And I Darken by Kiersten White

51crgzr20qlI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

When I saw As I Darken being described as “Game of Thrones set in the Ottoman Empire”, I couldn’t wait to read it. This is a young adult novel written by Kiersten White.

Lada and Radu are siblings: they are barely a year apart in age, but they are as different as day and night. Lada wants nothing more than to be a great warrior, but she is expected to marry and have babies. Radu gives off the impression that he is weak, meek, and unworthy of attention- but in reality, he is crafty and introspective.

As the children of a Wallachian prince, they are proud of their heritage. It is quite a shock for them when they are sent to the Ottoman Court.   It is presented as a great honor, but the truth behind this magnanimous gesture is harsh; they are hostages, and if their father does not hold up his end of the bargain that he made with the sultan, then they will be summarily killed without any hesitation. Read more

Oh Danny Boy by Rhys Bowen


I have been a fan of Rhys Bowen’s book for a couple of years. I discovered her Royal Spyness series first, but I also enjoy her Molly Murphy mysteries. I have read all of the Royal Spyness books and most of the more recently published Molly Murphy mysteries, so now I am going back and reading more some of the earlier Molly Murphy books.

Oh Danny Boy picks up several weeks after the events of the previous book, In Like Flynn. Molly is trying to return to her normal life, but she has not had much success in finding cases for her fledgling detective business. She is also busy ignoring the letters from Captain Daniel Sullivan of the New York Police; he was a bit of a cad in the last book.

Molly learns that Daniel has been attempting to contact her because he has been arrested on charges of fraud and collaborating with a gang. Daniel insists that he is innocent, and that Molly is the only person that can help him because the force has turned against him. As Molly probes into the events that led up to the arrest, she begins to wonder if the perpetrator needed to silence Daniel. Could there be a connection between Daniel’s predicament and a killer who is targeting prostitutes. Read more

In Like Flynn by Rhys Bowen

51tgujvjeilI have been a fan of Rhys Bowen’s book for a couple of years. I first discovered her Royal Spyness series, but I also enjoy her Molly Murphy mysteries. I have read all of the Royal Spyness books and most of the more recently published Molly Murphy mysteries, so now I am going back and reading more some of the earlier Molly Murphy books.

Molly Murphy is a young Irish immigrant living in New York City in the early 1900s. She has decided to be a private detective, but this is not an easy job for a woman at the time. As In Like Flynn begins, Molly receives an opportunity to spend part of the summer at Senator Flynn’s grand estate on the Hudson. Her friend, police captain Daniel Sullivan, needs help exposing a pair of spiritualists, and the easiest way to do this is for Molly to pose as Senator Flynn’s distant cousin from Ireland. Read more

The Unexpected Duchess by Valerie Bowman

51makvpi-clA couple of months ago, I received the opportunity to read an advanced copy of Valerie Bowman’s The Untamed Earl. I have been reading historical romance novels for many years, but that was my first experience with Bowman’s books. I enjoyed The Untamed Earl, and was excited when I remembered that I had a couple of her other books on my Kindle. I tend to collect books when they are on sale, and come back to read them later.

I decided to start with The Unexpected Duchess, the first entry in the “Playful Brides” series. I had mentioned in my review of The Untamed Earl that there were some scenes with the hero’s sister and her friends, and that I would have had a better appreciation for their friendship if I had read the previous books in the series. So what better place to start than the beginning?

Lady Lucy Upton is a very loyal friend. Her friend Cass declares that she does not want to marry war-hero-turned-duke Derek Hunt, but she is too shy to tell him herself. Lucy takes it upon herself to speak for her dear friend Cass, and tell the new aristocrat that Cass is just not interested. She tries an indirect approach: speaking for Cass in a scene reminiscent of Cyrano de Bergerac, and she tries a more direct approach too. Read more

The Classy Crooks Club by Alison Cherry

51af1qhsmflThe Classy Crooks Club had not been on my radar, but as soon as I saw one of the authors I follow on Twitter talking about it. My interest was immediately piqued based on the title alone, and within a week, a copy of the book had arrived via the library network.   The Classy Crooks Club is a middle grade novel written by Alison Cherry.

It is hard not to like narrator A.J. In one of the first scenes of the book, she describes how to emerge the victor if one were to encounter an anaconda in the jungle. It’s rather gruesome, but it gives great insight into A.J.’s personality. She is not the sort of girl to be afraid of danger or conflict.

A.J.’s parents need to travel to the Amazon for a month during summer vacation, so A.J. is sent to her grandmother’s house. Her grandmother is very strict, and does not approve of A.J.’s unladylike hobbies. Case in point: she refers to A.J.’s skateboard as “that infernal plank”. A.J. just wants to spend time with her best friends, but she only sees them at soccer practice. Read more

Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw

61zc8irjtalI’ve had Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here on my radar, so I was very pleased to have found it at my town library. This YA novel was written by Anna Breslaw.

Scarlett is a high school student living in suburban New Jersey. She lives in public housing with her mother. Scarlett loves watching Lycanthrope High on television, and writing fanfic stories about the characters. As the story begins, Scarlett’s beloved show has just been canceled. She isn’t sure what to do about this; she has devoted so much of her spare time to writing fanfic, and she isn’t ready to move on to another television show.

Scarlett starts writing a spinoff story featuring some of her classmates. This proves to be very cathartic, and helps Scarlett with some of the turmoil in her personal life. But what will happen with her classmates find out that she’s writing about them? Read more

The Lifeboat Clique by Kathy Parks

51dw9wblpmlThe Lifeboat Clique is a young adult novel written by Kathy Parks. This book had been on my radar, so I was pleased to find it on the shelf at the library.

Denver is a relatively unpopular girl at her Southern California high school. She goes to a party thrown by the popular kids because her crush Croix invites her. Before Denver can have a cliché movie moment and kiss her crush, an earthquake strikes and then a tsunami destroys the beach house house where the party is taking place. Denver manages to scramble onto a small boat, along with a few other kids- one of whom is her ex-best friend Abigail.

The group is swept out to sea, and they have limited resources. They have no way of knowing when they will be rescued- or if there is even anything for them to go back to.  And it doesn’t seem to matter that they are in the very definition of a precarious situation; they might die of dehydration, but the popular kids are still sniping at Denver! Read more

The Cresswell Plot by Eliza Wass

61wnx8qycilI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

There have been a few recent YA novels that also dealt with cults that I enjoyed reading. I have been seeing quite a bit of chatter about Eliza Wass’s The Cresswell Plot, so I was excited about the opportunity to read an advanced copy of it.

Castella Cresswell serves as our narrator. Castley’s family is different than the other families in the area. They live on the outskirts of town, and she and her five siblings have limited contact with the outside world. Their father has preached of their difference for years; the Cresswells are special, and that God has singled them out among the heathens. Read more

The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe

51o3tkgzznlI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I love reading novels set in the 19th century. I was not familiar with Anita Hemmings, the first African American woman to graduate from Vassar College, and I was intrigued by the premise of Karin Tanabe’s The Gilded Years.

Anita Hemmings is considered to be one of the great beauties of the class of 1897 at Vassar. She seems to have it all: she is a talented singer, and a gifted scholar. But Anita is hiding a terrible secret: her skin is light enough to pass as white, but she is actually a black woman. At the end of the 19th century, there are very few colleges that admit black women, and Vassar is not one of them. If anyone found out the truth about Anita, it would ruin her. Read more