Thursday, August 30, 2018

Book Review: The 48 by Donna Hosie

I've recently been interested in the history of the Tudors and the wives of Henry VIII, so when I saw The 48, I was excited to read more.  I was not disappointed.

Time-traveling twins, Charles and Alexander, are sent to England when Henry VIII was married to Anne Boleyn but has designs on Jane Seymour. The twins are part of a secret network, The 48, and have trained for this assignment their entire life.  The 48 is run by a group of people who want to change history, in this case, they want to make sure Henry doesn't marry Jane. The goal is to rid the world of religion.

First of all, that's a very different type of time travel than most stories.  Usually, it is all about never doing anything that will change the future.  And I thought it was strange that they didn't worry about the other changes that such drastic actions might cause. The "butterfly effect" was never mentioned.

This is Charles' and Alexander's first mission and it goes off the rails immediately.  In many ways.  Something is up with The 48, so they aren't getting the support they need. Someone wants at least one of them dead.  One of the narrators is Lady Margaret, one of Queen Anne's ladies, and she wants to marry Alex. Cromwell is up to no good, as you know if you are aware of anything about this time period. For some reason, Alice, one of the time travelers who is still in training, ends up with them, having been pushed through time by one of the other 48.

Once things get going, the tension builds nicely.  Everyone is in fear for their lives, and some characters come very close to losing theirs. It does take a bit to get going, and some of the characters make stupid decisions -- but when don't they. I didn't get much history that I wasn't already familiar with, but the atmosphere of the time period was very well done.

Just FYI, the book that got this started was Fatal Throne, which I loved.  So read that one first, and then The 48 is a great follow-up.

I would recommend this to time-travel fans first.  The historical elements are there, but not as strong as the time travel elements. Fans of Tudor England will be entertained by the potential upheaval this time travel may cause.

Published by Holiday House, September 4, 2018
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
384 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Monday, August 27, 2018

Book Review: Origin, by Dan Brown

Origin by Dan Brown book cover and review
I'm always entertained by Dan Brown's writing, and Origin is no exception.

This time Robert Langdon is going to Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain to hear an announcement about a major scientific discovery by a former student who is now a world-renowned scientist. Chaos ensues, and Langdon finds himself on the run with the director of the museum, who is also the fiance of the future king of Spain.

The story in Brown's novels is always intriguing and edgy.  This one has to do with the origin of mankind. But what makes his books special is the setting. This time we travel to Barcelona.  Brown has the knack for describing places so that they are easily visualized, and the detailed description of the setting never takes away from the story. I find his storytelling very unique in that respect.

Of course, the excitement mounts, and Langdon's life is on the line. How will he get through this one unscathed?  Well, that's the fun of the story.

As with all of Brown's Robert Langdon novels, I now must put Barcelona on my list of cities that I must visit. If you are a fan, this is a must-read. On the other hand, if you don't like the previous books, this one is no different.  These novels all have the same rhythm and style. If you've never experienced a Robert Langdon thriller, then Origin is an acceptable introduction.  The books do not need to be read in order. These books are accessible to teens also.  They are popular with a certain group of students in my library.

Published by Anchor, 2017
eBook - purchased
463 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Friday, August 24, 2018

Book Review: Rule by Ellen Goodlett

Rule by Ellen Goodlett book cover and review
I find myself tiring of books about royals competing for the throne, but Rule has enough mystery to allow it to stand out.

Three half-sisters from very different backgrounds are summoned to the capital city for what they all think is their execution. They have all committed acts that could be considered treasonous. Instead of incarcerating them, the king reveals that they are all his daughters, and one of them will be chosen to rule. What is different about Rule is that the story isn’t about the competition for the crown.  The girls end up banding together because they are all being blackmailed because of their secrets.  Someone knows what all three of them have done and is trying to get them to give up their right to the throne or be exposed.

At its heart, Rule is a mystery. And one that keeps doling out clues that steadily build up the tension. The multiple points-of-view are handled adeptly. A minor annoyance is the “instalove” between one of the girls and the queen. From the moment they saw each other for the first time, there was this magnetic attraction that I couldn't quite buy.

But my biggest peeve, as usual, is that the book ends in not only a cliffhanger but actually in the middle of the story.  There isn’t any resolution whatsoever. Endings like these make me want to not read further in the series just for spite!

So if you can wait for the rest of the story, this one is a good choice for teens who enjoy stories of royal mystery and intrigue.

Published by Little, Brown BFYR, September 11, 2018
eARC obtained from School Library Connection Magazine
371 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Book Review: A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan @annsulliva

A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan book cover and review
King Midas turned things into gold.  Including his daughter, Kora.  A Touch of Gold is Kora's story.

Midas screwed up, and after he gets his curse reversed, he can no longer turn things to gold.  And although Kora is no longer gold, she still isn't normal and has powers that must be kept secret from the kingdom.

Midas needs to be near the other items he turned to gold in order to live.  So when they are stolen, Kora must hunt them down and return them to save her father and the kingdom. She gets the help of one of her suitors, Aris (who hasn't fled at the sight of her golden skin), and he takes her on his ship.  Her cousin, Hettie, stows away on board which also complicates things. When the sailors find out who Kora is, her life is in danger.  Aris along with the captain, Royce, protect here. Kora can sense where the gold is--she gets visions that help them find it.

The lore is interesting although at times confusing.  There is a complexity, but things sometimes are explained a bit quickly. The bad guys aren't what they seem -- and neither are the good ones.  There are plenty of twists and turns that all surprised me. The romance is a bit overdone, but hey, it added to the enjoyment. It is for teens, after all. The ending ramps up nicely and is very exciting and satisfying.

Teens who enjoy fantasy, mythology, and retellings will certainly enjoy this one. Adults should give A Touch of Gold a chance too.

Published by Blink, August 14, 2018
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
320 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Monday, August 6, 2018

Book Review: Desperate Girls by Laura Griffin

Desperate Girls by Laura Griffin book cover and review
While I wouldn't call Desperate Girls a thriller, I did find it interesting and enjoyed the twisted ending.

Brynn is a successful defense attorney about to begin defending a very big case.  When a defendant from a previous case (when she was a prosecutor) escapes from prison and kills one of the other attorneys on that case, her life is turned upside down.

She is having to try to work on her case while being constantly distracted and waylayed by a plethora of bodyguards that her boss has hired to keep her safe.  And the danger becomes very real as the escapee continues to kill people associated with his case.

Erik is the head of Brynn's detail.  And there is a definite attraction between these two, even though it is highly unethical.

First of all, I don't understand the title at all.  Who are the Desperate Girls?  The victims of the escapee?  We don't really learn much about them, and they are not the focus of the case.  Brynn?  Yes, she becomes a bit desperate, but she's only one girl. Not a big deal, but it doesn't really make sense to me.

Secondly, this is my bad, but I didn't expect the (very) hot and steamy romance.  If you read the blurb, it isn't really mentioned. If you look at the subject headings, it does very clearly say "romance," but I missed that. So I was surprised, but not really disappointed.  I was just expecting a straight-up thriller, and it was really a who-done-it/romance.

I was completely stunned by the twist at the end and appreciated that.  I suspected that there was more to the story when it seemed like everything was settled with still ten percent of the book to read.  That's too long for a denouement, and I was correct. But totally surprised too.

The story is exciting, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I loved the ending.  The balance of romance/detecting was just right. Desperate Girls is an adult book and would be appropriate for mature teens.

Published by Gallery Books, August 7, 2018
eARC obtained from NetGalley
368 pages

Rating: 4/5

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