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The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy ~ Mackenzi Lee

February 23, 2019

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Genre: Young Adult/Historical Fiction

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

ISNB: 9780062795328

464 pages

Source: Barnes and Noble

Everyone has heard stories of women like us — cautionary tales, morality plays, warnings of what will befall you if you are a girl too wild for the world, a girl who asks too many questions or wants too much. If you set off into the world alone.

Everyone has heard stories of women like us, and now we will make more of them.” ~ The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (Mackenzie Lee)

Pirates and Feminism and Science, oh my!

Y’all, I LOVED the first book in this series for its romance and adventure but this second was even better.

Where A Gentleman’s Guide was witty and fun, A Lady’s Guide was far deeper and darker. There are several elements of Stalking Jack the Ripper woven in (mainly the sexism and barriers around women in medicine, heck, medicine as a proper science altogether). But there stories themselves are so incredibly different.

For those who read the first book (and honestly, you could get away with reading them separately), this story follows Felicity, Monty’s younger (and far smarter) sister. She has always and forever been a little different than her family and her peers. She’s bookish and reckless, where ladies are supposed to be both social and demure. She doesn’t have any of the expected social graces of her class but she has more drive and intellect than anyone else around her.

Felicity is bound and determined to leave the provincial, pedantic stronghold of marriage and tea parties, destined for a life of scientific advancement and academic knowledge.

And though she would rather circle up with a book than hit the cocktail and dinner party scene, she leaps over social niceties and heads strait from academics to adventure in sixty seconds flat. She basically has two speeds: on and off.

Felicity is complex, as are most humans. She is filled with ambition for her dreams and warmth for those dear to her. She can be hard headed but sometimes flexible. She echos much of today’s internalized misogyny in that she believes the only woman is a strong and fearless one, discounting the idea that one can be both driven and feminine. But that paradigm slowly shifts, moving from icy staunchness to a bit more melted openness, over time.

The social commentary in this book is so brilliant and it comes hard and fast at points, trickled streams at others. There is as much critical investigation of social norms as there is wild, unbounded adventure and y’all know that is my absolute favorite mix.


Opposition ~ Jennifer L. Armentrout

February 20, 2019

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Genre: Young Adult/Science Fiction

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

ISBN: 9781633756946

300 pages

Source: Amazon

Well, this one came in hot and heavy.

I’m going to do my usual series disclaimer, now, and beg you to stop reading this review if you haven’t read up to the fourth book.

Bye-bye, babes.

I’ll wait.

Ok, we’re about to get into this (seriously, you’ve been warned).

At the end of Origin, all hell broke loose. In an attempt to outsmart the Department of Defense, the known Luxen and some of the Origins (oh, yeah, and the Hybrids) had combined forces to stage this Vegas Strip worthy distraction to bust a road block out of the city.

It didn’t really go as planned (does anything ever in this series?).

So, now, the rest of the Luxen have arrived on Earth and they are not happy.

Nor are they like our sweet, sexy bands of triplets everyone has come to know and love over the course of the series.

Most of the newer, invading Luxen are these empathy-less glowworms, hell bent on doing the usual alien things: body snatching, pod people, and the like.

As is the apparent requirement for sci-fi adventure books, the central crew tasked with saving the world is made up of members of all competing parties. So, we’ve got humans, hybrids, D.O.D. members, Luxen, Origins, and a few Arum, banding together against every respective party, praying the world doesn’t go to crap.

The ending, well, I’ll let you find that out for yourself. Let me just say that I have been eyeball deep in aliens and this sorry for weeks with all of the twists and turns and even I didn’t see the end coming. I basically finished and wanted to go sprinting back to the beginning.

The Sisters Hemingway: A Novel ~ Annie England Noblin

February 18, 2019

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Genre: General Adult/Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

ISBN: 9780062674517

384 pages

Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

I have always had a thing for Hemingway so this was an automatic “Yes, please!” when TLC offered a spot on the tour.

I thought I was in for a rather heady, solemn treck through the Ozarks, Lost Generation style. Which I would have been fine with.

However, what I got was so much more.

The story finds the three adult Hemingway sisters, Martha, Pfeiffer, and Hadley, thrown to the four corners of the wind. A Nashvile-based superstar, a successful book editor in New York City, and the sparkling wife of a senator, they have all outgrown their humble beginnings.

But the death of the aunt who raised them brings them back to their rundown little town for what they hope is a very short visit.

These things never go the way they’re planned, of course, and the sisters have barely set foot on Missouri soil than they are wrapped up in town drama, extending their stay indefinitely.

