The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon

The Fiery Cross (Outlander 5) by Diana Gabaldon

The year is 1771, and war is coming. Jamie Fraser’s wife tells him so. Little as he wishes to, he must believe it, for hers is a gift of dreadful prophecy—a time-traveler’s certain knowledge. Claire’s unique view of the future has brought him both danger and deliverance in the past; her knowledge of the oncoming revolution is a flickering torch that may light his way through the perilous years ahead—or ignite a conflagration that will leave their lives in ashes. (Goodreads)

The book starts where the last book ends. Jamie, Claire, Brianna, Roger and Jemmy are living in America and its few years before The American Revolutionary War. There is already unrest seen by people called the Regulators which leads to fighting, and Fraser’s are caught up in it.

While I liked this book it wasn’t as good as the previous ones. There wasn’t anything big happening, we just see them living their lives. There were parts that dragged on and for the first time I really felt that the book could have been lot shorter.

I loved seeing the relationship growing between Jamie and Roger. Jamie didn’t seem to have too high opinion of Roger in the last book and I’m happy to see that changing.
I still wish that we could have Fergus’s POV instead of Roger’s but I wouldn’t want to lose him though.

I loved the last surprise at the end but I really want to know what happened that lead to it!

Published: Dell (2005)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 1443
Source: my own

The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak

The Winter Palace (Catherine 1) by Eva Stachniak

When Vavara, a young orphaned Polish girl, is brought to serve at Empress Elizabeth’s glittering, dangerous court in St Petersburg, she is schooled by the Chancellor himself in skills from lock-picking to love-making, learning above all else to stay silent – and listen. Soon, she is Elizabeth’s ‘tongue’ – her secret eyes and ears.

Then Sophie, a vulnerable young princess, arrives from Prussia as a prospective bride for Elizabeth’s heir. Set to spy on her by the Empress, Vavara soon becomes her friend and confidante, and helps her navigate the illicit seductions and the treacherous shifting allegiances of the court.But Sophie’s destiny is to become the notorious Catherine the Great. Are her ambitions more lofty and far-reaching than anyone suspected, and will she stop at nothing to achieve absolute power? (Goodreads)

Barbara, or Varvara in Russian, becomes to Russian court during the reign of Empress Elizabeth. Chancellor Bestuzhev trains her to be a spy (tongue) and after the Empress brings the future Catherine the Great, then called Sophie, to marry her nephew Peter, Varvara becomes part of her retinue. Catherine doesn’t have easy time in Russia and the two soon become close confidantes.

The book is called “a novel of Catherine the Great” but Catherine is not the main character and is absent most of the book. It tells more to us about Empress Elizabeth than Catherine and the book is told from a servants point of view. It would have been more interesting if there would have been also Catherine’s point of view.
I did like Varvara however so in that sense I didn’t mind that she was the narrator, but it gave us only one side of the story which becomes clear at the end,

I’m not overly familiar with history of Russia so I can’t say anything about the accuracy but there was couple of things that bugged me. There were few times that Catherine made these escapades to town or somewhere and nobody didn’t see? With all the spies and all? And how Varvara seemed to be just little too familiar with Catherine and Elizabeth and her knowledge on pretty much everything.

I would have liked to read more about the relationship between Catherine and Peter, what really happened then. Peter was told to be real nutty but we don’t really see it. Also I don’t think it was good thing to remove Varvara off from the court for seven years while anything didn’t really happened in her life during that time.

I liked Varvara as a character but I think it would have worked better if told from Catherine’s point of view.

Published: Doubleday (2012)
Format: Hardback
Pages: 464
Source: publisher

Falling Under by Gwen Hayes

Falling Under (Falling Under 1) by Gwen Hayes

Theia Alderson has always led a sheltered life in the small California town of Serendipity Falls. But when a devastatingly handsome boy appears in the halls of her school, Theia knows she’s seen Haden before- not around town, but in her dreams.

As the Haden of both the night and the day beckons her closer one moment and pushes her away the next, the only thing Theia knows for sure is that the incredible pull she feels towards him is stronger than her fear.

And when she discovers what Haden truly is, Theia’s not sure if she wants to resist him, even if the cost is her soul. (Goodreads)

One night Theia sees burning man falling from the sky and her life will never bee the same again. She starts to dream about a boy and is more than surprised when the same boy starts the same school Theia does. Haden seems to avoid her but she can’t help but to be drawn to him.

I liked the idea of the book; The world of Under and how demons traveling between worlds. And for once in YA book there wasn’t love triangle! But I couldn’t connect with the characters.

