Review: Dukes Do It Better (Misfits of Mayfair #3)

Title: Dukes Do It Better (Misfits of Mayfair #3)
Author: Bethany Bennett
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Forever
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: May 24, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the series guaranteed to “win the hearts of Regency fans” comes a story of secrets, scandal, and unlikely love that will warm even the coldest of hearts (Publishers Weekly).

After a debut season plagued by scandal, Lady Emma Hardwick is ready to return to London, now with her young son in tow, and make a match. She’s looking for someone respectable. Someone wholly unlike Malachi Harlow, the new Duke of Trenton and former ship captain, whose long hair and tattoos make him decidedly dangerous to her peace of mind.

Malachi would rather be at sea than in a London ballroom. But until he can sort out why the admiralty brought him home, he has to stay landbound. That becomes less of a hardship when he meets the beguiling Lady Emma, whose dimples and easy laughter capture his imagination. When they start receiving threatening notes, they realize that there’s more to their connection than chemistry, and they’ll have to work together to figure out why someone wants to ruin their lives.

Review:

Lady Emma Hardwick had a scandalous history in London, but she’s ready to return for the season, with her young son. She would like to find someone who can give them a secure future, but that may not be Captain Malachi Harlow, the new Duke of Trenton. Emma and Malachi had one night together on a beach months ago, but they’ve been apart ever since. Malachi would rather be on his ship, but after the death of his older brother, he needs to be in London to find his place as Duke. They try to have a short fling during the London season, but they have undeniable feelings for each other. Then they receive some threatening letters that put their relationship at risk. Emma and Mal must decide if their love is strong enough or if they should go their separate ways. 

This story began with the romance already in progress. I liked that Emma and Mal already had strong feelings for each other right from the beginning. It made their story feel bigger than this book, since it had begun off the page. Their chemistry was strong and believable. 

The miscommunication trope was in this story, which I find so frustrating. It made sense and was believable that they would misunderstand certain things in those circumstances, but I still wanted to yell at the characters to just talk it out. Luckily the misunderstanding part didn’t last too long in the story. 

Dukes Do It Better is a great Regency romance!

Thank you Forever Pub for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Never a Duke by Grace Burrowes

Not the Kind of Earl You Marry by Kate Pembrooke

Other books in the series:

  • Any Rogue Will Do
  • West End Earl

Have you read Dukes Do It Better? What did you think of it?

Review: Rebel Rose (The Queen’s Council #1)

Title: Rebel Rose (The Queen’s Council #1)
Author: Emma Theriault
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Source: Author giveaway
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: November 10, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Happily ever after is only the beginning as Belle takes on the responsibility of becoming queen and learns to balance duty, love, and sacrifice, all while navigating dark political intrigue—and a touch of magic.

It’s 1789 and France is on the brink of revolution. Belle has finally broken the Enchantress’s curse, restoring the Beast to his human form and bringing life back to their castle in the province of Aveyon. But in Paris, the fires of change are burning, and it’s only a matter of time before the rebellion arrives on their doorstep.

Not so very long ago, Belle dreamed of leaving her provincial home for a life of adventure. But now she finds herself living in a palace, torn between her past as a commoner, and her future as royalty. While Belle grapples with her newfound position, there are those who would do anything to keep her from power.

When she stumbles across a magic mirror that holds a dire warning, Belle wants nothing more than to ignore the mysterious voice calling her to accept a crown she never desired. But violent factions of the revolution may already be lurking within her own castle, and doing nothing would endanger everything she holds dear. With the fate of her country, her love, and her life at stake, Belle must decide if she is ready to embrace her own strength–and the magic that ties her to so many female rulers before her–to become the queen she is meant to be.

Rebel Rose is the first in the Queen’s Council series, an empowering fairy tale reimagining of the Disney Princesses-and the real history behind their stories-like you’ve never seen before.

