Book Review: Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

daughter-of-a-pirate-kingTitle:  Daughter of the Pirate King

Author: Tricia Levenseller

Genre:  Young Adult Fantasy

Release Date: February 28th, 2017

17-year-old pirate captain intentionally allows herself to get captured by enemy pirates in this thrilling YA adventure.

If you want something done right . . .

When the ruthless pirate king learns of a legendary treasure map hidden on an enemy ship, his daughter, Alosa, knows there’s only one pirate for the job—herself. Leaving behind her beloved ship and crew, Alosa deliberately facilitates her own kidnapping to ensure her passage on the ship, confident in her ability to overcome any obstacle. After all, who’s going to suspect a seventeen-year-old girl locked in a cell? Then she meets the (surprisingly perceptive and unfairly attractive) first mate, Riden, who is charged with finding out all her secrets. Now it’s down to a battle of wits and will . . . . Can Alosa find the map and escape before Riden figures out her plan?

Summary from Goodreads.com

My Review:  Daughter of a Pirate King is a book that keeps coming up on my friends Goodreads pages as a great book and I was lucky enough to get a copy through NetGalley, yay!  Before I review the book can we talk about that cover?  I like the concept behind it, but the execution I think is off.  To me, this cover looks like a middle grade book and it most definitely is not.  It is more an upper high school level to me just because of the content and some of the things that going on throughout the novel.  However, as the phrase goes, don’t judge a book by its cover and you should listen in this case, because the cover does not do this book justice!

Now onto the book itself, which was awesome.  The main character, Alosa, is the daughter of the pirate king (hence the title) and is one kick ass heroine.  She is smart, sassy and resourceful.  I loved how she could take care of herself and never made foolish or reckless decisions that would just not fit with her character.  Too many heroines in YA books seem to make stupid, out of character, decisions as the plotlines unfold, which becomes annoying, but not Alosa.  She knows exactly what needs to be done, analyzes the best way to get there and follows through.  She is easily one of my favorite heroines of all time.  She was always surprising me, making me laugh out loud and I fell in love with her.

We also get to know Riden, the first mate on the ship that Alosa lets herself be captured on.  He was pretty great as well.  He has a fierce loyalty for his brother that seems a little misplaced, but he is the only family he has left so he will defend him at all costs.  Riden is torn between that loyalty and the feelings he is developing for Alosa.  He is also a heck of a fighter and gives Alosa a run for her money when they are sparring, both verbally and physically.  I really enjoyed the banter between them and watching them try to cope with how they feel for one another.  They are on opposite sides, each trying to get information out of the other, but they have a slow burning romance that builds naturally and is very sweet.

The plot itself moves along very quickly and as a result, I devoured the book in just one day.  I was so engaged with the storyline that I never even looked to see how much longer I had to read, which is rare for me.  I love the descriptions of a pirate life, the folklore in this world and how Alosa fits into all of it.  She really makes the story worth reading.  The plot itself was very clever, but she was just an outstandingly well written character who made the book the standout novel that it was.

I am hoping this is part of a series since the ending is open ended with a lot of questions still unanswered.  I want to learn more about the girls is Alosa’s crew and more about the other pirates that sail that same seas as her.  I am also eager to learn more about Riden and this connection that he and Alosa share.  I am hoping to see much more from Alosa and Riden in the future and will be interested to see how they tackle the obstacles that are now laid before them.  Daughter of a Pirate King is in my top three of favorite books this year, it was clever, funny, has an amazing female lead and drew me in from the very first page.  I absolutely loved this world and all is had to offer.  It was original in a world where many of the books seem to blend together.  I will be recommending this book again and again and eagerly look forward to when I get to spend more time with Alosa and her crew.

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

Book Review of A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn

A Perilous Undertaking.jpgTitle: A Perilous Undertaking

Author: Deanna Raybourn

Release Date:  January 10th, 2017

Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery

“London, 1887.” Victorian adventuress and butterfly hunter Veronica Speedwell receives an invitation to visit the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women. There she meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Accused of the brutal murder of his artist mistress Artemisia, Ramsforth will face the hangman’s noose in a week s time if Veronica cannot find the real killer.
But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems, and unmasking her true identity is only the first of the many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural historian colleague Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer a ruthless villain who not only took Artemisia s life in cold blood but is happy to see Ramsforth hang for the crime. From a Bohemian artists colony to a royal palace to a subterranean grotto with a decadent history, the investigation proves to be a very perilous undertaking indeed….”

