Book Review

Book Review: The Defiant (The Valiant #2) by Lesley Livingston

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy + historical fiction
Length: 374 pages
Author: Lesley Livingston
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: January 23rd, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Gladiator Fallon and her warrior sisters must face off against a rival gladiator academy in this lush sequel to the highly anticipated historical fantasy The Valiant.

They call her “Victrix” now. Victory.

But winning the highest honor ever bestowed upon a gladiatrix in Rome has earned Fallon more deadly enemies outside the arena than she ever faced within it. And it is those dearest to Fallon who will pay the price for her success.

Now, Fallon and her warrior sisters are thrust into a vicious conflict with a rival gladiator academy, one that will threaten not only Fallon’s heart – and her love for Roman soldier Cai – but the very heart of the Roman Empire.

MORE INTO THIS.

We all know the terror of reading a second book and feeling let down. This series [to me] did not have that happen! I felt more invested in the characters and story the second time around. I felt like I knew them more and that more things made sense.

I’m happy that the romance was way easier to enjoy. I thought it was rushed and iffy in the first book. I found myself utterly smitten with Cai in this book and how much he wants to be a partner with Fallon. I like that they’re on the same side and their quiet moments were tender and I better get a happy ending in the last book.

There was plenty of action in this book! It’s fantastic getting a lot of bad-a women being gladiators and owning it and taking down creepy cult groups. YES. While there is a romantic sub-plot the focus is on the group of women as a whole.

I love how the history of Rome weaves through the story. Talk of Caesar, coups, politics, Cleopatra, war. It helps bring the story to life and listening on audio has been stellar in this format.

Not quite sure why there’s a book three or what it will intend (I usually don’t read synopsis for later books), but I definitely intend on reading it!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Historical fiction + fantasy
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: skirmishes, swords, arrows, physical

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Book Review

Book Review: The Valiant (The Valiant #1) by Lesley Livingston

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Young adult historical fiction / fantasy
Length: 372 pages
Author: Lesley Livingston
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: February 14th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Princess. Captive. Gladiator.

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king, the sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha, and the sworn enemy of Julius Caesar.

When Fallon was a child, Caesar’s armies invaded her homeland, and her beloved sister was killed in battle.

Now, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is eager to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in the fearsome Cantii war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival.

Now Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries and deadly fights—in and out of the arena. And perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her forbidden yet irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier.

HERE FOR FEMALE GLADIATORS.

I read this based off of a recommendation an old friend gave me. She reads a lot of the books I recommend and I wanted to do the same for her (since we have very similar tastes). Y’all, this was a great book! I’m so happy I picked this up and definitely want to read the next one.

The setting was off the charts. I am fascinated by the Roman Empire and its history. I haven’t come across many (if all, because I can only thing of Blood and Sand right now), that use Rome has a historical fiction setting. LOVE IT LOVE IT. I found the interweaving of real life people like Julius Caesar and Cleopatra to be thrilling. I personally didn’t know that there were even female gladiators to begin with! I enjoyed reading the little note at the end about some of the history Livingston found to add some background to these fierce ladies.

Romance was fine. That was probably the only downside to The Valiant. I thought it was starting off slow (which I’m totally cool with) because Cai wasn’t in the story that much. Then I realized…he’s really not in the story that much. Until the later second half of this book do we see him more consistently. Any interactions between Cai and Fallon are full speed ahead while I’m trying to catch up with if I even ship them or not. It left a bit to be desired, but I’m hopeful in the next book I’ll get a larger flourish of them together.

There was a twist or two I did see coming that didn’t ruin the plot for me. I actually liked where it went and how all of the information played into Fallon’s life. Fallon was an amazing heroine. Brave, a bit stubborn, loyal and real. I cheered for her in her battles and on and off the fields of battle.

I’m curious how everything will further unfold in the next book. Caesar and Cleopatra are definitely playing a part in it and I think that is so cool. I didn’t even know that they actually had a relationship until this book (and a bunch of Googling afterwards).

