The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication Date: September 03, 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy, Historical

Adventure Rating: 3.5 Stars

Amazon

The Last Magician meets A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue in this thrilling tale filled with magic and set in the mysterious Carpathian Mountains where a girl must hunt down Vlad the Impaler’s cursed ring in order to save her father.

Some legends never die…

Traveling with her treasure-hunting father has always been a dream for Theodora. She’s read every book in his library, has an impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics, and has all the ambition in the world. What she doesn’t have is her father’s permission. That honor goes to her father’s nineteen-year-old protégé—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, while Theodora is left to sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul.

Until Huck arrives from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him. Armed with her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler—more widely known as Dracula—and that it just might be the key to finding him.

Journeying into Romania, Theodora and Huck embark on a captivating adventure through Gothic villages and dark castles in the misty Carpathian Mountains to recover the notorious ring. But they aren’t the only ones who are searching for it. A secretive and dangerous occult society with a powerful link to Vlad the Impaler himself is hunting for it, too. And they will go to any lengths—including murder—to possess it. “

*Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley for the e-arc in exchange for an honest review!*

I really had fun reading this book! And let’s be honest here, that’s really why I read, to have a good time. I was caught up in this story right away. Literally from the first page I was like the Kool-Aid Man going, “OH YEAH”! However, towards the end it kind of lacked it’s shine. Books are usually the other way around for me. It takes me awhile to get into them and then the ending has me wow’d.

Characters: Theodora was actually pretty funny. She was cleverly sarcastic, believable in her actions, and fun to read about. I LOVED her sense of adventure. She was a “damn the consequences” type of gal. She was a dreamer. Huck, was the opposite. Poor guy was dragged along to her wild adventurous ways (even though he kind of liked it). He was also very practical which was a good balance. He was also very charming. They had good chemistry also, and I liked that they had a deep history before the story started. You don’t see that too often.

Plot. Like I said, the plot pulled me in from the get-go. I was all about that Vlad life, you know? And not Bram Stoker’s Vlad but historical Vlad. I find him extremely interesting. I also liked the creative direction the author took for his story! The historical part was actually pretty rich and deep considering it was a shorter book! BUT I feel like more could have been done. It felt almost too magical realism rather than fantasy. The fantasy element only came into play maybe the last 50 pages or so? I felt as though more could have been done with the magic and the surprise element at the end.

Writing. I can understand why so many people are Jenn Bennett fans! She’s actually quite funny! She is clever and a bit mysterious in her writing. I will definitely be reading her other works!

Final Thoughts. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes just a taste of magical horror. Vlad is a very interested historical figure to read about and books like these might help teens to get interested in history. As an adult, if you are looking for a short, fun read, check it out!

* *Normal disclaimer that content warning isn’t necessarily my personal thoughts. It’s for parents. *

CONTENT WARNING: Kissing, talk of sex, mild swearing, death, gore, blood, the general history of Vlad is extremely violent.

OTHER CONTENT: Family is extremely important, helping those that are in need, strong female lead, following your convictions, towards the end, promoting healthy communication

*Amazon link is my affiliate link!*

Do you like Vlad (pretty sure I’ve said ‘Vlad’ too many times in this review) the Impaler retellings? What are your favorites?

The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election by Michael R. French – Feature

Publisher: Moot Point Productions

Publication Date: November 20, 2018

Genre: YA, Fiction

Amazon

I am very excited to be on a feature tour for The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election by Michael R. French! Thank you so much to the author and TLC Book Tours for the free copy! And I have a giveaway running on my Instagram!

This sounds like a good read for any young teen to start to get into politics. It is really important for them to start learning about how the system works and how they are going to vote on the issues at hand.

