Review: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
Published by: HarperTeen 

Date of Publication: June 7th 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Comedy

Pages: 491

Format: Physical Book (My Owlcrate subscription)

Rating:★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane gets to be Queen of England. 

My Lady Jane was my 1st Owlcrate box & it was part of their June Royalty theme. I was a bit skeptical on MLJ, it’s not typically the type of book I’d pick up on my own. I was pleasantly surprised to find this book to be such a fun ride filled with tons of laugh out loud moments while I rode the NYC subway to/from work these past couple of days. Coming in at a hefty 491 pages, MLJ doesn’t take itself seriously at all and often times the narrators (The Janies) will interrupt to let you know just that lol. 

The Characters

Lady Jane Grey, Gilford Dudley (G), King Edward,Gracie, Bess, and Pet —->My favorites however, the cast is much larger & filled with colorful characters. I loved the presence of strong female characters & how endearing they were (especially G & Edward). Lady Jane Grey has to be my ALL time favorite simply because she’s a fellow bookworm (she’s just as obsessed as I am lol). She also is very witty & sarcastic & last but NOT least a Femisnist (Loved this!). 

“The worst part about her new chambers was that all these wardrobes and vanities and drapes meant there was no space–none at all–for a bookcase.Who on earth could feel comfortable enough to sleep in a room with no books?”-Lady Jane Grey

Gilford & Edward- I think I laughed the most with these two, it’s rare that I enjoy male characters like I did these two. There was great chemistry between all of the characters & the witty banter was flawless. 

Plot

The story begins with a very sick & dying King Edward (age 16) who is being pushed to choose a successor to the throne since he has no heirs. Jane & Edward are used as pawns and a marriage between the Dukes son and Jane is quickly arranged. There is plenty of plotting & scheming from those who have power to gain, which leads to the placement of Lady Jane Grey on the throne. Lady Jane Grey finds herself married (something she fortuitously avoided in previous engagements) to Gilford Dudley. Both Jane & Gilford are unhappy to have been pushed into marriage but a huge secret overshadows it all. I won’t give more detail than this because of spoilers but I enjoyed all of the plot twists & the magical element. 

I LOVED not knowing which author wrote which parts, it all seemed to come from one person. Maybe this is why the characters have such great chemistry? It must have been tons of fun for these authors writing My Lady Jane because at least I felt like it was a great time from start to finish. I’m going to miss these characters & our furry friends. I hope to see these authors collaborate again, that is something I will definitely be looking out for 😉

Review: A Darker Shade Of Magic by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade Of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Series: Shades Of Magic (Book #1)
Published by: Tor Books 
Date of Publication: February 24th, 2015
Genres: Adult Fantasy 
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover (I own)
Rating:★★★★ (4.5 stars)

Goodreads Synopsis:

Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.

Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to take her with him for her proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped.

I’ve owned a copy of A Darker Shade Of Magic for quite some time now and finally decided it was time to see what all the hype is about surrounding a certain author by the name V.E. Schwab. I can now say that I’ve read a Schwab book & that the hype is well deserved. The writing is flawless (at least in my opinion) and at times gave me Brandon Sanderson Mistborn vibes which is a VERY good thing (again, at least in my opinion lol). This was a fast paced read that takes place in parallel London’s. There are four London’s however, we only get to see three of the four through Kell who is one of the last remaining Antari. I found the world building & magic system to be one of the best I’ve read in a long time. We learn about all of the different London’s as well as how the magic works & the commands used for specific spells. We also get introduced to DeLilah Bard aka Lila who is best known as a thief with ambitions of becoming a pirate (just as soon as she can steal herself a ship). Kell & Lila’s paths cross and our adventure begins.

“Lila Bard lived by a simple rule: if a thing was worth having, it was worth taking.”
V.E. Schwab, A Darker Shade of Magic

Lila_Bard_and_Kell_-_victoriaying

I gave ADSOM a 4.5 stars as opposed to the full 5 because I wanted more character development. We get some background on Kell throughout the book however, Lila’s back story only starts to surface towards the last few chapters at which point we learn something that Lila herself is unaware of (this alone makes me want AGOS lol). Based off of the last few chapters, i’m hoping that we will get character development in A Gathering Of Shadows  (Shades Of Magic #2). I’m also looking forward to hopefully *fingers crossed* getting to see Black London which has been sealed off from the rest of the London’s including the Antari. Being that I thoroughly enjoyed V.E. Schwab’s writing style and world building, it’s safe to say that i’ll be reading the rest of the series and checking out her other books.

