The Red Magician by Lisa Goldstein

reviews 2 Comments 16th October, 2014

red magicianThe Red Magician by Lisa Goldstein

In the schoolroom of a simple European village, Kicsi spends her days dreaming of the lands beyond the mountains: Paris and New York, Arabia and Shanghai. When the local rabbi curses Kicsi’s school for teaching lessons in Hebrew, the holy tongue, the possibility of adventure seems further away than ever. But when a mysterious stranger appears telling stories of far-off lands, Kicsi feels the world within her grasp.

His name is Vörös, and he is a magician’s assistant who seems to have powers all his own. There is darkness growing at the edge of the village—a darkness far blacker than any rabbi’s curse. Vörös warns of the Nazi threat, but only Kicsi hears what he says. As evil consumes a continent, Vörös will teach Kicsi that sometimes the magician’s greatest trick is survival. (publisher)

The book follows Kisci, a young Jewish girl, from a small Hungarian village in the 1930s. When a red-haired stranger called Vörös, who can see to the future, comes to the village and tells about horrors to come, the village rabbi refuses to listen and insists that nothing will happen. The two men clash and becomes the talk of the village. But Kisci believes Vörös and wants to help him protecting the village. But then the Nazis come and everything changes.

This is YA book about Holocaust mixed with magic and it’s quite short being only 144 pages.

I liked it but since it’s so short it gets kinda jumpy at some points. Suddenly you notice that one year has gone and people have gone from just falling in love to be practically engaged. The year in the concentration camp is covered quite hastily but since this is targeted to younger people it might be a good thing too. We still get the desperation and hopelessness through.

I liked that while Kisci and Vörös are drawn together it’s not romantic. There was just enough magic mixed with history that it fitted.

3,5/5

Published: Open Road Media (2014)
Format: kindle
Pages: 144
Source: NetGalley

India Black and the Gentleman Thief by Carol K. Carr

reviews 2 Comments 2nd October, 2014

gentleman thiefIndia Black and the Gentleman Thief (Madam of Espionage Mysteries 4) by Carol K. Carr

India Black’s double life operating a high-class brothel and running high-stakes espionage for Her Majesty’s government can take its toll. But there’s no rest for the weary—particularly when an international conspiracy comes knocking…

India Black is one of Victorian London’s most respected madams—not a bloody postmistress. So when Colonel Francis Mayhew forwards a seemingly innocuous shipping bill to her address, she’s puzzled. And when three thugs bust down her door, steal the envelope, and rough up both her and fellow agent French…well, that’s enough to make India Black see red.

The veteran spies soon discover that Mayhew has been butchered in his own bedroom. An impromptu investigation leads them to London’s docks, where India makes a startling discovery she can’t bear to tell the rakish French—she has a history with their chief suspect, the gentleman thief who once stole her heart… (back cover)

The books starts where the last one ended but before India can get her answers, they are interrupted by a fellow with an envelope from Colonel Mayhew. Right after India and French are attacked by three strangers and the envelope is stolen. While trying to discover the matter of the envelope and their attack, they stumble into someone from India’s past.

At last we learn something about India’s past! I can’t help but wonder how things will turn out since she’s quite independent for starters… But on the other hand it would be fun to see how she would cope with her new life.

We have some moments between India and French and I wish I could smack their heads together. Or make French lose his honor and sense of duty. I wonder if we will see a scene between her and French’s fiancée because that would be something.

The Dowager Marchioness of Tullibardine makes a visit to Lotus House and practically takes over it. For once we see India totally out of her depth and unable to stop it. Gotta love that old lady and I hope we see more of her.

4,5/5

Published: Berkley (2014)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 320
Source: my own

India Black and the Shadows of Anarchy by Carol K. Carr

reviews 2 Comments 25th September, 2014

carrIndia Black and the Shadows of Anarchy (Madam of Espionage Mysteries 3)
by Carol K. Carr

In Victorian London, India Black has all the attributes a high-class madam needs to run a successful brothel–wit, beauty, and an ability to lie with a smile. Luckily for Her Majesty’s Government, all these talents also make her a first-rate spy…

India Black, full-time madam and occasional secret agent, is feeling restless, when one of Disraeli’s men calls on her to meet the prime minister–alone. Even though all her previous meetings have been organized by the rakishly handsome spy French, it’s been decided this is a mission India must attempt on her own.