” Brit Kitridge’s plan was just to get her high school diploma and head to college and med school, but nobody can escape from fate, or is it history? The Beginner’s Guide To Winning an Election reveals our main character’s love for history, and after a summer reading books that fuel her passion for politics, Brit decides to join TM (Team Mathew), a fourteen-member group that has helped Mathew Boltanski win every election he’s ever entered. Now he’s going for the big one—student body president. By orchestrating brilliant campaigns one after the other, TM has made Matthew a national young star and promising politician who could even run for higher office in Washington. When Brit is accused of sabotaging the team, she realizes that Hawthorn High has its secrets, and someone needs to shed some light on them. The story is set in a world six years ahead of our time. Security is a constant issue. Politics isn’t black-and-white, it’s not even gray anymore. Inflation is out of control and the educational system is in crisis. But what happens when you find out what’s really going on? What do you do with secrets no one but you wants to hold up to the light?”

National best selling author Michael French is a graduate of Stanford University and Northwestern University. He is a businessman and author who divides his time between Santa Barbara, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is an avid high-altitude mountain trekker, world traveler to developing countries, and is a collector of first editions of twentieth-century fiction.

He has published twenty two books, including fiction, young adult fiction, biographies, and art criticism. His novel, Abingdon’s, was a bestseller and a Literary Guild Alternate Selection. His young adult novel, Pursuit, was awarded the California Young Reader Medal.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalo – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Jimmy Paterson

Publication Date: September 20, 2016

Genre: YA, Mystery, Historical Fiction

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

| Amazon

” Presented by James Patterson’s new children’s imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion…

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling, #1 New York Times bestselling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget. “

I am officially on the fandom train that is this series! The characters, the plot, the intrigue, the romance, the writing, all completely well done!

Characters. Audrey is my favorite type of character. She is a super strong woman that also loves pretty things. She likes getting her hands dirty but then after that wear a lovely dress. I relate hard core. She is also whip smart! She knowledge and skill with helping her uncle in dissecting bodies is really interesting to read about. I also love that she has her emotions but she uses them! Thomas was so swoon worthy! He was so kind and helpful. He pushed Audrey when necessary and comforted her when she needed. They make a good team!

Plot. The plot was so good! If you know the real story of Jack the Ripper, it was never solved, so it was interesting to see Masiscalo’s take on the famous case! It was (at least in my opinion) really easy to know who the killer was. I guessed within the first few chapters. But I am not sure if her intent was to have the reader just guess anyone. I mean, the blurb on the back of the book kind of narrows down suspects. So, it wasn’t as mysterious as I wanted it to be. But it still held my attention with Audrey and Thomas running around trying to figure out the killer! And I love the extra steampunk twist!

Final Thoughts. I can’t wait to continue the series! I love historical mysteries and this one did not disappoint. I can’t wait to see how Audrey and Thomas’ relationship develops and the new cases they solve!

Notes: Book Sleeve from Love You More Studio! If you are interested, I have a rep code! StoriedAdventures10 to save!

* *Normal disclaimer that content warning isn’t necessarily my personal thoughts. It’s for parents. *

CONTENT WARNING: Kissing, death, gore, blood, they dissect dead bodies, gruesome details of the Jack the Ripper case

OTHER CONTENT: Controlling your emotions, strong female lead, using your talents for good

Recommend me some other Historical Mysteries!

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim – Spoiler Free ARC Review

Publisher: Knopf

Publication Date: July 09, 2019

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

| Amazon | Pre-Order Swag

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.

*Thank you so much to Net Galley and Knopf the the e-arc in exchange for an honest review!*

Project Runway meets Mulan is a perfect tag for this book! Y’all, I was extremely invested in this world. Lim paints a picture of fashion so alluring I wanted to see them in real life more than anything. I loved the competition in the first half and the adventure in the last! Both were very different and very interesting!

Characters. Maia was very likable and relatable. Her character progression was done very well. She was shy at first but then owned her skills. She was just a nice person to read about, without being boring. Edan was intriguing and mysterious. He was a good mix of cocky and sweet. The person I wanted to know more about was Lady Sarnai! She was straight up FIRE! I hope to get more of her in the next book! And the Emperor can go away. He’s so annoying.

World. There’s not really a magic system. It’s extremely rare in people and in enchanted items. It was interesting to learn about how the Enchanters were made though. I really enjoyed the China-like world. Lim did a fantastic job of giving detailed descriptions.

