The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

The White Queen Philippa Gregory

Rating: 2.5 Stars ★★☆☆☆

In the darkness of the forest the young knight could hear the splashing of the fountain long before he could see the glimmer of moonlight reflected on the still surface.

Plot

Elizabeth Woodville is a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition. Her mother is Jacquetta, also known as the mystical lady of the rivers, and she is even more determined to bring power and wealth to the family line. While riding in the woods one day, Elizabeth captures the attentions of the newly crowned King Edward IV and, despite her common upbringing, marries him in secret.

When she is raised up to be his queen, the English court is outraged, but Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for her family’s dominance. Yet despite her best efforts, and even with the help of her mother’s powers, her two sons become pawns in a famous unsolved mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the lost princes in the Tower of London.

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The Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence

Liars Key Mark Lawrence

Rating: 4 Stars ★★★★☆

Two men in a room of many doors.

Plot

The eyes of the mighty are on the North. Loki’s key has been found and lies in the hands of a feckless prince and a broken warrior.

Winter has locked Prince Jalan Kendeth far from the luxury of his southern palace. The North may be home to Viking Snorri ver Snagason but he is just as eager to leave. However, even men who hold a key that can open any door must wait for the thaw.

As the ice unlocks its jaws the Dead King moves to claim what was so nearly his. But there are other players in this game, other hands reaching for Loki’s key.

Jalan wants only to return to the wine and women of the south, but Snorri has a different and terrifying goal. The warrior aims to find the very door into death and throw it wide. Snorri ver Snagason will challenge all of Hell if that’s what it takes to bring his wife and children back into the living world. He has found the key – now all he needs is to find the door.

But pawns are played to sacrifice and the Red Queen set both these men upon her board. How many moves ahead has the Silent Sister seen? How far will they get before their part in the game is over?

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Amok: An Anthology of Asia-Pacific Speculative Fiction by Dominica Malcolm

Amok Asia Pacific Anthology Dominica Malcolm

Overall Rating of Anthology: 2.5 Stars ★★★☆☆

About

All the stories in this anthology are set in the Asia-Pacific region. There are science fiction stories, fantasy stories, some that are a little bit of both and some that read like fairy talkes.

I loved that this was an anthology that focussed on the Asia-Pacific region. However, the quality of the stories varied greatly. Many were really, really short. So short, that they read more like fragments and less like stories. Others could have used another round of editing. And some were really beautiful. Overall, it was a mixed bag which did not rise to my expectations.

Read on for a detailed review of the stories in this anthology.

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Red Glove by Holly Black

Red Glove Holly Black

Rating: 4 Stars ★★★★☆

I don’t know whether it’s day or night when the girl gets up to leave.

Plot

CURSES AND CONS.
MAGIC AND THE MOB.

In Cassel Sharpe’s world, they go together. Cassel always though he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth – he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything – or anyone – into something else.

That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she’s human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila’s been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion-worker mom. And if Lila’s love is as phony as Cassel’s made-up memories, then he can’t believe anything she says or does.

When Cassel’s oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue – crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too – they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can’t trust anyone – least of all, himself?

Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.

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The Courtesan by Alexandra Curry

The Courtesan Alexandra Curry

Rating: 1 Star ★☆☆☆☆

It is the Hour of the Snake, a time of day when the sun works hard to warm the earth.

Plot

The year is 1881, the era of China’s humiliation at the hands of imperialist Europe. Seven-year-old Sai Jinhua is left alone and unprotected, her life transformed after her mandarin father’s summary execution for the crime of speaking the truth.

Now an orphan, Jinhua is sold to a brothel and put to work as a ‘money tree’, enduring the very worst of human nature thanks to the friendship and wisdom of the crippled brothel maid.

But when an elegant but troubled scholar takes Jinhua as his concubine, her world begins to expand. With him she will travel to Vienna, seeing things she has never imagined, and opening her heart to dreams she has never dared to dream . . .

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Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie

Nicholas and Alexandra Robert K Massie

Rating: 4 Stars ★★★★☆

From the Baltic City of St. Petersburg, built on a river marsh in a far northern corner of the empire, the Tsar ruled Russia.

About

In this commanding book, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Robert K. Massie sweeps readers back to the extraordinary world of Imperial Russia to tell the story of the Romanovs’ lives: Nicholas’s political naïveté, Alexandra’s obsession with the corrupt mystic Rasputin, and little Alexis’s brave struggle with hemophilia. Against a lavish backdrop of luxury and intrigue, Massie unfolds a powerful drama of passion and history—the story of a doomed empire and the death-marked royals who watched it crumble.

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One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of us is Lying

Rating: 4 Stars ★★★★☆

A sex tape. A pregnancy scare- Two cheating scandals. And that’s just this week’s update.

Plot

On Thursday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investi­gators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Thursday, he died. But on Friday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they just the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right?

What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

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