contains repeated violence.

Rating: 3 stars!

Who should read it? Fans of “Alice and Wonderland” and particularly Marissa Meyers.

Invasion of the Tearling (Queen of the Tearling #2)

Invasion of the Tearling

Summary:

Kelsea Glynn is the Queen of the Tearling. Despite her youth, she has quickly asserted herself as a fair, just and powerful ruler.

However, power is a double-edged sword, and small actions can have grave consequences. In trying to do what is right - stopping a vile trade in humankind - Kelsea has crossed the Red Queen, a ruthless monarch whose rule is bound with dark magic and the spilling of blood. The Red Queen's armies are poised to invade the Tearling, and it seems nothing can stop them.

Yet there was a time before the Crossing, and there Kelsea finds a strange and possibly dangerous ally, someone who might hold the key to the fate of the Tearling, and indeed to Kelsea's own soul. But time is running out...(Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

The best part of this book is discovering the back-story of “The Crossing” and the logistics that pulled everything together.  In this sequel to “Queen of the Tearling” Kelsea grows into an entirely different kind of ruler – and perhaps not the one she intended.  The visions grow and as Kelsea learns more about her legacy with the gems, things also get more confusing at the same time.

This was a slower book at times as we spend almost equal amounts of time in the past as we do in the present.  It was fascinating to see what steps Kelsea took first to consolidate her power and shape the new world in a better way.  Of the new characters introduced, I really enjoyed Father Tyler’s perspectives.  Yet there seems to be challenges from all corners and Kelsea will have to move quickly in order to save the kingdom.  I found this book compelling in that I consistently wanted to find out what was happening next, but the ending left me in a lurch and feeling obligated to find out what happens next.

Warning: Contains repeated violence.

Rating: 5 stars!

Who should read it? Only folks who have read the first in the series, otherwise there is going to be a lot of complexity lost.

Want to read the whole series?

Master of Alaska

Master of Alaska

Summary:

The detail and research that author Roger Seiler used – from biographies to actual letters and reports by the Governor Baranov himself - creates a riveting story.

“Master of Alaska” - a compelling Historical Fiction about the first governor of Alaska sent to the colony by Russia in 1790 – George Washington was President at the time. “Master of Alaska” starts in October 1790 when Aleksandr Baranov left his family in Russia and sails across the North Pacific to Kodiak to become the chief manager for Tsarina Catherine the Great’s colony in the far Northwest of North America. Baranov is shipwrecked, saved and adopted by the Aleut natives. Later he is forced to marry Anooka the daughter of the tribal chief, despite still having a wife back in Russia to save his men from starvation. Only slated to serve five years, Baranov spends the next 28 years in Alaska, surviving natural disasters, a massacre of his people at Sitka, meddling competing Russian authorities, a British attempt to undermine his colony and an assassination attempt. Interestingly, Baranov’s native wife and teenage daughter play an intricate role and contribute much to his success and survival in Alaska. Baranov built an empire and sought peace with the warring Tlingit, and thanks largely to his efforts Alaska is part of the U.S. today.  (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Please note: I received a free copy of this book courtesy of Sage’s Blog Tours and I voluntarily chose to write a review

Review:

This was as a 3.5 star book with some fantastic history naturally weaved throughout.  The early information I had about for Alaska was very sketchy and it was fascinating to get an in depth timeline without reading simple dry facts.  I liked that the arc was told through the experiences and challenges of Baranov although some times the events jumped from one to another fairly quickly.  One thing that is for sure is that life in Alaska wasn’t for everyone!  I have always wanted to visit and this makes me even more determined to make it up there.

One thing that I found a little distracting throughout the book was the very matter-of-fact dialogue throughout.  I couldn’t tell if this was something due to the translation of letters, a choice by the author or the form that the individuals naturally took.  It didn’t take away from the overall story, but did keep me from being completely absorbed in the story.

Warning: Contains some violence and sexual content.

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Fans of history and true adventure.

My Salinger Year

My Salinger Year

Summary:

At twenty-three, after leaving graduate school to pursue her dreams of becoming a poet, Joanna Rakoff moves to New York City and takes a job as assistant to the storied literary agent for J. D. Salinger. She spends her days in a plush, wood-paneled office, where Dictaphones and typewriters still reign and old-time agents doze at their desks after martini lunches. At night she goes home to the tiny, threadbare Williamsburg apartment she shares with her socialist boyfriend. Precariously balanced between glamour and poverty, surrounded by titanic personalities, and struggling to trust her own artistic instinct, Rakoff is tasked with answering Salinger’s voluminous fan mail. But as she reads the candid, heart-wrenching letters from his readers around the world, she finds herself unable to type out the agency’s decades-old form response. Instead, drawn inexorably into the emotional world of Salinger’s devotees, she abandons the template and begins writing back. Over the course of the year, she finds her own voice by acting as Salinger’s, on her own dangerous and liberating terms. 

Rakoff paints a vibrant portrait of a bright, hungry young woman navigating a heady and longed-for world, trying to square romantic aspirations with burgeoning self-awareness, the idea of a life with life itself. Charming and deeply moving, filled with electrifying glimpses of an American literary icon, “My Salinger Year” is the coming-of-age story of a talented writer. Above all, it is a testament to the universal power of books to shape our lives and awaken our true selves.  (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

This was a coming-of-age memoir that had me of two minds.  I adored the experiences with the books, at “the Agency” and how Rakoff is trying to find her way in life. What I didn’t enjoy was her choices regarding her relationship and how she managed to just go along with everything in that perspective.

Don’t get me wrong, I know this is a memoir, not fiction – yet there seemed to be so little retrospective concern over the relationship that it made me sad.  For someone who seemed to see so clearly within the publishing industry, she wasn’t able to see clearly personally.

That being said, this book was charming and the nostalgia strikes you deeply as a reader.  I enjoyed the perspective and the overall enjoyment remembering what it was to live in New York in your early twenties.

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Anyone willing to visit the older publishing world and New York in the early 90’s.