As I mentioned above, I got way more than I thought I would with this story. The characters are all at their own version of rock bottom, hiding their downfalls from the other sisters. Little by little, though, their stories leak out, leading the women to question why they kept the others at arm’s length for so long to begin with. Each of their stories winds together to create this incredible tapestry of love, loss, and resilience that I’m not entirely sure my heart was prepared for.

The book is exquisitely sweet, sometimes a little heartwrenching, but ultimately healing in the best possible way.

As always, don’t just take my word for it! Go check out what these other book bloggers have to say:

Monday, February 18th: Instagram: @books.tea.quotes

Monday, February 18th: Iwriteinbooks’s blog

Tuesday, February 19th: BookNAround

Wednesday, February 20th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Friday, February 22nd: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books

Friday, February 22nd: Literary Quicksand

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes&Noble

About Annie England Noblin

Annie England Noblin lives with her son, husband, and three dogs in the Missouri Ozarks. She graduated with an M.A. in creative writing from Missouri State University and currently teaches English and communications for Arkansas State University in Mountain Home, Arkansas. She spends her free time playing make-believe, feeding stray cats, and working with animal shelters across the country to save homeless dogs.

Follow Annie on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Heavier Things

February 17, 2019

Instead of a wrap up, this Sunday, I’m going to do things a little differently.

Mental health is really important to me.

That should not be a surprise to anyone who follows this blog or my bookstagram account or knows me in real life.

I am about to graduate with a masters degree in clinical social work, this May, but that wasn’t the catalyst for the importance.

My interest started decades ago when my absolute dearest family member was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. It was scary, at first, and took a lot of work, but said person remains my hero and is often my own biggest cheerleader.

This was long before it was even halfway acceptable (because it’s still not actually “cool”) to talk openly about mental health struggles.

I actually lied to my mom about watching Frozen (though I did eventually make it all the way through), when it first came out because the absolute spot on parallel Disney painted to my own life was overwhelming. I stopped early on in my viewing, around the moment when the sisters are separated due to Elsa’s debilitating hurt and shame.

Not that we found ourselves fighting a raging ice monster but, honestly sometimes, Depression, Bipolar, Addiction, Eating Disorders, and other hurdles can feel that way.

Because there is so much secrecy and shame woven around mental illness and seeking mental wellness, we often find ourselves in a place where sharing feelings seems less scary than fighting monsters. And we do just about anything to lock ourselves in our own glass castles, away from anyone who might be caught in the fallout.

Flash forward a decade or so, and I had my own raging monsters to deal with. Alcoholism and Bulimia nearly took me out in my 20’s.


Even though I was the first crusader I knew for talking about mental health!

Even though I thought I knew everything there was to know!

Even though I had good people around me!

Even though!



And there it is.

It is, quite possible that we think that we have every advantage and won’t get “caught” by the things that bring other people down.

We’re better than addiction.

We’re stronger than depression.

We’re smarter than eating disorders.

I mean, written out like that, it seems a little silly.

But it’s easy to ignore the reality of brain chemistry when we keep everything inside.

Which is why writing and reading and talking about mental health and mental illness is so important.

That’s why I am crying happy tears (and some mourning tears, as well, for those battling all of the things) for the release of Jen Petro-Roy’s set of books focused on Eating Disorders.

Open, honest, and written in a way that invites conversation, GOOD ENOUGH and YOU ARE ENOUGH are absolutely about to change the game around not just eating disorders but around mental health, in general.

Jen has been a relentless warrior on behalf of the recovery community (you should definitely go check out her page at ANAD on body image) and was the person I reached out to when I found my own self inpatient for five weeks of Bulimia treatment.

I don’t hope we can change the conversation around mental health.

I know we can.

As long as we continue to speak out and reach out, sharing the vulnerable places with one another, instead of fighting monsters alone.

Origin ~ Jennifer L. Armentrout

February 16, 2019

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Genre: Young Adult/Science Fiction

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

ISBN: 9781622660759

400 pages

Source: Amazon

I was recently telling my boyfriend about this series. About how the content is completely incongruous with the covers. Especially past the first book, the entire series is a really gritty, complex science fiction story while the covers are just plastered with hot, half naked heartthrobs. Marketing missteps aside, I love these books.

If you haven’t made it to the third book, yet, please, oh please, stop reading, now.

I’ll wait.

::cue Jeopardy music::

Ok, so, everyone not up to speed should be gone, now. Otherwise, you have been warned.

Origin picks up immediate after Opal comes to a crushing end, with Katy trapped by the D.O.D. and/or the Arum. I’m not entirely sure who the good guys or bad guys are, anymore.