Review:

France, 1789: Belle has broken the curse and freed Prince Lio from his beastly form. The newlyweds travel to Paris to try to establish Lio’s place in the aristocracy, since he was gone for ten years and no one has any recollection of him as a beast. There are violent protests in the street in the name of revolution. Belle is torn between her commoner birth and her new royal lifestyle. She discovers another magic mirror, which shows her a future where their palace is burning down. Belle must reach inside herself to find her magic to save her country, her home, and her love. 

This story takes place after the events of the Disney Beauty and the Beast movie. I’ve never read a story that tells the events after the movie, and I loved it. Beauty and the Beast was one of my favourite movies as a kid, so it was fun to see these characters facing new challenges after their main story. 

There was a lot of real history that happened in the story. King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were mentioned many times. The French Revolution played a big role in the conflict between the aristocracy and the general population. I loved how this brought the story into the real world. 

Rebel Rose is the first book in the Queen’s Council series, and I’m excited to see what happens in the next book about Mulan!

What to read next:

The Beast Within by Serena Valentino

As Old as Time by Liz Braswell

Have you read Rebel Rose? What did you think of it?

Review: Games in a Ballroom

Title: Games in a Ballroom
Author: Jentry Flint
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback ARC
Release Date: May 3, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

She was forbidden to love him.
He only wanted her heart.
Can a childhood game bring them together?

London, 1815

Olivia Wilde has resigned herself to never finding a love match. Her father has insisted she marry a man with a title, but the men her father deems acceptable are either boring or are only interested in increasing their own diminishing coffers. With her future looking dismal, Olivia vows to enjoy the last few months of freedom with her childhood friends, including Emerson Latham. His devilish smile and flirtatious teasing stirs up feelings she knows she cannot entertain.

Emerson is struggling to rise to his responsibilities after his father’s death. Though he is still learning his place, one thing he knows for certain is that he wants Olivia Wilde to be his wife. Emerson had long ago fallen in love with her quick wit, beauty, and passionate heart. Yet, without a title, he will never be permitted to court Olivia openly. But he has a plan that may give him a chance to court her in secret.

As the Season kicks off, Emerson proposes a playful game of tag. Olivia’s friends are delighted by the idea, though Olivia is wary. After all, the game must be played in secret as they tag each other at dinners and balls. As the romance builds between Olivia and Emerson, so does the risk of being discovered. Not only are their reputations at stake, so is their safety if they are caught by Olivia’s strict father.

Can their love find a happily ever after before the game ends?

Review:

London, 1815: Olivia Wilde’s father has insisted that she marry a man with a title. Their family has money but no title, so this is her father’s way to bring a title to the family. She dreads the men who her father brings to her at balls. Meanwhile, Olivia likes spending time with her childhood friends Arabella and Emerson Latham. Emerson is struggling with being the head of the family after his father’s death. Though he doesn’t have a title, he wants to marry Olivia. To spend more time with her during balls, without drawing attention to his courting her, he plans an elaborate game of tag between his friends. However, time is ticking for Olivia to choose a husband. She must decide if she’s willing to risk everything for a love match with Emerson. 

This story was a fun look at balls in Regency England. Balls and parties in the Regency period usually seem serious, with specific dances and social rules to be followed. Emerson shook up that idea by playing tag with his friends throughout the parties. There were other moments where Emerson and his friends would play elaborate pranks. I enjoyed this pleasant and lighter side of the Regency period. 

There were some serious moments in this story. Emerson and his family were still grieving for his father. Though it didn’t appear on the page, it was implied that Olivia’s father was abusive. The serious implication of his abuse put some urgency into her finding the right mate, and protecting her mother from his wrath as well. 

Games in a Ballroom is a fun Regency romance. 

Thank you Shadow Mountain for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

The Valet’s Secret by Josi S. Kilpack

The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn

Have you read Games in a Ballroom? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: The Murder of Mr. Wickham

Title: The Murder of Mr. Wickham
Author: Claudia Gray
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Vintage
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 3, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A summer house party turns into a whodunit when Mr. Wickham, one of literature’s most notorious villains, meets a sudden and suspicious end in this mystery featuring Jane Austen’s leading literary characters.

