The Traitor’s Game – Who Decides If You’re a Traitor or a Hero?

Book Review : The Curious Affair of The Witch At Wayside Cross

By Jennifer A. Nielsen

Spoiler Alert!



Nothing is as it seems in the kingdom of Antora. Kestra Dallisor has spent three years in exile in the Lava Fields, but that won’t stop her from being drawn back into her father’s palace politics. He’s the right hand man of the cruel king, Lord Endrick, which makes Kestra a valuable bargaining chip. A group of rebels knows this all too well – and they snatch Kestra from her carriage as she reluctantly travels home.The kidnappers want her to retrieve the lost Olden Blade, the only object that can destroy the immortal king, but Kestra is not the obedient captive they expected. Simon, one of her kidnappers, will have his hands full as Kestra tries to foil their plot, by force, cunning, or any means necessary. As motives shift and secrets emerge, both will have to decide what – and who – it is they’re fighting for. (Courtesy of

Adult Point of View

Who is the traitor? Kestra fights against betraying her country. But what constitutes betrayal? The current government usurped the throne from the Dallisor’s reign. The Dallisors now support Endrick and his ruthless rule. Who has the right to rule? The Halderians previously ruled Antora, but they kidnapped Kestra and seem too willing to forfeit her life. The Coracks violently oppose Endrick, but their leader also places no value on life over his ambitions. What is a girl to do? Accept an offer of marriage?

“Was that a flirtation, a way of teasing him into another visit? Or was she politely avoiding any further connection to him? I couldn’t tell, which frustrated me to no end, but I hoped it was the latter. She was already being forced to commit treason against Antora. Her schedule was full.” (p.139)

The Traitor’s Game pulled me in two different directions, at times I was laughing and then I was biting my nails the rest of the time.  Nielsen is a master at balancing every scene with banter and moving the action forward at a clipping pace. I love how the secrets are slowly revealed and each one adds a new poignancy to the plot.

The Traitor’s Game is written from two POV’s – Kestra and Simon. The danger of multiple view points is getting confused or adoring one character while hating the other. Thankfully neither of those circumstances prevailed here. The characters are the driving force in a novel, that make it interesting. In this case, we have a cast of note worthy characters. Here are a few of the characters:

Kestra Dallisor– She has never been in favor with her father, and even though she is a privileged Dallisor, she has always been an outsider. Her position is further emphasized by her relationship with Trina, who thinks Kestra has had a beautiful life of luxury. While it’s true that Kestra was wealthy and didn’t know the plight of the common man she is more hated than any other woman in Antora. I liked Kestra because she didn’t back down, even when she appeared to acquiesce, she was only biding her time for a better attack. She also has a knack for acquiring knives.

“Gabe called for me to wait, but he had to secure his horse first, giving me a good lead. At some point, he would realize I also had his knife.” (p. 312)

Simon Hatch – He has a history with Kestra, which gives him a good reason to hate her. She nearly had him killed all to gain favor with her father, well, that and a simple misunderstanding. Simon is loyal, trying to live up to the expectations of his adoptive father and navigate the turnings of his own heart. He knows Kestra can’t be trusted, and yet he sees a side of her that no one else does and he can’t help falling for her – even though he was warned to safeguard his heart. Conflicted over Kestra, he struggles because he doesn’t want to be at odds with her while still holding to his values.

Trina – She is a waif who conceals multiple secrets. In ways, she is more prideful than Kestra and is certainly even more hot tempered. Her main motivation is to be accepted rather than be an outsider. She has tried to buy Tenger’s trust with revealing her father’s secrets and is complicit in the plot to discover the Olden Blade. Even Kestra gains some compassion for Trina, she knows better than to trust her – she is too broken to have pure motives.

Sir Henry Dallisor – He is a secondary character, but as Kestra’s father he has played an important role in her growth. As one of the privileged Dallisors he is intent on keeping his position and wealth, even at the expense of his daughter. We learn he only had one weakness, and that was the love he had for his wife. He reminds me of a mob boss, but one who wants others to do the dirty work for him.

