Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Shattered Court: A Novel of the Four Arts

Fair Warning:  I wrote a long review!!!!!

The Shattered Court:  A Novel of the Four Arts by M. J. Scott is a paranormal novel with a different take on witches.  Lady Sophia Elizabeth Constance Kendall is a lady-in-waiting to Princess Eloisa.  Sophia is approaching her twenty-first birthday which is when powers manifest.  The palace is getting ready to celebrate her Ais-Seann (the special celebration on her birthday).  If her powers manifest she will be a royal witch (she is thirty-second in line to the throne).  Royal witches are only allowed to practice earth magic.  If she had any power (lately most of the witches have had only small amounts of power) it would be dedicated to the goddess with all the proper rites and then she would be married off to whichever nobleman the king picks (and she has to share her power with her husband as well).  

Sophia, though, wants more out of her life.  She is frustrated with the little she is allowed to do (she is chaperoned to make sure she is a virgin on her birthday) and to learn (she is taught mostly the theory on magic and the rituals she will need to know if her powers manifest).  Two days before her birthday, Princess Eloisa (who is the strongest royal witch living) sends Sophia on an errand to Madame de Montesse’s store.  Chloe Montesse is from Illvya (a rival country) where they practice the fourth magic of water (in addition to air, earth, and blood magic).    Sophia is chaperoned by Lt. Cameron Mackenzie of the Red Guard (they are battle mages).

While is Portholme they hear a loud explosion and discover the palace is under attack.  Cameron, who is sworn to protect royal witches, immediately takes action.  He asks Madame Montesse is she has a portal (they travel by portals which are activated by blood).  Cameron takes Sophia through the portal to get her as far away from the palace as possible.  They do not who is attacking, but he has to guard Sophia and keep her safe.  They are still traveling when Sophia wakes up on her twenty-first birthday.  She has manifested powers and can now see the ley lines that run through the land.  Despite Cameron’s best attempts at keeping her away from them, Sophia steps right into the middle of a ley line.  Cameron touches her to pull her out, and instant passion.  You can guess what happens right?  Gone is Sophia’s virginity.

They continue their journey to reach one of Cameron’s brothers, Alec.  When they arrive, they discover that the battle is over.  They are to return to the castle, but many are dead.  Cameron’s father is gone along with the king and many of the royal family.  Sophia is no longer thirty-second in line to the throne.  Upon arriving at the castle, she is whisked off by Domina Skey (who is in charge of the temple and strongest of the temple witches).  When the ritual is performed, the sigils that were put on Sophia’s hand do not disappear.  Domina Skey is angry and drags Sophia to queen-to-be Eloisa.  Cameron is also called to appear.  Upon hearing what happened during their journey, Eloisa betroths Sophia to Cameron.  Eloisa was badly injured in the fire that swept through the east and west sections of the castle.  Domina Skey uses Sophia to heal Eloisa.  Turns out that Sophia has a lot of power and being unbound the power does not go to the temple (which means Domina Skey cannot access it unless she takes it from Sophia. 

Did I mention this is a long book with a lot of details?  I will try to condense the rest.  Domina Skey has taken advantage of Eloisa’s sickness to elevate her status.  She does not like that Sophia is unbound.  Sophia and Cameron get married, however, they are told that they have to take their wedding week at court (instead of traveling as is normal).  One night someone gets into their chamber and tries to kill Sophia.  What is going on?  They have no choice but to run.  Where will they go and who can they trust?

I found The Shattered Court a little confusing.  Their magic has something to do with a goddess, salt, and salt water.  I, also, did not like that the book ends without a real ending.  We are left to wonder until the next book (which I will read, of course, to see what happens).  I give The Shattered Court 3.5 out of 5 stars.  I think it could have done with a little editing (of course, who am I to talk with this long review).  I wish the magic had been explained a little better and I think I could have done without the explicit sex scenes.  I originally thought this was a novel for young adults, but I think this is more a novel for adults (since it does have the sex scenes).  I will be interested to see what happens in the next novel.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thank you for checking out my latest review (especially since it was so long)!  I am currently reading Defending the Dead by Shelia Connolly.  Have a good evening and Happy Reading! 


P.S.--If you love cozies, Murder Most Finicky:  A Pawsitively Organic Mystery by Liz Mugavero was just listed.  It comes out December 29, 2015!  I love pre-ordering!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Take Another Look

Take Another Look by Rosalind Noonan is a book of suspense.  Jane Ryan is pregnant and running.  She was living with police officer, Frank Dixon.  At first he was charming and kind but after Jane moved in with him, he became controlling, demanding, and abusive.  Jane ran to her friend, Marnie who lives in Seattle with her husband.  Jane knows that she will not be able to afford to keep both children.  She finds a nice family, the Zaretsky’s, to adopt one of the girls.  Jane has now given birth and has to decide which twin to keep.  Louisa is a calm and quiet little baby.  Harper has not stopped crying.  Jane wants to make sure that her adopted family will love her and want to keep her, so Jane gives up sweet Louisa.

Almost fifteen years later, Jane and Harper are living in Mirror Lake, Oregon.  Harper is always moving.  She loves sports.  Jane teaches freshman English at Mirror Lake High School where Harper will be a sophomore.    Jane is dating science teacher, Luke Bandini, but they have kept their relationship quiet. 

One day a man is seen around the school asking for Jane.  She is scared.  Jane thinks that Frank has finally found her.  Someone shows up at her house later that night pounding on the door.  Turns out to be a detective with information about Frank.  Frank has finally been arrested.  He attacked the wrong woman (her father was a bigwig).  Turns out Frank Dixon is a sociopath.  He comes from a family of murderers.  Now Jane is worried about Harper.  How big a role do genetics play?  Nature versus Nurture?

