The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen – Book Review

The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen
Published by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House

What if Anne Boleyn had given Henry VIII the son he craved? She might never have been accused of treason and incest, she, Katherine Howard and Jane Grey might have kept their heads, and neither of Henry’s daughters might have ever become Queen.

It is against this backdrop of a history that never was that Laura Andersen places The Boleyn King. At 17, Henry IX, known to those close to him as William, is itching prove himself to his advisers and his country. Unfortunately, there are many who still dislike William’s mother, not least Protestantism she brought when Henry broke with the church to marry her – the Protestantism that William and England still practice. For many, Mary is still Henry’s rightful heir, and William, Elizabeth, and their two best friends have inadvertently uncovered what may be a plan to put Mary on William’s throne. Will they be able to unravel the plot in time to stop what is coming? 

The Boleyn King is a fun exercise in ‘what ifs.’ I wasn’t really expecting the thriller-esque plotline, but it was fun, engaging. And really, it makes sense: there is less open resentment for William than for the parade of queens that took the English throne after the death of Henry’s historical son, Edward, but the changes in English religious wife brought on by Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn leaves its scars on the populace regardless. Recommended.

For more information, check out the publisher’s page

Source: Publisher

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Angelopolis by Danielle Trussoni – Mini Book Review

Angelopolis by Danielle Trussoni
Published by Viking Books, an imprint of Penguin

Angelopolis is the second book in the Angelology series. I previously reviewed the first book in this series, Angelology.

From the publisher:

A decade has passed since Verlaine saw Evangeline alight from the Brooklyn Bridge, the sight of her new wings a betrayal that haunts him still. Now an elite angel hunter for the Society of Angelology, he pursues his mission with single-minded devotion: to capture, imprison, and eliminate her kind.

But when Evangeline suddenly appears on a twilit Paris street, Verlaine finds her nature to be unlike any of the other creatures he so mercilessly pursues, casting him into a spiral of doubt and confusion that only grows when she is abducted before his eyes by a creature who has topped the society’s most-wanted list for more than a century. The ensuing chase drives Verlaine and his fellow angelologists from the shadows of the Eiffel Tower to the palaces of St. Petersburg and deep into the provinces of Siberia and the Black Sea coast, where the truth of Evangeline’s origins—as well as forces that could restore or annihilate them all—lie in wait.

I probably need to give up on this series, because it just isn’t what I want it to be. It is not bad by any stretch of the imagination – in fact, that’s the problem, why I can’t give it up. Trussoni uses a lot of thriller conventions, she does them well, but many of them are the reasons I don’t read thrillers. In Angelopolis there are a number of story lines happening simultaneously and the action continually bounces between them. It absolutely keeps the story chugging along and kept me reading compulsively, but it just isn’t my cup of tea.

Trussoni has created a very rich world and I adore all the details of the angels and the Russian tzars. I really can’t fault Trussoni for writing a very good series that just isn’t quite written in the genre I wish it was.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch – Audiobook Review

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch, narrated by Dan Bittner
Published in audio by Scholastic Audio, published in print by Scholastic Press

Synopsis:

From the publisher:

In an America devastated by war and plague, the only way to survive is to keep moving.

In the aftermath of a war, America’s landscape has been ravaged and two-thirds of the population left dead from a vicious strain of influenza. Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn and his family were among the few that survived and became salvagers, roaming the country in search of material to trade. But when Stephen’s grandfather dies and his father falls into a coma after an accident, Stephen finds his way to Settler’s Landing, a community that seems too good to be true. Then Stephen meets strong, defiant, mischievous Jenny, who refuses to accept things as they are. And when they play a prank that goes horribly wrong, chaos erupts, and they find themselves in the midst of a battle that will change Settler’s Landing–and their lives–forever.

Thoughts on the story:

I would have perhaps liked to have more information about how exactly the world as we now know it collapsed in The Eleventh Plague, but that might not be a reasonable request since Stephen is a teenager who was born after the collapse. The Eleventh Plague‘s biggest strength is its depictions of how Stephen adjusts to living in a civilization, after having lived all his life on the move. He has heard stories about the organizations and games, so school and baseball aren’t unfamiliar, but Stephen has trouble accepting the trust inherent in civilization. The people of Settler’s Landing aren’t his family, they don’t know him, so why should they help him?