Tenger – He is the leader of the Corack rebellion, and is also willing to use people for his end purposes – making him not that much different than Henry Dallisor. The primary difference in their character some from the fact that Tenger believes he fights for a righteous cause while Henry Dallisor doesn’t care about the right side, only being right.

If you like strong female characters, adventure, plot twists and danger – with a dash of magic this is the right book for you. And, don’t forget the right amount of romance! This novel is a clean fantasy and appropriate for teens and adults. Because of the complexity I believe high school students will enjoy it more than middle school readers. I highly recommend The Traitor’s Game! I can tell you who decides if you’re a traitor or a hero – the winner. But, who will be the winner in this exciting series by Nielsen?

5 out of 5 stars

5 star

  • Michelle

If you like this one try:

The Gray Wolf Throne – Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

The Alloy of Law of Brandon Sanderson

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Posted in All Time Favorites, young adult book reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Philosopher’s Flight – Can Man Really Fly?

Book Review : The Philosopher’s Flight

By Tom Miller

Spoiler Alert!



A thrilling debut from ER doctor turned novelist Tom Miller, The Philosopher’s Flight is an epic historical fantasy set in a World-War-I-era America where magic and science have blended into a single extraordinary art.

Eighteen-year-old Robert Weekes is a practitioner of empirical philosophy—an arcane, female-dominated branch of science used to summon the wind, shape clouds of smoke, heal the injured, and even fly. Though he dreams of fighting in the Great War as the first male in the elite US Sigilry Corps Rescue and Evacuation Service—a team of flying medics—Robert is resigned to mixing batches of philosophical chemicals and keeping the books for the family business in rural Montana, where his mother, a former soldier and vigilante, aids the locals.

When a deadly accident puts his philosophical abilities to the test, Robert rises to the occasion and wins a scholarship to study at Radcliffe College, an all-women’s school. At Radcliffe, Robert hones his skills and strives to win the respect of his classmates, a host of formidable, unruly women.

Robert falls hard for Danielle Hardin, a disillusioned young war hero turned political radical. However, Danielle’s activism and Robert’s recklessness attract the attention of the same fanatical anti-philosophical group that Robert’s mother fought years before. With their lives in mounting danger, Robert and Danielle band together with a team of unlikely heroes to fight for Robert’s place among the next generation of empirical philosophers—and for philosophy’s very survival against the men who would destroy it.

In the tradition of Lev Grossman and Deborah Harkness, Tom Miller writes with unrivaled imagination, ambition, and humor. The Philosopher’s Flight is both a fantastical reimagining of American history and a beautifully composed coming-of-age tale for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider.
(Courtesy of

Adult Point of View

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Tom Miller has woven a fantastic tale with a world at war with the use of magic. Robert is a country rube, who has lived his life in the shadow of his mother and sisters with their undeniable talent. Lines have been drawn in the fight between the sexes, escalating because women naturally have more talent in philosophy – the science of magic. When philosophy entered the wars horrible acts were committed bringing resulting in the common man fearing the abuse of women’s philosophical powers. Robert is the outsider having to prove himself in a woman’s world, rife with the prejudice, slander and prosaic attitudes. He learns self-control and discovers he can believe in himself, even against the odds.

I felt connected to Robert, and his struggle to fit into the world with his big dreams. I also liked how his mother was pragmatic and no-nonsense. The women attending the school became a blur. I knew Jake came from a privileged background, was very talented and beautiful. I didn’t feel like I understood her motivation in accepting Robert into their tight-knit group. Danielle was another character I wish I knew a little better. She also came from a wealthy background, but still faced racial slurs.  Even though she suffered with post traumatic syndrome from the war as a demon for her character motivation, I still wanted to see more out of her and why she chose Robert.

I frequently read old literature, and Miller employs some of the characteristics of antiquated novels. He includes descriptions of the place and time, which increased my understanding of the world where his characters reside. Some readers may dislike the amount of exposition. He also used antiquated terms for lesbians, who are found more frequently among the empirical philosophers. There are a few chapters with heterosexual sex scenes, which would nix it as a “clean fantasy”.

