Review: Mirror’s Edge (Imposters #3) by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Mirror’s Edge
Author:  Scott Westerfeld
Publisher/Year:  Scholastic 4/6/21
Length:  352 Pages
Series: Imposters #3

Overview

The danger rises and the deception grows in the heart-stopping third book in the New York Times bestselling Impostors series!

Frey’s return to the city of her birth isn’t going to be an easy one. She and her love Col must surge on new faces and bodies in order to infiltrate Shreve by dropping from the sky and landing undetected.

Frey’s sister Rafi — no longer a twin in features, but still a twin by birth — is the wild card. Are the sisters on the same side . . . or are they playing to their own agendas? If their father is deposed from Shreve, who will take control? And what other forces may be waiting in the wings?

My Thoughts

Here we are, back in the insanely engrossing world of the Uglies, where the past never truly led us in the right direction, and the semi truths of today aren’t what they seem. Everything that Frey thought she knew about Rafi and her father isn’t the truth, and that makes every move they make from here on out a question mark. The mission that this story takes us on is multi-pronged. There’s the need to rescue Boss X from the clutches of Schreve, and we don’t know what they will be up against. Frey goes under the knife with Col and several others to camo themselves from the nano dust in the city- creating new identifies for themselves in order ot sneak in, save X, destroy Shreve and hopefully free the city. The republic of Diego is in on this as well partially because that’s where the surg is happening and partially because the end game is for Diego to put Frey in control of Shreve and make the world a better place. The question though is are all the tests and prodding for the benefit of Frey, Shreve, Rafi or something else entirely.

The journey takes us under the radar into Shreve, under ground, where crims reveal secrets to Frey about her home city that she had no idea about. She’s introduced to cliques who may be able to set diversions so they can sneak into the high security prison where X is held, but since these are unknowns to the crew and rebels, we don’t know what’s the benefit and real truth here. Everyone has their own motivation and again we’re in a place where we don’t know who we can trust.

There’s eerie construction happening and we quickly uncover that there are radioactive deposits that Frey and Rafi’s father is looking to dig up in order to create a nuclear weapon. There’s intelligence that tells us that he’s stockpiled it in his tower meaning that they can’t blow him up with out destroying the city. So we’re at an impasse of sorts.

Relationships are put to the test, identities are uncovered and mysteries still hold strong where we don’t know what’s real, what’s illusion and what’s on the allied side.

Many lives are lost, and may twists takes us down a path where we realize that if you can’t fight for yourself, you can’t trust someone else to do it. We watch Rafi take Frey’s persona, her courage and her mannerisms and use them for her own benefit, yet again reminding us that she’s not to be trusted and that she’s only motivated by her own sense of power. We don’t know what that means for the rest of this story, since she’s done something yet again at the end of this installment that raises flags and questions that are impossible to answer.

We learned early on in this series of a death of a family member that was unknown at the time, and that’s been used against Frey and Rafi throughout the first three installments. We have a death of a favorite that was caused at the hands of someone that we were wrong to trust, changing the trajectory for our mains going into book four. We also find ourselves back in Paz at the end of this story, meeting with at least one if not two unexpected characters in the hopes that we can change the future for the better.

In my review for book two, I was left with some many philosophical questions – but in this book, it’s not so much a deep seeking question that I have but rather will we ever live in a time where over-baring power isn’t the only motivation? Where you always have to put someone else down in order to gain power, authority, money, all that comes with being in charge? We’ve seen that there’s a need and hunger for some people to lead, but there are also some who do it with a balance of respect. Sadly, that’s not the case in this story for some of the twisted paths we go down. There’s too much being sacrificed, and I wonder what that means should this story really transpire in the future. I can’t wait until book four now, and I hate how our author does this to me. Leaves me hanging on a cliff, and I have to wait far far too long for the next installment. oh well. Enjoy!

Review: On the Way to the Wedding (The Bridgertons #8) by Julia Quinn

Title: On the Way to the Wedding
Author:  Julia Quinn
Publisher/Year:  Harper Collins 4/25/17
Length:  300 Pages
Series: The Bridgertons #8

Overview

A funny thing happened …

Unlike most men of his acquaintance, Gregory Bridgerton believes in true love. And he is convinced that when he finds the woman of his dreams, he will know in an instant that she is the one. And that is exactly what happened. Except …

She wasn’t the one. In fact, the ravishing Miss Hermione Watson is in love with another. But her best friend, the ever-practical Lady Lucinda Abernathy, wants to save Hermione from a disastrous alliance, so she offers to help Gregory win her over. But in the process, Lucy falls in love. With Gregory! Except …

Lucy is engaged. And her uncle is not inclined to let her back out of the betrothal, even once Gregory comes to his senses and realizes that it is Lucy, with her sharp wit and sunny smile, who makes his heart sing. And now, on the way to the wedding, Gregory must risk everything to ensure that when it comes time to kiss the bride, he is the only man standing at the altar …

My Thoughts

We knew that the series was going to come to an end because there were no more Bridgertons to write about, but i’m sad nonetheless. What we have is a great finale though to the series, and a nice way to tie up the journey that we’ve gone on with the Bridgertons.