 

Review Me Before You By Jojo Moyes

Me Before You
Series: Me Before You #1
Published by: Pamela Dorman Books/Viking
Date of Publication: December 31st 2012 (first published January 5th 2012)
Genres: Contemporary-lit, Romance
Pages: 369
Format: Paperback
Rating: 5 Stars (previously 4.5 stars because REASONS lol)

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

 

My Good Reads Mini-Review AKA 1st Thoughts:

4.5✨ I’m a bit conflicted with Me Before You, I gave it 4.5 stars because I am still very attached to the characters. Lou is now one of my fave female protagonists, she embraced her individuality like none other. I loved the witty banter between Lou & Will. Then there was the elephant in the room, often times I found that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’m still unsure where I stand on the topic of Euthanasia or assisted suicide. Overall I didn’t take this as a romance, it felt more like a story of friendship, hope, and human rights.

******SPOILERY******

After Thoughts (slept on this for a couple of nights):

I’ve come to the realization that if a book can linger in my head days after I’ve finished it, leaving me questioning my own beliefs…said book was pretty darn GOOD! This was a contemporary romance that tackled the very real topic of Euthanasia & or assisted suicide very well. Each of the characters that loved Will Traynor (Our male protagonist) had their own ideals/beliefs on quality of life however, I appreciate the respect he was given by those closest to him. Will Traynor was introduced as a young & attractive guy on the fast track to success. The type of guy to close deals, wing big, and always get his way in the board room and in the bedroom. The guy who has a type…. tall, blonde, fun, & easy. His whole life was turned upside down by a motorcyclist, leaving him as a quadriplegic in need of around the clock care. After receiving physical therapy to alleviate the pain associated with muscle atrophy & a non-reversible diagnosis, Will decided to end his life through Dignitas

***PAUSE***

Google Search–> I had no idea this organization actually exists in Switzerland! On their web page in their About page it reads: “DIGNITAS—To Live with dignity–to die with dignity” this is where I put the book down, went to bed, and seriously tried to place myself in that situation. I tried seeing it from the perspective of a mother as well as the disabled and couldn’t resolve where I stood. I decided to remain undecided & continued reading…

Will’s mother asks that he re-consider and he makes a deal with his parents to give them 6 months. As a mom I can see how this must have been a desperate time to try & find anything that would change my sons mind. Enter Louisa Cark AKA Lou AKA Busy Bee, hired to be a companion for Will who had pretty much become a recluse.

I LOVED Lou from the start! Her odd or rather quirky fashion sense, selflessness, and subtle wit has made her a new favorite of mine. When she created her username Busy Bee to talk to an online community of people with the same or similar disability, she stole my heart! Lou was determined to reignite Will’s desire to live. In the process she developed some complex feelings for him made even more messier by the fact that she was already in a relationship. I can’t even remember his name that’s how much I disliked him so for all intents & purposes, let’s call him “Whatshisface” 🙄 I lost track of how many times Whatshisface talked about himself, his body, and his track time. Lou’s interactions with Whatshisface solely provided me with comic relief & tons of eye rolls. Lou’s self worth however, was very low. A result of what is insinuated to have been her being raped by a couple of guys she knew, while intoxicated. This also played into Lou’s sense of fashion. She figured that if she dressed weird or un-provocative, she wouldn’t warrant the attention of men.

Will- Although he found himself developing feelings for Lou, it never went past that. Lou goes about finding places for Will to vacation in & activities for quadriplegics on a 6mth deadline. The fact that Will managed to find enjoyment in watching Lou experience so many firsts and pushed her to LIVE was heartwarming. There was clearly chemistry between the two but there was also friendship. It was difficult at times seeing Lou go so hard (race track scene) to show Will that he could still enjoy some of the things he used to before his accident. Even harder were the final pages…time was up…Will had not changed his mind & instead asked for Lou to be by his side during his final moments. When Lou finally realized that ultimately this was Will’s decision & Will’s life, I felt like a weight was lifted off MY shoulders (yea I was that stressed lol).

MY dad, before he passed away, told me that death was hardest on the loved ones & NOT the person passing. I always wondered if this were true…for me, it was. The reason I loved this book & now it’s finale (I had to sleep on it) is that Will prepared Lou (and his mother) for his passing. He made the tough decision to end his life & by doing so, reclaims his life. He showed compassion & understanding for those affected by his decision til the very end. In the epilogue, we get the sense that some time has passed, Lou is in France in Will’s favorite cafe reading his letter while eating croissants & drinking coffee as per Will’s expert recommendation…I call this closure.

After much thought, I may not be so undecided anymore on the topic of Euthanasia & assisted suicide. This book led me to do some research of my own & for that alone I have changed my star rating. 

