Sunday, January 27, 2013

Book Review: The Knights of Derbyshire by Marsha Altman

The Knights of Derbyshire
by Marsha Altman

Genre: Historical Fiction /  Austenesque / Pride and Prejudice Sequel

Ages: 14 and up

This is the fifth novel in the Darcys and the Bingleys series, following The Darcys and the BingleysThe Plight of the Darcy Brothers, Mr. Darcy's Great Escape and The Ballad of Gregoire Darcy. You can also read my review of the short story collection she edited, The Road to Pemberley.

Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. At least, I assume it was from her because it just showed up on my doorstep signed and made my day much more delightful.


Twenty years have passed since Mr. Darcy married Elizabeth Bennet, and their family has grown. All of the Bennet sisters are married, and their children are on the threshold of adulthood and ready for entrance to proper society. War in Europe is over, and it seems that England, and our beloved families, are at peace.

But trouble lurks on the horizon. A popular revolt is brewing in Derbyshire, lead by a deluded radical. The very safety of Pemberley and Chatton House are threatened when a family member goes missing, and Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley, with the help of relatives and friends, must attempt a dangerous rescue while the wolves close in around them.

In Altman's fifth installment of "The Darcys and The Bingleys," she continues Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice not just through romance and foibles but political intrigue, action, and the occasional brutality required of life in Georgian England.

My Thoughts:

Honestly, how much time can a girl spend gushing over one series? Apparently never enough, because I have nothing but good things to say about the fifth installment in the Darcys and the Bingleys series by Marsha Altman.

This one starts off a little slower than some, with hints and foreshadowing before bursting into action. And what action! Dastardly deeds, heroic rescues and a mysterious wolf roaming Derbyshire are just a few of the things that threaten to give Mr. Darcy more gray hairs.

This story is focused for the most part on the young George Wickham, Geoffrey Darcy and Georgiana Bingley. They're practically adults now, and each have grown into distinctly different and fascinating individuals. George is as serious as his parents were wild, Geoffrey is almost scarily like his father, except perhaps a little more wisdom when it comes to understanding people. Then again, he still has that Darcy problem when it comes to talking to girls...but he also write a great letter. Georgiana Bingley is...Georgie. There really isn't much else you can say about her, save that she is truly magnificent. I will leave it to you to discover how.

I fall in love every time I open one of these books, whether it is for the first time, or, with the early books in the series, for the tenth time. I can't recommend the Darcys and the Bingleys series highly enough.

Rating System: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence 
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme).

I rate it a 5.10 for some mid-level insults and a couple uses of an alternative spelling of the f-word.

I give it a 2.10 for some mild hints.

I rate it a 6.10 for fighting and death, as well as multiple bloody injuries.

                             Lieder Madchen

Friday, January 18, 2013

Book Review: Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Everneath (Everneath, #1)
by Brodi Ashton

Genre: YA Fantasy / Romance / Mythology / Re-telling

Ages: 14 and up

Musical Accompaniment: Jar of Hearts by Christina Perri 

Note: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she’s returned—to her old life, her family, her boyfriend—before she’s banished back to the underworld . . . this time forever. She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance—and the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s queen.

Everneath is a captivating story of love, loss, and immortality from debut author Brodi Ashton.

My Thoughts:

This book is stunningly beautiful.From the writing and characters to the flawless blending of myth and reality, it is perfect. Not to mention the gorgeous cover, I mean, really, what girl doesn't dream of a dress like that?

What caught me most was the writing. It was dramatic and completely character-centric. No unnecessary words or long, rambling paragraphs. Yet it never felt rushed and flowed naturally throughout. I loved how the author managed to portray such intense emotions with such subtlety. I also truly love what she did with two of my favorite myths, Orpheus and Eurydics and Hades and Persephone.

Nikki is wonderful. She's so quiet that you don't always notice, but she has a will of steel. Knowing that she has little time before she is lost to torment and death, her greatest wish is to make it easier on the people she leaves behind. Especially for Jack.