The happily married Mr. Knightley and Emma are throwing a house party, bringing together distant relatives and new acquaintances—characters beloved by Jane Austen fans. Definitely not invited is Mr. Wickham, whose latest financial scheme has netted him an even broader array of enemies. As tempers flare and secrets are revealed, it’s clear that everyone would be happier if Mr. Wickham got his comeuppance. Yet they’re all shocked when Wickham turns up murdered—except, of course, for the killer hidden in their midst.

Nearly everyone at the house party is a suspect, so it falls to the party’s two youngest guests to solve the mystery: Juliet Tilney, the smart and resourceful daughter of Catherine and Henry, eager for adventure beyond Northanger Abbey; and Jonathan Darcy, the Darcys’ eldest son, whose adherence to propriety makes his father seem almost relaxed. The unlikely pair must put aside their own poor first impressions and uncover the guilty party—before an innocent person is sentenced to hang.

Review:

The happily married Knightly couple decide to throw a house party, with four other couples attending. These couples are the Darcys and their son, Jonathan, the Wentworths, the Brandons, and the Bertrams, as well as Juliet Tilney, the daughter of the Tilneys. The party comes to an abrupt stop when Mr. Wickham shows up. He has harmed each member of the party, either by personally harming a female relative or swindling them out of money. Mr. Wickham is trapped there with everyone during a storm. Then one night he is found dead. Everyone there has a motive to kill him, but Juliet Tilney and Jonathan Darcy both have alibis. This younger generation take on the task of investigating the murder on their own, to prevent an innocent person from conviction. 

I love Jane Austen’s novels so I knew I would love this novel with all of them brought together. It was so well written! Each of the stories were assigned a year at the beginning of the book to show when they took place, so many years had passed from the events of some of the novels. It would be helpful for readers to be familiar with these characters before reading this one. The only problem I had was that the characters were very similar because they were similar in the original novels, but that isn’t a fault for this book. 

Mr. Wickham was a deplorable character from Pride and Prejudice, and he didn’t have any redeeming qualities. I don’t think I’ve ever read a mystery where I thought the victim deserved to be murdered right from the start. He had done horrible things to all of the characters, so any of them could be justified in murdering him. I was surprised at the outcome but I was glad at how it ended. 

The Murder of Mr. Wickham is a great murder mystery!

Thank you Vintage and Austenprose for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price

About the author:

Claudia Gray is the pseudonym of Amy Vincent. She is the writer of multiple young adult novels, including the Evernight series, the Firebird trilogy, and the Constellation trilogy. In addition, she’s written several Star Wars novels, such as Lost Stars and Bloodline. She makes her home in New Orleans with her husband Paul and assorted small dogs.

Have you read The Murder of Mr. Wickham? What did you think of it?

Review: Shattered Midnight (The Mirror #2)

Title: Shattered Midnight (The Mirror #1)
Author: Dhonielle Clayton
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 18, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Zora Broussard has arrived in New Orleans with not much more than a bag of clothes, a beautiful voice, and a pair of enchanted red shoes. Running from a tragic accident caused by her magic, Zora wants nothing more than to blend in, as well as to avoid her overbearing aunt and mean-spirited cousins. Music becomes Zora’s only means of escape, yet she wonders if she should give it all up to remove the powers that make her a target, especially as a Black woman in the South.

But when Zora gets the chance to perform in a prominent jazz club, she meets a sweet white pianist named Phillip with magic of his own, including a strange mirror that foretells their future together. Falling into a forbidden love, Zora and Phillip must keep their relationship a secret. And soon the two discover the complicated connection between their respective families, a connection that could lead to catastrophe for them both. In the era of segregation and speakeasies, Zora must change her destiny and fight for the one she loves . . . or risk losing everything.

