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  • Servant of the Crown

  • Crown of Tremontane Series, Book 1
  • By: Melissa McShane
  • Narrated by: Gemma Dawson
  • Length: 13 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 34
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 31
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 31

Alison Quinn, Countess of Waxwold, is content with her bookish life - until she's summoned to be a lady-in-waiting to the Queen of Tremontane's mother for six months. Even the prospect of access to the Royal Library doesn't seem enough to make up for her sacrifice, but Alison is prepared to do her service to the Crown. What she's not prepared for is Prince Anthony North, Queen Zara's playboy brother, who's accustomed to getting what he wants - including the Countess of Waxwold.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Could NOT stop listening.

  • By Tami B. on 04-06-18

Oh my gosh. I loved it.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-10-17

Oh my gosh this was lovely and I had so many feels. I loved it so much more than I expected to- and it was nothing like I thought it would be.

But a few words of precaution- this is a historical fiction / romance and with the romance being the main focus until the second half (which I personally loved). The pacing is fairly slow (which I didn't mind - it totally worked for the story...) but if you're looking for something fast and magical, this book is not for you. It kind reminded me of Pride & Prejudice and some of the other historical romances though of course it is set in a fantasy world!

Basically Allison is summoned away to the palace to be a 'lady in waiting' for the queen's mother. At the first ball, she meets Prince Antony (the queen's brother and the dowager's son - aka playboy and embarrassment to the crown). Once introduced, the dowager insists he dance with Allison, not realizing her son is terribly drunk. Allison was raised to be very 'proper' and practical and though she admits he's quite handsome, she wants nothing to do with him. Regardless, they share a dance, in which the prince says something hilariously appalling to Allison - and Allison's reaction is priceless (I don't want to spoil.)

Anyway, in order to save face, Queen Zara forces Allison and Antony to spend time in the public together. Neither are happy about the agreement, and its a slow burn that works SO well. Allison starts to see the man beneath the mask. Oh my gosh... when things finally take off with them, I had so many feels. I can't even. Also, just a warning, things get a *little* steamy which I didn't expect... but everything was tastefully done.

Allison is such a frustrating MC which is my biggest complaint. She's so stubborn and pretty much has it out against all men - convinced that they only want her for sex. If one so much as looks at her the wrong way, she gets upset. She DOES start to come around though when she realizes Antony isn't really the nasty man he seems, until something awful happens (between them) and she flees the palace - swearing off men altogether. (I wanted to smack her at times.) But the character arc at the end was just... tearjerking. I can't even explain it.

After a few months, the Queen summons her again and offers her a proposition to stay and work in the library (promising she doesn't have to even see Antony after what happened between them.) UGHH this is where I got so frustrated. Antony changed entirely and was so noble it literally hurt my heart and Ally kept brushing him off. Lord this woman... I wanted to scream at her to open her eyes. Yeesh woman, I get that you were really hurt in the past but COME ON.

Anyway, a bunch of crap starts to happen and they are forced to work together and I won't say much more than that, but the ending was just wonderful and so emotional. Also I need to brag on Queen Zara who is literally a badass. I hear there's a novella about her and I'm all over that.

The more I think about it, the more I realize how much I really loved this. Part of it was obviously the emotional aspect, but I also really loved the environment. Pretty much the entire book is in a gorgeous palace with little trips outside to theaters/etc. There's plenty of balls, dancing, glittering dresses... you get the picture.

I also wanted to note that I listened to the audio the narrator was LOVELY. She was British and did the voices well. Definitely enhanced my experience.

I feel like this was Jane Austen meets Marie Rutkoski. I honestly can't wait to read more by this author.

  • A Conjuring of Light

  • Shades of Magic, Book 3
  • By: V. E. Schwab
  • Narrated by: Kate Reading, Michael Kramer
  • Length: 19 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,027
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,902
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,897

Londons fall and kingdoms rise while darkness sweeps the Maresh Empire, and the fraught balance of magic blossoms into dangerous territory while heroes struggle. The direct sequel to A Gathering of Shadows and the final book in the Shades of Magic epic fantasy series, A Conjuring of Light sees the newly minted New York Times best-selling author V. E. Schwab reach a thrilling conclusion concerning the fate of beloved protagonists - and old foes.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A great ending to a wonderful adventure...

  • By Melinda E. Sabo on 02-26-17

I am absolutely wrecked

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-23-17

I.... don't know what to do with myself. I am so completely overwhelmed with emotions and so far past blown away... and now I'm trying to write a review for one of the greatest stories ever told.

Before I get started... let me just say that the narration was perfection.

