Islands of the Crown #2: The Last Princess

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Below is a quote from Goodreads:

To the beat of war, crowns are kept and stolen. . .

Spanish Captain Raúl Calderón has accepted a daring mission in the Philippine colonies – to negotiate docking rights in hostile waters for the Manila Galleon. If successful, he can return from exile to be with those he loves. But when he is captured by slave raiders and delivered to the Last Princess, a woman known for killing those who cross her, he is thrust into the center of royal intrigue. The Last Princess is not what she seems, however, and Raúl must stay alive long enough to warn her of the danger in trusting those close to her.

Juliza Alimuddin, The Last Princess, hides behind a cutthroat reputation to protect her beloved islands. But when a mysterious Spaniard, Raúl Calderón, falls into her hands, she decides to go against her allies’ wishes and nurse him back to health. Her heart has been bruised in the past, yet Raúl brings out feelings she never thought she’d have again. Just when Juliza starts to believe in the possibility of love, however, she is betrayed and her family and sultanate put in a deadly situation. Will The Last Princess live up to her reputation when forced to choose between her people and the man she loves?

A clean historical romance from award-winning journalist and author Jewel Allen. Fans of swashbuckling tales will enjoy this action-packed novel, filled with romance, danger and intrigue of 1760s Philippines. Based on true historical events, this is Book Two of the Islands of the Crown series. Although this is part of a series, it reads as a standalone.

I was given a copy of this book for free in return for an honest review.

At the beginning of the book, Julia sounds like a badass, but as the book continues she seems to become softer in my opinion.

One thing that bugged me a little was that at one stage it sounded a bit like her father was dying, yet we never found out if he actually was or not. It would have been nice to find out though to get an answer to the question.

Was Koda in on the rebellion, or did he genuinely care for Juliza? Another question without an answer, unfortunately. I’m not sure whether it could have just been me or whether there actually was no answer for that.

There was also no mention in the entire book (that I can remember) that he was a ‘cripple’. It would have been nice to have that mentioned at least once to tie in with the previous book and give readers as a stand-alone a bit of background of him.

Rating: 3/5

1 *2 *3 *

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Islands of the Crown #1: The Spanish Exile – by Jewel Allen

The Spanish Exile
The Spanish Exile

Below is a summary from Goodreads:

In the flames of war, men are made and broken . . .

The fires of vengeance burn hot for Raul Calderon. Cast aside, forgotten, and abused by those above him, Raul is forced to make his own way in life. But he has the heart of a fighter who will do whatever it takes to prove himself – including joining the Spanish army. Yet when his sworn enemy becomes his commanding officer, Raul’s life quickly goes from bad to worse. Forced to witness the human misery of war and take part in creating that suffering, Raul walks a fine line between doing what’s right and obeying orders. But when Conchita, the love of his childhood and now the woman of his dreams, is placed in danger, can he cross the line to save her? Or will he be forced to choose between king and country and the woman he would do anything to have as his own

I was given a copy of this book for free in return for an honest review.

I thought that this book had a good plot line and I was interested to see where it went.

About halfway through the book, you tend to forget that he ever had a leg that everyone used to call cripple as it isn’t mentioned again. The same goes for the fencing instructor as he never comes up again.

Leandro did my head in. I didn’t like him from the first time he appeared.

Spoilers!

I’m glad that Raul didn’t stoop to his level to kill him – I’m glad that they finally managed to part ways while they’re both alive.

However I do think that his mother dying was out of the blue as there wasn’t really any hint before that that she had a heart condition or any other health issue.

End Spoilers!

I would have liked Conchita and Raul to be together, I think. But then the riots and other problems started to arise and proved that they couldn’t be. My theory is that she will marry Gabriel and they will continue to do “the people’s work” together.

It would have been a nice ending for the book if Raul had accepted Julio’s offer and stayed a while with them. Then he may have seen his niece or nephew be born and he may have gotten out of all that mess. However, maybe all that mess would have still happened, but not as well-timed with the king’s arrival.

Overall, I think it’s a good book though. Plenty of action and some romance too.

Rate: 3/5

1 *2 *3 *

A Little Something Different – by Sandy Hall

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A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

Summary from Goodreads below:

The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out.  But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship.

Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together….

The fourteen viewpoints were an interesting touch with this book as I haven’t seen any book with that many before. It was especially interesting as none of the viewpoints were from the main characters themselves – Azalea and Gabe. However there were a couple of viewpoints that I felt could have been left out, such as the bench and the squirrel. Another problem I have with the viewpoints was Victor’s point of view as it seemed to me that he hated Lea and Gabe and it felt a little as if his character was forced.

While reading this book, it did make me wish that Australia had a Starbucks, but instead I pictured my favourite local coffeeshop instead – a place called Hudson’s Coffee.

Spoiler Alert!

Gabe being in a car crash was also what I had guessed his problem was, but for him to act that way I thought someone had died in the crash. Whether someone died or not, it is still a big deal, definitely. But for him to be stuck on it for that long – that’s why I thought someone may have died.

On a happier note, I’m glad that they finally ended up together and when they kissed, it literally made me say “Aww! So cute!” aloud.

End Spoilers!

The author did do a good job with making the main characters likable though. My favourite secondary character would probably have to be their creative writing teacher though as I would probably have done a similar sort of thing if I was in that position.

