UnEnchanted – Do Fairy Tales Have A Happy Ending?

Book Review : UnEnchanted
By Chanda Hahn


Spoiler Alert!



Mina Grime is unlucky, unpopular and uncoordinated; until she saves her crush’s life on a field trip, changing her High School status from loser to hero overnight. But with her new found fame brings misfortune in the form of an old family curse come to light. For Mina is descended from the Brothers Grimm and has inherited all of their unfinished fairy tale business. Which includes trying to outwit a powerful Story from making her it’s next fairytale victim.  (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I read UnEnchanted several months ago, and as a true confession – I forgot to write a review. It was a positively fun read. I liked Mina, because everyone can relate to the girl that never has anything go right. She is caught in a mess and doesn’t know who to trust. Her friend Nan is even more fun because she is over-the-top and more than the portrait she portrays to the world. The fairy world has certainly been untrustworthy for generations of Grime’s. I also loved the “prince charming”. Again, he wasn’t quite what one expected. I liked the small twists in the plots of the fairy tales.

As with many free ebooks there are grammatical errors. Ebooks should have better editing, but this is a common problem.

UnEnchanted is perfect for a light summer read. It’s a great book for teens, free of foul language and anything else raunchy. I recommend it!

3 out of 5 stars


I also suggest Beauty by Robin McKinley (or most anything from this author) if you were a fan of UnEnchanted.

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Viable – A Medical Thriller

Book Review : Viable
By R.A. Hakok


Spoiler Alert!



A brilliant young geneticist, desperately seeking a cure for the disease that took her father. A Nevada sheriff, charged with solving a crime that threatens the very existence of his small desert town. But when an unmarked van crashes in sleepy Hawthorne, Alison Stone and Lars Henrikssen find themselves looking for the same man. Only Carl Gant is not what he seems. And they are not the only ones looking for him. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I started Viable on four different occasions before I could move through the plot setting chapters to be vested enough to read the book.

The first and second starts got me through the first chapter with an ex-military man who sees someone who he thought was dead. This chapter is peppered with military language, ie cursing. I feel like most cursing in books detracts from the story.

The third start got me through a chapter with Dr. Stone, a researcher in genetics. She had a passion for wanting to help others in solving diseases. I was more interested in Dr. Stone, her background made her motivations believable.

Fourth time was the charm, with the introduction of Cody. I instantly guessed who he was, but I still enjoyed his character. I did not guess what his link to genetics was immediately.

Yesterday I watched The Amazing Spider-Man, and realized Viable has the same nugget of an idea of combining animal DNA with human. In Spider-Man, the DNA goes terribly wrong creating a monster. In Viable, there is only one known case where combining DNA was successful and one other survivor, who is basically a monster. However, he is a monster because he has no conscious about taking human life for his own survival. The two stories depart wildly from each other, it just seemed like quite a coincidence that I ran into such similarities at the same time, so I thought I would mention the similarities.

At times the the writing delves into monologues of medical jargon, which was overwhelming. There are a few other mistakes of names and confusing sentences, but overall Viable was pretty good. It never moved into a romance, which is actually refreshing. If you like a medical or science fiction thriller I think you would enjoy this one.

3 out of 5 stars





I suggest The Phoenix Consipiracy by Richard L. Sanders, a science fiction novel, if you like this kind of genre.

A classic science fiction that I recommend is The Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov.

I also recommend Sword of the Lamb: Book One of the Phoenix Legacy by M. K. Wren.

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The Heirs – To Inherit or Not To Inherit?

Book Review : The Heirs

By Susan Rieger

Spoiler Alert!



Brilliantly wrought, incisive, and stirring, The Heirs tells the story of an upper-crust Manhattan family coming undone after the death of their patriarch. Six months after Rupert Falkes dies, leaving a grieving widow and five adult sons, an unknown woman sues his estate, claiming she had two sons by him. The Falkes brothers are pitched into turmoil, at once missing their father and feeling betrayed by him.