You guys... if you haven't picked up this series... start it now. As an aspiring author... I pray to get even a sliver of Schwab or Bardugo's brilliance. The writing was absolute perfection. But really quick.. can we just focus on how freaking awesome Schwab is as a person? I don't know if you've seen her twitter... but she's so open and honest about the struggles of being a writer (not to mention hilarious) but then she pumps out something like this book. Wow. Also, I got to meet her at Yallfest. I was in a wheelchair and I couldn't have gotten back to her signing - but she actually took time to come out to me. Victoria... *virtual hug*

Anyway, since I'm barely able to even function (I'm still a blubbering mess after finishing this book...) I'm just going to summarize a mess of words/statements below and hope it makes sense.

Be ready because the moment you open this book... you'll hit the ground running. It picks up literally seconds where the second left off... and it doesn't slow down. The first 20-30% was non stop craziness... and it was wonderful and painful and entirely too stressful and I found myself screaming and laughing and I don't even know.. you guys... I don't even know.

The only slow moments in this ENTIRE book were the flashbacks - and there were lots of little ones all throughout. They were very core to character development and I actually really enjoyed them.

I literally cannot even begin to talk about the plot. I'm going to refrain from giving away any details. But I'll say this- I really liked the first book though I felt it was slow at times. I LOVED the second as it took the series to a whole new level of emotional turmoil. This one just blew me away. The pacing was perfect (as I said, VERY fast paced, only slowing during flash backs) and full of surprises (and stress). I was so attached to everyone (even the side characters) that I was literally racing through the pages so now I'm going to have to go back and reread for details. I've highlighted about 30 quotes. I've cried and laughed and screamed and now I'm completely exhausted.

"We don't choose what we are, but we choose what we do."

To summarize, here's what you can expect.

1. Blood. Repeatedly. (Like... half of this book is fight scenes I feel like.)
2. New and interesting POVs.
3. Kiss your heart goodbye.
4. Tears. Lots.
5. Stress and anxiety because you'll love EVERYONE
6. Pirate ships. Magic. New magical abilities.
7. Brilliance. On every page.

So all I have left is to sit here and proclaim my love for the cast.

Lila is her usual BAMF self. She had so many witty one liners and she was endless entertainment. I love love loved her contribution to the story - she kinda has a character arc but kinda doesn't. She's learned to let people in, but at the same time, she's so true to herself. Some of the highlights for me were obviously moments with Kell- but also with Alucard. (Ok, brb, need to cry.)

Kell. I literally cannot. Precious smol- must be protected at all costs. This guy. The second book made me feel for him SO much. He's so selfless that even Rhy gives him crap about being so perfect. Oh my gosh Kell and Rhy- strongest brother relationship I've ever read. I need to cry again. Also Kell and Alucard banter was EVERYTHING. And then the parental issues... you'll just have to see.

Rhy - easily one of my all time favorite characters. He' so freaking hilarious and sassy and I feel like we would be best friends. He's easily as selfless as Kell, though he doesn't even see it. A little reckless, but he can't help it.

HOLLAND. Holy freaking crap of the world. I did not expect to care about him so much. I can't even function right now. BYE.

Alucard. I can't form words. BYE.

Ugh. The whole entire cast. Even the side characters like Lenos and Hostra .. and oh my gosh the whole Maresh family... I'm just... I want to cry because every character was so beautifully done.

The ending does not disappoint. Everything was wrapped up - and I'm just sitting here thinking... what now? What do I even do with myself? Do I pick it up and read it again? Do I sit here and grieve because its over? Ugh.

You guys... read this series.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Shadow and Bone

  • By: Leigh Bardugo
  • Narrated by: Lauren Fortgang
  • Length: 9 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,868
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,566
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,574

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • disappointed

  • By Whovian on 08-31-18

All time favorite. Lauren Fortgang is amazing..

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-02-17

If I could give this series 6 stars.. or 7... or 8.... I would. This series as a whole has stuck with me. It is my absolute all time favorite series, standing beside the ACOTAR series by SJM. I have yet to connect with another series as strongly as I have with these two.

So let me try to put my love for this book into a few categories.

Overall Plot + Theme

Alright. I don't want to go over the details of the plot in this review -- because I went into this not knowing one darn thing about it so every single page was a surprise for me! What I will say is this... this book will be a wild ride in a dark fairytale-esque world with unpredictable characters. There is action, magic, romance, intrigue.. and really.. what more could you want from a series? I was absolutely 100% entranced with every page that I read... and that feeling continued with the second and third book.

But I will say this... just when I thought I knew what was going on... just when I thought I was safe... well, Leigh Bardugo, you got me.

I found myself jumping out of my bed screaming.. LITERALLY screaming... "Run Alina run!!!" or "Give in Alina, just give in!"

The World-building

If I could get stuck in any world from any book- this would be the one. It is vivid, dark, magical, and completely entrancing.

Here's the thing. I've read a lot of negative reviews basing their reasons on the fact that Leigh Bardugo didn't make a convincing Russian world... but my opinion is that his is her world- not actual Russia- she can do whatever she wants! Sure it has Russian inspiration, but it is clearly its own place. Maybe if you are really attached to the Russian language, it would bother you... but my opinion is to leave preconceived notions aside and let this be what it is.

