Monday, February 27, 2017

Book Review: Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

Pages: 320
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pub. Date: February 28, 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "A 17-year-old pirate captain intentionally allows herself to get captured by enemy pirates in this thrilling YA adventure.  If you want something done right . . .  When the ruthless pirate king learns of a legendary treasure map hidden on an enemy ship, his daughter, Alosa, knows there's only one pirate for the job—herself. Leaving behind her beloved ship and crew, Alosa deliberately facilitates her own kidnapping to ensure her passage on the ship, confident in her ability to overcome any obstacle. After all, who's going to suspect a seventeen-year-old girl locked in a cell? Then she meets the (surprisingly perceptive and unfairly attractive) first mate, Riden, who is charged with finding out all her secrets. Now it's down to a battle of wits and will . . . . Can Alosa find the map and escape before Riden figures out her plan?  Debut author Tricia Levenseller blends action, adventure, romance, and a little bit of magic into a thrilling YA pirate tale."

Alosa is a pirate princess and a force to be reckoned with.  She is not only the captain of her very own crew, but her father is a legendary pirate king.  He has part of a treasure map, but obviously needs the other part of it to obtain the treasure.  The only problem is that a rival pirate, Captain Draxen, has the other part of the map.  So, in order to get said map, Alosa has volunteered to retrieve it through a sneaky plan in which she allows herself to be kidnapped by the rival crew and then once aboard their ship, she will attempt to get the map. Meanwhile Captain Draxen thinks he has captured the daughter of the notorious pirate king and will hopefully get a ransom making it all worth it.  But things aren't easy for Alosa once aboard the rival pirate's ship. Draxen's brother, Riden, is charged with keeping a very close eye on her and finding the map isn't going to be as easy as she thought.  While Alosa is just as tough, if not tougher, than some of the male pirates, she also has a secret hidden up her sleeve that will help her obtain the map if all else fails.  Tricia Levenseller's novel, Daughter of the Pirate King, is a swashbuckling good time. If you like adventure, strong heroines, and of course pirates, you must check out this YA debut.

Alosa is such a fun heroine in Daughter of the Pirate King. I knew instantly that I would enjoy her. She's tough, determined, full of secrets, and despite being a female pirate in what is traditionally a male world, she is a formidable opponent.  It's not just the fact that her father is the pirate king; Alosa can truly hold her own.

Alosa meets her match in Riden in Daughter of the Pirate King.  The slow burn between the two is a delight and a relationship I thoroughly enjoyed.  Their antics definitely kept me on my toes. Who doesn't love an unlikely romance?

Pirates! I can't tell you how much I love pirates, so I was thrilled to read a YA pirate adventure that is engaging and fun.  I love Black Sails and I was so happy that this book had a similar vibe. In fact, Alosa reminded me a bit of the tough Anne Bonny (also a real-life pirate!) from the show.

There's sword fights, adventure, secrets, treasure, a romance, plot twists and so much more in Daughter of the Pirate King.  If this is your kind of thing, definitely check out this debut. It made me want to binge-watch Black Sails and Pirates of the Caribbean all weekend and if you know me, that's a good thing!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Sunday Post (21)

Waiting on Wednesday: Unearthly Things
Book Review: The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons 

Coming up on the blog, I'll be sharing my thoughts on Daughter of a Pirate King, which was so much fun. If you love pirates (like me!), you'll enjoy it.  I will also be wrapping-up February, which has me excited since spring is right around the corner! I will also be reviewing The Hollywood Daughter by Kate Alcott. Fans of Old Hollywood will appreciate this book.  

Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey - Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan
Belle's Library - Thanks to Disney-Hyperion
Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly - Thanks to Disney-Hyperion

Have you read any of these books or are they on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts! Thanks for visiting. This meme is hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

Friday, February 24, 2017

If You Love Downton Abbey

Ever since Downton Abbey ended, there's been a bit of a hole left behind. No show has really filled the void, but I have found some books as well as other TV shows that have a similar vibe.  Here are a few of my favorites with links to my reviews:

Adult Fiction:

Rutherford Park by Elizabeth Cooke
The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin
The Girl in the Castle by Santa Montefiore
Belgravia by Julian Fellowes
Ross Poldark by Winston Graham

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig
A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes (or any of the other TV show inspired books)
Cavendon Hall by Barbara Taylor Bradford
An American Duchess by Sharon Page

YA Novels:

Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame
Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore
Cinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed
The Heiresses by Alison Rushby

To Be Read Pile:
(I have many of these Downton Abbey-esqe books on my TBR list!)