Rating: 4/5

1 *2 *3 *4 *

Black Beauty – by Anna Sewell

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Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Summary from Goodreads below:

Black Beauty is a handsome, sweet-tempered colt with a strong spirit. As a young colt he is free to gallop in the fresh green meadows with his beloved mother, Duchess, and their kind master. But when his owners are forced to sell him, Black Beauty goes from a life of comfort and kindness to one of hard labour and cruelty. Bravely he works as hard as he can, suffering at the hands of men who treat animals badly. But Black Beauty has an unbreakable spirit and will, and is determined to survive

Once upon a time, I had a hardcover Black Beauty book with Black Beauty’s face looking at you from the front cover. Unfortunately, that was lost during one of our past moves. I have since purchased a box set of Puffin classics and this was one of those books.

This cover is actually quite good looking and it’s a nice hard cover too. I kept up with what page I was up to in the physical book while I mainly listened to it as an audio book.

There were actually many life lessons to be learned from this novel too. A couple of examples of this are on page 67 where it is said “There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast then it is all a sham – all a sham, James, and it won’t stand when things come to be turned inside out and put down for what they are.”

Another example is on page 204 where it is said “My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt.”

Spoiler Alert!

Towards the end, we lose a good character, who was a friend of Black Beauty’s, to death: Ginger. This made me actually pretty sad, but I wasn’t quite wanting to cry. The wording was done very well for that scene though, I think.

However, at the end of the book when Black Beauty ends up at his original home with his original name and back with little Joe Green who was originally at his home too, just older now like he was, made me very happy and actually shocked me a little.

End Spoilers!

This book is good for bringing animal cruelty and animal abuse to the surface. It is tough to read if you are sensitive to animal cruelty, but someone needs to talk about it in a way that will make people listen, which is what Anne Sewell has done.

Rating: 4/5

1 *2 *3 *4 *

Peter Pan and Wendy – by J.M Barrie

Peter Pan and Wendy
https://www.goodreads.com/book/photo/25246250-peter-pan-and-wendy

Below is a summary from Goodreads:

Meet Peter Pan, the boy who never grows up; Tinkerbell, the mischievous fairy; the Lost Boys; and the villainous Captain Hook. A swashbuckling children’s adventure classic for generations, this edition has beautiful illustrations by beloved illustrator Shirley Hughes.

This was a cute little book with really nice illustrations to look at every few pages or so.

As I’ve seen the Disney film Peter Pan a few times before, that’s all I could imagine Peter, the Lost Boys, Wendy and the other to look like. About halfway through I imagined the illustrations as the characters instead except Wendy.

This book is just a little darker than the Disney film showed us all it to be as there is death – Peter creates much of it himself – but it is sort of skirted around.

“They little dreamed that the unprincipled Hook would ambush them about 7 p.m. The consequence was, that they nearly all perished.”

Was still a good book to zoom through though.

1 *2 *3 *

 

Asking For It – by Louise O’Neill

Asking For It - ebook
Image taken from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30965521-asking-for-it
Asking For It - ebook 2
Image taken from: http://louiseoneillauthor.com/books/

Trigger Warning: non-consent, suicide

Below is a summary from Louise O’Neill’s website:

It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident.

One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there.

She doesn’t know why she’s in pain.

But everyone else does. Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night.

But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes…

I got this book as an ebook from NetGalley.

It didn’t take me as long to read this book as I thought it would because I have been in a massive reading slump for months. However it did make a lot of powerful points.

“No one forced them to wear that. They’re just asking for something to happen to them like that.”

No.

No one forced the perpetrator to do what they did either, but they did it because they wanted to do it.

The main point of his book is that no one is ever ‘asking for it’ because of what they wear, how they act, and so on. Victims of sexual crimes shouldn’t be made to feel punished for something that isn’t their fault.

When the main character, Emma, had that happen to her, she didn’t know how to cope. Yet no one takes her side and believes her (not even her best friends). This is because she wasn’t the nicest person (even to her best friends), she dressed what could be classed as inappropriately, and she had slept with people before. But that’s sort of the point – non-consented sex can happen to anyone of any age, race, gender, or personality type.

“They are all innocent until proven guilty. Not me, I am a liar until proven honest.”

This is a book that I urge you to read. This is a book that I urge everyone to read. Especially those in high school. It’s hit-you-in-the-face honesty that we live in a world like this, and Louise O’Neill doesn’t sugar coat that fact.

This is a book that will stay in your mind.

1 *2 *3 *4 *

 

A Court of Thorns and Roses #1: A Court of Thorns and Roses – by Sarah J. Maas

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Image taken from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22839894-a-court-of-thorns-and-roses

Below is a summary from Sarah J. Maas’ website:

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin-one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin-and his world-forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristen Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

A Court of Thorns and Roses (also nicknamed ACOTAR) is the first book in a new trilogy by Sarah J. Maas and is a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story. Luckily there is a guide in the back for those hard to pronounce names such as Feyre (Fay-ruh) and Rhysand (Ree-sand).

I still can’t quite get my thoughts together about this book but I do know that I absolutely loved it, even as I think that I’m coming into a reading slump. There were points when I wanted to cry yet didn’t. However, there was one moment when I lost it and just broke down.

Spoiler Alert!

This, my friends, would be the part where Feyre died and how Tamlin reacted when he knew that she was gone. Also following that too when all the High Fae gave her a little sprinkle of magic or something along those lines to bring her back.

End Spoilers!

There is a divide between a lot of people over whether Feyre should be with Rhysand (with a ‘ship’ name of Feysand) or whether she should be with Tamlin with the lovely ‘ship’ name of Feylin. Until today, I was firmly in the camp of Feylin, but now I have one foot each side of the line.

I think that it was good that she went home even just so that we could find out what happened to her sisters and to give us peace of mind to know that her family was okay.

The only thing that slightly bugged me was the way that Rhysand left at the end, only as I badly want to know what happened there but there is no hint to what that is yet so I assume it will be shown in the next book.

Rating: 5/5

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