Just like the summary notes- we are kicking off this book in an exciting fashion . We are watching Gregory, the youngest boy in the family sprint to the chapel in the hopes of stopping a wedding. We don’t know the background just yet as to who this girl is and what brought him to stop the wedding, but we know that it has to be good – right?

We go back about two months when there’s a party at Anthony and Kate’s country home where Gregory is invited and stops in. What we know of him so far from the other stories is that he’s a bit more outgoing and cynical than his older siblings and he often gives Hyacinth a run for her money because he tries to protect her and he knows that he can get away with more hassle than most. We also watch as he acknowledges that romance and true love are a thing seeing as how all his siblings made love matches ahead of him, so he’s hoping to find his love and knows that he’ll feel this earth moving moment as soon as he sees her.

Which is exactly what happens at this party.

Two guests that are also invited are Lucinda (Lucy) and Hermoine, two friends who are having a pre-season debut here at the country party – as their guardians/parents believe that they need to get a bit polished in smaller events before they make a true debut among the ton.

When Gregory walks in and lays sight on Hermoine and Lucy, he thinks that he’s felt the earth move – that his life has been changed forever. He sees Hermoine across the room and she’s the kind of lady who hast he attention of just about any and every man out there – yet she doesn’t return the attentions at all. She’s in love with a man from back home but of course every man out there thinks that he can change her. Gregory included.

One of the ways that he goes about it is through a friendship with Lucy who’s able to give him ‘good insight’ on how he can try to win Hermoine over by doing the opposite of what every other man has done. Of course we readers know that there’s more to the story than meets the eye and perhaps Lucy doesn’t know what’s best.

Anyhow, we watch how Gregory does his best to win over the woman that he thinks is his true love, all while we watch Lucy gain interest in Gregory, while knowing that she’s been promised to marry another man. Her uncle who’s taken over as her guardian has engaged her to a man who’s destined for power. Everyone tells her that he’ll treat her well, but she herself wants to have a love match too.

We can only anticipate what will happen right? WRONG.

There are so many twists thrown into this one. We watch how Hermoine starts to feel something more for Gregory and we think that he may succeed in what he has set out to do – meaning that she’s the one that he stops the wedding of – as she’s likely gone back to her love from back home. Mind you – he’s not the only one who’s managed to gain her attentions. When Lucy’s brother comes to retrieve her as her uncle wants to have the wedding sooner than later, we see a quick and scandalous interaction between her brother and Hermoine which changes the trajectory of this story completely.

What happens from there is that we see an interesting connection grow between Gregory and Lucy before she’s rushed home. We see fast wedding arrangements made for Hermoine, and again that leads us to a stopping of a wedding back in London.

There are interesting circumstances that brought that wedding about, and blackmail that we love to get to the bottom of. We have professions of love and still the idea that happiness will never come because that’s just not meant to be in this story. We also learn personal secrets about a few characters in this story that make us really enjoy the comedic relief that can sometimes be brought.

It’s an exciting culmination to everything that’s gone on thus far in the series. We watch as the power of family continues to be important and the sway that the Bridgertons have in society truly means something even when they don’t hold the highest title in England.

What’s even better is the 2nd Epilogue although I was almost certain that we would see a slightly different ending and I was almost hopeful for things to end up not as they did, just because I think that the story maybe deserved a new resolution. Regardless, it was a nice way to end the series and now i’m sad to be done with it. On that note – off to find something new to read. Enjoy!

Review: It’s In His Kiss (The Bridgertons #7) by Julia Quinn

Title: It’s In His Kiss
Author:  Julia Quinn
Publisher/Year:  Harper Collins 3/28/17
Length:  298 Pages
Series: The Bridgertons #7

Overview

Meet Our Hero . . .

Gareth St. Clair is in a bind. His father, who detests him, is determined to beggar the St. Clair estates and ruin his inheritance. Gareth’s sole bequest is an old family diary, which may or may not contain the secrets of his past . . . and the key to his future. The problem is—it’s written in Italian, of which Gareth speaks not a word.

Meet Our Heroine . . .

All the ton agreed: there was no one quite like Hyacinth Bridgerton. She’s fiendishly smart, devilishly in small doses. But there’s something about her—something charming and vexing—that grabs him and won’t quite let go . . .

Meet Poor Mr. Mozart . . .

Or don’t. But rest assured, he’s spinning in his grave when Gareth and Hyacinth cross paths at the annual—and annually discordant—Smythe-Smith musicale. To Hyacinth, Gareth’s every word seems a dare, and she offers to translate his diary, even though her Italian is slightly less than perfect. But as they delve into the mysterious text, they discover that the answers they seek lie not in the diary, but in each other . . . and that there is nothing as simple—or as complicated—as a single, perfect kiss.

My Thoughts

I’m still surprised every time I read another installment to this series as it must be such a challenge to write about continuations of the same family story but with new eyes, new personalities and new trials. It seems as though our lovely author Ms Quinn has saved the most dynamic and troublesome for last and that’s what we get with Hyacinths story.

