Monthly Recap: February 2016

How is it that this February had an extra day…and I still could not find enough time to do half of the things I wanted. For example, I wanted to be able to get this monthly review recap up in time to actually be posted on a day in February….

Morrighan by Mary E. Pearson — 3 out of 5 stars
The story of when Morrighan of the Remnant tribe met and fell in love with Jafir the Scavenger. This relationship goes on to create the Kingdom of Morrighan we know from the series.
I didn’t hate this novella. It didn’t give me what I thought I wanted though… I want more about the Ancients, the Before, and Venda; the pieces of history scattered throughout the series have always interested me the most

Princess in Pink by Meg Cabot — 2 out of 5 stars

Project Princess by Meg Cabot — 1 out of 5 stars
LOL why? The most interesting part was Grandmere swooping in, randomly, like a deus ex machina, to save their hygiene habits. You don’t need to read this, guys.

23507745Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty — 3 out of 5 star
This middle-grade book is about Serafina and the early days of the Biltmore Estate. Although told by her pa to always hide within the basement, when a man in a black cloak is spotted taking another child, this twelve year old decides to solve the mystery.
The mystery of this story was rather predictable. Thus, the most interesting part of the story became Serafina as she learns where she came from and tries to piece the new information together with who she is and what her place in the world is. The story about her birth and the further discovery she made at the end were enough to kindle my interest in the next book in the series. I want to learn more about what Sera is capable of, and I hope the next mystery is a bit more compelling.

Princess in Training by Meg Cabot — 3 out of 5 stars

The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine — 4 out of 5 stars

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson — 4 out of 5 stars
First graphic novel: Check!
And I really liked this one! The illustrations were gorgeous, the story held my attention, it made me laugh; in the end I was starving for more. I don’t know if there will be another installment, but here I am, putting forth my request for more Lord Ballister Blackheart and Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, especially if it is about their “childhood years” at the Institution (the time frame for the additional mini-comic at the end of the book, if you are in the know) because I ship it.

21414439Truthwitch by Susan Dennard — 3 out of 5 stars
Truthwitch was a solid fantasy read. But it could have been a lot better — for me — if the magic of the world was better explained; throughout my reading, and even at the end, I was filled with many questions about how and why things worked out the way they did.
Going forward I think this series should pick up. The threads left hanging at the end of the first installment are enough to peak my interest in the Puppeteer, the Raider King, the kingdoms of the Witchlands and the end of the truce. Give me more of Iseult and Aeduan, please, because they were the more interesting characters, with more to discover about themselves and the roles they will go on to play.

Party Princess by Meg Cabot — 2 out of 5 stars

 

 

Book Club: Princess in Training and Party Princess

The Princess Diaries Book Club is an ongoing collaboration with my friend Cilla and her blog, Paved with Books. We decided that we would reread this series, at our own pace, and always come back to our blogs and each other to discuss the story and how we feel about it now. If you are interested in joining us, please do!

Title: Princess in Training (The Princess Diaries #6)93726

Author: Meg Cabot

Rating: ★★★

Provided Synopsis: Princess for president!

Student body president, that is — nominated by her power-mad best friend, Lilly. This is not how Mia imagined kicking off her sophomore year, but as usual, she has bigger problems to worry about, like Geometry. And now that Mia’s one true love, Michael, is uptown at college, what’s the point of even getting up for school in the morning? But the last straw is what Lana whispers to her on the lunch line about what college boys expect of their girlfriends. . . . Really, it’s almost more than a princess in training can bear!

Review: Surprisingly, this installment of the Princess Diaries series went down much smoother than the others. There was still the problem of Lily, as she attempted to manipulate her way into the Student Council presidency through the nomination of Mia. But there was also a significant amount of growth here for Mia as she copes with a student government election, the question of whether Michael expects them to become sexually active now that he is a college student, and the repercussions of her environmental actions on the international level.

