2017 Book #4 – Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

51frawx0hul-_sx328_bo1204203200_-1Title: Victoria
Author: Daisy Goodwin
Date finished: 1/14/17
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: November 22, 2016
Pages in book: 416
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: BookBrowse NOTE:I received this book for free from BookBrowse in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Drawing on Queen Victoria’s diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University, Daisy Goodwin―creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria and author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter―brings the young nineteenth-century monarch, who would go on to reign for 63 years, richly to life in this magnificent novel.
Early one morning, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria is roused from bed with the news that her uncle William IV has died and she is now Queen of England. The men who run the country have doubts about whether this sheltered young woman, who stands less than five feet tall, can rule the greatest nation in the world.
Despite her age, however, the young queen is no puppet. She has very definite ideas about the kind of queen she wants to be, and the first thing is to choose her name.
“I do not like the name Alexandrina,” she proclaims. “From now on I wish to be known only by my second name, Victoria.”
Next, people say she must choose a husband. Everyone keeps telling her she’s destined to marry her first cousin, Prince Albert, but Victoria found him dull and priggish when they met three years ago. She is quite happy being queen with the help of her prime minister, Lord Melbourne, who may be old enough to be her father but is the first person to take her seriously.
On June 19th, 1837, she was a teenager. On June 20th, 1837, she was a queen. Daisy Goodwin’s impeccably researched and vividly imagined new book brings readers Queen Victoria as they have never seen her before.

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I received this book from Book Browse in order to participate in an online book discussion on the book. If you’ve read it please come join the discussion! This book tells the story of Victoria, Queen of England in the mid 1800’s. The book begins before Victoria is queen, when she was still Alexandrina, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Kent. Controlled for her whole childhood by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend/advisor (Conroy), Victoria becomes Queen when she’s barely 18 and relishes the freedom this provides. This book chronicles her Victoria’s life between the ages of around eighteen and twenty as Victoria comes into her place in the regency. As a young woman she has a lot to prove though, and with so many people who’d like to control her or use her power to their advantage, she has to be careful who she trusts. As Victoria navigates through her first couple years as Queen, she makes mistakes and falls in love and causes some scandal but all in all she stands her ground, makes her own decisions, and follows her heart.
Overall I did enjoy this book. Victoria was very interesting as a main character and the story line was interesting. There were parts of the story line that I thought could have been dug into more, like the discussions of  the poor people in London and how Victoria was spoiled with riches while there were children starving in the streets.And if I’m being completely honest, I didn’t like the way the story ended. I didn’t like Victoria’s second love interest, I wanted her to end up with Melbourne despite the age difference. That probably was the thing that bothered me most about the book. Also it seemed like everyone wanted something from Victoria, which I’m sure is normal for a book about a Queen but I have to say is kind of depressing for a book about a young woman. This was a good and interesting book though and I would recommend it.

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot. Victoria was extremely interesting as a character and the book included a good deal of dramatic tension, conflict, and romance as well as political intrigue. I didn’t really like the ending but overall I thought the book was very well written. I would recommend, especially for fans of books about royalty.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #95 – Queen Song by Victoria Aveyard

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Title: Queen Song
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Date finished: 9/5/15
Genre: Young adult
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Pages in book: 45
Stand alone or series: Part of the Red Queen series, prequel to first book in series
Where I got the book from: Amazon purchase

Blurb from the cover:

In this 55-page prequel novella set in the Red Queen world, Queen Coriane, first wife of King Tiberias, keeps a secret diary—how else can she ensure that no one at the palace will use her thoughts against her? Coriane recounts her heady courtship with the crown prince, the birth of a new prince, Cal, and the potentially deadly challenges that lay ahead for her in royal life.