The way that this one is laid out is a bit of tellings us where we are in time and what we may have missed in a blurb at the onset of every chapter. What’s nice about that is that we’ve managed to set the stage and we know from whom’s perspective we’re about to read.

We don’t know much about Mr St Clair – which is the point. What we do know is that he’s got a reputation much like that of Anthony, Benedict or even Simon, but what also comes with that is a dark and troubled family backstory. That’s always the case with the ‘to be spouse’ of a Bridgerton so I was excited to see how that one evolved.

Gareth was the younger son of the Lord St Clair and clearly not the favorite child. It’s safe to say even that his father hated him, had it out for him, tortured him and even disowned him once he hit an age where he would be able to manage on his own. He also told Gareth’s older brother to cut him off, but the brotherly bond is more important than anything. At the same time he was thrown out of the house, Gareth also learns that he’s the result of an affair that his mother has and that his ‘father’ doesn’t even know who his real father is.

At the same time we get to engage in the world of Hyacinth. She’s the youngest of all the Bridgertons and if you’l recall, she was born after her father passed away. She’s always been a bit more independent or strong willed than the others, even more so than Eloise, but at the same time, she does want to find a husband, just that it has to be someone who can match her. She’s been out in society for three seasons and has had a handful of proposals, just none that she wants to take up on the offer.

We watch as their worlds collide from time to time through a relationship that Hyacinth has with his Grandmother Lady Danbury, and how Gareth also dotes on her very much. As a result, they are around each other more and more and come to realize that perhaps they have an attraction even if they irritate one another. If that’s not enough, they have a puzzle that they need the other to solve which continues to pull them together.

Gareth is given the diary of his grandmother from Italy which he needs someone to translate. That’s where Hyacinth’s role comes into play as she’s able to read a bit of Italian and she goes on her quest. What she discovers is so much more than anyone expected. She reads how his grandmother hated to be matched with the man that she married, and how she truly wanted to be anywhere else. She also shares that she received a gift of jewels from her grandmother which she chose to hide because she didn’t want her husband to get his hands on them.

That’s where the bulk of our story takes place – watching as they try to translate and decipher clues that will take them to where the jewels were hidden, in Gareth’s father’s house…and what that means for their reputations and relationship when they are forced to spend so much time together.

They try to be proper and they continue to antagonize one another so much that it’s inevitable that something will happen that may take decisions out of their hands. I enjoyed this one and I enjoyed the discovery of the jewels, even if it wasn’t what we had all hoped for. Were they what was expected? did it meet the thrill of the hunt?

All that’s left now is Gregory’s story and I can’t wait to dive into that one and see how this series resolves. Enjoy!

Review: When He Was Wicked (The Bridgertons #6) by Julia Quinn

Title: When He Was Wicked
Author:  Julia Quinn
Publisher/Year:  Harper Collins 2/28/17
Length:  330 Pages
Series: The Bridgertons #6

Overview

FRANCESCA’S STORY

In every life there is a turning point. A moment so tremendous, so sharp and breathtaking, that one knows one’s life will never be the same. For Michael Stirling, London’s most infamous rake, that moment came the first time he laid eyes on Francesca Bridgerton.

After a lifetime of chasing women, of smiling slyly as they chased him, of allowing himself to be caught but never permitting his heart to become engaged, he took one look at Francesca Bridgerton and fell so fast and hard into love it was a wonder he managed to remain standing. Unfortunately for Michael, however, Francesca’s surname was to remain Bridgerton for only a mere thirty-six hours longer—the occasion of their meeting was, lamentably, a supper celebrating her imminent wedding to his cousin.

But that was then . . . Now Michael is the earl and Francesca is free, but still she thinks of him as nothing other than her dear friend and confidant. Michael dares not speak to her of his love . . . until one dangerous night, when she steps innocently into his arms, and passion proves stronger than even the most wicked of secrets . . .

My Thoughts

One of the greatest things about how our amazing author writes this series is that each Bridgerton has a different personality, a different story and therefore gives us the reader a really good reason to continue on reading. We’ve had a tease of Francesca’s story throughout the series thus far and now it’s time to see how it all played out. While we don’t get the background on how she met and married her John, at least we understand what passed to make her life into what it is now.

Throughout some of the prior books, we learned that Francesca married a Scottish Earl and as a result, spent much of her year in Scotland. She returned to London for the season as was expected, but she spent the first two years of married bliss with her husband. She felt as though she had hit the jackpot with him as they shared intense passion and love, and all the while, she also gained a best friend in his cousin Michael – a man who was as close as one could expect. Michael of course had the same reputation of her brothers, and perhaps why she got on so well with him.

Then that all changed when one day while in London, he complained about a headache, went to bed and never woke up again. There was no rhyme or reason behind it, just that she now found herself mourning the love of her life. What she wasn’t aware of though is that the entire time that she had the company of Michael, her husband’s cousin, someone that was her true confidante -well…he was madly in love with her and had this jealousy that John found her first.