In disconcerting contrast, their mother, Eleanor, is cool and calm, showing preternatural composure. Eleanor and Rupert had made an admirable life together — Eleanor with her sly wit and generosity, Rupert with his ambition and English charm — and they were proud of their handsome, talented sons: Harry, a brash law professor; Will, a savvy Hollywood agent; Sam, an astute doctor and scientific researcher; Jack, a jazz trumpet prodigy; Tom, a public-spirited federal prosecutor.

The brothers see their identity and success as inextricably tied to family loyalty – a loyalty they always believed their father shared. Struggling to reclaim their identity, the brothers find Eleanor’s sympathy toward the woman and her sons confounding. Widowhood has let her cast off the rigid propriety of her stifling upbringing, and the brothers begin to question whether they knew either of their parents at all.

A riveting portrait of a family, told with compassion, insight, and wit, The Heirs wrestles with the tangled nature of inheritance and legacy for one unforgettable, patrician New York family. Moving seamlessly through a constellation of rich, arresting voices, The Heirs is a tale out Edith Wharton for the 21st century.  (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

On goodreads The Heirs had quite good reviews and I always love finding a new author that I enjoy reading, so I was hopeful. My hopes were dashed!

1- Characters; I didn’t like anybody. Eleanor is cold and unfeeling to everyone. Rupert is angry (and dead), most of their sons are nearly interchangeable because they are so similar, so who even cares to remember their specific names. Susanna is probably one of the more likable characters, though I was frustrated with her since she put her life on hold because she was in love with a gay man (Sam).

2- Plot; where was the plot? The family is in turmoil over the possibility that their father had a second family. Elenor is unfazed. More than going into the details of paternity, lawsuits or their feelings the author back tracks and summarizes the life of each character. Through these summaries the reader gains an omniscient view of the proceedings.

3- Moral lessons; what is the point? Ultimately the characters are unhappy. It ends on the note of Sam and Susanna being happy, but for how long with their history? Is the author saying, ‘It’s normal for everyone to have affairs, don’t feel bad if you do it too’ or ‘Even the rich have problems’ or ‘Your life may be boring, but at least you’re not part of the Falkes family’? Regardless is was a rather depressing read. The family didn’t care if they gave some money to the purported children, they didn’t want to have their view altered about their father’s legacy. Eleanor said, ‘Don’t rewrite history,’ which was about the best thing she said. In my experience people always care about giving money away, and I think it would have been more realistic to have Rupert’s sons want to cling onto the money as proof of their father’s love.

4- Why did I bother to finish the book? I don’t know. It was a bit like watching a train wreck. I couldn’t help but watch, even though I was horrified. Everyone was such a mess and I just hoped somebody would start to act human, and care about someone else other than themselves. It is a book of narcissistsAll small children are narcissistic, but hopefully adults don’t perpetuate the behavior. I finished it because I had started it and I rarely don’t finish a book, however, this is one I should have set aside.

I didn’t find the book humorous, or fun, or insightful or even thought provoking. I pretty much hated it. The book had fine sentence structure. She makes a good use of literary quotes to head chapters. The language wasn’t too bad. It had a weird way of talking about the various affairs, most didn’t include the gory details until the final chapters with Rupert and Eleanor, and then there was too much information.


I cannot recommend The Heirs.

1 out of 5 stars

– Michelle


1 star

I recommend  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer and A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.

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Number Seventeen – A London Mystery

Book Review : Number 17
By Louis Tracy

Spoiler Alert!




While leaving the opera a young writer, Frank Theydon, can’t help but notice an enchanting young woman leaving with her father. Later that night Frank is surprised when he sees the same gentleman entering his own apartment building.

Prior to leaving for a lunch appointment, he discovers that his neighbor has been brutally murdered. Frank’s life is entwined with the beautiful young woman, her father, James Forbes and police inspectors. As he hesitates to implicate James Forbes in the murder he is thrown into a world of deceit and danger. The mystery deepens as an ivory skull is delivered to the next intended victim.