Overall, I liked Miller’s novel, the fun and thoughtful world he developed and particularly liked his character Robert Weekes. I would recommend this book for adults.

3.5 out of 5 stars


  • Michelle


If you enjoy historical fiction with a magic twist I recommend Sorcery and Cecilia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede as one of my favorites set in Regency England.

Posted in grown up books reviewed | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Interview with Charlie Lovett – The Lost Book of the Grail

Charlie Lovett

Charlie Lovett is the New York Times Bestselling author of The Bookman’s Tale.

The Bookman's Tale

Today’s interview features a discussion on The Lost Book of the Grail and contains spoilers! I highly recommend Lovett as an author for anyone who loves history, books and a well-told tale.




Hello Charlie,

I’m delighted you’re available for an interview today. The Lost Book of the Grail became an immediate favorite because of your multi-level writing style.

When you first started writing The Grail, did you think it  would neatly fit in a genre or that it would sweep the board covering murder mystery, romance, fantasy and historical fiction?


I don’t really think in terms of genre—I just tell the story I want to tell about the characters I have created. I’m always surprised when I see my books shelved in the mystery section because I don’t think of myself as a mystery writer. But then, I think every good book is a mystery in that we want to turn the page and see what happens next. One bookseller listed The Bookman’s Tale as “Historical Romance,” and until I saw that list I hadn’t even heard of that genre. I’m perfectly happy for people to put my work in whatever category they like, but when I’m working on it I just try to tell a good story.


I’m glad you approach writing from creating a good story as your top priority.

I love how you employ the centuries of history behind the lost book – the many people who touch, revered, protected and then stole the book. It feels like the lost book is an over-arching character. In the writing process, how did you develop this approach for the reader to learn about the lost book? Do you see the book as a silent character?


I absolutely see the book as a character, and that is something I have done in my previous novels as well, especially The Bookman’s Tale. Characters become interesting when they have to overcome obstacles, and the lost book has about 1500 years of British history to lay down those obstacles. By following a book through history in short scenes I could provide an outline of the history of the cathedral in addition to following the adventures of the book itself. As far as process is concerned, I wrote the historical sections one at a time, for the most part, and not in any particular order. I would just get interested in a certain period and start in on the research, always thinking about how what happened in the past could connect to the preset story.


I’m amazed over the amount of research you put into your writing. I loved the religious and historical references established in the cathedral portions of the novel.

Arthur Prescott is a delightful, fusty man – more in tune with the written word than social interaction. Even so, he has key people he works with who reveal his character. Before the reader meets Bethany Davis, Arthur walks with Gwyn . Did you intend their relationship to be a contrast to how Arthur ends up working with Bethany? He certainly expected to have nothing more than a platonic relationship with women.


I think fusty is a great word for Arthur. He is not great at making friends, which is why he places such value on those that he has. Even though his book collecting group, the BBs, is an all-boys club, I think Arthur is one of those people who has convinced himself that he doesn’t really see gender. To him Oscar is a friend, David is a friend, and Gwen is a friend and even though he sees them in different contexts, he doesn’t really see those three relationships as fundamentally different in any way.


I can see how he has convinced himself he is okay with just having friends. Arthur is loyal to David and Oscar, but still hesitates to enter their lives deeply.

The secondary characters fulfill important roles. While reading The Lost Book of the Grail, I could feel their stories bursting through the lines in single sentences. Each character has a wealth of experiences that could add to the story. How do you decide how much of their background to include? What to forego?


It’s tricky sometimes to decide how much to include. The reader wants to feel that she knows those characters and they need to seem real and not like cardboard cutouts; but at the same time, I don’t want the story to get bogged down with unnecessary exposition. I think the best thing is to show those characters primarily in their interactions with Arthur, just dropping hints of their lives away from him into conversation. In some ways, I wanted the reader to know more about these characters than Arthur does, because of his cocoon existence. For instance, the reader, I hope, understands Oscar’s relationship with his mother much better than Arthur does.