Harper has never been the easiest child but she is starting to act out.  Jane is keeping a close eye on her.  Harper is on the school’s softball league and her position is taken away from her by Olivia.  Olivia’s father has a lot of influence in the community and the poor coach was not given a choice.  Harper states she hates Olivia and wishes she was dead.   The day of the school picnic dawns bright, but something sinister happens to Olivia.  Olivia is found unconscious and floating in the lake.  Harper, of course, is the first suspect.  Olivia, when she awakens, has no memory of the accident and is unable to play softball for quite a while.  Turns out Olivia was hit with a softball bat!  Want to guess whose bat was missing from her bag?

Harper claims innocence in the incident with Olivia.  The police do not have any witnesses and the crime goes unsolved.  Soon Harper mentions a new girl at school who everyone says looks just like her.  The other girl turns out to be Isabel Louisa, the daughter Jane gave up for adoption.  Christy Zaretsky is now a widow and has moved to Mirror Lake because she is ill and wants to make sure Isabel will be taken care of if something happens to her.  Isabel knows she was adopted and immediately takes to Jane.  Once Harper finds out the truth the two are bosom buddies.

Unfortunately, Christy Zaretsky takes a turn for the worse and has to be hospitalized.  Isabel comes to live with Jane and Harper.  Isabel is very kind, helpful and sweet.  Harper starts resenting her.  As the weeks go by Harper wants Isabel gone from the house.  Things go missing or broken and Harper gets blamed.  Then, when they are watching the science classes guinea pigs, one ends up dead.  Christy gets moved to a hospital back in Seattle (her sister moved her).  Now Jane cannot get Christy to return her calls.  What is going on?  Who is really at fault?

I had a good time reading Take Another Look.  I had an idea how it would turn out, but I just had to keep reading.  I give Take Another Look 4.5 out of 5 stars.  I love books that draw you in to the story and you just cannot put the book down.  I have tried to give you an idea of what the story is about without giving away too much.  I hope you will read Take Another Look and enjoy it as much as I enjoyed reading it.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from NetGalley (and Kensington Books) in exchange for an honest review.

It really makes you wonder how significant a role do out genes or DNA play in our lives?   Thank you for visiting and reading my review.  I am off to watch Arrow!  Have a great week and Happy Reading!


The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor

The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor by Amy Reade is a story of mystery.  I thought that this story would have ghosts, but it did not really (I have to admit I was a little disappointed).  Carleigh restores old homes.  Her friend, Evie (a friend from college) has asked her to come to Charleston and restores their family home, Peppernell Manor.  Peppernell Manor is from the 1800’s and even has the old outbuildings.  Carleigh agrees to the job.  So Carleigh and her daughter, Lucy head from Chicago to Charleston, North Carolina.

Peppernell Manor is the home to Cora-Camille, the matriarch of the clan.  Her son and author, Graydon; daughter-in-law, Vivian; daughter, Ruby; grandson, Heath lives in the carriage house; her granddaughter, Evie.  Phyllis is the housekeeper and lives in an apartment over the old outdoor kitchen.  Now Phyllis says she talks to the ghost of her great times five grandmother (she was slave in the house and her life was not pleasant but we never have any proof of an actual ghost).  Her other grandson, Harlan (and Heath’s twin) lives in town. 

Carleigh is eager to start the job.  She is glad to be away from Chicago and her ex-husband, Brad.  Brad said she was not spontaneous enough and left her for a younger woman.  Shortly after Carleigh arrives she receives a late night phone call.  It is threatening and tells her to leave.  Carleigh manages to get over that and starts work on the ceilings on the first floor.  One night they are out walking on a road near the estate.  They are heading in when little Lucy remembers she left Cottontail, her bunny, by some flowers.  The others head in with Lucy while Carleigh goes to look for Cottontail.  She finds the bunny as a car comes down the lane.  As the car gets close, it speeds up and tries to run her over.  Carleigh gets into the ditch as the car stops, turns around and tries again.  Carleigh makes it to the main gates as the car makes another pass.  Carleigh is now frightened, but thinks maybe it was just teenagers playing a prank (really?).

There is conflict within the family at Peppernell Manor.  Vivian and Harlan was to bring in a group of investors.  The investors would pay for the renovation and would get rewards from tours of the refinished home.  Cora-Camille does not agree.  She has more than enough money to finance the renovations.  She wants to keep the house in the family.  She talks of leaving the home to the state in her will (where the family lives in the house, but the state manages tours and such).  Before long Cora-Camille is ill (you just know what is going to happen).  Sure enough, one morning, Cora-Camille is found dead one morning.  It is first written off to a heart attack until further tests prove she was poisoned.

Carleigh sends Lucy off to Florida to stay with her Grandparents to keep her safe.  As the police investigate, the family plans the funeral.  Soon, though, Harlan is found shot to death in the garage.  Things are not going well for the people of Peppernell Manor. Someone is also sabotaging Carleigh’s work.   Who killed Cora-Camille and Harlan?  Who is threatening Carleigh?  There are some bright spots though.  Carleigh starts to get to know Heath and romance blooms.  Evie and her boyfriend, Boone are getting closer and it looks like there might be an engagement! 

I thoroughly enjoyed The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor.  I give The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor 5 out of 5 stars.  There are a lot of turns and twists in this story.  I was hooked on this book right from the start.  The various mysteries are fairly easy to solve, but I still loved the story.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from NetGalley (and publisher) in exchange for an honest review.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my latest review.  I am currently reading The Shattered Court by M. J. Scott. Have a enjoyable evening and Happy Reading!