They fell in love too soon and Haden was all over other girls and still Theia wants him. Seriously? Haden is telling Theia all the time to stay away from him because he’s dangerous but I just couldn’t tell why he’s so dangerous exactly.

Theia was brought up by overprotective father and I didn’t buy how she so suddenly decides to rebel. I liked Haden better but honestly he was total jackass most of the book.

And it really annoyed me how Haden calls Theia “lamb” all the time, And how Haden’s mother Mara calls her “pussycat”, I believe she called Haden that one time too…

I’m kinda torn between giving this 2.5 and 3. In the other hand there were so many things that annoyed me but it was also entertaining and quick read. But I think the annoying winns…

Published: NAL (2011)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 324
Source: library

Rivals of the Tudor Court by Darcey Bonnette

Rivals of the Tudor Court (Tudor Court 2) by Darcey Bonnette

Thomas Howard founded a dynasty and staked his place in history through a self-serving ruthlessness that allowed no rival to stand in his way.

But the true rivals of the Tudor court were those who stood alongside him: his wife and his mistress, who would battle to the end for him…

As Queen Catherine’s maid, and daughter of the Duke of Buckingham, the future seems bright for Elizabeth Stafford. But when her father gives her hand to Thomas Howard, third Duke of Norfolk, the spirited young woman must sacrifice all for duty. Yet Elizabeth is surprised by her passion for her powerful new husband. And when he takes on a mistress, she is determined to fight for her love and her honour…

Naïve and vulnerable, Bess Holland is easily charmed by the Duke of Norfolk, doing his bidding in exchange for gifts and adoration. For years, she and Elizabeth compete for his affections. But they are mere spectators to an obsession neither can rival: Norfolk’s quest to weave the Howard name into the royal bloodline.

The women’s loyalties are tested as his schemes unfold – among them the litigious marriage of his niece Anne Boleyn to King Henry VIII. But in an age of ruthless beheadings, no self-serving motive goes unpunished – and Elizabeth and Bess will have to fight a force more sinister than the executioner’s axe… (Goodreads)

As a child Thomas was brought up to know the importance of the Howard family. He takes it to heart and makes advancing his family his life mission and soon his star is rising in the court of Henry VIII. His marriage to outspoken Elizabeth Stafford is nothing but peaceful and is made worse when Thomas supports his niece Anne to get more power for the family. Then Thomas finds Bess Holland, who is the very opposite of his wife.

I was very curious to read this book because I didn’t know that much about Thomas Howard as a person. And he really wasn’t likeable guy!

I knew he was firstly married to Anne Plantagenet but I didn’t know they had and lost four children. Their marriage seems to be a happy one but the loss of their children hardened him and made him fear losing the people he cared about.

Elizabeth Stafford wanted to marry another man and wasn’t happy when told to marry the much older Thomas Howard. She soon starts to care about him but he’s not easy man to live with and has short temper at times.

There were times, okay the whole book, when I just wanted to bang their heads together to get some sense! At first I felt like there was point made that every Howard man is evil and only thinks about power and the whole killing the dog thing. But I liked the relationship between Thomas and Anne and it was nice that he was happy for awhile.

And I really want to know if it’s true that Thomas ordered his servants to beat his wife? I mean seriously!

The book is told from 3 point of views: Thomas, Elizabeth and Bess. I liked Bess’s parts less because it was mostly Bess whining about Thomas being away or that she doesn’t have husband and children.

In the end it was entertaining book but I still feel it lacked it something. Or maybe Thomas annoyed me way to much…

Published: Avon (2011)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384
Source: publisher

The Courtesan’s Lover by Gabrielle Kimm

The Courtesan’s Lover by Gabrielle Kimm

Francesca Felizzi, former mistress of the Duke of Ferrara, is now an aspiring courtesan. Astonishingly beautiful and ambitious, she revels in the power she wields over men. But when she is visited by an inexperienced young man, it becomes horribly clear to Francesca that despite her many admiring patrons, she has never truly been loved. Suddenly, her glittering and sumptuous life becomes a gaudy facade. And then another unexpected encounter brings with it devastating implications that plunge Francesca and her two young daughters into the sort of danger she has dreaded ever since she began to work the streets all those years ago. (Goodreads)

Francesca Felizzi works as a courtesan in Naples and is quite content with the life she is living. Then she has an inexperienced young man as a customer who turn out to be sweet and gentle. He makes Francesca to realize that she hasn’t never been truly loved, a thing that hasn’t bothered her before. But then she meets someone who turns her life upside down and makes her rethink her life.

The Courtesan’s Lover is kind of a sequel to her previous book His Last Duchess but I haven’t read the first book and it still worked well as stand alone.

