This year is flying by, and I’m churning away at the TBR list like there is no tomorrow. My days consist of writing, reading, editing, reviewing, and researching on a repeat loop, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sure, I throw in an occasional exercise routine. Weights here, a little cardio there, a recovery cookie for dragging myself through the mental prep it takes to force each pained step through the above “recommended” exercises.
Now, hear me out, I’m a healthcare professional, in addition to penning books, who values keeping the body healthy. Having stated the obvious, I don’t have to say I “love” it, or even “like” it, but all in all, I appreciate what exercise can do for my mind, body and writing.
What I do “love” is a great book, and boy do I have two I’m raving about today: The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki, and Flyte by Angie Sage. Yep, they are from different genres, the first is historical fiction and the later from fantasy fiction, but I do love reading various genres. I find that it enhances my writing in a number of ways. But, I digress. These masterful written and entertaining pieces of art command attention from the get go, and I’m excited to review them for you today.
The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki
Genre: Historical Fiction
Ages: Teen to Adult
Book Blurb via Amazon: “A New York Times bestseller, The Accidental Empress is the “captivating, absorbing, and beautifully told” (Kathleen Grissom).love story of “Sisi” the Austro-Hungarian empress and wife of Emperor Franz Joseph.
The year is 1853, and the Habsburgs are Europe’s most powerful ruling family. With his empire stretching from Austria to Russia, from Germany to Italy, Emperor Franz Joseph is young, rich, and ready to marry.
Fifteen-year-old Elisabeth, “Sisi,” Duchess of Bavaria, travels to the Habsburg Court with her older sister, who is betrothed to the young emperor. But shortly after her arrival at court, Sisi finds herself in an unexpected dilemma: she has inadvertently fallen for and won the heart of her sister’s groom. Franz Joseph reneges on his earlier proposal and declares his intention to marry Sisi instead.
Thrust onto the throne of Europe’s most treacherous imperial court, Sisi upsets political and familial loyalties in her quest to win, and keep, the love of her emperor, her people, and of the world.
With Pataki’s rich period detail and cast of complex, bewitching characters, The Accidental Empress offers “another absolutely compelling story” (Mary Higgins Clark) with this glimpse into one of history’s most intriguing royal families, shedding new light on the glittering Hapsburg Empire and its most mesmerizing, most beloved “Fairy Queen.”
Discussion: Okay, as most historical fiction’s go, the 512 pages may seem overwhelming at first glance, and if you’re new to historical fiction, then this may be the absolute turning point in the decision to pick up the book or not. However, Pataki’s superior grasp on weaving an extraordinary tale gleaned from true life accounts of a young empress, plucked too soon from the protective confines of her childhood home, will leave you yearning for a sequel. And not to disappoint her fans, Allison Pataki hints at a possible continuation as the life of Sisi is too luminous and compelling to contain in one formidable book.
So, for those wondering about the length, don’t worry. The pages fly by, turning faster than a fan blade on high power. As a matter of fact, I was quite disappointed to have only touched the tippy top of this compelling, vivacious, resilient young Sisi, who after a long and arduous road, finds strength after heartbreak and despair on multiple occasions. Yes, I too swore indecent accusations at her mother-in-law (MIL) and spouse. I flung the book in haste onto the bed at the intrusion of Mother Sophie and relished in how her pompous attitude was hacked down a tier or two as I neared the close of the book. Don’t worry, the book was unharmed in the events of disdain. Although my psyche took a hit, dreaming about Sophie’s snooty grins and pudgy fingers grasping yet another delicate treat only the Hapsburg Court could afford to eat. Yes, the frustration and loathing was palpable in my household, and I can thank the exquisite Allison Pataki for that;-)
As far as the historical significance of the book, Pataki rarely strayed from actual accounts of Empress Sisi, and I owe a monstrous “Thank you” to her for that. It’s disappointing to read a historical fiction book that strays too far from the truth, and Ms. Pataki doesn’t disappoint. Her genius lies in the way she embodies Sisi’s imagined thoughts during her lifespan that keep the reader glued to the pages and wanting for more. I found myself wondering how it would feel to be plunged into the depths of the Hapsburg family without a life raft or boat, some kind of anchor to hold near. Not even her mother, who lived days away, could soften the blows of an overbearing MIL or the estrangement of her husband.
If you haven’t been introduced to Allison Pataki’s books, I’d advise you to take a look. She pens a book better than most, and she’s a credit to the historical fiction genre.
Flyte by Angie Sage
Genre: Children’s Fantasy/Magic
Ages: 8-12, but Adult’s love it too!
Book Blurb via Amazon:
“It’s been a year since Septimus Heap discovered his real family and true calling to be a wizard. As Apprentice to ExtraOrdinary Wizard Marcia Overstrand, he is learning the fine arts of Conjurations, Charms, and other Magyk, while Jenna is adapting to life as the Princess and enjoying the freedom of the Castle.
But there is something sinister at work. Marcia is constantly trailed by a menacing Darke Shadow, and Septimus’s brother Simon seems bent on a revenge no one understands. Why is the Darke Magyk still lingering?
Bringing fantasy to new heights, Angie Sage continues the journey of Septimus Heap with her trademark humor and all of the clever details readers have come to love.”
Discussion: The second book in the Septimus Heap series, Ms. Angie Sage continues the fascinating and nail-biting adventures of Septimus Heap, Princess Jenna, Nicko, their dragon boat, and a mystical world of magic waiting for the reader who dares to turn it’s pages. The castle, in disarray, anxiously awaits the return of Septimus amongst the chaos of the Extraordinary Wizard, Marcia, whose sinister dark shadow grows ever more tangible with each passing day, threatening the demise of her charge over the castle and those seeking to keep the wizarding world from falling into evil hands.
Ms. Sage uses vibrant descriptions, placing the reader directly into the surroundings, which I find difficult to write, but it’s effortless for her. The terminology, spells, and background stories all compel me down the rabbit hole of Flyte. What an adventure! Likable for all ages, Flyte touches on the nuances of parental struggles, sibling rivalry, and the typical angst of growing up all compiled into one. A quick and easy read, I’m grabbing the next in the series, “Physik,” faster than a toddler throwing spaghetti onto a wall.
While the series targets an audience between the ages of 8-12, I recommend teens and adults grab a copy, too. It’s a fabulous book to drain away trials of the day. Although, it may contribute to some sleepless nights with a never ending internal dialogue of, “Just one more chapter!” Honestly, I’ve tried in vain to find something about this book that I could critique, but I’m at a loss. And, no, I don’t always give 5/5 reviews;-)
For lovers of magical fantasy, please check out Angie Sage.
So, what’s next on my TBR list? Well, I’ve got quite a few, but I’m always interested in your thoughts! Please, comment below on books or series that make your list of favorites. I love Indie authors, too! As a matter of fact, I’m reading an indie book right now in the midst of a plethora of books I’m using for research. A author’s work is never done!