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction / fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: gladiator battles, sword fighting, arrows; fairly bloody and gory
  • Trigger warnings: witnessing the loss of a loved one, slavery (Fallon is taken by a Roman slave trader and sold to a house for female gladiators)

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Book Review

Book Review: Escaping from Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3) by Kerri Maniscalco

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Historical fiction + Mystery
Length: 437 pages
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Expected Release Date: September 18th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea.

It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?

THOMAS CRESSWELL DESERVES BETTER.

BETTER BETTER BETTER. Oh my goodness. Usually I give a book higher marks for making me feel intense feelings for all the things. In this case, the intense feeling was rage, so instead I marked it lower.

HOW DARE AUDREY ROSE WADSWORTH. This was cheating and I will stand by that firmly. I’m tired of seeing this as a plot device and it makes me upset every time.

Something kind of funny though? If this was a different story without a boyfriend and the girl was having this kind of flirtations and kisses with a magician with a mask? Yes. I would have loved the banter and the set-up of that. BUT IT’S THOMAS FREAKING CRESSWELL. WHAT.

Wow, I can’t get over this. My review is running away from me. It was the entire plot which is why it’s very much on my mind. Other than that, the plot consisted of the same as the previous two books. People die, Thomas & Audrey Rose try to find the murderer. Nothing new. It’s a kin to watching CSI (or something similar) where the same show essentially happens every time but you can’t look away. This is how I felt.

I love my boy Thomas though. And I missed him this book! Since Audrey Rose and her shenanigans took up most of the page time, I felt he was barely on screen. There wasn’t much banter between them, mostly angst and angry words.

This was honestly a big letdown for the entire series. I am curious how Capturing the Devil will play out because I’ve seen very mixed reviews.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction + mystery
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: physical, a lot of murder (by knives, hangings, animal attacks)
  • Trigger warnings: cheating

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Book Review

Book Review: The Dire King (Jackaby #4) by William Ritter

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult historical fiction +fantasy
Length: 352 pages
Author: William Ritter
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: August 7th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push the earth and the otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve daily mysteries in New Fiddleham, New England—like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why the undead are appearing around town.

At the same time, the romance between Abigail and the shape-shifting police detective Charlie Cane deepens, and Jackaby’s resistance to his feelings for the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, Jenny Cavanaugh, begins to give way. But before the four can think about their own futures, they will have to defeat an evil that wants to destroy the future altogether.

The epic conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Jackaby series features wry humor and a cast of unforgettable characters facing off against their most dangerous, bone-chilling foe ever.

READ EVERY LAST DANG PAGE OF THIS BOOK.

Or you might feel like throwing it across the room. Like me. Then I read it all. Then I got the ending I was demanding from my bookish soul.

This was a great finale! Definitely the best book of the series by far.

I loved watching all of the story lines come together. Seeing all of the characters align. It all was beautifully woven and closed the ending as it should be. I wasn’t left with questions or concerns. I closed the book at peace. That’s a good ending. There was even a double crossing betrayer that I had no idea was coming. It was a twist that added an edge.

ABIGAIL AND CHARLIE ARE SO DANG CUTE. Absolutely precious. This was the first time I wish they had some more screen time. I was smitten with Charlie and their interactions. They were a great, simple, no drama relationship that added the touch of romance to round out this series.

Jackaby and Abigail are once again a dynamic duo. Jenny became team member number three and I loved having her around more! The banter and dynamics between everyone always make me smile and really appreciate their friendships. I was so happy that Jackaby got the ending he deserved. It made a lot of sense and I figured it would have to move in that direction to bring closure.

This is one of those books that handles the addition of literally every magical creature from fairytales and folklore well. They’re SO MANY CREATURES. I love learning more about them and the way they each added their own touch.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction/fantasy/paranormal mystery
  • Language: one word (witch)
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: knives, magic, swords, murder, animal attacks, vampire attacks, physical

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