Summerset Abbey by T.J. Brown
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by the Countess of Carnarvon
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
Below Stairs by Margaret Powell
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Longbourn by Jo Baker
Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson
Habits of the House by Fay Weldon
The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonsson

TV Shows That Are Similar: 

War & Peace
Doctor Thorne

Have you read any of these books or watched these shows? What are some of your favorite novels or shows that are in the same vein as Downton Abbey? Be sure to let me know in the comments below. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Giveaway: The Lost Girl of Astor Street

Thanks to Blink YA Books, I have an extra finished copy of The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill to give away to one lucky reader.  People are saying this novel is Veronica Mars meets the Roaring Twenties. I have even heard fans of Downton Abbey will enjoy this historical mystery set in Chicago.

Goodreads says, "Lydia has vanished.  Lydia, who’s never broken any rules, except falling in love with the wrong boy. Lydia, who’s been Piper’s best friend since they were children. Lydia, who never even said good-bye.  Convinced the police are looking in all the wrong places, eighteen-year-old Piper Sail begins her own investigation in an attempt to solve the mystery of Lydia’s disappearance. With the reluctant help of a handsome young detective, Piper goes searching for answers in the dark underbelly of 1924 Chicago, determined to find Lydia at any cost.  When Piper discovers those answers might stem from the corruption strangling the city—and quite possibly lead back to the doors of her affluent neighborhood—she must decide how deep she’s willing to dig, how much she should reveal, and if she’s willing to risk her life of privilege for the sake of the truth."

Please refer to my giveaway rules.  The deadline is March 5th and open to US only.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Unearthly Things

This is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine.  "Waiting on Wednesday" spotlights upcoming releases that I'm eagerly anticipating.

Unearthly Things by Michelle Gagnon
Pub. Date: April 11, 2017

Goodreads says, "After losing her parents in a tragic accident, surfer girl Janie Mason is forced to trade the sunny beaches of Hawaii for the cold fog of San Francisco. She’s never even met her new guardians, the Rochesters—an old money family who relish being pillars of high society. Janie feels hopelessly out of place in their world of Napa weekends, fancy prep schools, and cotillions. Nicholas is the only Rochester who treats her with anything resembling kindness—but he’s only six. When she strikes up a friendship with Daniel, a fellow surfer, it feels like things might finally be improving.  But something isn’t right in the Rochester mansion. There are noises—screams—coming from the attic nearly every night. Noises everyone else claims they can’t hear. Then John, the black sheep of the family, returns after getting kicked out of yet another boarding school. Soon Janie finds herself torn between this new “brother” and Daniel, who has secrets of his own. Just when she thinks her life can’t get any worse, she learns the truth about the Rochesters: what they’re hiding, what they want from Janie, and how far they’ll go to get it."

I am definitely intrigued by this YA retelling of Jane Eyre set in San Francisco.  What do you guys think? 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Loved More Than I Thought I Would

This Top Ten Tuesday is all about books that I enjoyed way more than I thought I would and by the way, I love when this happens. It's one of my favorite things about reading and trying things outside of your comfort zone. Also, if you are interested, my reviews for most of these novels can be found here


1.  Cinder by Marissa Meyer - I put off reading this book for quite sometime, because the fact that it was a Cinderella sci-fi retelling made me sort of cringe. But I was wrong.  This book and the series is stellar.  

2.  Pushing the Limits   by Katie McGarry - I thought this book was going to be a bit too gritty for me (I like my contemporary reads to be a bit more fluffy), but I really enjoyed this opposites-attract story.

3.  Embrace by Jessica Shirvington - Another series about angels? Not again! However, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this series.

4.  Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles - Here's another gritty realistic fiction that features an opposites-attract storyline that sucked me in completely. A very compelling read!

5.  The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki - I wasn't sure I would be interested in the Habsburgs or the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, but Sisi's story is just as compelling as England's Tudor Court.

6.  Lady Catherine, the Earl, and The Real Downton Abbey by Fiona Carnarvon - I adore Downton Abbey, but would I enjoy a biography about the real-life former residents of Highclere Castle?  Yes. Definitely, yes.

7.  The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith - I tend to have to be in the mood for a darker contemporary read, especially if it deals with tough subjects, but I'm glad I picked up this book. It was powerful and important!

8.  Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean - I have, surprisingly, never really read a traditional romance novel before reading this book. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I loved it! I have yet to read another one, but I think if I do, I would pick up another by MacLean. Any recommendations for me? 

9.   Georgina: Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman - Can nonfiction be as compelling as a historical fiction novel? In this case, yes. I was obsessed with this book and was pleasantly surprised by all of the drama and ups and downs in Georgina's life.