My rating: 3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This novella is actually a prequel to the very popular Young Adult book Red Queen. This novella tells the story of Cal’s Mom (Cal is one of the main people in Red Queen and the prince of the kingdom) Coriane Jacos. Coriane doesn’t think she’s anyone of consequence- her family is very poor and doesn’t really have any influence in court. Then the Prince (Tibe, Cal’s father) starts taking an interest in her. Coriane is convinced they are merely friends, for what prince could be interested in an unimportant noble such as herself?
Overall I thought this was a good novella. With only 45 pages it is hard to have anything that is really going to “wow” you but I liked hearing Coriane’s story from her point of view after getting most of the basics from the Red Queen novel. There is also another novella being released in January, Steel Scars.

The bottom line: I like hearing Queen Coriane’s story from her point of view. I would definitely recommend this for fans of Red Queen.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #67 – The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

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Title: The Royal We
Author: Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
Date finished: 7/3/15
Genre:  Fiction, Romance-ish, Drama
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Pages in book: 452
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it’s Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain’s future king. And when Bex can’t resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.
Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick’s sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he’s fated to become.
Which is how she gets into trouble.
Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she’s sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.

My rating: 4 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2015 checklist under the “a book based on a true story” check box since the authors loosely based this book around Prince William and Kate Middleton’s romance. Obviously this book is a work of fiction and in no way portrays what happened during WIlliam and Kate’s courtship (at least I hope Kate and Harry didn’t “snog” each other as the British so endearingly term it) but the main idea is based on their unlikely courtship and eventual marriage. Its a true Cinderella story, having the Prince of England fall in love with you. What little girl doesn’t want to be a princess? But what every little girl doesn’t consider (and what this book expertly depicts) are the hardships that come attached to being affianced to someone directly in the line to ascend to the throne. The lack of privacy, the demands to be perfect at all times, the hateful gossip columnists and he way your friends all suddenly want something from you.
Bex Porter is just a normal girl from Iowa. She lucked out and was able to do a semester abroad in one of the places she’s loved since she was a little girl, England. And when it turns out Prince Nicholas is actually living on the same floor as her, she reacts differently from how I would expect most to react, she doesn’t seem to care much at all. She acts as if he is any old person, which I think is one of the reasons that Nick was attracted to Bex in the first place. They fight their feelings at first, because Nick is already in a relationship and also because Bex is hooking up with another guy on the floor. But Nick and Bex form an unlikely friendship that continues to develop as simply that at first, a deep friendship. Before they know it though, they are quite deeply in love with each other.
Relationships with this much strain put on them are bound to have their ups and downs. I think this book was a great depiction of the characters as they should be, humans that have feelings and emotions and who make mistakes (sometimes a lot of them). There were some very heart-wrenching parts of the book and some parts that made me down-right mad (Bex tends to let people walk on her quite a bt in the book, she gives up in fights WAY before I would be willing to let things go) but through out the book I felt deeply connected to the characters and what was happening with them. I laughed, I cried, I shouted, I cheered. This was a great feels book and the emotions just held me hostage there at the end. While at a few points I did find the book to be a bit wordy, I thought the wordy parts were worth it and some of them were even downright poetic
The bottom line: I thought this was a great book, if a tiny bit wordy for me. Most of the wordy parts were worth it though, I would recommend!
Favorite quotes:
Bex: “My dad and I once had a fight because I refuse to put ketchup on my hot dogs.” Nick: “That’s possibly the most American sentence I ever heard.”
“I remember understanding what a brutal thing it is to be the bearer of truly bad news – to break off a piece of that misery and hand it to other people, one by one, and then have to comfort them; to put their grief on your shoulders on top of all your own; to be the calm one in the face of their shock and tears.”
“I don’t want you to think I”m holding something over you. I’m not. This isn’t a favor. This is just love.”

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #60 – The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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Title: The Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Date finished: 6/20/15
Genre: Young Adult – Dystopian/Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Pages in book: 383
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Red Queen series (#2 is The Glass Sword and will be released 2/9/16!!!!!)
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard’s sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king’s palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?
Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood–those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.
To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard–a growing Red rebellion–even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

My rating: 4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2015 checklist under the “a book with a color in the title” check box since (duh) the title has a color in it. Obviously I’ve heard a lot about this book in the past couple months. This book rocketed up the popularity scale even before it was released, and there are even talks  right now to make it into a movie (Elizabeth Banks is rumored to be looking into producing the movie). With all of the recent dystopian young adult novels, I can understand why this book really caught on. This book tells the story of Mare Barrow, a Red who is sick to death of the Silver’s power. As a slight background, the Reds are the workers, the servants, the slaves and what not. The Silvers are the royalty and the important people, and their blood is actually Silvers. Oh and Silvers have powers. Like telekinesis and making plants grow and water nymphs and stuff like that.
So it turns out that Mare has powers as well. Even though she’s a Red, she can control electricity and can create it too. When the king finds out about this, he convinces Mare to portray to the population that she is a long lost Silver princess who was raised in a Red household. There is a rebellion rising up in the streets though, the Scarlet Guard, and they have a plot to over take the government. The population of Reds of tired of spending their whole lives working so hard to never get ahead and to watch their children and their children’s children toil away their lives in the same manner.
Overall I thought this book was very good. There was enough action to keep you consistently interested and there were enough plot twists to keep you on your toes. The main character (Mare) reminds me a lot of Katniss from Hunger Games. Mare is a very strong character and sometimes overly headstrong and a little tom-boy-ish. It was a solid book but it wasn’t my favorite book ever. Good story line though, I was interested throughout and honestly I didn’t want to put it down.
The bottom line: This was a very good book and I can see why it has gained a lot of popularity since it was released. I would definitely recommend that people give this book a try. It might not be for everyone but I thought it was great.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #1 – Undead and Unwary by MaryJanice Davidson

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Title: Undead and Unwary
Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Genre: Fiction – Paranormal comedy (with a very small amount of romance)
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group / Penguin Group
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Pages in book: 303
Stand alone or series: Series – Undead/Betsy Taylor #13

Blurb from the cover: First: kill Satan. Second: reorganize Hell. Sounded simple enough back then, but for Betsy Taylor, managing “down below” isn’t as easy as she’d hoped – even if she is doing it with her sister, Laura, a bona-fide Antichrist. So yes, Betsy has been shirking her hellish responsibilities, but she’s been just so darn busy these days. And she’s not just yanking Laura’s chain. There’s a brand-new baby drama involving a pair of uncanny (okay, terrifying) toddler twins, an upcoming birthday party that has to be planned, and, are you ready for it? Betsy’s dad – once so very dead – has been spotted in downtown St. Paul.
It’s enough to send Betsy fleeing to Hell, if only for some quiet time with Laura. But while there, in addition to meeting old acquaintances, Betsy discovers that death can be just as complicated as life.
Now, despite all the chaos, Betsy’s friends rally around, helping her handle all this fire and brimstone jazz. As for Betsy’s sister and dad – they have their own surprises in store for the vampire queen. And jolt by jolt, Betsy will discover that there’s nothing as heartwarming as family. Yeah, like Hell.

My rating: 3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2015 checklist under the “book with nonhuman characters” check box. This book picks up a few weeks after where the last book in the series left off. I’ve been a fan of this series from the beginning, but to be honest this book was not my favorite in the series. There was just too much reviewing of previous books, and not just references but like in depth explanations of relevant things that had happened in previous books. There was even a whole chapter that was an excerpt from a previous book. And while this is probably ideal for people who are picking up this series for the first time with this book (though I don’t know why any sane person would start a series with the thirteenth book) it ends up being pretty dry and somewhat tedious for someone who has already read the whole series and knows all the background information. I also had an issue with Betsy’s big revelation concerning Laura at the end. It never really says how she figured it out, all of a sudden a light-bulb turns on and she realizes her sister sucks. I just feel like that isn’t very realistic. I went with it though. Other than those two things, I really did enjoy the book. Betsy finally takes responsibility for Hell in an interesting way, and there are a lot of interesting developments concerning Betsy’s asshat father, Jessica’s great but weird kids, and Betsy’s abilities as the vampire Queen.

The bottom line:
  I would still recommend the series overall (and obviously this book as a piece of the series) but I wouldn’t recommend this book as a standalone.

Author website
: http://www.maryjanicedavidson.net/
Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Undead-Unwary-Queen-Betsy/dp/0425263444/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1420461969&sr=8-1
Memorable quotes from the book:

2014 – Book #106

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The hundred and sixth book I read in 2014 was Undead and Unsure by MaryJanice Davidson. This is the twelfth book in the Undead/Betsy Taylor series by this author. I finished this book on 12/28/14. I rated this book 4.25 stars out of a scale of 5. This book picks up a few days (I think) after the last book leaves off. Betsy has just killed the devil in front of her half-sister (the devil’s daughter). This causes a bit of family tension at the Thanksgiving 2.0 holiday that Betsy has planned. The Antichrist is pretty upset that Betsy got her into this situation, where she’s stuck being the devil’s replacement.

Sinclair is ecstatic that he can now go outside in the sunlight with his two puppies, Furr and Burr. Betsy is ashamed that he is acting so “cute” and not at all like the bad-ass vampire king that she has come to know and love. Betsy is trying so very hard to recover her fragmented relationship with her sister and thinks that Thanksgiving dinner will do the trick. However, Laura has other ideas and drags Betsy to hell and then ditches her there. Also this whole time Dr. Taylor (Betsy’s mom) is very worried about the fact that no one knows when Jessica got pregnant, no one knows when Jessica is due, and no one seems to be worried about these facts.

Overall I really liked the story line in this book. The Antichrist acts like a scared little girl in this book, which was a tad different from how we’ve seen her in the past. And I loved that we got to hear pieces of the story from Eric’s point of view in this book. I loved that Jess’s babies turned out to be weird and I think its hilarious that Marc ended up having to deliver them. (Oh yea, SPOLIER ALERT 🙂 )I can’t wait to read the next book in the series (the new one)!!!

Link to author website: http://www.maryjanicedavidson.net/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Undead-Unsure-MaryJanice-Davidson/dp/0425263436/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1419907889&sr=8-1

2014 – Book #104

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The hundred and fourth book I read in 2014 was Undead and Unstable by MaryJanice Davidson. This is the eleventh book in the Undead/Betsy Taylor series by this author. I finished this book on 11/26/14. I rated this book 4.0 stars out of a scale of 5. This book picks up about a week after where the last book left off. Marc has just died and everyone is trying to deal with the repercussions of that. Betsy seems to be taking it less well than the others. Betsy is determined to save Marc and bring him back from the dead. Jess and Nick (those darned humans) are opposed to this idea but Betsy is going to do it anyways.

Fortunately for Betsy, she doesn’t need to do a thing. She goes into the attic to put something away and discovers zombie Marc just shambling around up there. And then we find out from Laura that the Book of the Dead is actually made out of Sinclair. Like from his skin. Because the devil skins him alive in the future and Betsy uses his skin to make the Book of the Dead. So then Sinclair goes off for awhile and Betsy thinks it’s because he is scared but I guess he was researching.

And then Ancient Betsy pops up and says that she’s waiting for something to happen but she won’t say what. So Betsy decides on a spur of the moment decision to do something a little unexpected and kill the devil. And then Laura will have to take her place. But hopefully because she doesn’t end up working with the Lena Olin devil, hopefully Betsy doesn’t do a bunch of bad shit and the world as they know it won’t come to an end.

Overall I did really like this book, as I liked all the books in this series. This book specifically I liked the plot twists and turns and I like that Betsy took some kind of action to try and save her and Sinclair. And since the Book of the Dead was gone in the end of this book, I’m hoping she succeeded. Good read and good addition to the series.

Link to author website: http://www.maryjanicedavidson.net/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Undead-Unstable-Queen-Betsy/dp/B00B1LDDRE/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1417029191&sr=8-2