Arthur is definitely cocooned. I felt like I got to know Arthur through one layer at a time. On the surface he is a curmudgeon, but he has a romantic side because of his belief in the Holy Grail. What point in the story do you feel he tips over from being the scholar to the adventurer?


I think it’s Bethany who tips him past that point. She is not willing to let him just sit there and be complacent, rather she pulls him into the adventure. I think the scene where she accesses information about the 1941 bombing on her phone almost instantly just after he has told her he can find that information in the local archives in a few days may be the moment when he begins to understand just what Bethany and her digital technology bring to the table.


I agree, her accessing information he couldn’t have obtained so easily was the point when he saw the value in looking beyond himself. The adventurer inherently must be able to move out of their comfort zone.

Bethany Davis is a contrast to Arthur. She is brash, technologically savvy, and emotive. She seems very familiar, like a friend I had in college. How do you picture her loving Arthur over the course of the next twenty years? I believe their love of books will keep them together.


Love is a funny thing, and it often, if not always, leads us to places we never expected to go. This is certainly true for both Arthur and Bethany. At the beginning of the novel, Arthur views the world almost as a museum—full of old books, old paintings, old music, architecture, liturgy, and so on. Bethany teaches Arthur that the world is a living place, and by doing so helps Arthur find his voice and dive into the world. Though Bethany leads the relationship through most of the book, I think the confidence Arthur gains during their adventures will help make them more equal partners as they move forward.


I’m sure you have new books you are in the process of writing. Do you have any tidbits you can share? I’m hoping you have at least a dozen in the works!


I just finished the manuscript of a new novel and am currently waiting to hear what my editor thinks of it. The book is set in New York City in 2010 and 1906 and is centered on the world of early twentieth-century children’s series books—like The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and so on. It’s been great fun to work on and I did loads of research about 1906 New York City. The book includes many real historical events, places, and people.


I’m signing up to read it! I don’t know anything about New York in 1906 and can hardly wait to find out what you’ve discovered.

So many readers secretly, or not so secretly, hope to become an author. What advice would you give to yourself before you were published, after becoming a New York Times Bestselling author?


My biggest piece of advice would be—don’t give up. This is a tough business and it’s full of rejection. My story is not unusual. I collected a couple of decade’s worth of rejection slips before I had my big break. At any point I could have decided to stop writing, but I didn’t. I tell young writers to see each rejection as a necessary step on the road to acceptance—that way a rejection becomes something positive rather than negative. I would also tell writers to read as much as they can. If publishers are not buying your work, find out what they are buying. It’s important to remember that writing is an art form, but publishing is a business. No matter how good your book is, no one will buy it if they don’t think there is a market for it.


Thank you for spending the time sharing insights into your writing. The Lost Book of the Grail is now available in paperback. I highly recommend you get it today!

I will look forward to the release of your next novel. Michelle

Best Wishes,
Charlie Lovett

New York Times Best Selling Author of The Bookman’s TaleFirst ImpressionsThe Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scroogeand The Lost Book of the Grail. Podcast Inside the Writer’s Studio.


Posted in Author Interviews | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

By The Book – Will You Be Persuaded To Love The Story Again?

Book Review : By The Book
By Julia Sonneborn

Spoiler Alert!



An English professor struggling for tenure discovers that her ex-fiancé has just become the president of her college—and her new boss—in this whip-smart modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic Persuasion.

Anne Corey is about to get schooled.

An English professor in California, she’s determined to score a position on the coveted tenure track at her college. All she’s got to do is get a book deal, snag a promotion, and boom! She’s in. But then Adam Martinez—her first love and ex-fiancé—shows up as the college’s new president.

Anne should be able to keep herself distracted. After all, she’s got a book to write, an aging father to take care of, and a new romance developing with the college’s insanely hot writer-in-residence. But no matter where she turns, there’s Adam, as smart and sexy as ever. As the school year advances and her long-buried feelings begin to resurface, Anne begins to wonder whether she just might get a second chance at love.