Ah, Jack. My favorite character. He's a really, really nice guy with hints of a rebel that sneak out with an eyebrow piercing. He doesn't know where Nikki has been for so long, but he knows that she's been hurt. So he is what she needs most; a friend. He never pushes too hard, but he never gives up. He may take a step back at certain revelations, but never for more than a moment.

Cole is an entirely different kettle of fish. He's dark through and through, and has undoubtedly done terrible things, but is he completely irredeemable? Perhaps, perhaps not. It should be...interesting.

I would recommend this book to just about anyone, but especially lovers of mythology and beautiful, beautiful romance. And to people who don't mind shedding a few tears over a magnificent ending.

Rating System: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence 
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme).

I did not notice any swearing.

I rate it a 2.10 for some hints.

I give it a 5.10 for something comparable to murder.

                              Lieder Madchen

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Book Review: The Host by Stephenie Meyer

The Host
by Stephenie Meyer

Genre: Science Fiction / Romance

Ages: 14 and up

Musical Accompaniment:    
I Won't Give Up by Jason Mraz


Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, didn't expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

As Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she's never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.

Featuring one of the most unusual love triangles in literature, THE HOST is a riveting and unforgettable novel about the persistence of love and the essence of what it means to be human.

My Thoughts:

This book surprised me in many ways, all of them good. I wasn't expecting a lot; having finally broken down and read the Twilight series my opinion of Stephenie Meyer's writing style was only so-so (I didn't hate Twilight but I didn't love it, either). I was frankly astounded by the imagination The Host displayed, as well as a certain amount of charm. Then there was the depth of the characters and the world which was far beyond anything Stephenie Meyer accomplished before. In short, I loved this book. I was a little reluctant at first, but then I forgot that it was written by anyone in particular and just went with the story. Does that make sense?

All I knew about this book ahead of time was what I saw in the movie trailer, which was honestly misleading. I was under the impression that Melanie was the main character, and that there was only one guy. Hah. This book is actually from the alien's point of view, which I thought was pretty cool. It also has one of the most complicated and fascinating love triangles (or maybe it's a square?) ever written. There is Melanie, a human with an alien called Wanderer living in her body, controlling her actions. Melanie loves Jared, and so Wanderer, or Wanda, comes to care for him as well. And then there is Ian, who has never met Melanie and befriends Wanderer. To make it more interesting, Melanie and Wanderer also become friends; two minds in the same body who love each other. It is terribly difficult and painful for the characters, but so delightfully complicated  for the reader. Such tangled hearts and souls.

Jared was wonderfully conflicted about everything, making it interesting to wonder what he will do next. I would have liked to see a little more development for Ian, the nice guy to Jared's bad boy, but most of the character development in the story came from Wanderer. Most of this 400-something page novel describes what's going on in her head, with just a few scenes of action, yet I was never bored. Wanda is almost painfully self-effacing (something Ms. Meyer can't seem to help when it comes to her female main characters), but she is always willing to stand up for those she loves and what she thinks is right. Melanie, on the other hand, is a survivor. She's tough and at times a little ruthless, a perfect foil to Wanda's personality. They have a unique relationship.

All in all, I really loved this book. I wasn't expecting to even like it very much, but I couldn't put it down. Even if you don't care for the author or alien invasion stories, you should give this book a shot.

Rating System: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme).

I rate it a 2.10 for exactly 3 mild swearwords.

I give it a 2.10 for some mild hints and innuendos.

I rate is a 6.10 for murder and some violence.

                                Lieder Madchen

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

End of the Year Book Survey

best books read in 2012
I found this survey on the Perpeutual Page Turner and thought it would be fun to fill out. :) However, since I am so depressed by my pathetic blogging year, I may not answer all the questions.