I really enjoyed the book even if I have no idea which characters were real since I don’t know much about Italy’s history. I think I have to do some googling…

I liked Francesca and I loved how she wasn’t ashamed of who she was and still managed to stay as a good and caring person and she really loved her daughters. There were few sex scenes but they weren’t graphic despite the character being courtesan.

She had an interesting relationship with her castrato manservant Modesto. It wasn’t always easy for him and he had his own past to solve but it was nice that she had someone to trust and who really cared for him.

I’ve really wanted to read His Last Duchess and now I just have to get it! And can’t wait for her next book too.

Published: Sphere (2011)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 504
Source: publisher

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Forever (The Wolves of Mercy Falls 3) by Maggie Stiefvater

Sam has always loved Grace. As a wolf, he watched her from afar. As a boy, he held her in his arms.

Now facing the possibility of a life without her, he will do anything to keep her safe. Even if it means facing his demons. Even if it risks everything he has.

Anything, as long as their love can survive… (Goodreads)

Sam doesn’t turn into wolf anymore but now Grace turns when weather gets colder. When a girl’s body is found and Isabel’s father and the town wants to hunt down the wolves.

I’m having hard time writing this and I still don’t know what to think or say about this book and I’ve had 2days to think about it. I loved Shiver and I enjoyed Linger but I have to say I’m disappointed with Forever. And I wanted it to be great!

The book is very slow and nothing happens, action or emotional wise. Sam is just moping since Grace has gone away and you would think they will have great emotional reunion but no. I didn’t feel any chemistry between them and I feel like they were completely different from Sam and Grace at Shiver. I would have liked to see more of Sam and Beck and how Sam felt after hearing more about the time when he was turned.

I felt like there was no answers but just more questions that wasn’t answered. And the thing that disappointed me most was the ending. I mean how can a book end like that?! Did I miss chapter or two? It just ended!

I’m just so sad that it had to end like this and it feels like a totally separate book from the serie.

Published: Scholastic (2011)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 496
Source: library

Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

Darkness Becomes Her (Gods & Monsters 1) by Kelly Keaton

A dark and lush paranormal romance set in a richly reimagined New Orleans–now in paperback!Ari can’t help feeling lost and alone. With teal eyes and freakish silver hair that can’t be changed or destroyed, Ari has always stood out. And after growing up in foster care, she longs for some understanding of where she came from and who she is.Her search for answers uncovers a message from her long dead mother: Run. Ari can sense that someone, or something, is getting closer than they should. But it’s impossible to protect herself when she doesn’t know what she’s running from or why she is being pursued.

She knows only one thing: she must return to her birthplace of New 2, the lush rebuilt city of New Orleans. Upon arriving, she discovers that New 2 is very…different. Here, Ari is seemingly normal. But every creature she encounters, no matter how deadly or horrifying, is afraid of “her.”

Ari won’t stop until she knows why. But some truths are too haunting, too terrifying, to ever be revealed. (Goodreads)

The book is set in future New Orleans after the hurricanes. Ari has grown in foster homes and has tried to find out who her parents are, and maybe an explanation to her silver hair and teal eyes. After finding out her mother committed suicide, Ari finds letter in written by her mother that warns of a curse and to stay away from New 2 (New Orleans as it’s now called).
After Ari is attacked she decides to leave for New 2 where she discovers more about her family and meets new friends.

This is bit darker YA book and that’s probably why I enjoyed it so much. It was very action packed with kick-ass heroin and Greek mythology. What’s not to like?

I liked Ari and she’s not damsel in distress by any means. Her latest foster parents taught her to use weapons and defend herself. She has somehow foul mouth and there was surprisingly much cursing for YA book, I thought it was refreshing.

The book was much shorter than I would have guessed and the events takes place in few days time. And because of that there’s lot going on all the time which was fine except for the romance part. It just felt so rushed and again it takes pretty much one look and she’s head over heels in love. I liked them together but I wish there would have been more developing there.

But aside from that thing I loved the book and it was quite fast reading. Can’t wait for the next book!

And I have to say I like US cover so much more. I’m not fan of this one at all.

Published: Simon & Schuster (2011)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 273
Source: library

Fire by Kristin Cashore

Fire (Graceling Realm 2) by Kristin Cashore

It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. The young King Nash clings to his throne while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. The mountains and forests are filled with spies and thieves and lawless men.

This is where Fire lives. With a wild, irresistible appearance and hair the color of flame, Fire is the last remaining human monster. Equally hated and adored, she had the unique ability to control minds, but she guards her power, unwilling to steal the secrets of innocent people. Especially when she has so many of her own.

Then Prince Brigan comes to bring her to King City, The royal family needs her help to uncover the plot against the king. Far away from home, Fire begins to realize there’s more to her power than she ever dreamed. Her power could save the kingdom.