Funny, smart, and full of heart, this modern ode to Jane Austen’s classic explores what happens when we run into the demons of our past…and when they turn out not to be so bad, after all.  (Courtesy of

Adult Point of View

I received a copy of By The Book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

I loved the cover of By The Book because it looks quaint like a small out of the way town. I also love Jane Austen’s books and was interested to see how Sonneborn handled a retelling of Persuasion.


Though it wasn’t really part of the retelling, I liked the relationships of Anne with her father, who is ill and dying, and her disconnected sister. Anne showed the greatest depth of character working through her guilt when her father passed away. She was filled with self-doubt while realizing how much her father adored her. He wasn’t one to talk through his feelings, and so it wasn’t until his passing that she learned some essential truths of his life.

Initially I liked Anne’s relationship with her friend, Larry. Once Larry became involved with a married man, he became whinny and a train wreck. Anne didn’t blink once over Larry being involved with a married man, when she was even loosely friends with the lover’s wife. This story line turned my stomach because they had no moral compass of right and wrong. I also never understood why Anne didn’t see that Rick was slimy from the beginning. The characters were generally one-dimensional. It was a fast read and had a couple of fun moments, like when Anne walks into a swanky event in a new red dress. She had eaten french fries on the way covering herself with napkins.

The quality of writing was decent and I’ve placed the stars about in the middle. I didn’t love it and I didn’t hate it. All sex scenes are off page. There is a little cursing, including some F-bombs, an unfortunate thing common in modern writing when there isn’t a need.

3 out of 5 stars

3 star

  • Michelle

Other books I recommend for a period romance include An Assembly Such As This by Pamela Aiden (Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s point of view) and Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede (a Regency romance with magic thrown in the mix).

Posted in grown up books reviewed | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wintersong – Do Goblin Kings Want Mortal Wives?

Book Review : Wintersong
By S. Jae-Jones


Spoiler Alert!



All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world. (Courtesy of

Adult Point of View


Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of Wintersong, in exchange for an honest review.

Wintersong had some really great imagery, eerie qualities and other moments of intrigue in the story. By the end, I felt betrayed because I expected more. I hate not giving a book a glowing review.

The initial premise was interesting. I loved how the grandmother was pushed aside like she was crazy, but she knew the danger present in not observing the rituals to protect the family from the goblin king. The grandmother was also the most insightful person into the family dynamic. I actually wish there had been another couple of scenes with her just because I liked the cantankerous old woman. The grandmother had known the Goblin King just like Liesl had as a child, however the old woman had not forgotten him or his power.

The characters had a nice contrast. Käthe was driven to get away from her home and the people in her life. She didn’t identify with music like her other siblings and father. Consequently, she was dismissed. Being pretty just wasn’t enough. Liesl was the dependable older sibling, not known for her beauty or even her musical talent, because she wasn’t a son. She held the family together, and created an environment where her brother’s talent could shine because she understood him. Her father and mother were also a reflection of the wanton, misbehaving Käthe and the dependable, solid Liesl.  The boy in the family, Josef, is expected to be a shining star but is crippled by shyness. I thought it was very sudden for him to be able to move forward when he met the maestros assistant. This turns into a gay love affair between the two young men, though there is nothing explicit.

The tone of the story is magical as the sister walk through the town market. The reader can feel the danger dripping off the page, while Käthe is oblivious. Much like fate, it seems there is nothing to be done. Käthe has to be kidnapped, because Liesl cannot or refuses to remember.

In the underworld, I liked the idea of how the goblin servants were less human and more tree-like. I also liked how a door was unnecessary for them to enter Liesl’s room/prison. The banquet where Liesl observes Käthe wilting from the wanton nature of the beasts is poignant. She desperately wants to save her sister, even though she is the sacrifice required to do so.