10.  The Maze Runner by James Dashner - I thought I was over dystopias, but I was thoroughly impressed when I read this book a few years back. One of my favorites for sure and it kept me on the edge of my seat.

So, what books have you recently read that you thought were going to be boring or simply not for you, but instead ended up being an enjoyable read or, better yet, one of your favorites? Let me know in the comments.  This meme is hosted by  The Broke and The Bookish.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Book Review: The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons

Pages: 810
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: April 2001
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, " The golden skies, the translucent twilight, the white nights, all hold the promise of youth, of love, of eternal renewal. The war has not yet touched this city of fallen grandeur, or the lives of two sisters, Tatiana and Dasha Metanova, who share a single room in a cramped apartment with their brother and parents. Their world is turned upside down when Hitler's armies attack Russia and begin their unstoppable blitz to Leningrad.  Yet there is light in the darkness. Tatiana meets Alexander, a brave young officer in the Red Army. Strong and self-confident, yet guarding a mysterious and troubled past, he is drawn to Tatiana—and she to him. Starvation, desperation, and fear soon grip their city during the terrible winter of the merciless German siege. Tatiana and Alexander's impossible love threatens to tear the Metanova family apart and expose the dangerous secret Alexander so carefully protects—a secret as devastating as the war itself—as the lovers are swept up in the brutal tides that will change the world and their lives forever."

The story opens up during WWII Russia with siblings Tatiana, Dasha, and their brother living in close quarters along with their parents and grandparents.  Russia is on the brink of war, so to keep Pasha, Tatiana's twin brother, safe as he is old enough to be in the Red Army, they send him to summer camp away from the city of Leningrad with the hopes that he would avoid the war.  Dasha, Tatiana's oldest sister still is unmarried and lives at home.  However, her very full social life keeps her out late; in fact, she has met someone special. Hitler has broken the nonaggression pact with Stalin and has invaded Russia, which obviously means war is even closer on the horizon now.  Tatiana is only sixteen years old, but one night when she is out getting ice cream she can't help but notice a solider in the Red Army and he can't help but notice her as well.  They hit it off despite the fact that he is older and to complicate matters further, she finds out that this is the guy Dasha has been seeing.  Things start to get really tough for the Metanov family as there are food rations and more upsetting complications from war to come. Paullina Simons' sweeping saga, The Bronze Horseman, is about family, love, survival, and war.  It is a page turner not only filled with a lot of historical details, but a lot of romance as well.

Tatiana really grew on me as she got older and more mature in The Bronze Horseman. At first her naivety was troublesome as well as her forgetfulness, but as the story progressed, I really enjoyed her journey.  My heart went out to her countless times and although I didn't always agree with her choices, I still cared a lot about her plight.  Dasha, on the other hand, was a tough pill to swallow. At times, I felt badly for her, because the readers know that her boyfriend likes her younger sister. Yikes. But even before she comes to realize this, she treats Tatiana horribly. In fact, Tatiana's entire family treats her poorly to the point where she's like Cinderella doing anything and everything for them.  This irked me to no end.

Alexander, the solider that Tatiana feels a strong connection with, is also a compelling character in The Bronze Horseman. He isn't just your average Red Army solider. His back story is really intriguing and like Tatiana, I didn't always agree with his choices, but I sure did care about his story. I wanted him to come clean to Dasha about his feelings for Tatiana, but of course there were some major complications. The course of true love never did run smooth, right?

The war was like a character in and of itself in The Bronze Horseman. Simons did a great job creating a sense of place and the complications that WWII brought to many people in Leningrad. I had no idea how badly the city suffered. It brought tears to my eyes to think of what the people had to endure. Between the rations, the starvation, and the bombing it was all heart wrenching. Often when we think of the horrors of WWII, we think of the Holocaust and Pearl Harbor, and while that is obviously horrific, I wish more people would talk about the Siege of Leningrad. It lasted two and half years and caused the greatest destruction as well as the largest loss of life in a modern city! I was horrified and so deeply saddened as Simons made it feel very real.

Now The Bronze Horseman isn't just all about history.  There are some major swoon-worthy and steamy moments in this novel. If you don't like a lot of romance in your historical fiction, this one may not be for you, but I, on the other hand, thought it was a nice compliment to such a serious story.  I adored the romance between Tatiana and Alexander - truly an epic love story.

I am thrilled The Bronze Horseman is part of a series and I look forward to checking out the next installment. Be forewarned though. This book is a huge undertaking and takes some commitment. I promise though that you will be absorbed in this engrossing tale about life, loss, and love. (And at the time I write this review, it's on sale for 1.99 as an ebook! An incredible deal!)

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