1. Best Book You Read In 2012? (You can break it down by genre if you want)
Best paranormal: Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare.
Best Romance: Fitzwilliam Darcy: An Honourable Man by Brenda J. Webb.
Best Dystopian: ... Hmm, Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver or Insurgent by Veronica Roth...hmm...Pure by Julianna Baggot.
Best Mystery: Garment of Shadows by Laurie King.
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Honestly can't think of any...
3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012? 
Crush  by Lacey Weatherford. I knew I was going to love it, but I didn't know I was going to LOVE it. :)
4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?
Delirium  by Lauren Oliver and the Girl Genius webcomic.
5. Best series you discovered in 2012?
The Girl Genius webcomic and the In Death series by Eve Dallas. Oh, and Ilona Andrew's Kate Daniels books. Plus I can't wait for the sequel to Pure.
6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?
The Foglios, authors/artists of the Girl Genius Series.
7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
Again, the Girl Genius comics, since I don't usually read comics of any kind. Also, Crush by Lacey Weatherford.
8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?
Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare and the Girl Genius Series by Kaja and Phil Foglio.
9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:
All of the books listed above. :)
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?
11. Most memorable character in 2012? 
 Eve Dallas from the In Death series, and Darling Cruel from Born in Silence by Sherrilyn Kenyon.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?
Pure by Julianna Baggot. 
13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012? 
Either Clockwork Prince or Pure. They both stunned me in more ways than one. Then again, the Girl Genius series sparked my going to Steamcon and has turned my fondness for steampunk into a growing obsession.
14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read? 
 The Kate Daniels series; I'd heard about them everywhere but never tried them! Why did I not try them sooner???
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012?
 Every line of Clockwork Prince and most of Pure. And every Jagermonster line in the Girl Genius series.
16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012? 
I have no idea whatsoever. I don't keep track of book lengths, but the longer the better as far as I'm concerned.
17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
Clockwork Prince. You all know what scene I'm talking about.
18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
 The love triangle in Clockwork Prince. All three sides.
19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously
 Clockwork Prince, Pandemonium, Insurgent, Until I Die, Mr. Darcy's Refuge...the list goes on and on.
20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:
Well, The Host by Stephanie Meyer was a recommendation from my cousin, but I'm still reading it so I don't know if that counts. I read Fitzwilliam Darcy: An Honourable Man based on a review I saw on the internet somewhere.
Book Blogging / Reading Life
1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2012?
Sadly, I didn't really find many new book blogs this year. I just haven't had the time.
2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2012? 
 My review of the Girl Genius Series.

3. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
Steamcon, hands down. It was amazing and awesome and I had so much fun it wasn't even funny. I met writers and artists and I learned to dance and I got to be a Jagermonster and volunteer with lovely people...Plus, there was a flamethrower. Beat that. I really have to post the pictures sometime.
4. Best moment of book blogging in 2012?
Hmm, probably tracking down Brenda J. Webb. She's a hard lady to find, but it was well worth the effort.
5. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
Switching from Port to Starboard - A Guest Post by Claudia Gray.
6. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
My review of the Girl Genius Series. Honestly, no comments?
7. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
The Darcy and Lizzy forum site, run by Brenda J. Webb.
8.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
No. None whatsoever. It turned out to be a very difficult year at my house for a number of reasons and while I read a lot, I didn't have the energy for challenges.
Looking Ahead...
1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?
As far as reading goes, The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater is at the top of my list with Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick. For reviewing, I have a couple of books by Mary Lydon Simonsen I am ashamed to say have been sitting for far too long on my to-review shelf, along with The Knights of Derbyshire by Marsha Altman, Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal and Garment of Shadows by Laurie King. Oh, and Balthazar by Claudia Gray.
2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?
Just from reading my earlier answers you can easily predict my answers as Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare and Requiem by Lauren Oliver. :) P.S. Styxx by Sherrilyn Kenyon.
3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2013?
Review all the books I promised to review but didn't manage to get to in 2012, as well as finish a novel.
                   Happy New Year!
                              Lieder Madchen