Adult Point of View


Number Seventeen was written prior to WWI. Because of the time period, there are many non-politically correct ideas in the book. These quite make me laugh, and at times stutter over how preposterous some thoughts were in the early 1900’s. The attitudes around women and foreigners belong in the past.

The writing frequently uses trite sayings, but maybe these very sayings were new in Tracy’s day. One of the things I love with older books are the descriptions. Tracy is not overly effusive in his word use and his novel feels more modern than many of his contemporary authors.

A Sherlockian sighted inspector provides insight to the events as they unfold. (Tracy was just as insightful, noting the problems with machines in war causing terrible deaths.) The events keep twisting and turning making for a fast read. I have to admit that I thought the American seemed pretty shady.

For a clean mystery with a dash of romance Tracy novels will be a perfect fit (but only if you can overlook the non-pc point of view).

3.25 out of 5 stars



Another series of light mysteries that I enjoyed starts with Crocodile on the Sandbank, a Victorian historical mystery set in Egypt, by Elizabeth Peters, first published in 1975.

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A Conjuring Of Light – Or Did You Get Swallowed In Darkness?

Book Review : A Conjuring Of Light
Shades of Magic

By V.E. Schwab

Spoiler Alert!



Witness the fate of beloved heroes – and enemies.

The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.

Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?

Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I was excited to finish this series. I really enjoyed the first book, the second not as much and the third very little. I had to take a month break in the middle of reading – never a good sign – and only ended up sitting it down again for another couple of weeks. I finally had a long drive (and I was not the driver) and determined I was going to finish the book no matter what.

It turned out the first half was the slower half and the second half was better than the first. I had to slog through all the descriptions of the darkness taking over, the oppressive cognizant force that wanted to devour all the magic. I’m afraid even that description is too exciting for how I felt. The best description I can muster is that it felt gray, rather depressing and didn’t encourage me to keep reading.

I know many people won’t like this next bit. I don’t understand homosexual attraction and so the love scenes between Alucard and the prince fall flat for me. However, I also don’t like to read any explicit love scenes in any book.

Another big reason I didn’t like A Conjuring Of Light was the language. The cursing is more pronounced and I didn’t think it particularly necessary. Again, I know foul language doesn’t bother a lot of readers, but I do think you should have the heads up if you like to have a clean read.

Lila Bard, is finally revealed to be an Antari. I did like her character, though she didn’t have personal growth. She continues to be brash through the entire series. She sees everything as a challenge, and it gets her in trouble.

Kell and Holland had the most growth as characters. Kell works through feelings of being entrapped and finds a sense of freedom. Holland’s growth is a return to his former idealistic self, as he wants to see a restoration to his world rather than being a source of destruction.

I can’t really recommend this series anymore because I didn’t like the turns in the plot. The quality of writing is fine.

2 out of 5 stars
2 star
– Michelle

Other (young adult) fantasy books I recommend include : 

The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima
Serphina by Rachel Hartman
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
The Raven Ring by Patricia C. Wrede
The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler
A Cast of Stone by Patrick W. Carr

More (adult) books I recommend include:

Date Night On Union Station by E. M. Foner (humorous, science fiction)
Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina (light steampunk, it might be YA)
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell By Susanna Clarke (historical Regency fantasy)
Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot By Patricia Wrede & Caroline Stevermer (historical Regency fantasy)
Sword of the Lamb, The Phoenix Legacy series By M.K. Wren (science fiction)
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (fantasy)
Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffrey (light science fiction)

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The Lost Book Of The Grail – Why Do We Seek After King Arthur and The Holy Grail?

Book Review: The Lost Book Of The Grail
By Charlie Lovett

Spoiler Alert!



Arthur Prescott is happiest when surrounded by the ancient books and manuscripts of the Barchester Cathedral library. Increasingly, he feels like a fish out of water among the concrete buildings of the University of Barchester, where he works as an English professor. His one respite is his time spent nestled in the library, nurturing his secret obsession with the Holy Grail and researching his perennially unfinished guidebook to the medieval cathedral.