Once John passed, Michael found that he couldn’t be around Francesca any longer and he heads to India for several years. Over those same years, Francesca tries to figure out who she is now that she’s a widow and alone. We’re then fast forwarded into the future when she’s decided that she truly does want a baby and that means that she has to find a new husband. She’s resigned that she will never have what she shared with John, but she’s hoping for companionship at least. Parallel to that, Michael who is now the Earl of Kilmartin realizes that he’s due to get married in order to maintain stature and the line for his family, so we watch how these two play the game of trying to find someone suitable when we know that perhaps they don’t realize that their mate is right there. (at least Francesca doesn’t – even if her brother Colin does).

It’s a nice dance that we watch between them – they have this love hate relationship where they can’t quite go back to the ease of what they had in the past, but they also realize that they have both grown so much over the years that perhaps what they want is the same but in a different vantage point.

What I really enjoyed about this story are a few things. One, it’s happening the same time that Colin and Eloise are going through their own experiences so we know how those play out by now but we also know what prompts action by Francesca as a result. Two, because Francesca was married before, she’s not deemed an innocent by society so the way that men behave towards her or around her is different and perhaps a bit less gentlemanly. Three – we see the passion amped up quite a bit in this story since there’s something to be said about a lady who has experience. She has that and she takes control in instances and it’s really enjoyable to watch how it catches certain suitors off guard.

I have to say that the more time I spend with the Bridgertons the more that I truly love them and wish that I were in this fantasy 1820s world. There’s so much that a woman of the right stature could gain from society but then again there is the same level of cutting that would make it a catty and horrible place for the wrong type of person as well. I fall in love though with each character a bit more and can’t wait to see what’s next for the youngest two Bridgertons. I wish that we could also get a true story for Violet – the matriarch but I don’t think that’s in the cards based on what’s out yet. So on that note, i’m going to search out book Seven. Enjoy!

Review: To Sir Phillip, With Love (The Bridgertons #5) by Julia Quinn

Title: To Sir Phillip, With Love
Author:  Julia Quinn
Publisher/Year:  Harper Collins 1/31/17
Length:  432 Pages
Series: The Bridgertons #5

Overview

he wrote him a letter…and he stole her heart.

Sir Phillip knew that Eloise Bridgerton was a spinster, and so he’d proposed, figuring that she’d be homely and unassuming, and more than a little desperate for an offer of marriage. Except . . . she wasn’t. The beautiful woman on his doorstep was anything but quiet, and when she stopped talking long enough to close her mouth, all he wanted to do was kiss her . . . and more.

Did he think she was mad? Eloise Bridgerton couldn’t marry a man she had never met! But then she started thinking . . . and wondering . . . and before she knew it, she was in a hired carriage in the middle of the night, on her way to meet the man she hoped might be her perfect match. Except . . . he wasn’t. Her perfect husband wouldn’t be so moody and ill-mannered, and while Phillip was certainly handsome, he was a large brute of a man, rough and rugged, and totally unlike the London gentlemen vying for her hand. But when he smiled . . . and when he kissed her . . . the rest of the world simply fell away, and she couldn’t help but wonder . . . could this imperfect man be perfect for her?

My Thoughts

I do love a sweet story that has Eloise as the leading lady. We know that she’s got more sass and spine than some of the other Bridgetons. and as we watched her best friend Penelope find happiness, we knew that her time was likely to come. Add to that the notion that Epilogue #2 in the previous book teased what was to come, well there was no worry that her story wouldn’t be exciting.

If you’ll think back to the endless chatter around who Mrs Whistledown was, there was thought that it was Eloise since she truly enjoyed to write a lot and was likely more observant than most others in the Ton. Well, she insisted that it was her correspondence that gave her fingers ink stains and when that was proven true, everyone started to wonder who she was writing to. That in itself is the crux of this story.

When Eloise learned of the passing of a cousin, she sent a note of condolence to the husband and that began a year long interesting friendship that was was based in short letter to one another and a growing friendship. This friend is a one Mr Phillip Crane. He’s the father of rambunctious twins (who are 8) and who really need to be tamed. He’s a botanist and a man who enjoys the simpler things in life until of course his older brother passed who was the heir to the family ‘stuff’ and as a result, Phillip now has a whole new set of responsibilities that he didn’t want – and a wife that was due to marry his brother.

There’s a welcome change in the air in the invitation that Mr Crane extends to Eloise. Through their correspondence, he begins to think that any woman who’s still unmarried at twenty eight and who seems intelligent would be just the woman to marry him and take over the tasks of the home and…help raise his kids. He gets a shock when Eloise runs away from London and she arrives on his doorstep…and she’s more beautiful than he could have imagine.

We know that strong willed Eloise has expectations on what her life should be and she’s well bred enough to expect the best. Phillip on the other hand knows none of that stuff and doesn’t even really know how to engage with Eloise in person. Add to that – his kids are monsters and don’t want Eloise there so we spend much of the book watching them terrorize her.

As we all know, during the 18-teens, a single lady cannot be with a single gentleman without a chaperone, and when Eloise’s family discovers this fact, they force a marriage, faster than anyone’s comfortable with.