The love between Liesl and the Goblin King is where the story fell apart. I never felt like they actually experience love. Liesl feels lust for the Goblin King, while he feels he must resist her advances because her fire will be gobbled up more quickly. The sex scenes were very uncomfortable to read because the characters didn’t have a connection. It just didn’t make sense. Liesl became someone who she wasn’t when she married the Goblin King. She was a decent person, but once she tried to save her sister she lost all her values and qualities that I liked. Liesl became the wanton sister, the one whose lack of morals always results in disaster (just like her father and Käthe). She seemed to draw her identity from the Goblin King, which seems like a weak female character to have to be defined solely upon a relationship with a man. (I know that sounds like feminist tripe, but really women are so much more than one relationship.) Even though Liesl became a different person than who she had been as a child, the Goblin King values her and his former humanity is touched to allow/help her to escape. With centuries of background the Goblin King could have had many facets to learn and explore as a reader. With his long life I found it hard to believe he wanted Liesl as a mortal wife. He should have wanted something more. I felt like I was short-changed on his character.

As one final complaint. There were moments in the writing when the tense changed from past tense to present for one sentence. I found the tense change highly disconcerting.

I’ve hesitated on the rating. I wanted to give it two stars based on how it fell apart in the second half, but settled on 2.5 stars because there were some great parts in the beginning. Overall I was dissatisfied and will not read the next book.

2.5 out of 5 stars

2 1:2 star



I suggest The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle. I only remember liking the first in the trilogy, but it has a more innocent take on the Goblin King, but remains eerie and the underworld is full of deceit.

Posted in grown up books reviewed | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Girls In the Picture – There Are Lights, There Are Cameras, but Is There Action?

Book Review : The Girls in the Picture

By Melanie Benjamin

Spoiler Alert!



An intimate portrait of the close friendship and powerful creative partnership between two of Hollywood’s earliest female superstars: Frances Marion and Mary Pickford. An enchanting new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and The Aviator’s Wife.

Hollywood, 1914. Frances Marion, a young writer desperate for a break, meets “America’s Sweetheart,” Mary Pickford, already making a name for herself both on and off the screen with her golden curls and lively spirit. Together, these two women will take the movie business by storm.

Mary Pickford becomes known as the “Queen of the Movies”—the first actor to have her name on a movie marquee, and the first to become a truly international celebrity. Mary and her husband, Douglas Fairbanks, were America’s first Royal Couple, living in a home more famous that Buckingham Palace. Mary won the first Academy Award for Best Actress in a Talkie and was the first to put her hand and footprints in Grauman’s theater sidewalk. Her annual salary in 1919 was $625,000—at a time when women’s salaries peaked at $10 a week. Frances Marion is widely considered one of the most important female screenwriters of the 20th century, and was the first writer to win multiple Academy Awards. The close personal friendship between the two stars was closely linked to their professional collaboration and success.

This is a novel about power: the power of women during the exhilarating early years of Hollywood, and the power of forgiveness. It’s also about the imbalance of power, then and now, and the sacrifices and compromises women must make in order to succeed. And at its heart, it’s a novel about the power of female friendship. (Courtesy of

Adult Point of View

The Girls in the Picture is a timely book that many will be drawn to because of the current scandals in Hollywood, with Weinstein and others men. As in life and literature, there is nothing new under the sun.

My two favorite chapters were the first and the last. They were gripping! To see the degeneration of a friendship and the feelings the old women experienced in their own viewpoint. I found the first third of the book riveting. I liked learning about both Mary Pickford and Frances Marion. It was interesting to see how women could make their place in a new industry, when they couldn’t have got a toe in the door in the established avenues of business. Both of these women fought hard for what they got. It was heartbreaking to see how the men with the money tried to break Mary and Fran by rejecting their female produced movie, Poor Little Rich Girl. What is even more heartbreaking is that too many women today play into the same role of allowing those with power (both men and women) define their business relationships.

It was also interesting to see how Fran decided she needed to go and film women during WWI, compared to Mary who sold bonds with her fellow actors. Fran’s relationship with her husband was refreshing, contrasting with the regular sleaze associated with Hollywood. Even in those first years of movie making, it has been a morally bankrupt industry – not holding any values sacred.