Plot. Very unique. I have not read something like this. Have I said I loved the descriptions of the fashion yet?! Lim writes like a dream! The first half of the book is very different than the last half. The first half was more Project Runway and the last half was Mulan. The journey Maia goes on to collect the magic she needs for her dresses is amazing! It’s the type of adventure I love! Magic, romance, danger, and an ending that leaves you wanting more.

Final Thoughts. The ONLY things I didn’t like were very minor. There was a time where Maia stabbed a creature with her scissors and ran but then they were with her later. Then another time where she left her cane at the Summer Palace but then randomly had it at the Fall Palace. Small details like that happened a few times. I loved this book. I didn’t really get the Sarah J. Maas vibe but I do agree that it’s like Renee Ahdieh! I highly recommend! I cannot wait for the next book! Also, officially obsessed with Lim’s writing!

Is this on your radar for this year?

The Red Fox Clan (Ranger’s Apprentice: The Royal Ranger, #2) by John Flanagan Spoiler Free Review

I am so excited to be a part of the blogger reread campaign by Penguin Random House! Thank you for the free books in exchange for a review!

This week is book two of The Royal Ranger’s series by John Flanagan!

Publisher: Puffin Books

Publication Date: August 21, 2018

Genre: Middle Grade, Adventure, Fantasy

| Amazon

”   Picking up where The Royal Ranger: A New Beginning left off, this next installment continues the story arc featuring young apprentice, Maddie, and the student-turned-master, Will Treaty. The time has come for the next generation to assume the mantle and become protectors of the kingdom of Araluen. 

     After passing her third-year assessment as a ranger’s apprentice, Maddie is called home to Castle Araluen. Forced to keep her ranger training a secret, Maddie feels trapped by the monotony of castle life and longs to find a way out. But there are whisperings of a new threat to the kingdom. The mysterious Red Fox Clan, a group of anarchists all donning fox masks, have threatened Castle Araluen and question Princess Cassandra and Madelyn’s succession to the throne. Will they succeed in unseating Cassandra and Madelyn and take the throne for themselves? 

     Bestselling author of the Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband series, John Flanagan returns in the captivating follow-up to The Royal Ranger: A New Beginning. Perfect for fans of Tolkien, Redwall, and Game of Thrones! “

This was such a fun adventure! The action kept going from book one into book two. Maddie is a little bit older now and is falling into place quite nicely with the Rangers. She’s an extremely strong opponent. I love how the author supports strong women and gives them real abilities that you can actually learn. He also gives them strengths and weaknesses to balance them out. Any young girl would love to be Maddie! A princess AND a Ranger?! I choose that. She is smart, clever, and dangerous. But she also has a soft side to her that loves people (and horses). Her interactions with her mother in particular were so sweet and genuine. Her mom is not to be messed with either! And the secrets Maddie finds out are delicious!

I had a great time learning about tactics in small scale battle, when it was from Gilan’s POV. I kept tensing up whenever something would happen, afraid he might get hurt! It was awesome to see Horace in action too! I highly recommend for any girl who needs a boost of self confidence and is looking for adventure! This series makes me want to really take up archery!

John Flanagan grew up in Sydney, Australia, hoping to be a writer. John began writing Ranger’s Apprentice for his son, Michael, ten years ago, and is still hard at work on the series and its spinoff, Brotherband Chronicles. He currently lives in the suburb of Manly, Australia, with his wife. In addition to their son, they have two grown daughters and four grandsons.

Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Page Street Publishing Co.

Publication Date: January 15, 2019

Genre: Fantasy, Retellings, YA, Romance

Adventure Rating: 5 Stars

| Amazon

” Echo Alkaev’s safe and carefully structured world falls apart when her father leaves for the city and mysteriously disappears. Believing he is lost forever, Echo is shocked to find him half-frozen in the winter forest six months later, guarded by a strange talking wolf—the same creature who attacked her as a child. The wolf presents Echo with an ultimatum: If she lives with him for one year, he will ensure her father makes it home safely. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes.

In his enchanted house beneath a mountain, each room must be sewn together to keep the home from unraveling, and something new and dark and strange lies behind every door. When centuries-old secrets unfold, Echo discovers a magical library full of books-turned-mirrors, and a young man named Hal who is trapped inside of them. As the year ticks by, the rooms begin to disappear, and Echo must solve the mystery of the wolf’s enchantment before her time is up, otherwise Echo, the wolf, and Hal will be lost forever.”