We then spend the remainder of the story watching how the dynamic shifts again and again. There are trade offs that everyone has to make and there are fears that there’s never going to be trust, kindness and love. To date, all of the Bridgerton marriages have been true love matches and that’s all that Eloise hopes for. I don’t think that’s in the cards here, and it’ll be a wonder if a companionship is something that can come along too.

In any event, we get a resolution to the strong willed Eloise and in the epilogue we see what the future holds for Phillip’s daughter. It’s a nice introduction to an extended story and I kind of wish that we got to have more of her tale. Now i’m off to book 6 which I believe is Francesca. We know from past books that she’s married to a man from Scotland and that he passes fairly soon after their wedding – so i’m intrigued to see that story develop and evolve. enjoy!

Review: Romancing Mr Bridgerton (The Bridgertons #4) by Julia Quinn

Title: Romancing Mr Bridgerton
Author:  Julia Quinn
Publisher/Year:  Harper Collins 11/24/15
Length:  432 Pages
Series: The Bridgertons #4

Overview

Everyone knows that Colin Bridgerton is the most charming man in London . . .

Penelope Featherington has secretly adored her best friend’s brother for . . . well, it feels like forever. After half a lifetime of watching Colin Bridgerton from afar, she thinks she knows everything about him, until she stumbles across his deepest secret . . . and fears she doesn’t know him at all.

Colin Bridgerton is tired of being thought of as nothing but an empty-headed charmer, tired of the notorious gossip columnist Lady Whistledown, who can’t seem to publish an edition without mentioning him. But when Colin returns to London from a trip abroad, he discovers nothing in his life is quite the same—especially Penelope Featherington! The girl who was always simply there is suddenly the girl haunting his dreams. When he discovers that Penelope has secrets of her own, this elusive bachelor must decide . . . is she his biggest threat— or his promise of a happy ending?

My Thoughts

We have watched Penelope walk around the edges of society for years and now we see what her life has become now that she’s twenty eight and apparently a spinster. Her mother has decided that she’s going to remain unmarried and will care for her at home in her old age. Lucky for Penelope, she’s got her best friend Eloise Bridgerton who’s the same age and who has decided that she will not marry and will remain a spinster with Penelope.

The challenge of course is that Penelope’s been harboring this crush on Colin, Eloise’s brother since they were teenagers, knowing that she was never clever enough or beautiful enough to catch his attention. They have great banter and are good friends, and as they’ve both gotten older, they’ve found that they value each other in a new and deeper way, but still, there’s no returned love or emotion from Colin much to Penelope’s dismay.

What we have throughout this fourth installment is a story of watching people dance around each other, knowing that sometimes a friendship and close family bond is more important than anything else – and at times that sort of relationship leas you down paths that you didn’t even think about. Self discovery, realizing that you’re more comfortable in your own skin than you knew, and had more to offer society than anyone else gave you credit for.

We see Penelope’s wit and intelligence in full force in this storyline – we watch how Lady Danbury brings out the best in her – how she’s unafraid to speak her mind and have opinions which endears her to the older lady quite well. We also watch as Colin questions what value he can bring to society now that he’s of age. His eldest brother runs the family line his next eldest is an accomplished artist. Colin travels and keeps journals of his travels, but he’s unsettled.

It’s sweet when you think about it – watching how they each bring light to the other’s lives. If there’s a chance that romance can also come with it, then great, but what we see is a different sort of development since their foundation is unique to the other Bridgertons.

There’s also the story of who Lady Whistledown is and who’s going to unmask her. Penelope and Lady Danbury lead the conversation on this one with Eloise chiming in, but no one is quite sure who the writer is. We watch that story unfold as well, wondering who’s going to figure out the secret and then fearing the reaction of the Ton.

I can’t wait to see what comes next though since we do see Eloise go missing at the end of this story and we know that there are secrets being kept. I’m excited at where the 2nd epilogue takes us and will dive straight in to see how that story came about. Again – this fourth book will make for a great fourth Netflix season, so here’s to hoping it gets renewed!

Review: An Offer From a Gentleman (The Bridgertons #3) by Julia Quinn

Title: An Offer from a Gentleman
Author:  Julia Quinn
Publisher/Year:  Harper Collins 8/25/15
Length:  416 Pages
Series: The Bridgertons #3

Overview

BENEDICT’S STORY

Sophie Beckett never dreamed she’d be able to sneak into Lady Bridgerton’s famed masquerade ball—or that “Prince Charming” would be waiting there for her! Though the daughter of an earl, Sophie has been relegated to the role of servant by her disdainful stepmother. But now, spinning in the strong arms of the debonair and devastatingly handsome Benedict Bridgerton, she feels like royalty. Alas, she knows all enchantments must end when the clock strikes midnight.

Ever since that magical night, a radiant vision in silver has blinded Benedict to the attractions of any other—except, perhaps, this alluring and oddly familiar beauty dressed in housemaid’s garb whom he feels compelled to rescue from a most disagreeable situation. He has sworn to find and wed his mystery miss, but this breathtaking maid makes him weak with wanting her. Yet, if he offers her his heart, will Benedict sacrifice his only chance for a fairy-tale love?