Review:

1928: Zora Broussard has moved to New Orleans to live with her aunt and cousins after causing a tragic accident with her magic in New York. She brought her grandmother’s red slippers to protect her. Her only escape from her family is when she sneaks out to a club to sing, but she has to be careful to follow the rules imposed on her as a Black woman in the South. Zora’s magic comes out through her music, so she has to work to not lose control. She meets Phillip, a white pianist, at the club and everything changes. Phillip has a magic mirror that was passed down through his family, which shows him the future, including a woman lying in a coffin with Zora’s red slippers. Zora is scared of causing another accident with her magic so she makes a deal to get rid of her magic. She must find a bigger solution to her forbidden romance with Phillip so they can be together. 

This is the second book in The Mirror series. This series tells the story of a family through generations. The first one was about Zora’s grandparents, who were mentioned many times in this book. I love how it shows how stories and mementos are passed down through a family, with some magic added in too.

There seemed to be a lot of important plot points introduced and continued in this story. The mirror was continued from the first story, but there were some new things that Zora had to deal with in this story. There was a mysterious crow and snake symbol that appeared too. I’m really curious to see where this story goes with the next generation. 

Shattered Mirror is a great fairy-tale style story!

Thank you Disney for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Rebel Rose by Emma Theriault

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Other books in the series:

Have you read Shattered Midnight? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: Mrs. England

Title: Mrs. England
Author: Stacey Halls
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: MIRA
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 12, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Simmering with slow-burning menace,  Mrs. England  is a portrait of an Edwardian marriage, an enthralling tale of men and women, power and control, courage, truth and the very darkest deception. 

West Yorkshire, 1904. When recently graduated Ruby May takes a nanny position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear something is not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs. England.

Distant and withdrawn, Lilian shows little interest in her children or charming husband and is far from the angel of the house Ruby was expecting.

As the warm, vivacious Charles welcomes Ruby into the family, a series of strange events forces her to question everything she thought she knew. Ostracized by the servants and increasingly uneasy, Ruby must face her own demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there’s no such thing as the perfect family—she should know.

This captivating new feminist novel from Sunday Times bestselling author Stacey Halls  is her third work of fiction and proves her one of the most exciting and compelling new storytellers of our time. 

Review:

1904: When the family that nurse Ruby May has been working for decides to emigrate to America, she needs to find another position in England. Her agency sets her up with Mr. and Mrs. England and their four young children. However, she discovers some mysterious things in the house. Mrs. England is distant with the children and seems confused. Mr. England is welcoming and wants Ruby to do everything with the children. Ruby worries that her own family history is about to be repeated with the England family, so she must do everything she can to prevent it and protect the children.

This book reminded me of Jane Eyre and The Turn of the Screw, which are two of my favourite gothic stories. It had a spooky and mysterious atmosphere like both of those stories. However, this story had more of a realistic feel than The Turn of the Screw. Ruby didn’t seem like an unreliable narrator because most of the strange events could be logically explained.

There was a lot of build up to the big reveals at the end. Hints of Ruby’s mysterious past were given throughout the story but it wasn’t explained until the end. I had to read the last page a couple of times because I was so surprised at what happened. It was a great ending!

Some content triggers for this story are: mentions of suicide, suggestion of rape, murder, asthma attack, mental illness.

Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

The Foundling by Stacey Halls

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

About the author:

Stacey Halls grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and has written for publications including the Guardian, Stylist, Psychologies, the Independent, the Sun and Fabulous. Both of her first two novels, The Familiars and The Lost Orphan, were Sunday Times bestsellers, Mrs England is her third novel.

Have you read Mrs. England? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: Sense and Second-Degree Murder (Jane Austen Murder Mystery #2)

Title: Sense and Second-Degree Murder (Jane Austen Murder Mystery #2)
Author: Tirzah Price
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 5, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Three of Jane Austen’s classic novels receive a murder mystery makeover in this romantic and thrilling three-book series that’s perfect for fans of The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy and Stalking Jack the Ripper. In Sense and Second-Degree Murder, aspiring scientist Elinor Dashwood and her sister Marianne, a budding detective, work together to solve the mystery of their father’s murder.

