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

My Lord John by Georgette Heyer

My Lord John by Georgette Heyer

John, Duke of Bedford grew to manhood fighting for his father, Henry IV of England. A prince of the royal blood, loyal, strong, the greatest ally that his brother — the future Henry V — was to have. Filled with the clash of bitter rivalries and deadly power struggles, this is Georgette Heyer’s last and most ambitious novel. (Goodreads)

I don’t think I’ve ever read anything about this era so I spent more time on google than reading and thank goodness for character list! But it’s so annoying and confusing when you can’t call someone the same name the whole time. I mean there’s half dozen Henry/Harry, John, Richard, Hugh, Thomas… No need confusing the reader by calling the person sometimes by their given name and other time by their title.

It was also quite slow to read. Heyer has tried writing how people spoke at the fifteenth century and it slows down the reading. There were many times I had to read the sentence few times to understand it.

I liked how John was portrayed and the scenes that focused on him but at times I felt like I was having history lesson instead of reading historical fiction.

Heyer died before the trilogy was finished, but did the book had to end in mid sentence?! Even if the manuscript breaks off like that. What were the editors thinking!

I liked this more than The Conqueror but I still wouldn’t recommend this.

Published: Pan (1975)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384
Source: library

The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett

The Painted Man (Demon Cycle 1) by Peter V. Brett

As darkness falls, demon corelings rise — multitudes and giants, from fire, wood, and rock, hungry for human flesh. After centuries, humans dwindle, protective wards forgotten. Three young survivors of demon attacks, Arlen, Leesha, and Rojer, dare to fight back. (Goodreads)

In Arlen’s world there is demons, or corelings as they’re called, who rises from the ground when the darkness falls. People try to protect their homes with wards and hoping the wards hold during the night.

Arlen lives with his parents at a small village when the village is attacked by the demons. When his mother is severly wounded and his father stays behind the safety of the wards watching, Arlen starts to wonder why people won’t fight back and thinks that there must be some way to fight.
Arlen is disappointed in his father’s cowardice and leaves his home to discover a way to learn to fight.

The book is also told from Leesha’s and Rojer’s point of view. Leesha becomes a herb gatherer, healer, and Rojer becomes jongleur after his village is attacked.

We get to know Arlen from young age and see him grow to a very determined, or obsessed, man. Fighting corelings becomes his whole life whic borders on obsession. He loathes his father and the people who are too afraid to fight but I could understand why they were afraid. Sometimes I wished he had just little more understanding with those.

I liked Leesha who was smart and had courage but why must every man want to bed her? And the romance part just came out of the blue. And I just don’t believe someone recovers from rape that soon and then soon after has sex in the mud with near complete stranger.

But I did enjoy the book and it left me wondering what happens next. I’m definitely reading the next book!

Published: Harper Voyager (2008)
Format: Hardback
Pages: 560
Source: library

The Darling Strumpet by Gillian Bagwell

The Darling Strumpet by Gillian Bagwell

From London’s slums to its bawdy playhouses, “The Darling Strumpet” transports the reader to the tumultuous world of seventeenth-century England, charting the meteoric rise of the dazzling Nell Gwynn, who captivates the heart of King Charles II-and becomes one of the century’s most famous courtesans.
Witty and beautiful, Nell was born into poverty but is drawn into the enthralling world of the theater, where her saucy humor and sensuous charm earn her a place in the King’s Company. As one of the first actresses in the newly-opened playhouses, she catapults to fame, winning the affection of legions of fans-and the heart of the most powerful man in all of England, the King himself. Surrendering herself to Charles, Nell will be forced to maneuver the ruthless and shifting allegiances of the royal court-and discover a world of decadence and passion she never imagined possible. (Goodreads)

The book starts with 10 year old Nell trying to fins something to eat and trying to stay clear from her drunken mother. King Charles II is making his return to London and the people are in party mood but Nell is more worried about getting something to eat. She ends up losing her virginity to a boy in exchange for money so she can buy food. She later tries to get more money from a group of boys that doesn’t end up well. Nell’s older sister Rose is working on a brothel and she convinces Madame Ross to take Nell in. There she meets group of actors and becomes fascinated by them. When she gets an opportunity on stage she is delighted. While on stage she catches the eye of the king whom she has met before and is surprised when he remembers her.

Having never read about Nell before I was really interested to read this. I’m still not sure how to feel about this. It wasn’t bad but I think it still kept lacking that something. Can’t say if it’s the book or the fact that I’m not that interested in this time period and don’t know much about it.

I liked Nell: she was nice, likeable girl who was to determined to have better life. But I also felt like she was too nice. All liked her and if they didn’t they were clearly bad. I’m pretty sure she did something unlikable sometime…

I knew it had quite many sex scenes and while I understand that since Nell is a whore I think there didn’t have to be so many of those. And I really didn’t need to read in so many details 10 year old having sex twice (okay there were more guys involved but still) on the day she loses virginity. But I’m also happy that it wasn’t too sanitized because she was after all a whore.

What I really missed was to know how she felt when the queen was accused plotting against the king. The thing was mentioned, Charles flew into rage and that was it. It would have been interesting to read Nell’s thoughts about the matter.

I liked Buckingham and how he and Nell were friends. She didn’t seem to have many friends at court so that was nice. But I’m still wondering if they were friends in real world?
And I liked Charles Hart and he was so adorable. I just wanted to shake Nell and get some sense into her to stay with Hart.

All in all it was enjoyable read and I’m curious to read the author’s next book to see if it goes in the same lines.

Published: Avon (2011)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 414
Source: publisher

A Secret Alchemy by Emma Darwin

A Secret Alchemy by Emma Darwin

Two murdered princes; a powerful queen betrayed; a nobleman riding towards his certain death…

The story of the Princes in the Tower has been one of the most fascinating – and most brutal – murder mysteries in history for more than five hundred years.

In a brilliant feat of historical daring, Emma Darwin has recreated the terrible, exhilarating world of the two youngest victims of the War of the Roses: the power struggles and passion that lay behind their birth, the danger into which they fell, the profoundly moving days before their imprisonment, and the ultimate betrayal of their innocence.

In A Secret Alchemy, three voices speak: that of Elizabeth Woodville, the beautiful widow of King Edward IV; of her brother Anthony, surrogate father to the doomed Prince Edward and his brother Dickon; and that of present-day historian Una Pryor. Orphaned, and herself brought up in a family where secrets and rivalries threaten her world, Una’s experience of tragedy, betrayal and lost love help her unlock the long-buried secrets that led to the princes’ deaths.  (Goodreads)

I really liked the portrayal of both Elizabeth and Antony. They’re both usually the villains and power-greedy people and it was refreshing to see them in another light. Antony’s story begins when he is taken to Pontefract Castle and knows he is being executed there. Elizabeth is in Bermondsey Abbey where she lived during Henry VII’s reign. We don’t hear the whole life story of either but few selected episodes. I have to confess I’m not usually huge fan of Antony but couldn’t resist falling for him just a bit.

I didn’t care for the present day story that much and could have lived without it. Also I had problem with too many narrative switches.. One minute it’s Una telling her story, then the next Antony is about to die and then it switches to a scene where he’s on a horse riding somewhere. So confusing!

Published: Headline (2008)
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 416
Source: library