The Characters

Alina, our heroine.

As with many first books, she needs to grow up some. She is fairly naive, but I liked growing up with her through this series. She's very relatable, in my opinion, darn right hysterical. She's very common with familiar insecurities that we all face. She gets a lot of grief for the mistakes she makes in this book... but come on ladies- I think we would all make the same mistakes she makes, if put in her situation. She will always be one of my favorite heroines because of how relatable she is. I adore her.

The Darkling

I'm not going to say too much about him other than this. He is without a doubt the most interesting character I've ever read about. Ladies, good luck. Honestly I wish I could put some of my favorite quotes from the book here, but it would spoil.

I can't even go into the rest of the characters without spoiling. Just enjoy trying to predict everyone!

The MAGIC

This is my favorite magic system out of any book. I think that stems from me being an artist. The way Leigh describes the powers that some of the characters *cough* have.. its so unique and abstract... like a painting. And classes of magic? Freaking sweet.

The Writing

This series overall is probably the most quotable one out there, in my opinion anyway. Simply gorgeous. And the pacing? I don't know how some people think this is slow... the pace was like.. holy freaking I can't keep up with my emotions...

The Narration!

The narrator who does this series is PHENOMENAL. It for sure enhanced my experience of this book 100000%. So yes, I HIGHLY recommend giving the audiobook a go!

So to summarize all of my thoughts...

Thank you Leigh Bardugo for this precious gift. Thank you.

And just a hint for the next book... it may or may not introduce my next all time favorite character...
;) ;) DON'T STOP HERE!!

2 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • The Crown's Game

  • By: Evelyn Skye
  • Narrated by: Steve West
  • Length: 12 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 272
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 254
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 254

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters - the only two in Russia - and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Great world building, slow pacing, love triangle

  • By Amazon Customer on 08-08-16

Holy wow...

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-02-17

What did you love best about The Crown's Game?

.... I barely know what to say right now... so here goes ~ a mess of words and emotions. Don't worry, this is spoiler free.

"Imagine, and it shall be. There are no limits."


First of all, the elephant in the room. The plot of this book is nearly IDENTICAL to the Night Circus. Maybe I should rant about that but you know what.. I didn't really care? I love both books so I didn't mind the nostalgia. There are parts I liked more about each of the books- but I just found myself savoring this book to pieces regardless. Plus, this one is going to be a trilogy - so I see the series spinning off drastically from where the Night Circus ended.

Okay, now that is out of the way...

HOLY WOW. I just need to point out all the reasons I loved this book.

The Magic

Magic Russia will never ever get old. Never. (BRB going to watch Anastasia now...) And not only is the magic system here lush, it is completely unique and imaginative.

The Writing + Pacing

This is is where I see the most complaints. But honestly, I just savored it. I'm glad it wasn't too fast paced. But yes, this is a slower book... so don't go into it expecting otherwise. The writing itself was every bit as beautiful as The Night Circus - the prose, descriptions.. everything!
“This was the sort of book one ought to read in pieces, to properly appreciate and savour each bit. And yet he wanted to devour it whole. Messily and all at once.”


I couldn't have said it better myself.

The Characters

I think I can safely say that each character will tug at your heartstrings (though Nikolai was my favorite for obvious reasons.. gentle, sly, and TOPHAT.) Just enjoy discovering each one... I'd rather not give any further hints.

The Plot

As it was in the The Night Circus, the game aspect of the plot was just heartbreaking. It was a bit more vicious in this book... more intense and emotional. Yes, there was a "bit" of insta-love, but it was not handled the way a YA book typically handles it. There was much more of a connection than just attraction even though some things seemed to escalate quickly. I had no complaints in that department. Overall, I was completely swept away in the entirety of this story.

THAT ENDING

Someone help me because I am a WRECK. No, I am not OK. Will I be? That rests in your hands, Evelyn Skye. Please save us all. I literally beg you. PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD IN THIS WORLD.

For real though I need some serious comfort food right now...

Which character – as performed by Steve West – was your favorite?

Steve West was just... phenomenal.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Night Circus

  • By: Erin Morgenstern
  • Narrated by: Jim Dale
  • Length: 13 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19,061
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17,273
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17,283

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The circus of your dreams

  • By Anonymous User on 09-22-11

Beautiful Story

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-18-14

If you could sum up The Night Circus in three words, what would they be?

Whimsical, Mysterious, Captivating

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Night Circus?

Marco + Celia's first long scene where they jump from room to room :)

Any additional comments?

A warning to listeners- I loved the first bit of the story.. but then there is a good gap after the first hour where there isn't a whole lot going on. Keep listening though, it is worth the wait. Everything is a beautiful set up. The book really picks up steam around hour 6.