When eighteen-year-old aspiring scientist Elinor Dashwood discovers her beloved father slumped over the desk of his office study, she knows his death means dire straits for the Dashwood women. To make matters worse, an outdated will entails his estate—including Norland & Company, the private investigation firm where her younger sister Marianne worked as her father’s partner and protégé—to their half-brother and his haughty wife, who waste no time in forcing the Dashwoods out of their home and into a cramped apartment on London’s Barton Street.

But before they go, the Dashwood sisters make a startling discovery that points to foul play, and the killer might be family.

Obviously, the girls must investigate. It could be dangerous; it could ruin their reputations; and most importantly, it won’t bring back their father. But if the Dashwood sisters can combine their talents and bring their father’s murderer to justice, it may bring them all some comfort—and it might even lead to love.

Review:

When eighteen-year-old Elinor Dashwood discovers her father’s body in his study, it’s only the beginning of their problems. Her father hadn’t updated his will since Elinor and her sisters were born, so everything he had was left to his son, John Dashwood, from his first marriage. John and his wife, Fanny, take their rightful inheritance and kick Elinor, Marianne, Margaret, and Mrs. Dashwood out of their house without their fortune. However, Elinor and Marianne aren’t comfortable with the way their father died. They search his study before they leave the house and discover evidence of murder. The sisters must investigate their father’s murder while also unravelling some other mysteries along the way.

I have read Sense and Sensibility a couple of times, but it isn’t one of my favourite books by Jane Austen. Despite that, I loved this adaptation. Mr. Dashwood had been a private investigator and his daughters took up that job once he was gone. This is completely different from Jane Austen’s story, yet this storyline fit into the plot of Sense and Sensibility perfectly. This book hit all the main plot points in a way that made sense to the original story.

I love adaptations of classics. I think they’re a great way to teach the younger generation about classical literature that can seem heavy at times. This book is the second in the Jane Austen Murder Mystery series. It could be read as a stand-alone, but there were some fun mentions of the first book which readers of Pride and Premeditation will love. I hope more of Austen’s novels will be adapted in this way because I loved it!

Sense and Second-Degree Murder is a great adaptation of Sense and Sensibility!

Thank you HarperTeen and TBR and Beyond Tours for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Other books in the series:

About the author:

Tirzah Price grew up on a farm in Michigan, where she read every book she could get her hands on and never outgrew her love for YA fiction. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is a former bookseller and librarian. Now, she’s a contributing editor at Book Riot, where she can be found recommending books on the site, newsletters, podcasts, and social media accounts. When she’s not writing, reading, or thinking about YA books, she splits her time between experimenting in the kitchen and knitting enough socks to last the fierce Michigan winters.Tirzah is pronounced TEER-zuh. Pronouns are she/her.

Where to buy:

Tour schedule:

April 4th
Kait Plus Books – Interview
Worlds Unlike Our Own – Review
Books With Michelle – Top 5 Reasons to Read Sense and Second-Degree Murder & Mood Board
Stephanie Reads – Review

April 5th
Stuck in Fiction – Promotional Post
Bibliophile On Loose – Review & Mood Board
laura’s bookish corner – Review
The Book View – Review & Mood Board

April 6th
Books and Strokes – Journal Spread
Pages & Plots – Promotional Post
Phannie the ginger bookworm – 15 Reactions While Reading Sense and Second-Degree Murder
Books Over Everything – Review

April 7th
The Book Dutchesses – Interview
Books Are Magic Too – Review
Book Notes by Athina – Promotional Post
Gwendalyn’s Books – Review

April 8th
Nine Bookish Lives – Promotional Post
Fanna for Books – Review
The Blind Scribe – Book Look
Jill’s Book Blog – Review

April 9th
Stuck in the Stacks – Review
decklededgess – Book Look
Confessions of a YA Reader – Promotional Post
The carly library – Review

April 10th
The Clever Reader – Interview
Ana en Noir – Review
Little Corner Reads – 15 Reactions While Reading Sense and Second-Degree Murder
teatimelit – Review

Have you read Sense and Second-Degree Murder? What did you think of it?