Summary from Goodreads.com

My Review:  I had the first book in this series, A Curious Beginning recommended to me by a friend and while it is not something I would normally read, I ended up devouring it quite quickly.  I was therefore thrilled to get my hands on the sequel to see what Veronica and Stoker were going to be up to next.

One of the reasons I love Veronica so much is that she says what she thinks no matter the consequences and she is just funny.  I never thought I would laugh out loud as much as I do in this series, but I am constantly laughing.  Part of that was also due to Lady Wellie, who Veronica meets in this book and is just as funny as Veronica.  She and Veronica are both very direct and are not afraid to speak their minds, which I admired about both of them.  Her first meeting with Veronica over dinner was a hysterical conversation that was by no means polite for the time period, but I thoroughly relished every second of it.

In A Perilous Undertaking, Veronica and Stoker are tasked with trying to prove a man innocent of murdering his mistress. Veronica is hesitant to take the job, but the royal family who have never claimed her, practically dare her to prove this man’s innocence.  Veronica plans on doing exactly that if only to prove to the royals that she can.  She and Stoker are not officially on the case and there are many that want to see them fail, therefore there are many challenges and obstacles thrown their way as the novel progresses.  One of the aspects of this book that has ensnared me is the respect that Veronica and Stoker have for one another.   No matter what may happen, and no matter how they bicker with one another, Veronica and Stoker genuinely admire and have high esteem for one another and always have each other’s backs.  While there is definitely some romantic tension between these two, they have a pretty solid friendship to build more upon which I am sure will continue to be explored in the future.

While I very much enjoy the relationship between Veronica and Stoker, I also enjoyed the mystery of this novel.  I really had no idea who the killer was.  Was it the man that was accused of it, or was there more devious work behind the scenes?  Looking back, I see the clues that were dropped throughout, but I enjoyed trying to guess at who was genuine in this book and who was trying to let another man hang for their crimes.

I am sure this is not the last we have seen of Veronica and Stoker and I am eager to see what adventure they will go on next and if they will finally admit that they actually care quite deeply for one another.  Whenever the next adventure is released, I will be anxiously awaiting my copy of the book to go on more adventures with them.  Until then, excelsior!

FTC: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  No goody bags, sponsorship, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Book/Audiobook Review: Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

vassa-in-the-nightTitle:  Vassa in the Night

Author:  Sarah Porter

Genre:  Young Adult Fantasy/Re-Telling

Release Date:  September 20th, 2016

In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling away again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair…

Summary from Goodreads.com

My Review:  This is one of those books that kept popping up in my Goodreads and Amazon pages as suggested reads and I thought it looked interesting, but man there are some very mixed reviews about it out there so I was a little hesitant.  I downloaded the audiobook and started that way, which I think was good since the book was a little slow to start in the beginning.  The narrator did a fantastic job though and I loved her voice and pace as the novel unfolded.  I ended up half listening half reading the book because there were some events that I could not wait until I had to get back into the car to listen too.

Vassa in the Night is based off a Russian Folktale, Vasilisa the Beautiful, that I had actually not heard of before.  I did not read it before this book either, because I wanted to just go into it not really knowing a whole lot about it. Which in hindsight might have not been the best idea because I was thoroughly confused for the first few chapters of this book and reading the folktale might have helped with that.  On the other hand, I think this book is meant to be a little fantastical, so some confusion might have been normal.

Vassa herself was very interesting character, lost after the death of her mother, she does not really know where she belongs.  Except for her doll that has been her companion for six years, she feels alone. The book explores her ability to find out who she is and what she is going to choose to stand up and fight for.  She is stumbling through life at the moment and as readers we are right there with her trying to navigate the world she is in and the obstacles she faces that seem impossible much of the time, but then have very simple solutions.  She has quite a bit of help from unexpected places as well, to guide her to her ultimate end goal.

While the magical elements of the novel were no surprise to me, the amount of bloodshed did catch me a little off guard.  I guess it shouldn’t have, since outside the BY’s store there are detached heads on pikes, but the first half of the book did not have a lot of things happen that were bloody.  The second half though, there are quite a few moments that were pretty gruesome.  Not stomach turning, but just things I did not expect.  It took on a darker tone than the first half of the book.

Reading this review, I know I am not describing the book very much, but honestly, I could not do that in a simple review.  There is way too much happening in this book and giving all of those details away would just ruin it I think.  I liked this book, I did not love it.  I really did not love the ending, but I read that there might be another book in this world eventually which I think is necessary.  If you want to read something that is very different from anything else out there right now and just strange, then I would give this book a try.  I would read the folktale it is based on first, just so you have some idea of what is going to unfold as you enter this world.  I will be watching to see if there is a sequel in the future.

 

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