There appear to be two reasons for the flavor of Hollywood examined in this novel. One of the flaws associated with theater is money, the lack of money, doing anything to make money and not producing what you feel is right all in the effort to make money. The other flaw shown is the glass bowl mentality of self-importance. When Mary Pickford marries Douglas Fairbanks they are idealized by the nation and Europe. Their clothes are torn by excited fans, they are mobbed and have to escape with the aid of the police. How can life seem anything but humdrum when sitting at home with a cold and a bowl of chicken soup, when there are fans who are ready to accost you just to gain a glimpse or a touch of the glamour? This is the section of the book I found tedious. I couldn’t relate to the intense desires of the fans to have a piece of Mary and I hated Mary and Doug’s attitude. Even so, it is necessary to see the decline of Mary and Fran being close to each other.

I was fairly disgusted how Fran accepted the ill treatment from the men in power. She explains how she was harassed. At times, it was as simple as a comment about her looks, and other times the men felt they had the right to touch, grope or pinch her. What is wrong with women that their response is so polite? They ignore, try to transcend and know it is expected. Why do women allow themselves to be treated like objects? Isn’t the appropriate response a slap across the face and a lawsuit? It made me crazy how Fran, the more reasonable of the two women, accepted the way men treated her because she worked in Hollywood.

I happen to know great men, who would never treat women in this way. As witnessed by the news, there are still plenty of pigs/men who feel it is their right to treat women as objects. The author certainly shows how some men feel entitled to any woman they associate with to satisfy their whims.

If I were to give out stars for my favorite parts it would have been 4 stars. The long section about Mary Pickford’s decline into self-absorption drastically reduced my interest in the novel. It was still very interesting, and even though there is immorality, abuse and the unsavory side of Hollywood, it is handled with a delicate hand and doesn’t delve into all the sordid details.  I would have liked to see more of the relationship of Mary and Fran, as the stars of the book.


3 out of 5 stars

3 star

  • Michelle

If you enjoy historical fiction, one of my all time favorites is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer. 

Posted in grown up books reviewed | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Hundredth Queen – Sisterhood Gone Awry

Book Review : The Hundredth Queen

By Emily R. KIng

Spoiler Alert!



He wanted a warrior queen. He got a revolutionary.

As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.

But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.

Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda has only one hope for escape, and it lies in an arcane, forbidden power buried within her. (Courtesy of

Adult Point of View


I don’t like writing book reviews when I didn’t absolutely love the book, particularly when I’ve met the author. With that said, I only had one main complaint and many things I liked about The Hundredth Queen.

First here are some of the highlights:

I liked King’s writing style. It is very current and moves along at a great pace.  She includes great imagery. The plot is driven by the characters, which is my favorite kind of plot.

The characters were rich and full. Even the serving woman sho helps Kalinda at the Turquoise Palace has a backstory, that comes out in little bits rather than dumped. Kalinda, the protagonist, works through her character flaws of never feeling adequate compared to others. She learns to find her own strength. Kalinda is also a firm believer in her gods and is willing to accept direction. Deven, the main love interest, is also complex. He would have preferred to be a priest, but needed to become a soldier. He has a complicated past with his family, which is effectively used in the plot. The other characters, such as wives, sisters and concubines, are each distinct and obviously have a backstory that controls their actions. Some of the other women grow and others don’t – much like real life.  Even Rajah Tarek, the bad guy, has a reasonable backstory. I couldn’t really feel sorry for him because he was always selfish and a jerk. Nevertheless, he has motivation for his evil ways.

The lowlight:

I didn’t like the tone of the story. The gods’ will has been twisted and the nature of Tarek is particularly gross. There are little comments, such as, his gift to his new wife is the first night they spend together they will be alone. After that he will always have multiple women present for any intimate encounter. He is bloodthirsty, to watch the women kill and hurt each other. His idea of love is twisted. I felt oily reading some of the scenes. It is also gregariously violent. The women are required to kill each other, and there are some brutal scenes. Sisterhood has gone awry.

3 out of 5 stars

3 star

  • Michelle

Other recommendations:

The Queen’s Poisoner (Kingfountain series) by Jeff Wheeler

A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher


Posted in young adult book reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment