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Tag Archives: three stars

Review: The Wicked and the Just

Review: The Wicked and the Just

Title: The Wicked and the Just
Author: J. Anderson Coats
Published: 2012
Length: 342 pages

My star rating: ★ ★ ★ ¾

The lives of two girls who feel they’ve lost everything–including estates they consider their birthrights–entertwine in thirteenth-century Wales when Cecily d’Edgeley’s father becomes an English burgess in the town of Caernarvon. Cecily feels her life has been ruined and dreams only of fancy gowns and returning to her childhood home, now occupied by her uncle. She struggles to adjust to living by new rules and among new people who are neither respectful nor submissive like the peasants at Edgeley. Meanwhile her new housemaid Gwenhwyfar, herself once the daughter of a lord, works to the bone simply for a meager supply of food and a few paltry coins.  She hates “the brat” and all the English of Caernarvon, and she’s hardly the only one. As Cecily grumbles about learning to walk like a lady and innocently torments (she thinks) her Welsh servants, tension fed by anger, fear, and hunger brews among the persecuted native populace beyond the city walls–tension that, before long, must boil over.

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Review: The Glass Casket

Review: The Glass Casket

Title: The Glass Casket
Author: McCormick Templeman
Published: 2014
Length: 337 pages

My star rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Standing there in the snow, one raven-haired beauty wrapped entirely in crimson and one pale-haired sparrow of a girl swathed in white. 

“We must look like a tragedy,” Fiona said. “We must look like blood in snow.”

A series of disturbing deaths suddenly plague the small mountain community of Nag’s End during the same winter that Rowan Rose’s mysterious cousin Fiona Eira moves there with her stepparents. Things go from bad to worse not long after Fiona and Rowan’s best friend Tom fall in love. Bodies pile up as Tom’s behavior becomes erratic and violent, and frightened rumors begin to fly. But not all is as it seems. Rowan must discover the truth about her cousin–and herself–before years of secrets destroy Tom–or Nag’s End itself.

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Review: Ungrateful Daughters

Review: Ungrateful Daughters

Title: Ungrateful Daughters: The Stuart Princesses Who Stole Their Father’s Crown
Author: Maureen Waller
Published: 2002
Length: 455 pages (includes image plates, notes, bibliography, and index)

My star rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

In the summer of 1688, the queen of England finally bears her husband James II a healthy, legitimate son and heir. The newborn Prince of Wales is named James Francis Edward, but instead of being cause for celebration, his birth arouses suspicion, conspiracy theories–and treason. James II and his wife, Mary Beatrice, are unapologetic Catholics, something that inspires fear and loathing among many of his subjects. While ugly rumors of about the baby prince’s legitimacy and  identity swirl, fueled in part by James’ own adult daughter Anne, a small group of noblemen come together to do the unthinkable: offer the already-occupied throne to James’ other daughter Mary and her husband, William Prince of Orange, as a means of chasing Catholicism out of England once and for all.

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Review: Beauty of the Broken

Review: Beauty of the Broken

Title: Beauty of the Broken
Author: Tawni Waters
Published: 2014
Length: 359 pages

My star rating: ★ ★ ¾

In Mara Stonebrook’s rural and extremely conservative-Christian New Mexico town, being different is frowned upon, but being anything other than straight is downright dangerous–especially in the eyes of her bigoted drunk of a father. Mara has watched him beat her older brother Iggy all her life, and she knows her passive alcoholic mother wouldn’t step in if he found out that she’s interested in girls instead of boys. Yet not long after one of his beatings leaves her brother with permanent brain damage, Mara finds herself unable to resist the charms of Xylia, a transfer student from San Francisco. Her friendship with Xylia eventually turns romantic and provides her with inspiration and hope in an otherwise unhappy life–but at what cost?

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Review: Shadowlark

Review: Shadowlark

Title: Shadowlark
Author: Megan Spooner
Published: 2013
Length: 327 pages

My star rating: ★ ★ ★

In this sequel to Skylark, Lark Ainsley continues searching for her brother Basil in hopes of understanding not only his fate but her own identity as well. Soon, however, she falls into the clutches of men who serve Prometheus, the leader of an underground city called Lethe. There, Renewables are feared and forced into slavery to keep the city and its people alive and safe from the shadows of the wold above. After escaping their clutches, Lark works with the resistance, where she realizes that her brother may have come here, too, and fallen victim to Prometheus as well. She is determined to escape–but not before she frees the captive Renewables and confronts Prometheus to end his reign of terror for good.

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Review: The Bookseller

Review: The Bookseller

Title: The Bookseller
Author: Cynthia Swanson
Published: 2015
Length: 338 pages

My star rating: ★ ★ ★

Though she’s still unlucky in love at thirty-eight, Kitty Miller has embraced her life as the co-owner of a quaint bookshop, which she runs with her best friend in 1960s Denver. She doesn’t have a conventional life, but she has her independence and people who love her and whom she loves in return. Then one day, Kitty wakes up in someone else’s bedroom. In this incredibly lifelike dream, she is married with young children and, better yet, in love with her soft-spoken, attentive husband. As time passes, Kitty’s strange dreams become more frequent and–up to a point–more enticing. She begins to lose track of reality and to dwell more and more on her dream-life until she fears she that the life she already has may slip away from her.

Note: This review is mostly spoiler-free; I’ve included one spoiler is included in my Goodreads review.

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Review: The Crown’s Game

Review: The Crown’s Game

Title: The Crown’s Game
Author: Evelyn Skye
Published: 2016
Length: 399 pages

My star rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

In every generation, an enchanter is born who will help guide and protect both the tsar of Russia and the vast Russian Empire itself. Sometimes, however, Russia’s ancient magic is split between two young enchanters, a twist of fate that promises power and glory to one–and death to the other. Such is the case for Vika, a girl raised outside the city to attune her power to wild elemental forces, and Nikolai, whose urban upbringing has directed his magic into fine mechanical and technical skills. With threats looming on all sides of his empire, the Tsar Alexander initiates the Crown’s Game, in which Vika and Nikolai will compete to become his Imperial Enchanter. As each of them tries to win–and to stay alive–they struggle with loss, love, and hard lessons about themselves and those they once considered friends.

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