Author: Gita Trelease
Published: February 5, 2019
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries—and magicians…
When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist—who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.
But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she’s playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic—before Paris burns…
First off, let’s all take a moment to admire this cover! It makes my skin tingle!!! Definitely in my Top 5 fave covers of the year! I predict it goes pretty far in Series two at the end of the year for our Most Gorgeous Cover competition! Unfortunately, the cover is far better than the story. It has its good elements, but overall, I wasn’t impressed with the story. I’ve said before that I like more condensed scope that feels more intimate and manageable. However, if the situation calls for it, a wider scope works and works well. This book felt like it should have been far wider in scope than it was. For Camille, it never seemed to get farther than getting money so they can survive. I get it, that’s obviously a good goal, but in the middle of the French Revolution? I expected more to happen. She talked a good game about wanting equality and down with the nobles and all that, but she never DID anything. When you look at the story as a whole, it’s literally a tiff between teen nobles . . . And that’s pretty much it.
Yes, there was magic, but you never learn anything about it. The characters, while mostly likable, felt very static. I found myself pulling for the bad guy and looking for a twist that never happened. Most of the facets of the story felt like they didn’t fit in with each other. The balloon didn’t really fit with the revolution, the magic didn’t really fit with Versailles, the villain’s motivation seemed so shallow and flat compared to the times. I’m glad I read it, and I liked hearing about the fashion and life at Versailles, but I don’t think I’ll ever read it again. I also wouldn’t really recommend it to too many people. Maybe readers with a deeper imagination than I have would like it better.
Kim has really enjoyed the Serafina series by Robert Beatty and just finished the fourth in the series! Here is listing of the series:
- Serafina and the Black Cloak
- Serafina and the Twisted Staff
- Serafina and the Splintered Heart (Kim’s review is here).
- Serafina and the Seven Stars
Author: Robert Beatty
Published: July 9, 2019
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 Stars
Serafina and Braeden make an epic return in the hotly anticipated fourth installment of Robert Beatty’s #1 New York Times best-selling Serafina series. Serafina, the Guardian of Biltmore Estate, has won battle after battle against the dark forces encroaching on her home. Now, tranquility has returned to Biltmore. Serafina doesn’t trust it. She patrols the grounds night and day, hardly sleeping, uncertain of her place after her best friend Braeden Vanderbilt’s departure for boarding school in New York.
When Mr. Vanderbilt, the kind master of Biltmore, asks Serafina to move upstairs into one of the house’s grandest rooms, she’s sure it’s to keep an eye on the guests who have arrived for the estate’s annual hunt.
But as Serafina investigates, she becomes more and more unsettled by what Biltmore has become-a place haunted by nameless terrors where no dark corridor is safe. Even worse, she begins to doubt her own senses. Is Braeden really hundreds of miles away, or did he return to Biltmore for one strange night before vanishing? Is the bond between them truly broken or is it stronger than ever?
Then Serafina witnesses a crime that turns her world upside down. How can all that once seemed good and worthy of protection now be evil? And how can she guard those around her when she can’t even be sure of the truth of her own heart?
Serafina and the Seven Stars marks the return of a heroine like no other, as master storyteller Robert Beatty weaves his darkest, most astonishing tale yet.
Serafina is growing up and she’s doing it fast! I decided to re-read the other three books before Seven Stars came out and I once again was caught up in the world of the Vanderbilts at Biltmore in Asheville. I was reminded of all that had happened before with the Black Cloak and Twisted Staff and the Old Man of the Mountains. I went back to seeing what good friends book characters can be and the lessons to be learned.
Seven Stars was written in the same spirit as the rest of the series, but boy howdy is it dark! Serafina isn’t the little girl who just keeps Biltmore clear of rats anymore. She’s becoming a teenager who has the weight of the world on her shoulders. It was almost depressing reading the first half of the book when Serafina was just lost and in some ways, useless. And if you didn’t think it could get anymore evil or malevolent than Uriah, well then you’d be wrong.
I had a little trouble putting all the pieces of the story together, even by the end, but I still understood enough to appreciate the brilliance of it all. I would even say that this might not be for the younger kids, just because of all the darkness! But I really enjoyed it and I can’t wait to see what happens next with Serafina and Braeden! An excellent story!
Kim was also able to attend the Launch Party for Seven Stars and meet Robert Beatty again!
**Be sure to go to Jessica’s Reading Room on Facebook as we will be giving away some swag Kim picked up from the launch! This will only be for those of you in the USA.**
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Published: February 26, 2019
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
How do you kill a god?
As her father’s chosen heir, eighteen-year-old Rasmira has trained her whole life to become a warrior and lead her village. But when her coming-of-age trial is sabotaged and she fails the test, her father banishes her to the monster-filled wilderness with an impossible quest: To win back her honor, she must kill the oppressive god who claims tribute from the villages each year—or die trying.
This is a great, simple fantasy story and I really enjoyed it. In a world of the same YA fantasy themes flying around, reading something unique is a treat. This book is a treat. There weren’t too many bells and whistles and that’s something I like about it. I also enjoyed the practicality of the details.
When Rasmira is sent into exile with an impossible task, she never once questions whether or not she can do it. She observed the problem with intelligence and objectivity. She is the perfect combination of faith and fact. My only real issue with the story is her absolute obsession with boys! I get it, she’s a teenager, of course she’s gonna be looking at boys. My issue is that in the middle of her life falling apart, an impossible task in front of her, her very survival at stake, all she can think about is boys.
Fortunately, Levenseller spins that obsession into a more selfless practicality; unfortunately, there was enough of the annoying stuff to affect my rating. I will say that this is a very good book for high schoolers and I think even those who don’t like reading would probably like this story. Very good good and a beautiful cover!