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You are here: Home » Keeps You Guessing

THE TRAITOR IN THE TUNNEL by Y.S. Lee Book Review
Series: The Agency, #3
Publication Date: February 28th 2012 by Candlewick Press
Rating: |

Book Summary: Get steeped in suspense, romance, and high Victorian intrigue as Mary goes undercover at Buckingham Palace – and learns a startling secret at the Tower of London.

Queen Victoria has a little problem: there’s a petty thief at work in Buckingham Palace. Charged with discretion, the Agency puts quickwitted Mary Quinn on the case, where she must pose as a domestic while fending off the attentions of a feckless Prince of Wales. But when the prince witnesses the murder of one of his friends in an opium den, the potential for scandal looms large. And Mary faces an even more unsettling possibility: the accused killer, a Chinese sailor imprisoned in the Tower of London, shares a name with her long-lost father. Meanwhile, engineer James Easton, Mary’s onetime paramour, is at work shoring up the sewers beneath the palace, where an unexpected tunnel seems to be very much in use. Can Mary and James trust each other (and put their simmering feelings aside) long enough to solve the mystery and protect the Royal Family? Hoist on your waders for Mary’s most personal case yet, where the stakes couldn’t be higher – and she has everything to lose.

Book Review Overview:

  • A mystery that will keep you guessing at the edge of your seat
  • Mary/James chemistry is as great as ever
  • Fantastic third installment in the Agency series; I want more

Disclaimer: You probably don’t want to read this review of THE TRAITOR IN THE TUNNEL by YS Lee if you have not read the two previous books. I highly recommend them.

Mary Quinn is back undercover – this time as a parlor maid in the Buckingham Palace – investigating a string of petty thefts. Y.S. Lee is a fantastic mystery writer that will leave you at the edge of your seat. She will keep you guessing, only to leave your jaw hanging wide open at the climax of the novel. THE TRAITOR IN THE TUNNEL by YS Lee has an ending you’ll never see coming.

One of the reasons that I love the Agency series by YS Lee is the fact that Mary is half Chinese. It’s rare that you ever see that in a Victorian novel, but Lee makes it work. There’s so much depth to Mary because of her backstory. Not only is she half-Chinese, but she’s also an orphan and a criminal. Mary has so many things going against her that you can’t help but cheer for her character. She continues to be a headstrong character in THE TRAITOR IN THE TUNNEL by YS Lee. I love that we are finally given more insight to her Chinese ancestry and questions about her background are finally answered. (Yep, no spoilers – that’s all your getting from me.)

Okay, I admit that I had to slow myself down at times. I mentally chastised myself for reading way too quickly just so I can get to the next Mary/James encounter. But then again, who can blame me? One of the reasons why I love this series is for the fantastic sexual tension between Mary and James. THE TRAITOR IN THE TUNNEL by YS Lee is no exception. Lots of banter, teasing, and romantic moments that will be sure to please fans. James and Mary continue to be one of my favorite couples in YA.

Like any historical novel that I read, I did question the historical accuracy of some parts of THE TRAITOR IN THE TUNNEL by YS Lee. It’s only right that I do. But whatever questions that popped up in my head were soon squashed, once I remembered Lee’s background. She has a PhD in Victorian literature and culture! I love that I can put my trust in an author’s writing to be historically accurate.

Fans of the Agency series by YS Lee will be satisfied with the third installment without a doubt. And of course, I definitely did my fan girl dance when I found out that there is a fourth book in the works.

Why I’m Biased: I’m in love with this series. Y.S. Lee can do no wrong.

Other Book Reviews:
Baggins’s Book Blabber

About the Author

Y. S. Lee was born in Singapore but brought up in Canada. She also lived briefly in the United Kingdom. An academic with a PhD in Victorian literature and culture, she wrote MASCULINITY AND THE ENGLISH WORKING CLASS IN VICTORIAN AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND FICTION. She lives in Ontario, Canada.