But when a beautiful young American named Bethany Davis arrives in Barchester charged with the task of digitizing the library’s manuscripts, Arthur’s tranquility is broken. Appalled by the threat modern technology poses to the library he loves, he sets out to thwart Bethany, only to find in her a kindred spirit with a similar love for knowledge and books and a fellow Grail fanatic.

Bethany soon joins Arthur in a quest to find the lost Book of Ewolda, the ancient manuscript telling the story of the cathedral’s founder. And when the future of the cathedral itself is threatened, Arthur and Bethany’s search takes on grave importance, leading the pair to discover secrets about the cathedral, about the Grail, and about themselves. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View


Step 1 : Enjoy the cover. Don’t we always judge a book by it’s cover to some degree? I love what Will Staehle did on the jacket design. I could tell before I even opened the book it would show me how books; the written word fills our lives.

Step 2: Read the inside cover.

In an English cathedral city, passionate bibliophile and Holy Grail enthusiast Arthur Prescott works to uncover a long-lost secret about the cathedral’s past, and its connections to King Aurthur and the Knights of the Round Table…

Step 3: Ready to read, so read!

The book opens with a mystery. During the night of a bombing of WWII in 1941 of a cathedral the choir boys and town work to save the precious books. Is there magic in the book? Soon this mysterious book is stolen, with one witness, a child.

“He reached out to keep it from falling to the floor, only to find the ancient tome floating in midair. It must be a magic book, he thought, watching transfixed as it swayed in front of him, its pages illuminated by the orange light.” (p. 3)

After the mystery opens we jump forward to meet the protagonist, Arthur Prescott – a confirmed bachelor and fusty man of 40. He has such a love of books and abhorrence of technology and is barely able to communicate to his few friends let alone the public.

Next, we delve back in time to the creation of the missing book – the Book of St. Ewolda, in the year A.D. 560.

The reader continues to progress in the search with Arthur, though we get extra insight from learning about the past.

I have thoroughly loved this book! It has mystery, history, love and books. Because of Arthur’s reaction to digitizing the books so anyone could read them on the internet, I had to check if The Lost Book OF The Grail was available as an ebook – and it was. I’m trying to decide if it would feel morally wrong to read it as an ebook. In addition to everything else I have laughed while reading. Here is a moment of Arthur’s confusion:

“‘I’m sorry, you want to do what?’
‘Well, tweets today are like letters.’
‘What in God’s name is a tweet?’
‘You know, like on Twitter? A tweet.’
“Miss Stanhope, this is not an ornithology class.’
Twenty minutes later, Miss Stanhope had finally explained that a Website called Twitter allowed people to exhange messages of up to 140 characters (though why this particular number Miss Stanhope could not say) and that she thought this was the modern equivalent of civilized correspondence. The only satisfaction Arthur had in the conversation was in his own adamant refusal to allow her to rewrite Fanny Burney’s Evelina as a series of these tweets.” (p. 67)

Another moment of insight into Arthur:

“‘We didn’t waste anything like an hour,’ said Bethany. ‘And besides, you like talking to me. It allows you to be righteously indignant and that’s your favorite state of being.'” (p. 72)

I truly feel Arthur’s frustration! How many times I have seen young people on their phones instead of living their lives? They barely talk to each other!

“Was their no way to get students to actually interact with books even in a building once devoted to those very objects? Arthur wasn’t sure he yet understood what the media center’s purpose was in this digital age, but he hoped he might find a way to make it more than the provision of hot beverages and comfy chairs. (p.94)

I have a theory as to why we love stories about the Holy Grail. We like the sense of hope and mystery. With technology so much of faith has been eroded, and there is still a place for the stories associated with faith and mythical characters like Arthur. A book like Lovett’s is a joy to read because it allows us a moment to live in the world where we can believe that the Grail might be in a simple place like Barchester.