Review: A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice

Title: A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice
Author: Rebecca Connolly
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: April 5, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Based on the remarkable true story of the Carpathia—the one ship and her legendary captain who answered the distress call of the sinking Titanic.

Shortly after midnight on April 15, 1912, the captain of the Carpathia, Arthur Rostron, wakes to a distress signal from the Titanic, which has struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage. Though information is scarce, Rostron leaps into action, determined to answer the call for help. But the Carpathia is more than four hours away, and there are more questions than answers: Will his ship hold together if pushed to never-before-tested speeds? What if he also strikes an iceberg? And with the freezing temperatures, will there be any survivors by the time the Carpathia arrives?

Kate Connolly is a third-class passenger on Titanic, and she is among the last to receive instruction and help after it hits an iceberg. Despite the chaos of abandoning ship, Kate is able to board a lifeboat, though after seeing the Titanic sink into the abyss and hearing the cries from hundreds of people still in the water, she wonders if any rescue is even possible.

Told in alternating chapters from both Captain Rostron and Kate Connolly.

Review:

On April 15, 1912, the ship Carpathia received a distress message from the Titanic that it had struck an iceberg. Captain Rostron had to decide if they would go there to help. His ship was smaller, and there could be dangerous icebergs on the way, but he made the tough decision to rescue the passengers on the Titanic. Kate Connolly is a third-class passenger on the Titanic. She’s in the last group to make it to the deck of the ship but she’s able to board a lifeboat. However, in all the chaos and destruction, Kate wonders if rescue is even possible. 

I’ve heard stories about the Titanic but I had never heard of the Carpathia or Captain Rostron. That’s unfortunate because Captain Rostron was the true hero that night. He made tough decisions and put his crew and passengers at risk to possibly rescue people on the Titanic. Despite the odds, he was able to rescue a third of the passengers from the Titanic. 

This was an incredible story. I liked that it was told in alternating chapters between Captain Rostron and Kate. This gave perspectives of both ships, from the person who was rescuing the Titanic passengers and a passenger from the Titanic. I was surprised at how early in the story the Titanic struck the iceberg, but that was just the beginning of this rescue story. 

A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice is an important story that everyone should know!

Thank you Shadow Mountain for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee

Seven Days in May by Kim Izzo

Have you read A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice? What did you think of it?

Review: The Witch’s Hand (The Montague Twins #1)

Title: The Witch’s Hand (The Montague Twins #1)
Author: Nathan Page, Drew Shannon
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Fantasy, LGBT
Publisher: Knopf
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: July 14, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Brothers. Detectives. Witches? Meet Pete and Alastair Montague in the first installment of a new graphic novel duology that is the Hardy Boys meets Paper Girls.

Pete and Alastair Montague are just a couple of mystery-solving twins, living an ordinary life. Or so they thought. After a strange storm erupts on a visit to the beach, they discover there is more to their detective skills than they had thought. Their guardian, David Faber, a once prominent professor, has been keeping secrets about their parents and what the boys are truly capable of.

At the same time, three girls go missing after casting a mysterious spell, which sets in motion a chain of events that takes their small town down an unexpected path. With the help of David’s daughter, Charlie, they discover there are forces at work that they never could have imagined, which will impact their lives forever.

An exciting new graphic novel from innovative creators Nathan Page and Drew Shannon that is at once timely and thrilling.