My Thoughts

I can’t wait to see how all these books transform into a new series on Netflix. There’s so much great description of what live is like among the Ton and I think that the Bridgerton family itself allows for even more entertainment.

We met Benedict through each of the first two books. He’s the second eldest, so he doesn’t get the responsibility that Anthony has, but he has the desire and interest of every single lady of marriage age and their mammas. Like his older brother, he’s not ready to settle down and does what he can to avoid the women in society. Until a masquerade ball at his own home – where he sees a lady that takes his breath away, and makes him feel sparks. He knows that she’s special yet he doesn’t know who she is.

Backing up a minute though, we actually start our story with our leading lady – Sophie. In those times, it was an embarrassment to have a child when you’re not married, or not to force to marry, yet here’s Sophie. She’s a ‘bastard’ – ghastly word of course, and that means that she’s never going to have much of anything except a soiled reputation. Her father is an Earl who does what he should but to the barest amounts by taking her in and making sure she has an education. Aside from that, he stays far away and really doesn’t do much to give her any love or emotion. IT’s when her father marries a lady that has daughters about Sophie’s age that she think her luck is about to change, but it won’t be for the better.

This Is the start of what I like to relate to Cinderella. Essentially, Sophie’s stepmother is the evil step mother who makes behave like a servant. From the moment they lived together, Sophie was lesser and that meant that Arminta, her step mother would go out of her way to ensure that Sophie had nothing, that her daughters weren’t nice to her and that Sophie knew that she was unworthy. When her father passes though, Arminta is forced by the will to take responsibility for Sophie until she’s 20 unless she wants less money to live off but that again means nothing good for Sophie.

Our story really takes shape on one evening during the season when Sophie’s step sisters are trying to find their matches. There’s a masquerade ball that they are attending and that means that Sophie has to work over time to make sure they look their best. The servants and maids in the house know that Sophie deserves more than what she’s been given, and once the others leave for the ball, they help Sophie transform into a mystery beauty and she’s given the chance to enjoy one night out as well.

If there’s such a thing as love at first sight, it seems like these two may have found it. There’s an immediate connection, a chemistry and a draw that makes it relationship goals for everyone. They are easy to banter and yet they don’t fear the usual rules about reputation. Sophie enjoys her time with Benedict in a way that makes him feel special since no one ever really is able to tell the difference between the Bridgerton boys.

One night of enjoyment turns into years of misery. Sophie is forced to flee her house when her step mother throws her out and that takes her down a path of being a low paid servant where ever she’s able to find a job. Benedict spends years searching for his mystery girl and never finds what he’s looking for. It’s one night at a dull party out in the country that Benedict comes a cross a woman who needs his saving, and that puts them on another path that they aren’t ready to see the end.

We watch how they dance around each other – how Sophie knows immediately that she’s remembered their night together, but Benedict doesn’t seem to realize that she’s the masquerade girl. She’s depressed about this but there’s nothing that she can do since he also thinks his mystery girl is a lady of society. Even though they are of different classes, we watch how they start to develop an interested bond and friendship, even if the motives that start it weren’t always pure.

Benedict takes Sophie back to london with him and gets her a job in his mother’s home, but things don’t end up rosy even here. We watch how secrets are unraveled, how emotions are high and how there’s another shoe that will drop since we’ve not yet seen the last of Sophie’s family.

This story takes us on a path that’s a bit less pure than all the others – where there were clear points that everyone knew was respectable to stop, and to stay away from one another, these two seem to feel as though those rules don’t matter. Be is that Sophie thinks that she’s not good enough for it to matter, or the notion that Benedict is a man and that means for him it doesn’t matter anyway. The resolution to it all is a round about but very enjoyable conclusion. The first epilogue gives us closure and the second gives us a foreshadowing of what’s to come for the others in the family. So…we all know what that means. I’m off to find book 4! Enjoy!

Review: The Duke and I (Bridgerton #1) by Julia Quinn

Title: The Duke and I
Author:  Julia Quinn
Publisher/Year:  Harper Collins 4/28/15
Length:  464 Pages
Series: Bridgerton #1

Overview

From New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn comes the first novel in the beloved Regency-set world of her charming, powerful Bridgerton family, now a series created by Shonda Rhimes for Netflix.

In the ballrooms and drawing rooms of Regency London, rules abound. From their earliest days, children of aristocrats learn how to address an earl and curtsey before a prince—while other dictates of the ton are unspoken yet universally understood. A proper duke should be imperious and aloof. A young, marriageable lady should be amiable…but not too amiable.

Daphne Bridgerton has always failed at the latter. The fourth of eight siblings in her close-knit family, she has formed friendships with the most eligible young men in London. Everyone likes Daphne for her kindness and wit. But no one truly desires her. She is simply too deuced honestfor that, too unwilling to play the romantic games that captivate gentlemen.

Amiability is not a characteristic shared by Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings. Recently returned to England from abroad, he intends to shun both marriage and society—just as his callous father shunned Simon throughout his painful childhood. Yet an encounter with his best friend’s sister offers another option. If Daphne agrees to a fake courtship, Simon can deter the mamas who parade their daughters before him. Daphne, meanwhile, will see her prospects and her reputation soar.