Revolt has spread across Europe and reached the shores of England–anarchists have begun assassinating lords and earls, one by one. Now India must infiltrate the ranks of the underground group responsible for those attacks, the sinister Dark Legion. To stop their dread plot, India will go from the murkiest slums of London to the highest levels of society, uncovering secrets that threaten her very existence… (back cover)

India finally gets a chance to show how she can deal on her own on a mission. She needs to get into a group of anarchist who has been playing with gunpowder. India must get one of the bints, who has connections with the anarchist, working in a lesser class brothel to start working for her. The Madam of the other brothel however doesn’t take this without a fight.

What an evil way to finish the book! We almost learn more about India’s past but then we don’t because the book ends. Evil!

India is very excited that she can finally show that she can handle mission on her own but of course she crosses path with French during the mission. There’s bunch of anarchists crying for freedom and are willing to kill people for it while India and French are trying to stay alive in the middle of it.

And we finally learn little bit of French’s past. I want to learn more but at least that was the start. I’m still waiting to learn more about India and we were oh so close!

4/5

Published: Berkley (2013)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 320
Source: my own

Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead

reviews 2 Comments 13th September, 2014

Richelle MeadLast Sacrifice (Vampire Academy 6) by Richelle Mead

MURDER, LOVE, JEALOUSY. AND THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE.

The Queen is dead and the Moroi world will never be the same.

Rose Hathaway is awaiting wrongful execution and there exists only one man who can stall this terrible fate.

Rose must look to both Dimitri and Adrian, the two great loves of her life, to find him.

With her best friend, Lissa, in a deadly struggle for the royal throne, the girls find themselves forced to rely upon enemies and questioning those they thought they could trust … (back cover)

Rose is accused of killing Queen Tatiana but she escapes imprisonment with the help of her friends. Rose, Dimitri and Sydney tries to find Lissa’s half-sibling while Lissa, Adrian and Christian try to find Tatiana’s killer. If they can find the lost Dragomir, then Lissa has a real chance to become the next Queen.

I’m surprised how much I enjoyed this book. I started it simply because I wanted to finish this series but this was the most enjoyable book in the series. Go figure… I didn’t even want to slap Rose, not even once! I wanted to shake few times but that’s all.

Lissa seemed to finally find her backbone when she was alone and had to manage without Rose.
Rose finally chooses between Adrian and Dimitri but really, it’s been quite obvious from the start how she will choose. And I think that the one left will find someone way better…

I guess I’m happy that I finished this series since the last book happened to be the best one.

3,5/5

Published: Penguin (2010)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 592
Source: library

India Black and the Widow of Windsor by Carol K. Carr

reviews 1 Comment 21st August, 2014

india blackIndia Black and the Widow of Windsor (Madam of Espionage Mysteries 2) by Carol K. Carr

When Queen Victoria attends a séance, the spirit of her departed husband, Prince Albert, insists she spend Christmas at their Scottish home in Balmoral, a deviation from her usual practice. The prime minister suspects Scottish nationalists are planning to assassinate the Queen-and sends the ever resourceful India and the handsome British spy French to the Scottish highlands undercover.

French will take the high road, looking for a traitor among the guests-and India will take the low road, disguised as a servant in case an assassin is hiding among the household staff. For her part, India doesn’t need a medium to predict that someone at Balmoral is determined that this Christmas will be Her Majesty’s last… (back cover)

When Queen Victoria suddenly decides to spend her Christmas in Scotland, the prime minister gets worried that nationalists try to assassinate the queen. He enlists the help of India and French to prevent that from happening. India will play the part of housemaid to an old marchioness who spends most of her waking hours snuffing anything possible.

Finally I got to read the second book! And it didn’t disappoint me! Can’t believe it took me so long.

It was fun seeing India trying play the servant part. She’s surely no servant material. The old marchioness was so much fun! I loved the interaction between India and the marchioness.

We see more flirting between India and French which started in the previous book. I’m curious to see how this will turn out but I hope we get to see them together at some point. I also want to know more about their past. There was some hints but I hope we will learn more at some point.

I think this was little tamer book than the first one and less snarky but not too much. But we don’t see India as a madam here so that may explain the tamer aspect.

4/5

Published: Berkley (2011)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 309
Source: my own

Mailbox Monday (18.8)

meme 7 Comments 18th August, 2014

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia and is now hosted on its own blog.

All the books were bought from my shopping trip to Helsinki.

books

The Queen Of Four Kingdoms by Michael of Kent
The Path of Anger by Antoine Rouaud
The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England’s Most Notorious Queen by Susan Bordo
Fatal Rivalry, Flodden 1513: Henry VIII, James IV and the battle for Renaissance Britain by George Goodwin
13 by Kelley Armstrong

Sisters of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle

reviews 2 Comments 15th August, 2014

sisters of treason

Sisters of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle

Early in Mary Tudor’s turbulent reign, Lady Catherine and Lady Mary Grey are reeling after the brutal execution of their elder seventeen-year-old sister, Lady Jane Grey, and the succession is by no means stable. In Sisters of Treason, Elizabeth Freemantle brings these young women to life in a spellbinding Tudor tale of love and politics.

Neither sister is well suited to a dangerous life at court. Flirtatious Lady Catherine, thought to be the true heir, cannot control her compulsion to love and be loved. Her sister, clever Lady Mary, has a crooked spine and a tiny stature in an age when physical perfection equates to goodness—and both girls have inherited the Tudor blood that is more curse than blessing. For either girl to marry without royal permission would be a potentially fatal political act. It is the royal portrait painter, Levina Teerlinc, who helps the girls survive these troubled times. She becomes their mentor and confidante, but when the Queen’s sister, the hot-headed Elizabeth, inherits the crown, life at court becomes increasingly treacherous for the surviving Grey sisters. Ultimately each young woman must decide how far she will go to defy her Queen, risk her life, and find the safety and love she longs for. (publisher)

Jane Grey is executed after reigning only for nine days and her family is left behind tainted as traitors. The remaining Grey sisters grew up in the court under the suspicious eyes of the queen(s) but their mother’s confidante, Levina, looks after them.

The story is told by 3 people: Katherine Grey, Mary Grey and court painter Levina Teerlinc and it worked well for this book.

My favourite was definitely Mary and I really wished it could have ended happily for her. Being crook backed definitely didn’t make things easy for her and people can be so cruel. And yet she remained kind and gentle despite everything. Her sister’s death had deep impact on her and taught how dangerous it can be to have royal blood in your veins.

Katherine was the type that thinks with her heart and not with her head, and it can be dangerous when you’re so close to the throne. She was little shallow and empty headed and I wished she would have listened Mary’s warnings. Her chapters were my least favourite and I think the weakest link in the book.

I really liked how the sisters’ mother Frances Grey was portrayed. She was shown as caring and loving mother who deeply mourned her daughter and it was nice to see her friendship with Levina who was “just” a court painter and not noble born.

This was truly enjoyable book and I look forward reading The Queen’s Gambit which I already own.

4/5

Published: Simon & Schuster (2014)
Format: ebook
Source: netgalley

Mailbox Monday (11.8)

meme 6 Comments 11th August, 2014

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia and is now hosted on its own blog.

These are new books I’ve got in the past month or so. I can’t remember the last time I’ve bought a crime book! But it sounds so good I had to buy it.

Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters (bookmooch)
Blood Loss by Alex Barclay (purchased)
The Assassination of the Archduke: Sarajevo 1914 and the Murder that Changed the World by Greg King, Sue Woolmans (purchased)
Drakenfeld by Mark Charan Newton (purchased)
Legacy by Susan Kay (bookmooch)

Missing from the photo:

The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick (bought)
The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France by Eric Jager (bookmooch)