Review:

Pete and Al Montague are teenage twins who live with a professor and his family. Pete and Al solve mysteries in their town. However, they have a magical secret behind their success. After a storm, the boys find a mysterious witch in a lighthouse. Then three girls disappear, including the daughter of a prominent man in town. Along with the professor’s daughter, Charlie, Pete and Al investigate this disappearance and the mysteries of their town. 

This story was set in the 1960s, which reminded me of vintage Archie comics meets the Hardy Boys. There was some diversity in this story, with queer characters talking about coming out. I enjoyed this setting for this story. 

This was an exciting mystery novel. I loved the addition of some magic along with the mysteries. There was some witch lore involved as well. I liked that the mysterious elements were introduced in this story, and it left a lot of questions to be explored in the next volume. 

The Witch’s Hand is an exciting start to the Montague Twins series!

Thank you Penguin Teen Canada for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

The Devil’s Music by Nathan Page and Drew Shannon

Other books in the series:

  • The Devil’s Music

Have you read The Witch’s Hand? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: The Tsarina’s Daughter

Title: The Tsarina’s Daughter
Author: Ellen Alpsten
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: March 15, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Born into the House of Romanov to the all-powerful Peter the Great and his wife, Catherine, a former serf, beautiful Tsarevna Elizabeth is the envy of the Russian empire. She is insulated by luxury and spoiled by her father, who dreams for her to marry King Louis XV of France and rule in Versailles. But when a woodland creature gives her a Delphic prophecy, her life is turned upside down. Her volatile father suddenly dies, her only brother has been executed and her mother takes the throne of Russia.

As friends turn to foes in the dangerous atmosphere of the Court, the princess must fear for her freedom and her life. Fate deals her blow after blow, and even loving her becomes a crime that warrants cruel torture and capital punishment: Elizabeth matures from suffering victim to strong and savvy survivor. But only her true love and their burning passion finally help her become who she is. When the Imperial Crown is left to an infant Tsarevich, Elizabeth finds herself in mortal danger and must confront a terrible dilemma–seize the reins of power and harm an innocent child, or find herself following in the footsteps of her murdered brother.

Hidden behind a gorgeous, wildly decadent façade, the Russian Imperial Court is a viper’s den of intrigue and ambition. Only a woman possessed of boundless courage and cunning can prove herself worthy to sit on the throne of Peter the Great.

Ellen Alpsten’s stunning new novel, The Tsarina’s Daughter, is the dramatic story of Elizabeth, daughter of Catherine I and Peter the Great, who ruled Russia during an extraordinary life marked by love, danger, passion and scandal.

Review:

Tsarevna Elizabeth is the daughter of Peter the Great and his wife Catherine. She lives a luxurious life with dreams of marrying the French King. However, after receiving a prophecy from a woodland creature, everything in her life goes wrong. Her relatives die one by one and the future she imagined for herself disappears. Elizabeth must use the lessons she’s learned from these hardships to become a strong and determined woman.

This was an epic story about love, scandal, and determination. It felt like this story took place over many decades because so much happened, but it was just a few years. This was the kind of story that had me looking up the true history to find out what actually happened and what was fiction because it was hard to believe it was true. This history made a great story.

I was glad that this story wasn’t as graphic as the first one about Catherine, Elizabeth’s mother, called Tsarina. This one focused more on the scandal and drama between people and their relationships, rather than the brutality they experienced.

The Tsarina’s Daughter is a thrilling historical story.

Thank you St. Martin’s Griffin for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

The Last Grand Duchess by Bryn Turnbull

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

About the author:

ELLEN ALPSTEN was born and raised in the Kenyan highlands. Upon graduating from L’Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, she worked as a news anchor for Bloomberg TV London. Whilst working gruesome night shifts on breakfast TV, she started to write in earnest, every day, after work and a nap. Today, Ellen works as an author and as a journalist for international publications such as Vogue, Standpoint and CN Traveller. She lives in London with her husband, three sons and a moody fox red Labrador. She is the author of Tsarina.

Have you read The Tsarina’s Daughter? What did you think of it?