The plan works like a charm—at first. But amid the glittering, gossipy, cut-throat world of London’s elite, there is only one certainty: love ignores every rule…

My Thoughts

I have to admit that the reason that I dove into this series is because I watched the season on Netflix and the show has me HOOKED. Not only are the characters amazing, the actors beyond attractive, but the hints of what’s happened and what’s to come is intense. We have a cross between Pretty Little Liars meets Gossip Girls all thrown into England in 1812. It’s a must read!

This first book of the series introduces us to the world of the Bridgertons, a family that’s well to do in society in England, and one that has a lot of children that need to be minded once they come of age. This first book focuses on Daphne, the eldest sister of the brood now that she’s of age to be married and her quest to find a husband. Daphne has been in society now for a year and has not secured a husband, partially because she’s got older brothers who want only the best for her and partially because most men for some reason only see her as a friend and not as a lover. She’s beautiful and she’s quick witted and intelligent – all things a man should want, but that’s not the norm back in those days.

Enter Duke of Hastings – Simon. A close friend of Anthony, Daphne’s oldest brother and a man who’s got a reputation that preceeds him. He’s only returned to London now that his father has passed away and he needs to settle loose ends. The challenge though is that Simon has made a vow to his father that he will never marry, that he will never have kids so that the family line dies with him because his father treated him so horribly when he was young.

Daphne’s quest for the perfect love match and Simon’s quest to stay out of the clutches of all society mammas and their daughters who need to be married off gives us the perfect scheme that has been developed. Simon and Daphne will pretend that they are in love, which in turn will make Daphne seem more attractive now that she’s got the attention of the most eligible man alive, and Simon will be free to live his life how he wants.

We all know that this will explode and not in a good or expected way. The way that this always plays out is that they will develop a great friendship and they will start to care for one another. They will become attracted to each other in a way that’s going to cause problems in their polite society. Someone’s heart will get broken, someone’s reputation will get destroyed and their future will be a roller coaster of misery and despair.

What’s nice about this story is that our author Julia Quinn has managed to lead us down all the right paths to see how this will play out from scene to scene, and at the same time be surprised by the new bit of information that we learn at every turn. There are so many dark secrets from Simon’s past that cloud how he sees every situation today that it’s no surprised that he’s damaged. AT the same time, we have come to know that Daphne is a woman who can handle her own, yet there are soooo sooo many things that are so naive and innocent about her that we also watch how that really hampers any chance of her finding a happiness that’s possible in this day and age.

We get a nice bit of closure to this story – not one that was expected but one that works for this series. There are stories that follow for the other siblings in the Bridgerton family, so it was nice to see how it was set up a bit in this first book although it does spoil things a bit for when the next season comes around on Netlix.

ARC Review: Complex by AD Enderly

Title: Complex
Author:  A.D. Enderly
Publisher/Year:  Luminary Media 12/01/2020
Length:  594 Pages

Overview

The sky rains red, the poor are forgotten, governments have failed, and corporations have grown into mini nation-states called Complexes, where people flock to receive the security, shelter, and purpose the outside world can’t provide. The only payment required, buried somewhere in the twenty-thousand-page Terms of Service, is their freedom.

Now just sign on the dotted line…

Orphaned after her father’s death, 18-year-old Val’s focus is to protect her younger sister Kat and heed her father’s final wishes: Never, ever join a Complex. Stay away from them, at all costs, he demands.

But staying away becomes impossible when Kat is abducted, sparking a hunt through a violent megacity primed for revolution, where Val eventually discovers her sister’s disappearance is just a smokescreen. Beneath it lies a motive darker than death and broader in scope than a few lives.

As Val and her allies uncover the truth, they’re confronted with a terrible choice – save Kat, or save humanity?

My Thoughts

It took me a little while to start reading this one and then it took me even longer to finish it but I think there’s some interesting stuff happening in this story. First off I’d like to thank the folks at NetGalley for getting me a copy early even though I didn’t quite get to read it as early as I’d have liked.

We’re thrown into a world of the future, where the construct of society is that people are living in levels and tiers, based on either a social score, or the decision to sign their lives away in a contract to a Complex or Medical organization called Novagenica. No one really understands what the end result of any decision will be but they know that the struggle of life is real and there’s only a hope of what can make things better.

This story is written in books, although I don’t know that the books really make any sense or difference. Instead though we also get chapters that are each through the eyes of a different character, one who has a unique circumstance or role in society and we watch how it all slowly converges as we get to the end of this one.

We know that there’s a group of people who want complete control.

we know that there’s a virus that’s being developed to limit the population or potentially restructure the population in a way that will create a better more thriving society.

There’s also an aspect of AI that we see come to a head in a way that we all fear, even in current day.

There are groups of people who’s stories are more intertwined throughout this book. We see Val and Kat who are sisters who don’t have the same view on life and that just smells like disaster coming. Kat’s kidnapped and it makes everyone realize what’s important. The quest to find Kat leads Val to Trevor who becomes not only an integral part of the story but a love interest.