 

Review Burying Water by K.A. Tucker

Burying Water by K.A. Tucker.jpg

Burying Water by K.A. Tucker

Series: Burying Water #1

Published by:  Atria

Date of Publication: October 7th 2014

Genres: New Adult; Contemporary

Pages: 354

Format: e-book

Rating: 5 Stars

The top-selling, beloved indie author of Ten Tiny Breaths returns with a new romance about a young woman who loses her memory—and the man who knows that the only way to protect her is to stay away.

Left for dead in the fields of rural Oregon, a young woman defies all odds and survives—but she awakens with no idea who she is, or what happened to her. Refusing to answer to “Jane Doe” for another day, the woman renames herself “Water” for the tiny, hidden marking on her body—the only clue to her past. Taken in by old Ginny Fitzgerald, a crotchety but kind lady living on a nearby horse farm, Water slowly begins building a new life. But as she attempts to piece together the fleeting slivers of her memory, more questions emerge: Who is the next-door neighbor, quietly toiling under the hood of his Barracuda? Why won’t Ginny let him step foot on her property? And why does Water feel she recognizes him?

Non-Spoilery Review
I intentionally posted a partial synopsis from Goodreads because the entire length of it is very spoilery. Burying Water was a roller coaster of emotions for me. Alexandra was very young & poor when she met the man 20 years her senior who would sweep her off her feet. Handsome, successful and yet still managed to set his eyes on her? It all seemed too good to be true…their courtship eventually led to marriage and a life she would pay a heavy price for. A husband who treats her like a trophy wife, physically harms her, an adulterer, and a key player in the Russian mob. Alexandra Petrov found herself quickly drowning with no way out until one rainy night when her life changed its course.

 

“The mind, it can be a deceitful thing. But it is no match for the heart.” 
― 
K.A. TuckerBurying Water

 

Spoilery Review

The first half of this book was at times brutal and harsh to get through. I felt a range of emotions & quickly found myself loving Alexandra. A protagonist who was “resilient” and strong underneath all the hurt, I couldn’t help but root for her triumph. Viktor Petrov, a man in a position of power attained through illegal activity in the Russian mob viewed his wife as someone to satisfy him sexually & in all the traditional (old school) ways. Alex however, had dreams of becoming a nurse & was enrolled in courses which Viktor saw as taking time away from him. This alone angered me! Then there were often times Viktor had her dress up in skin tight revealing clothes to accompany him to the night club where all of his nefarious dealings took place. I could FEEL the awkwardness & out of place feelings Alex was experiencing. I couldn’t help but scream YES GIRL!!!! whenever she dished out a bit of anger when answering his questions. I also found it hilarious that Alex continued to have car trouble throughout the book simply because she wasn’t the type to drive expensive cars.

ENTER Jesse who I view as “the BOY next door” type, this should be a thing lol. Jesse aka the mechanic savant, finds Alex on the side of the road & helps her get gas, they exchange a kiss which is the beginning of many more encounters that feel very kismet. Jesse was everything that Viktor was not. He’s only 2 years Alex’s senior, blunt when speaking yet always conscious & caring of who he’s speaking to, and overall laid back. Of course, Jesse had his flaws mostly based off of bad decisions he made when he was a teenager running with the wrong group of friends. His relationship with his father the sheriff was strained because of those bad decisions in his past. Having an affair with a married woman didn’t seem like it would mend that relationship any time soon yet it felt right for both Jesse & Alex. Viktor hiring Jesse to restore/repair one of his most prized cars in his home garage felt like fate. When Alex finally made the decision to leave Viktor (after many brutal beatings), I was over the moon happy only to have that feeling squashed by the events of the night that Viktor tried to kill & leave her body buried in a snowy mountain. Thankfully, Jesse is tipped off to what happened & manages to get her the medical attention needed. When Alex wakes up, she can’t remember anything not even her name. She’s left with a scar from her temple all the way down to her chin. See Viktor wanted to make sure he robbed her of her beauty. He raped her, slashed her face, and physically beat and broke her ribs along with other body parts. I’m glad that at the end of the book she never quite remembers the events of that night in its entirety because it really was a second chance at life.

Alex’s journey leads to an amazing cast of characters, my favorite being the grumpy and recluse little old lady Ginny Fitzgerald. Ginny gave me so many laugh out loud moments but also much heart ache. Alex and Ginny’s stories have small similarities but two stuck out the most to me. The fact that she was raped in her youth by someone she also trusted & that both her rapist and Alex’s killed themselves (inadvertently or not). Ginny’s ability to take in another rape victim & help her heal after so many years of secluding herself makes Ginny hold a special place in my heart. Lastly, I loved seeing the relationship between Jesse and his parents (specifically his Dad) mend. Jesse’s parents were key characters in this book & I can now add them to my very short list of fictional parentals that ROCK!