Mia has begun to open her eyes: as a princess she has a responsibility to think of how her actions and opinions will impact the Genovian people. She also realizes that the promises she makes to people in a government capacity mean something for her, and that she wants to take the responsibility. Whereas she usually obsesses over something with Michael until the last minute, this time around she told him how she felt. This is progress! This is what I have been waiting to see, if you have been following these book club discussions. This book made me look forward to the next one because there has to be more from here on out.

 

Title: Party Princess (The Princess Diaries #7) 85993

Author: Meg Cabot

Rating: ★★1/2

Provided Synopsis: Princess just want to have fun . . . And Mia does too, despite the fact that the student government over which she presides is suddenly broke. But Grandmere’s got a wacky scheme to raise the money, catapult Mia to theatrical fame, and link her romantically with an eligible teen bachelor who’s not her boyfriend. No wonder Michael seems to think she’s a psycho, or worse: not much fun. Is it possible that Mia, soon-to-be star of the stage, president of the student body, and future ruler of Genovia, doesn’t know how to party?

Review: I didn’t hate it. But is it just me, or did this feel like it could have been a novella? Mia is invited to a party at Michael’s house and she is not sure what to do or how to act because she is not a “party girl.” The student council that Mia runs is broke and she needs to find a way to gather money for the seniors graduation. Grandmere has written a musical, and has enlisted students from Mia’s school to perform it. There was a LOT of things happening in this book, though I have to ponder: did any of this advance the characters?

Mia is still not communicating completely with Michael. But she has learned that a president (or anyone in charge of a government) should pay attention to the money rather than delegating the responsibility to another. Mia sells herself short in terms of a role in Grandmere’s play, insisting that Lily “deserves” it for no other reason than she continues to be under that girl’s thumb. The grand gesture at the end was so cheesy it was cringe-worthy (although that could be my age speaking, since I am clearly not the target age-group of this series anymore). And really, did any of this need to happen to progress the story of the series?!

Review: The Impostor Queen

23495112Title: The Impostor Queen

Author: Sarah Fine

Rating: ★★★★

Provided Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Elli was a small child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic. Since then, Elli has lived in the temple, surrounded by luxury and tutored by magical priests, as she prepares for the day when the Valtia perishes and the magic finds a new home in her. Elli is destined to be the most powerful Valtia to ever rule.

But when the queen dies defending the kingdom from invading warriors, the magic doesn’t enter Elli. It’s nowhere to be found.

Disgraced, Elli flees to the outlands, the home of banished criminals—some who would love to see the temple burn with all its priests inside. As she finds her footing in this new world, Elli uncovers devastating new information about the Kupari magic, those who wield it, and the prophecy that foretold her destiny. Torn between the love she has for her people and her growing loyalty to the banished, Elli struggles to understand the true role she was meant to play. But as war looms, she must align with the right side—before the kingdom and its magic are completely destroyed.

Review: The only reason this is receiving four stars rather than five is because in the end this story wound up being a novel-length prequel to the true fight to come. But do not allow that to deter you from reading The Impostor Queen because this is an incredibly engaging fantasy story that did so many things well.

Elli, when the reader first meets her, holds the title of the Saadella, meaning that she is in a way the crown princess who will become queen upon the death of her Valtia. In the land of Kupari, the Valtia is the wielder of fire and ice magic, making her incredibly powerful and the chosen ruler because of the balance she is able to maintain while she uses both mediums. When a Valtia dies, the magic passes on to her Saadella, to make her the new Valtia and to create a new Saadella so the cycle might continue forever and protect the Kupari people.

But when Elli’s Valtia dies, the power does not come to her. With her life now in danger she retreats to the outer rims of society, where she learns about her power, prophecies, the different natures of fire and ice magic, and the responsibility she feels towards her people. The pace in this story could fluctuate between the high and the low, though I always managed to feel invested in the story and the mysteries about the Valtia and the Kupari magic. Elli was a main character that is easily able to align with as she pursues this journey. This story did a lot of set-up on the relationships between her and the people who will go on to become players in the next novel. And the magic – I thought it was so interesting, and to me it felt like it offered a fresh take on fire and ice magic within the fantasy genre realm.