As you can see, I rated it 5 stars, so I obviously loved it. I literally have nothing bad to say.

Writing. Absolutely beautiful. Meyer paints a richly colorful story that I very desperately want to be in. I never once got lost or confused, and let me tell you there were some things in this book you really had to imagine. She writes like how you dream. The rooms in the house were so fantastical that I loved how different it was from anything I’ve read! One of the rooms had glass bobbles that had different things in them, like lightening, but when you touched them they cut you like knives. Not to mention the wonderful library! Who wouldn’t want to hop inside of a book?!

Plot. I LOVED how she did a retelling of the original East of the Sun and West of the Moon. That’s the story that beauty and the beast was based off of so naturally it’s one of my favorites. Also, I saw a movie as a kid that was based off of this and I loved it! So this read was actually kind of nostalgic for me! (Side note: I need to find that movie. :P) I really enjoyed the super sweet romance. It was perhaps a bit slow burn? Or maybe somewhere in between slow burn and insta love. The message of the book was love, but with a strong dose of forgiveness. I love when authors write about forgiveness. Not a lot of people forgive these days. It made the characters relationship quite relatable actually.

Characters. Another element that was done really well. Echo was strong and brave, but also sweet and nice. She had a nice balance. She has severe scarring on her face and even though she fights low self-esteem because of it, she knows it’s not a measure of what she’s worth. The Wolf was so sweet as well! He always tried to protect her. Hal was very interesting. He was always so mysterious and his story is extremely compelling, and how it ties in with the other characters. Mokosh… sigh. I feel so bad for her! That’s all I will say!

Final Thoughts. Um, read this. Everyone. Well, if you like fairytales and retellings. It’s such a beautiful book!

*Normal disclaimer that content warning isn’t necessarily my personal thoughts. It’s for parents. *

CONTENT WARNING: Kissing, violence, the characters share a bed but it’s more for safety reasons.

OTHER CONTENT: Learning how to be in a relationship, making friendships, forgiveness, love is the most powerful thing in the world.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: April 15, 2014

Genre: Contemporary, YA, Romance

Adventure Rating: 3 Stars

| Amazon

” To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.”

I don’t normally read contemporaries, but I’m glad I picked this up! I had just read a heavier book and was in a bit of a funk over it, so this was the perfect fun, fast, cute read! It was sort of a pallet cleanser for me. And even though I had a couple of issues with it, I am still interested in reading the other books in the series!

The thing I did really like was the plot! I’m a sucker for a fake dating plot! I think they are so funny and cute and how could it not create a little va-va-voom between the characters?!

Okay the issues I have are a little sporadic. I liked all of the characters but they all had some major flaws. Maybe it’s my age (27), so I couldn’t relate anymore, I don’t know. Also, let me say, that I have had quite a few people tell me I reminded them of Lara Jean when I was in high school.

Lara Jean. She was so cute and naive. But I hated that she had a crush on her sister’s ex, Josh. Not that she did in the first place, but that she did after they broke up. Now, I don’t have sisters, only brothers, so maybe I don’t understand how she could do that. It just seemed kind of icky.

Josh. I know a lot of people liked him, but he was my least favorite character. He was kind of a schmuck, but acted like the nicest guy. Maybe he was both?

Peter. He was kind of the opposite of Josh. He was a sarcastic meanie some of the times, but he was actually really nice.

Also, I’ve got to say Margot was kind of annoying. She dumps her boyfriend so she can have fun in college. Wow. So mature…

Do y’all read contemporaries? What do you like?

*Disclaimer for CONTENT WARNING. This is so parents can make a decision. It does not necessarily reflect my personal views.

CONTENT WARNING: They are in high school so lots of sex talk and some bullying. Kissing scenes. Minor swearing.

OTHER CONTENT: Strong friendships, family bonds, forgiveness, how to navigate bullying.

*Gorgeous sign by Bookish Signs! I have a code too! Lauren20 to save on two or more items!*