Thoughts on the audio production:

Dan Bittner is a good fit for The Eleventh Plague. He does not sound fifteen exactly, but his voice is youthful enough that I could accept him as Stephen without much problem. He narrates in a natural voice, no attempts (none noticeable, anyway) to make his voice higher as an attempt to sound younger. His delivery is natural and he captures Stephen’s angst as he tries to fit into Settler’s Landing’s civilization.

Overall:

An enjoyable listen.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Audio/Print*
Indiebound: Audio/Print*

Source: Personal copy.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

Sound Bytes is a meme that occurs every Friday! I encourage you to review your audiobooks on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

 

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Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans – Book Review

Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster

Note: I have been friendly with Lenore Appelhans for some time in the book blogging community, but we have never been close, nor even consistent commenters on each other’s blogs. I received my copy of the book from the publisher, not from Appelhans, and this is my unvarnished opinion.

Felicia has been in Level 2 since her sudden death at the age of 18. Her days consist of little more than re-watching memories from her own life. Things are starting to change in Level 2, though. The girl in one of the neighboring chambers dies, but nobody seems to notice. In fact, nobody but Felicia remembers that she was even ever there. It is when Julian,  a boy from Felicia’s past, shows up, though, that things really start to get strange.  Felicia and Julian have a complicated history, and she isn’t exactly thrilled to see him, but she still agrees to go with him when he helps her escape from her hive and tries to enlist her in a rebellion.

Lenore Appelhans’s version of the afterlife is unlike any I have ever experienced: the hives, the memories that are replayed and used as currency. What is more familiar is the ongoing war between good and evil that does not end with death. There are some connections to Judeo-Christian traditions, but at the same time this is not a religious or preachy book in the least. What Level 2 is is an incredibly engaging book. I found myself reading so quickly that I almost felt that the pacing was off. It was me, though, and not the book; when I forced myself to slow down to a normal reading speed the pacing worked well, but if I did not pay attention I would find myself racing through the book at breakneck (breakeye?) speed because of how purely engaging the book is.

In Level 2, Appelhans creates a world and a mythology that is unlike any I’ve experienced before, but that is still believable and internally consistent and is the basis for an incredibly compelling story.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Blackout by Mira Grant – Book Review

Blackout by Mira Grant
Published by Orbit Books, an imprint of Hachette

Blackout is the third book in the Feed trilogy and, as such, this review contains spoilers for the previous books in the series, Feed and Deadline.

Everything started going wrong when After the End Times followed the Ryman presidential campaign. Now they’re on the run, hunted down by the CDC. Actually, Shaun and his team are being hunted. His sister, Georgia, is dead. Well, she was dead. Now she’s alive again in a CDC facility. Sort of alive. Actually, she’s a clone, and not the first one they made of the original Georgia Mason, just the most realistic one to date. Can the After the End Times team reunite and break the biggest story of their lives before being take down by the CIA – or by zombie bears?

You GUYS. I preordered Blackout on my Nook. PREORDERED. And then I waited six months to read it. WHY? WHY I ASK YOU? WHY? Okay, but seriously, Blackout was perhaps my favorite of all of the books in the Feed trilogy, despite the fact it had been 18 months (and, oh, 300 books) since I had read any of the previous installments in the trilogy, so I had forgotten things.

But really, this is quite possibly the best book in the Feed trilogy. I adored the first one for the world building more than anything else (well, that and the politics and blogging angle…okay, I really just liked it a bunch in general), but even though Grant plays with her reader’s brains and sense of right and wrong, Blackout is just amazing. It all works, it all comes together. It also makes me want to go back and reread this entire series from the beginning, including the prequel novellas and the novella that is chronologically between Feed and Deadline. And then I want to sit patiently at Mira Grant (a pen name of Seanan McGuire)’s feet and wait for her to write more zombie things.

I love when the end of a trilogy validates my having started the trilogy in the first place, and Blackout does that in spades. Very highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Personal copy.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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