In the end, I would highly recommend this book. The fantasy elements are strong, the dynamics between characters are interesting (and the romance made me feeeeeel!), and I can promise you that you will want to see how the prophecy will play out as the story moves forward.

Book Club: Princess in Pink

The Princess Diaries Book Club is an ongoing collaboration with my friend Cilla and her blog, Paved with Books. We decided that we would reread this series, at our own pace, and always come back to our blogs and each other to discuss the story and how we feel about it now. If you are interested in joining us, please do!

Title: The Princess Diaries (The Princess Diaries #5) 93731.jpg

Author: Meg Cabot

Rating: ★★

Provided Synopsis: Princess Mia is dreaming about the prom – and contending with a hotel workers’ strike – in the fifth, supremely hilarious episode of Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries. This time, Mia’s in the pink about the upcoming Albert Einstein H.S. prom, and she’s crossing her fingers that Michael will ask her to go. (They’re in love, so why wouldn’t he ask her, right?) But during Seven Minutes in Heaven at her b-day party, Mia learns that Michael is not the prom-going type. Good grief, what’s a princess to do?

To make matters worse, Grandmere has gotten a busboy fired due to a mishap with her pooch, Rommel, at a swanky restaurant, so when all of the city’s busboys go on strike, it causes a chain of events that result in Grandmere crashing at Mia’s mom’s place, her pal Lilly Moscovitz picking up a picket sign, and the prom being brought to a screeching halt.

Thankfully, staunch yet boy-wise Grandmere has a plan to change Michael’s mind and put everything back on track, making Mia the happiest “prom princess” on this side of the Atlantic – and readers more starry-eyed than Molly Ringwald in her prettiest pink frock.

Review: Time to admit something: if it were not for audiobooks, it is very likely that I would have to give-up on the Princess Diaries book club. As much as I loved these books when I was in my pre-teens and early teens, there is very little I can relate to with Mia in my current age. While I go through these stories I find myself frustrated with the immaturity of her problems and lack of communication skills.

Mia, if you want to go to the prom, then tell your boyfriend you want to go to the prom. He cannot read your mind, not matter how many times you refer to him as a genius. And please stop using the word “self-actualization,” because going to the prom is not going to help you reach your full potential.

Pros of this book:
1. The escape of Boris
2. Mia laying down the law to Lily in regards to how she will proceed with Boris from here on out
3. The baby’s name – it made me smile

Cons of this book:
1. Lily – her treatment towards her boyfriend and friend is awful
2. Mia’s obsession and research of autism — it made me cringe
3. The repetition of the words prom and self-actualization
4. The lack of communication on behalf of Mia
5. The way Mia’s father’s contract is apparently going to be reneged upon

I am going to continue on, because I figure that Mia has to grow up eventually, and I really want to be there when that happens. Have any of you read Princess in Pink years later? How are you faring with the jarring immaturity of the protagonist if you are much older than she is? Is there any hope that the next book is going to be better?

Monthly Recap: January 2016

January sure did seem to fly by, did it not? I hope you all had a great month. Here comes the list of the books I read; if there is a link that means I wrote a full-length review that you will be directed to.

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman — 5 out of 5 stars

Along the Infinite Sea by Beatrice Williams — 3 out of 5 stars

7069272I Kissed An Earl by Julie Anne Long — 4 out of 5 stars.
A perfect mixture of adventure and romance. When Violet Redmond uses her powers of deduction, there is only one thing apparent: that her brother is the sought-after pirate Le Chat, and that she must do whatever it takes to bring him home and escape the noose. Thus, she wheedles her way onto the ship of the earl tasked by the king to capture Le Chat, and embarks on an adventure. This story really did have it all in terms of pirates, life upon a ship, and action. I am always in search of historical romances that do more than linger around a house party or a ballroom, and this one delivered.
The romance between Violet and Captain Flint was also good. Both engaged in a sensual game of chess with the other, pulling the tension to delicious heights. All in all, this was a good story about the lengths a person will travel for the love of another, and the ability of that love to bring out the hidden qualities within.