Lovett has done a wonderful job from choosing historical names, to details about English history and changes within religion. His descriptions are beautiful and the characters feel like I could go sit with them for a cup of tea.

As the intensity of the search, for St. Ewolda’s book and the grail continued I couldn’t put Lovett’s book down. I highly recommend it! I will have to read another of his books soon.

4 out of 5 stars
4 star



If you liked this one I would recommend The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool and Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns.


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Windrose Chronicles : The Silent Tower, The Silicon Mage, Dog Wizard, Stranger At The Wedding

Book Review : The Silent Tower
By Barbara Hambly

Spoiler Alert!



In a world where wizards are relegated to ghettos, it is no surprise to see one murdered in the street. But for Stonne Caris, a young warrior monk who sees the killing and gives chase to the culprit, there is nothing ordinary about seeing a murderer disappear into a black, inky portal. The Archmage sends him in search of Antryg Windrose—a half-mad mage who understands the nature of these passages between dimensions.

On the other side of the Void is Joanna, a programmer as mild as Caris is deadly. She has spent her life in cubicles, staring into computer terminals, as far from heroism as she can get. But when the power that is crossing between dimensions draws her through the Void, she finds herself battling to save a world she never even knew existed.

With intricate world-building and complex plot twists, The Silent Tower is a compelling introduction to one of this generation’s greatest female fantasy writers.
(Courtesy of Barnes and Noble)

Adult Point of View

When summer hits I like to read an older book, it might be one that I remember reading as a teen, or something fun, light and magical. I can’t believe that books from the ’80’s are now considered “old”, but my kids inform me they are positively ancient. As far as they know Hambly was Austen’s best friend (but I digress.)

The Silent Tower was originally published in 1986. As with all the books I like from this decade, the female protagonist is strong, but she still has weaknesses. I was surprised by the complexity of Hambly’s plot and had to pay attention to keep up with the parallel universes, the computer jargon and magic. I know I didn’t absorb all the technical details surrounding the computers, programs and geeky-tech stuff, but I could gloss over it to the main plot and enjoy the story.

I liked this series because of the characters:

Joanna Sheraton gets befuddled in social circumstances, she’s very intelligent and a scatter-brain. She has let life happen to her instead of determining her own destiny, until she is confronted by magic. Once she is faced with a new reality she plucks up and gets to work on solving problems. She always has her purse with her, though non-magical, it reminds me of a bag of requirements – it always has just what she needs. Every woman could use a purse like that!

Antryg Windrose, a wizard, is considered dangerous by his peers and has been locked up in a tower that suppresses his magic. He is particularly adept at sensing the Void and can travel through to other parallel universes. The one problem, besides having been trained by the most evil magician of all time, is that he is mad.

Stonne Caris, raised with some magic, and committed as a ninja-type warrior is faced with the problem of his own humanity. He was trained to be no more than a tool, a sword for the wizards. The problem is a tool cannot make choices, and Caris is faced with many sticky situations and has to become human again.


3.25 out of 5 stars



Book Review: The Silicon Mage
By Barbara Hambly

Spoiler Alert!




It was impossible, Joanna knew. When she betrayed her lover Antryg Windrose to the Council, he had been sentenced to death. Then she had believed his brain was possessed by the Dark Mage Suraklin, though now she knew that Suraklin had chosen Gary Fairchild. But guilty or innocent, Antryg was separated from her by the awesome Void between the worlds, far from any hope of rescue.

Nevertheless, she had to save him. Suraklin was planning to gain immortality by placing his mind in a computer that would get its power by draining the life-force from all on both worlds, dooming everyone to eternal misery and hopelessness. And only Antryg was strong enough a wizard to challenge the Dark Mage.

Once again, Joanna dared the fearsome tunnel through the Void, praying desperately that Antryg still lived and that she could find help to free him. If not…But she refused to think of that. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

Joanna was faced with a terrible decision in the first book and chose incorrectly. Gary Fairchild was oily in the first book and now he reeks of evil, not really an improvement to recommend him as a boyfriend. At least she finally knows the truth about Suraklin, and even more importantly about love – and herself.

