Nicolas Calva is a slave in the mines outside of Rome. When the miners open a sealed cavern believed to hold Caesar’s treasures, Nic is forced to enter it in order to retrieve a bulla for Major General Radulf. When things go wrong inside the cavern, Nic finds himself with the bulla possessed with the magic of the Gods, a bulla people would kill for.
Determined to gain his freedom, Nic finds himself in the center of a plan to overthrow the emperor and destroy all of Rome. Nic must decide which side of the war he stands on and who he can trust. With the magic of the bulla, can Nic save Rome and gain his freedom against Rome’s most powerful enemy?
This novel originally caught my attention when I spotted book two on a shelf at my local library. Mythology has always interested me, mostly Greek and Norse mythology, so, this novel instantly appealed to me. I enjoyed this novel very much.
The characters in this novel have interesting background stories that lead to powerful personalities. Nic, for instance, is a slave, along with his sister Aurelia, who has lost both of their parents. He has not been a slave all of his life, but he has worked tirelessly as a slave for years and yet his rebellious spirit and attitude has not been abandoned. Aurelia has managed to hang onto an amazing amount of hope regarding her family despite what happened to her and all she has been through.
The settings are very interesting. Rome itself is described in detail. The buildings, the shops, the people, are described in great detail. However, locations such as the mines and a senator’s home were described differently. Their locations and outside exterior and relation to other locations were rather vague, while the inside of the home and mines were described in more detail. I found this tactic to be very interesting.
The plotline is exhilarating. The fast pace and quick rising action pull you in quickly. There are a couple slow moments, however, they help the story in more ways than you originally realize.
I would give this novel four out of five stars. I would recommend this novel to fans of Rick Riordan.
I borrowed a copy of this novel from my local library and am currently seeking permission to use an image of the cover artwork above.
Princess Alexandrina, also known as Mink, daughter to the deceased Maharaja of Prindur, is used to the lavish lifestyle of a princess. After her father’s death, however, she discovers that her father’s spending habits, and a little of her own, have landed her in a pile of debt and the government is demanding she turn over her home to help pay the debts.
When Queen Victoria offers Mink and her maid, Pooki, a grace-and-favor home at Hampton Court Palace, Mink accepts. Pooki is very superstitious and the rumors that the palace is haunted frighten her, but she is determined to stay with Mink. At first things aren’t all that bad, Mink and Pooki both manage to make some friends among the other grace-and-favor residents.
When they are invited to an annual picnic, Pooki makes pigeon pie for the occasion. After the Major-general, an odious man who no one seems to like, dies of arsenic poisoning, all evidence points to Pooki and her pigeon pies. Can Mink solve the mystery behind the Major-general’s murder in time to save Pooki from the gallows?
This book was a delightful surprise. The first half of the book is very informative of the life of Mink, her maid, Pooki, and the general habits and ways of life in the Victorian era. I also had never heard of the grace-and-favor apartments before reading this novel, which I found very interesting. I had no idea that such a place existed.
The characters come across as unique, if nothing else. Mink’s family history compounded two separate ways of life very nicely and her maid, Pooki, was a very entertaining character with all of her many superstitions and her abnormally large feet. Her background story is unlike any I have found before and helps make her such a unique character. Personally, my favorite character was Pooki.
This book is a kind of historical cozy mystery. Mink is our primary investigator as she rushes to find the truth in order to save Pooki’s life. Her investigative skills are interesting, and for me, slightly boring. The majority of this novel does not focus on the solution of who murdered the Major-general and seems to focus much more on the everyday life of Mink and her neighbors. This was a little annoying, not that the new information was not interesting or helpful but because there was supposed to be a mystery and for half of the book there wasn’t one.
All in all, I enjoyed this novel and found it interesting. I would give it three out of five stars. As far as I am aware, it is a standalone novel and not part of a series. Though this book was a standalone, I may attempt to read more Julia Stuart novels in the future.
I would recommend this novel to fans of historical cozy mysteries.
I bought my copy of this novel at my local Habitat for Humanity and have received permission from the publishers at Doubleday to use an image of the cover artwork above.
In the summer of 1963, Tree Taylor has two goals she wished to achieve; 1) write an article that will grant her the freshman journalist position at the school newspaper, Blue and Gold, and 2) experience her first real kiss, the kind worth writing about. At thirteen-years-old, Tree already knows that she wants to be a writer, she only needs a story to write about.
One morning while Tree is sitting on her porch trying to come up with an idea for her article, the sound of a gunshot echoes through the early morning air. Tree instantly knows what her article is going to be about. The more she digs into the Kinney incident, however, the more she wonders whether the secrets she is uncovering are the ones that she should write about.
This was an interesting novel, though I neither liked nor disliked it.
The characters in this novel are very well written, constructed and thought out; their personalities are highly realistic and, despite the differences in the times, easy to connect to.