Katy’s locked away and Daemon is on the outside, about to make some very Daemon-like rash decisions. You know, per usual.

I’m really not rolling my eyes. Like I said, the series has gone from nonsense teen romance to all out sci-fi thriller and I am totally here for it.

Before about halfway through Opal, I didn’t get it. I honestly thought I’d been sunk by the same nonsense hype that gave birth to Twilight and Fifty Shades. But no. Nope. This actually has substance and it’s awesome.

The only downside is that it has a Creep Little Kid element which, if you know me at all, you know I do NOT do. Nope, nope, nope. I managed to power through, though. Because I’m a champ.

I love that the Department of Defense is somehow sinister. I love that it at least APPEARS to be a commentary on immigration, assimilation, and xenophobia. So, if you haven’t read this series (WHY ARE YOU DOWN HERE, THOUGH?!) just know that it heats up and gets way better toward the middle of the mayhem.

Enchantée ~ Gita Trelease

February 15, 2019

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Genre: Young Adult/Historical Fantasy

Publisher: Flatiron Books

ISBN: 9781250295521

464 pages

Source: Barnes and Noble

I’m not sure if I’ve simply read too many books about people in desperate situations or what but the beginning of this book stressed me out.

The first act opens on three siblings: seventeen year old Camille, her fourteen year old sister, Sophie, and their ridiculous excuse for an older brother, Alain. It is the Paris of 1789 and if you know your stuff, you know that’s a dangerous moment for basically everyone.

The siblings’ parents have been taken by smallpox, but not before their father was caught up in printing and distributing revolutionary fliers. That same sentiment runs like the inevitable blood through the streets, the nobility all the while playing a fantastic game of dodge and denial.

They are determined to survive, using Camille’s cheap, inherited magic to turn scrap metal into coins but that magic begins to fade, just as Alain’s drinking and gambling addictions lead him to run away with the meager savings they have left.

The only thing the remaining sisters have left is a darker form of magic, gifted to Camille by their mother who was a magician herself. With nothing but determination and magic to piece herself together, she heads for Versailles, dead set on winding her way in to court as her only means of saving her sister and herself.

I promise that this is not every single other “Down and our girl makes it big with a disguise” story. It’s rich with history, so much so that I could hear Les Miserables and the sound track from Marie Antoinette in my head, the whole way through. The backdrop also sang of revolutionary action a little closer to home, as a few characters from the time period showed up, freshly back from post-war America. Good ol’ Marquis de “I’m taking this horse by the reins”…ahem, I mean, Lafayette makes an appearance, making the period price aspect that much richer.

I am really bummed that there does not appear to be a sequel to the book because I was quite, um, enchanted by the whole thing. I love when someone is able to totally nail historical fiction with a side of magic, and this one does just that.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely ~ Brigid Kemmerer

February 14, 2019

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Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

ISBN: 9781681195087

496 pages

Source: Barnes and Noble

I have had a long running love-hate relationship with Beauty and the Beast.

The original is such a trap and setup for falling for and trying to change an abusive person who thinks the perfect partner can save them.

And while there is much clinging to the idea that love can save a person in this rendition, the abuse isn’t there. In fact, the character portrayal of The Beast, is flexible, kind, and generous. Rhen is definitely damaged and filled with the same self loathing as the original, but it manifests as melancholy as opposed to rage fits.

There isn’t a lot of backstory for the girl taken from modern day Washington D.C., presumably the Belle of the book. High schooler Harper has been coddled by her older brother, much of her life, after a birth mishap handed her a cerebral palsy diagnosis.

Her mom is sick and dad has gone missing, due to some affiliation with debt collecting scum who her brother now works for.

Aside from tidbits about her parents and a nod to her brother’s cute (and fairly new to Harper) boyfriend, that’s all we’re given before she is whisked away by a strange man, fighting for her life as she is whisked.

Most of the book is spent in Rhen’s kingdom, fighting for the lives of his citizens. There are multiple dark forces, literally on the horizon, who are threatening to tear everything apart. But Harper isn’t going to play by old rules and she lights a fire under the prince and his captain of the guard, allowing them to take pride in their homeland for the first time in many years.

The book is super fun and I really did enjoy most of the characters. I think it tried to do a little bit too much, though. Even though it was 500 pages long, it felt like it just barely touched the surface of the depth to where it could have gone.

In that way, I think it is pretty comparable to A Court of Thorns and Roses in that there is a lot of scene setting but you know there is way more that needs to be explored. Hopefully this series follows that Maas theme because I did love the rest of that trilogy once it got rolling. Fingers crossed we get much more out of the next few books for this one, as well.