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin — 4 out of 5 stars

Beatrice and Benedick by Marina Fiorato — 4 out of 5 stars

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling — 2 out of 5 stars

25365683Demelza by Winston Graham — 4 out of 5 stars
What is it about this series that is so compelling? The characters, with all of their flaws trying to exist within the same community. Even further, the in-depth look into a mining community filled with hardships as befitting the time interest me. This is great historical fiction, and while I did like Ross Poldark a little bit more there are plenty of good things about Demelza. (I listened to the audiobook)

Top Ten Tuesday #8: Top Ten Historical Settings You Love or You’d Love To See

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about historical settings I love, and I also decided to incorporate historical settings that I would love to see. It should be known that I am a massive fan of the historical fiction genre; this topic is perfect for me.

  1. Ancient Greece — I have a minor in Classics. I became a Classics minor because of my love for mythology and the civilizations of the ancient worlds of our past. Nothing makes me happier than finding a story set within the ancient world of Greece. Bonus points are also given if the Gods and Goddesses are included.
  2. Ancient Rome — Because of the reasons mentioned above. There is so much to work with if you take the time to look into the history of the Roman Republic, or even the Empire! Give me some stories about Caesar, Augustus, Nero, etc. The Empire expanded so far that the opportunities are limitless.
  3. Ancient Egypt — For the same reasons as mentioned above. And also because I so rarely find books set in ancient Egypt during the time of pharaohs. I think the YA genre in particular could benefit from this setting since many of the kings and queens began their rule at young ages…
  4. Tudor/Elizabethan England — Simply because this setting never manages to get old.
  5. Regency England — I really love romance books set in this time period. Maybe it has something to do with how strict the rules were, making every glance, word, or touched exchanged infinitely important.
  6. Atlantis — The Lost City!! Come on! Why are there no book on the market about this? It could be about the days leading up to the disaster; it could be about a team going underwater to find the city, and discovering an alternate dimension that sucks them back in time a la Outlander; it could be anything.
  7. Mesopotamia — Sand as far as the eye can see. The jinn. The caravans. I am ridiculously in love with books set an a desert landscape.
  8. Africa — Let me be honest: I come across a lot of stories set in Africa, but they always seem to be told from the same demographic’s point of view. How about we have some more stories set in Africa about Africans?
  9. The Wild West — I have only recently begun to search for books set in the Wild West of the Americas due to how much I enjoyed Vengeance Road. I am also going to include within this category a desire to see more books set on the Oregon Trail.
  10. The Yukon — While we are on the subject of trails, let us move into the topic of the gold rush during the 1980s in the Klondike. The journey there was dangerous, and if you did manage to reach your destination, the hardships did not let up. I think some good stories could be told here.

What do you think of my list? What are your top historical settings? I’d love to hear from you!

Review: Why Not Me?

22716447Title: Why Not Me?

Author: Mindy Kaling

Rating: ★★

Provided Synopsis: In Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.

Review: Why not me, indeed. Or more like why am I the only one I know not connecting to this book?

I decided to read this on a lark, not knowing anything about Mindy besides who she is (as a celebrity), but being interested in one day watching her show. But maybe a memoir works better if you have some familiarity with the author?

As it stands, this book just was. The essays went from one to another. I wondered where the continuity was, along with questioning if this book had a concrete theme. Some moments are definitely funny. The essay I enjoyed the most was her telling of a failed love affair with one of Obama’s secret service agents; that is a fantasy I did not even know I had until I read it. Everything else in this book seemed to ramble on and I’m unsure I’ll remember any of her anecdotes a month from now.