The small town setting is cute and quaint. It reminds me, in some ways, of the small town that I grew up in. It is the kind of town where everyone knows everyone and a secret is never really a secret. Of course, when you are a child, things are not always as clear or apparent to you as they are when you are an adult. I think that is why Mrs. Kinney’s secret was such a big thing for Tree.
Of course, since Tree is thirteen and I am not, I was able to discern Mrs. Kinney’s secret almost from the beginning, as well as Penny’s secret. Despite the title of the book, Tree didn’t have a lot of secrets of her own.
I really did not like the ending of this novel. For me, it was as though it never ended, especially with regard to her friend Jack. The mysteries behind Mrs. Kinney’s secret and Penny’s fear were cleared up rather nicely, there was both an answer and a resolution. But with regard to Jack, and a select few other characters, there wasn’t any resolution, no way for the reader to walk away satisfied.
I would recommend this novel to young readers who enjoy historical coming-of-age novels.
I bought my copy of this novel from my local Dollar Tree. I have been denied permission to use an image of the cover artwork above because my review is less than positive.
Em Flores finally has what she wanted. She rescued her sister and the Ruined finally respect her, despite her lack of Ruined power. But Olivia is not the same person Em remembers from before the king of Lera kidnapped her. Ruina is nothing like Lera was and Em finds herself missing Cas and the time that she spent in Lera, but as one of the queens of Ruina, she must think of her people before herself. When soldiers from Lera attack, Em and Olivia know they must do what is necessary to protect the people of Ruina.
Cas finds himself in an interesting position. After both of his parents are killed during the attack on Lera, Cas is the new king. With a completely different outlook on the Ruined than that of his father, many of the aristocrats believe that his is unfit to rule. When his cousin manages to convince the people that he is mentally unstable following the murder of his mother, she usurps the throne and Cas finds himself in grave danger.
Can Em and Cas bring peace between their peoples or will their families manage to make it worse?
I loved this second installment in the Ruined series. Amy Tintera has created a very dynamic world with intricate settings and marvelous characters.
When I read the first novel in this series, “Ruined”, I was surprised by the amount of person to person violence. Not that other young adult novels are not violent, but Tintera went into such detail. The same occurred in book two. Tintera has created an ‘ultimate villain’ in her character Olivia Flores. I have yet to be able to find another character who can kill with such lack of remorse. And, the jury is still out as to whether Olivia’s actions are a result of her raising or her year of torture while a prisoner of the Lera kingdom.
A killer who is so vicious may be a deterrent for many readers, and usually would be for myself, however, I find the other characters are what draw me to this series. Their level for compassion and their desire to do what is best for the people they are responsible for, ultimately makes them the ones that balance out the character of Olivia. Amy Tintera has managed to portray characters on both sides on the spectrum from good to evil and has presented the readers with numerous questions regarding the acts of individuals and the condition of their hearts.
I found myself traveling a wide range of emotions while reading this novel. I was sympathetic, heartbroken, overjoyed, confused, angered, and even hopeful.
I believe this is a good read that makes the reader question things about themselves and the world around them, mostly in a good way.
I would recommend this novel to fans of fantasy.
I borrowed a copy of this novel from my local library and have permission from the publishers at HarperTeen to use an image of the cover artwork featured above.
When Sherlock Holmes and Watson receive a request to meet a stranger for lunch at the Great Western Hotel at Paddington Station, they find themselves with another mystery. Someone has been spying on Farringdon Blake, a distinguished journalist, but Mr. Blake has no idea why or whom. Sherlock agrees to take the case, starting with the man following Blake around London during his weekly trip to town. But when the lead in London grows cold, Sherlock and Watson pay a visit to Foxwood Grange, Blake’s home, for further investigating. Foxwood Grange is a 300 year old Elizabethan mansion with an interesting and mysterious background all its own.
I have been a Sherlock Holmes fan since I was about twelve years old, when I first read “A Study in Scarlet” and “The Speckled Band.” Since then I have read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but until now I have never read one written by another author.
This novel, like Doyle’s, is recounted by Holmes’ friend and roommate, Dr. Watson. The tone in which Watson recounts this tale is very similar in style and voice as the Doyle tales. Obviously being written by a different author, it is not a perfect match, but I was able to believe that these two were the same Sherlock and Watson from the originals.
This story starts with Sherlock and Watson together. Since the story is told by Watson, when they are separated you only end up with Watson’s side of the story. Because of this, this story had Watson doing most of the investigating, as though he was the primary detective. I’m not sure how this made me feel.
I also was unsure about how Sherlock came off as more secretive than he was in the Doyle novels, to me.
The mystery itself doesn’t become apparent until the very end. Well, the four mysteries are not revealed until the very end when Sherlock explains everything. I must admit though that I was not surprised by the outcome, except for one little part.
I would recommend this novel to fans of Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as I feel that author did a good job.
I won my copy of this novel on Goodreads Firstreads and have received permission from the publishers at MX Publishing to use an image of the cover artwork above.
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