Trevor leads them to an organization that has a connection to tech and a desire for more power and that in turns leads them to their doom.

Dramatic yes, but I think that’s what this story is setting us up for. The thought that when you’re power hungry, bad things happen. When you are selfish bad things happen, and when you allow tech to gain too much strength, bad things will happen.

What’s interesting about this story though is the way that it ends. There’s a scene and a conversation that one of the main characters has with a ‘pastor’ of sorts, someone who’s proposition in life is that the idea of tech leads only to bad things, well, in that convo, there’s something interesting that happens. There’s a shift, a change in reality, and then the last note in the story is the notion that there’s more to come – and that someone like this pastor is the one who can help enact the change……driven by AI.

So…I left a lot out because frankly, there’s so much going on in parallel paths in this story that i’m not sure which story line is the most important. I’m also not sure what the real plot or point of this story is either – there’s just a lot of paths that merge and separate, bringing things to a head and then blowing them up. All in all, i’d have to say that this wasn’t My favorite book, but I know that there are folks out there who will love it for the ideas of what the future can look like if we don’t take precautions now. Enjoy!

Review: Imagine Me (Shatter Me #6) by Tahereh Mafi

Title: Imagine Me
Author:  Tahareh Mafi
Publisher/Year:  HarperCollins Publishing 3/31/20
Length:  260 Pages
Series:  Shatter Me #6

Overview

Juliette Ferrars. Ella Sommers. Which is the truth and which is the lie?

Now that Ella knows who Juliette is and what she was created for, things have only become more complicated. As she struggles to understand the past that haunts her and looks to a future more uncertain than ever, the lines between right and wrong—between Ella and Juliette—blur. And with old enemies looming, her destiny may not be her own to control.

The day of reckoning for the Reestablishment is coming. But she may not get to choose what side she fights on.

My Thoughts

You know, it’s kind of weird thinking that we’ve come to the end of this series – all signs point to that being the case, although i’m sure there are spin-offs that we could get just like we had so much with Kenji, but that’s to be determined i guess. Anyhow, what i thought was a trilogy all those years ago has extended through so many additional installments and the journey that we’ve gone on with these characters has been so intense and complex that as a reader, i’ve had no choice but to dive in head first and see what happens next.

In this sixth book, we are with all of our loved characters, but in a form that’s not the same as previous books. We know that Anderson has a need for Ella/Juliette as a new host to Emmaline since she’s in a body that’s not strong enough for her and is dying, and the goal was always to put her into Ella’s body. Ella however is stronger than anyone ever expected, so even with the attempts for Emmeline to take over her body as a new host, we see a continued need to fight back. We come into this story with Ella in a destructive outburst all caused by her sister transferring powers to her and warner trying his best to keep her alive. While that’s happening, we see Kenji and Nazeerah explode at each other because of the confusion of their feelings for one another as well as their completely opposite views on everything.

If that’s a foreshadow for what we will see in this story – then it’s spot on. The journey that we go on in this final installment is wrought with fear, death, destruction, a loss of hope and a confusion on who is truly on what side.

We know that some of the Supreme kids have been taken hostage by Anderson and the parents, and the hope is that they can be retrieved safely, assuming that they are on the right side of things. At the same time there’s the need to protect the Sanctuary and all the kids that we know are on the right side of the right. All the while, trying to piece together what the future looks like. Warner and Ella were ina. great place, with an accepted proposal, and yet that’s torn from them quickly.

The way that this story is written, we spend a lot of time back in Oceania where Anderson has Ella and they have managed to begin the transfer, turning her into a devoted super soldier who only listens to what he demands of her. Knowing how strong Ella is though, we know that she’s not likely to go down without a fight and stop questioning things, and that’s exactly what happens. She’s confused to how she feels about Anderson now, she’s hearing voices in her head that she can’t quite put her finger on the origin, and she continues to have her own thoughts about things which contradicts all that she was expected to be able to do and yet completely on par with the Ella that we know.

We find ourselves at a cross road where Castle has to find a purpose in this new world, where Warner has to go find Ella since he’s not complete without her, where Kenji can’t let his best friend wither and die, where James is now without Adam and where Adam betrayed everyone. It’s a mess that’s not uncommon compared to what we’ve seen in prior books but still one that is far more complex than we’ve seen as well.

The questions that we’re forced to ask is whether there’s hope, whether there’s any chance that someone who was on the wrong side could be on the right side and help. Whether there’s any chance that the life and relationships that we’ve been fighting for over all these books can be something left standing at the end. I know that i’m not alone in praying for a happy ending, but i think that the ending that we get is not going to be the one that anyone was expecting. There’s no way for everyone to turn out the right side up and it’ll have to be some semblance of that to get us through this series. I don’t know how our amazing author does it, but she’s managed to give us one of the most dynamic stories of what the world could be all while giving us something to hold onto for the sake of love and friendship. So on that note, i’m sad to potentially be done with this series but i think you guys need to read it all….that is if you haven’t already. Enjoy!