The Silicon Mage introduces a new character, a sentient being from another universe who is technologically advanced. Imagine his surprise getting stuck in this backward world? He tried to become a god, but it didn’t really suit his palette. Antryg continues to be one of my favorite character as he rolls with every situation, from royals to peasants to monsters. He has a completely forgiving nature of Joanna’s mistake and still maintains that he is mad. I wonder if he doesn’t have the most sense of all.

3.25 out of 5 stars




Book Review: Dog Wizard
By Barbara Hambly

Spoiler Alert!




On any given day in Los Angeles, you might meet a person claiming to be a wizard from another world. In the case of Antryg Windrose, it happened to be true.

Though Joanna Sheraton was an A-1 professional hacker, she could honestly say that computers weren’t her whole world—nor was the city of Los Angeles, the United States or the planet Earth as most people knew it, for that matter. Because Joanna had crossed the Void between universes into another reality, where magic was the only true science.

There she’d met Antryg Windrose, a mad renegade wizard, who, owing to a rather bizarre set of circumstances, now lived with her in sunny California—seemingly as far away as he could get from his former colleagues on the Council of Wizards. Most of them considered him a charlatan…a mere dog wizard who lacked the proper discipline needed to wield magic. Yet when monsters began invading the Council’s world—abominations from across the Void—even those mages not convinced Antryg was responsible knew that he was their best chance of combating the terror.

So they pooled their power to Summon him back, a call he fully intended to ignore…until they took away that option by kidnapping Joanna. Then he had no choice but to try to rescue her, though he knew it might cost him his magic, and his life.
(Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View


One of my favorite moments is when Antryg lists wizard as a former occupation on his resume as he applies to be a bartender. The owner of the bar had lived in L.A. for a long time and didn’t seem surprised, though perhaps that was because Antryg reassured him that he had never accepted money as a wizard.

Dog Wizard is the culmination of all the preceding events, full of monsters, atrocities, technical geniuses, failed warriors, wizards, computers, piqued royals, betrayal and, of course, love. Antryg and Joanna seem to be on a merry-go-round between universes with the Void as their ticket gate. I continue to enjoy their relationship the most. Each is independently interesting and even more fun when they’re together.

3.25 out of 5 stars



Book Review: Stranger At The Wedding
By Barbara Hambly

Spoiler Alert!



Kyra was preparing for her final wizard test before the Council. But suddenly, something was twisting her magic, weaving sinister portents of doom into even the simplest of her spells. Then she knew for certain that her young sister Alix was soon to marry–and soon to die. And so she journeyed back to the family who had disowned her. To save her sister, Kyra would have to face down her father’s rage, stand firm against the venomous rivalries of her family’s enemies, and confront the Inquisition. Then she must defeat a still deadlier foe–if only she could find it! (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

Stranger At The Wedding is set in the same universe, but is not an extension of the story surrounding Antryg and Joanna. It is also less complex than the first three books and could be read as a stand alone. Strong subjects are touched on, such as, a pedophile, but nothing is overly descriptive.

A minor character in the third book, Kyra, is now the protagonist. She has a strong will, a sharp tongue and unusual fashion sense. Kyra’s sister, Alix, is sweet and young. She is smart, but prattles which hides her intelligence. Alix is soon to wed a man, whom she doesn’t know and the biggest problem is that she loves a totally unsuitable man.

The final resolution seemed flat to me. Kyra can’t leave behind her magic and she can’t marry the man she comes to love. It felt like she ends up with half of each, but only for the next couple of years – the time he feels like he can run away from his responsibilities as the heir to a shipping dynasty. I don’t know how there could have been a better ending since the world created wouldn’t allow for their marriage.

3.25 out of 5 stars



Other books from the ’70’s, ’80’s & ’90’s by female authors I recommend are:

The Raven Ring by Patricia Wrede
Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
Beauty by Robin McKinley
Howls Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith

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