If only she weren’t afraid of becoming the monster her father was. (Goodreads)

There are monsters in Dell, beautiful in animal form and humans become dazzled by them. Fire is the last human monster and is much feared and hated. Monsters are drawn to her blood and wants to kill her.
War is coming to Dell and the king needs her talents because she can bend people to her will. Her father was advisor for the previous king and a cruel man so Fire isn’t liked or trusted in the city.

I’m surprised how much I enjoyed this book since I wasn’t huge fan of Graceling and I felt it was way too YA. At first I thought it was just ok but it got better and better towards the end.

I liked Fire who was strong and she was always trying to be the opposite of her father. And I liked how we have flashbacks about their relationship and what happened. The book has great characters and I really liked Brigan and Archer. Fire and Archer were childhood sweethearts but I think that she got over him little too easily. Like she just suddenly thought she had enough.

Since I liked this so much more than the debut book, can’t wait to see what she does with the next one, Looking forward reading it!

Published: Gollancz (2010)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384
Source: my own

Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick

Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick

Matilda, daughter of Henry I, knows that there are those who will not accept her as England’s queen when her father dies. But the men who support her rival Stephen do not know the iron will that drives her.

Adeliza, Henry’s widowed queen and Matilda’s stepmother, is now married to a warrior who fights to keep Matilda off the throne. But Adeliza, born with a strength that can sustain her through heartrending pain, knows that the crown belongs to a woman this time.

In the anarchy, in a world where a man’s word is law, how can Adeliza obey her husband while supporting Matilda?

How long can Matilda fight for the throne that she has struggled so bitterly to win? (Goodreads)

Matilda is summoned home after her husband the Emperor dies. Her brother has died and King Henry I has only a daughter for heir. He tries to find suitable husband for her and chooses young Geoffrey, Count of Anjou. Matilda is less than pleased with the decision but knows that duty comes first.

Adeliza of Louvain is Henry I’s second wife and close to Matilda’s age. Despite Henry having bastards fron numerous women, Adeliza seems to be barren much to her distress.

But everything changes when Henry dies and Matilda’s cousin Stephen takes the throne. The women’s close friendship gets tested when Matilda fights for her crown and Adeliza is married to William D’Albini who supports Stephen.

Another great book by Chadwick! It was hard to put down and I wished I would have had more time to read it faster.

Matilda is determined and strong and yet she’s not without faults and I really liked how she was portrayed. She did what she believed was right and would not back down.
Matilda’s and Brian’s relationship was portrayed well and thankfully not glossed upon.

I really enjoyed reading about Adeliza since there’s not much written about her. She was more submissive and gentler than Matilda but that doesn’t make her any weaker. I loved reading about her life with William which seemed to be a loving marriage.

I wish there would have been more of Robert of Gloucester and it would have been interesting to know Stephen’s thoughts about the whole thing, But guess you can’t have all.

Published: Little, BrownBook Group (2011)
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 532
Source: my own

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

A Certain Slant of Light (Light 1) by Laura Whitcomb

In the class of the high school English teacher she has been haunting, Helen feels them: for the first time in 130 years, human eyes are looking at her. They belong to a boy, a boy who has not seemed remarkable until now. And Helen–terrified, but intrigued–is drawn to him. The fact that he is in a body and she is not presents this unlikely couple with their first challenge. But as the lovers struggle to find a way to be together, they begin to discover the secrets of their former lives and of the young people they come to possess. (Goodreads)

Helen has been a ghost for 130 years and to live relatively normal life, she attach herself to humans. Her current host is a teacher and one day at a class she meets a boy who can see her. The boy, James, is a spirit who took over a body when it was empty. After learning that taking over a body is possible, she takes over Jenny’s body.

Okay I have to say that I didn’t like this. At all. I had problems with the writing style which was too descriptive and it felt way too overworked.

His body didn’t die,” he said, still fascinated by his own luck. “His spirit chose to leave. It’s difficult to explain. Instead of the ship going down taking the crew with it, the crew abandoned the ship, but the ship was still seaworthy.
pg. 24

You would think that when you choose a body who you want to possess, you’d learn about the persons life a little. Like who’s the parents, are they alive you know important stuff? But no, you jump in to just a random person because that makes sense.

I was already bored and kept laughing out loud at some idiotic parts but when we meet Jenny’s family I nearly threw the book. They were some uber Christian family and we get to read about many prayers they had, the books she was supposed to read…. Nearly nodded off by then.

I just couldn’t make myself to care what happened with the characters and did not enjoy the book at all.

Published: HMH Books for Young Readers (2005)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 282
Source: my own