Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Grave Mercy

Image result for grave mercy 

Ismae hasn't had the greatest childhood. Abuse has been a constant in her life. As a baby, she was poisoned to expel her from her mother’s body, she received regular beatings from her father and men of her village, then she was forced into marriage with a much older, cruel pig farmer. When she learns that she has been blessed by St. Mortain, the God of Death, she is given a choice: join a convent of assassins and become a handmaiden to Death, or go back to her abusive husband and live out her life powerless and miserable. The choice is simple.

Three years later, Ismae has been trained in the art of poisons, weaponry, espionage, court manners, and seduction. When the God of Death marque’s someone, as a handmaiden to Death, she will receive instruction from the Abbess and assassinate that person without question. At the arrival of a suspicious envoy from the Duchess,  Ismae is sent on a mission into the court of Brittany. What begins as an investigation into the envoy's true loyalty quickly becomes far more complicated. Romance, court intrigue, assassination attempts, and back stabbing from every side put every character’s loyalties into question

As Ismae unravels the mysteries of court life, she begins to suspect that not all is as she first thought. Are sworn allies to the convent truly so loyal? And what of the convent; do they truly answer to St. Mortain or do they have some other agenda? Who can she trust if not those who rose her up in her time of need?

Set in medieval England, this book uses real characters from that time period to flesh out the story.  What makes this book really enjoyable is the whole concept of Handmaiden’s of Death! I absolutely love the idea of having an entire church of powerful women devoted to dealing out justice through their Patron Saint – Death.  Ismae is charming despite having had such a terrible life, the convent is fascinating and kept me wondering at its validity throughout, and the romance between Ismae and Duval is well paced and exciting.  I really enjoyed Grave Mercy and am excited to read the next books in the series. 

If you enjoyed Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder, and Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas Grave Mercy will probably be right up your alley.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

The Prince and the Dressmaker

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The Prince and the Dressmaker
Jen Wang

This beautiful comic follows Frances, an overworked dressmaker with a creative eye, and Prince Sebastian, a young prince with a secret.  When Frances’ bold fashion creation scandalizes the aristocracy, she receives a cryptic job offer from a mysterious benefactor. Desperate for a better job, she accepts only to discover that her mysterious benefactor is actually the young prince! Wearing beautiful dresses makes Sebastian feel confident and the Prince wants this daring dressmaker to be outfitted as Lady Crystallia.   

The relationship between Frances and Sebastian grows from friendship to something more, but their secret might get between them as it inhibits Frances’ career. Their reputation grows until Lady Crystallia becomes the hottest fashion icon in the kingdom, but Frances gets none of the credit for her amazing creations. On top of that, can Sebastian keep this secret or will this secret identity be discovered. And, if that identity is discovered, what will people think? 

This comic has everything: gorgeous illustrations, loveable characters, creative plot, and strong heartwarming moments. It has a fairy tale vibe full of romance, fashion, and charm.  I love the message that society may set limitations on what you can and cannot do, but breaking out of that mold can make you all the more interesting and successful.  Just because you are a poor seamstress, does not mean you cannot have a voice, and just because you’re supposed to be a certain way does not mean you cannot thrive if you break out of that mold. 

The Prince and the Dressmaker is a great story with a clear, positive message. An all-around smile inducing story!

Friday, 11 January 2019

What if it's us

Meet Arthur, Broadway enthusiast, glass half full optimism, and favourite person of everyone he meets. He’s in New York for the summer interning at his mom’s law firm and couldn’t be happier. 

Meet Ben, closet writer, glass half empty pessimist, and cool guy who seems not to try too hard at anything. He’s recently broken up with his boyfriend, stuck in summer school, and not all that happy with the universe right now.

After a chance encounter at the post office, Ben and Arthur think maybe the universe wants them to be together. The perfection of their meeting was just too good to be true. But then they get separated and they didn’t get any way to contact each other. Using creative social media searches, missed connections, and some good old fashioned amateur detective work, Ben and Arthur manage to be reunited! It’s clearly a sign that they are definitely meant to be.

But. Their first date is a disaster. Their second date is not nearly what they had hoped. And… their third date is not great either. Were they really meant to be or is the universe playing some kind of weird joke on them? But then again, What if it’s us?

As Arthur and Ben navigate young love, they have a relatively realistic attitude towards their relationship and don’t make nearly as many hair-tearing decisions that many Rom Com characters tend to make. Other than a moderately forced drama scene in the middle, Ben and Arthur are rational, lovable heroes of their own story with awesome best friends supporting them through a memorable summer break.

This book is full of pop culture references with a special love for Harry Potter and Hamilton. It’s got  meet cute moments, and fully realized, dynamic characters. I worry that the pop culture references will sour the book with time, but for now it’s a lot of fun and well worth a read!

Other books by Becky Albertalli include Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda, The Upside of Unrequited, and Leah on the Offbeat.

Other books by Adam Silvera include They Both Die at the End and History is all you Left Me.

Monday, 17 December 2018


By Vince Vawter

In this sequel to Paperboy, Victor is now 17 years old.  He has changed a lot since he was an 11-year-old paperboy, and although he still stutters, he has come to terms with his disability.  He doesn’t stutter as much as he used to, but he also isn’t bothered by it as much.

Victor now has a job as a copyboy at a newspaper and he’s on the verge of going to college.  But when one of his closest friends dies, Victor must fulfill a promise he made to spread his ashes at the mouth of the Mississippi river.  

In the days before school starts and against his mother’s wishes, Victor makes a trip south to New Orleans.  There he meets Philomene Moreau, a girl who quickly captures his full attention.  With her help, he hopes to find the mouth of the Mississippi – a location that is hotly disputed among the locals.

There’s only one thing stopping Victor and Phil from setting out on the river.  Hurricane Betsy has taken a sudden turn and is now heading straight toward New Orleans.  Things get pretty tense as those living on the Gulf of Mexico begin to evacuate.  But Victor is determined to fulfill his promise – and he hopes Phil will help him.

Copyboy is just as good as Paperboy but is suitable to an older audience.  Just as Victor has grown up, readers will need to have grown up a little before reading this next installment.  Copyboy is also good as a standalone novel.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Royal Bastards

Royal Bastards
Royal Bastards

by Andrew Shvarts

Tilla is a Royal Bastard. Her father is Lord Kent of the Western Province, who doted upon Tilla until his trueborn children came along. In this world, the bastard children of nobles can be legitimized if their noble parent wishes. This is something Tilla secretly longs for - to sit by her father’s side, dressed in fancy gowns, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family.

Until that day, Tilla and her half-brother Jax, a stablehand, spend their time exploring hidden tunnels beneath the castle and feast at the bastard table with the other bastards. One such bastard is Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.
At a feast that honours the kingdom's Princess Lyriana, Tilla meets the princess when, going against protocol, the princess chooses to sit at the bastards’ table. Lyriana explains that she wants more adventure and she talks Tilla, Jax, Miles and Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north to take her on a late-night escapade outside the castle. While beyond the castle walls, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards have no choice but to stick together and forge unlikely friendships as they try to thwart a war they know is coming.

A fast paced action magic filled story, that begins the Royal Bastards series.