Find the Author

Website | Twitter | GoodReads



Comments 2 comments

Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Four Stars - , , , , , , , , , , | Words 1130 words



You are here: Home » Keeps You Guessing

AURELIA by Anne Osterlund Book Review
Series: Aurelia, #1
Publication Date: April 17th 2008 by Puffin
Rating: – Acceptable |

Book Summary: Princess Aurelia is next in line to rule the kingdom of Tyralt, but she would rather be one of the common folk, free to learn and roam and . . . not marry the next tyrannical prince that comes courting. Naturally, the king wants Aurelia to marry for political power. Aurelia wants to marry for love. And someone in the kingdom wants her . . . dead. Assigned to investigate and protect Aurelia is Robert, the son of the king’s former royal spy and one of Aurelia’s oldest friends. As Aurelia and Robert slowly uncover clues as to who is threatening her, their friendship turns to romance. With everything possible on the line, her life, her kingdom, her heart, Aurelia is forced to take matters into her own hands, no matter the cost.

Aurelia by Anne Osterlund Book Review Overview:

  • Reads like historical fiction, but is set in a fictional kingdom of Tyralt
  • The romance was a little disappointing; I wished for just a little extra oomph
  • Mystery that keeps you guessing until the end

In AURELIA by Anne Osterlund, Robert Vantague travels back to the kingdom of Tyralt to uncover an assassination plot against Princess Aurelia. The son of the king’s former royal spy, Robert is also Aurelia’s childhood friend. Can Robert keep Aurelia safe and uncover the culprit before it’s too late?

AURELIA by Anne Osterlund reads like a historical fiction novel. However, the setting is in a fictional kingdom where Aurelia is the heir to the throne. Anne Osterlund crafts Tyralt, a beautiful kingdom that Aurelia is set to rule one day. I loved the world-building, as well as the conflicts that Anne Osterlund has set up in AURELIA with the neighboring kingdoms. Though not based on real historical facts, AURELIA by Anne Osterlund managed to quench my craving for a historical read.

I loved the premise of the romance in AURELIA by Anne Osterlund, but I wished there was just a little more juiciness to the romance. Osterlund keeps the romance strictly PG in AURELIA, which made me a bit disappointed. I love romances in which the suitor is deemed unworthy of the heroine due to differences in classes because the fun emerges in how the heroine and the suitor overcome this problem. There is certainly chemistry between Aurelia and Robert, but what the romance lacked was passion. I’m not asking for Undying Devotion, but a cuter line here or there in AURELIA by Anne Osterlund would have made me a happier reader.

Aurelia and Robert’s love of horses become a pretty important element in AURELIA by Anne Osterlund. I was fascinated by the Geordian desert horses in the story. Their strength, beauty, and ability to race reminded me of the water horses in Maggie Stiefvater’s THE SCORPIO RACES.

As for the actual plot, AURELIA by Anne Osterlund will keep you guessing until the very end. Despite my attempts to guess the culprit of the assassination plot, Anne Osterlund managed to keep me on my toes. I did not see the ending of AURELIA by Anne Osterlund coming, though the clues were there all along. When the culprit was revealed, I immediately thought to myself, Why didn’t I figure that out myself? But I realized that it was because Osterlund made me doubt myself and like the characters, I fell for the carefully laid facade that the character had put up. AURELIA by Anne Osterlund is a well-written mystery.

Fans of historical fiction, fairy tales, and princesses will love AURELIA by Anne Osterlund. If you love forbidden romances, I would also recommend you to pick up this book.

Other Book Reviews:
Refracted Light Reviews
The Review Diaries

About the Author

Anne Osterlund grew up in the sunshine of Eastern Oregon and graduated from Whitworth College. She lives in a cute little yellow house with her new feline friend, Charlotte, and her own library of young adult books. She also teaches sixth grade and enjoys immersing her students in language, literature, and imagination. Anne has written three novels, Aurelia, Academy 7, and Exile, all published by Penguin Books, and is polishing a fourth.

Find the Author

Website | Blog | GoodReads



Comments 8 comments

Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Three Stars - , , , , , , , | Words 1095 words



You are here: Home » Keeps You Guessing

EVERY YOU, EVERY ME by David Levithan
Publication Date: September 13th 2011 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Rating: |

Summary: In this high school-set psychological tale, a tormented teen named Evan starts to discover a series of unnerving photographs—some of which feature him. Someone is stalking him . . . messing with him . . . threatening him. Worse, ever since his best friend Ariel has been gone, he’s been unable to sleep, spending night after night torturing himself for his role in her absence. And as crazy as it sounds, Evan’s starting to believe it’s Ariel that’s behind all of this, punishing him. But the more Evan starts to unravel the mystery, the more his paranoia and insomnia amplify, and the more he starts to unravel himself. Creatively told with black-and-white photos interspersed between the text so the reader can see the photos that are so unnerving to Evan, Every You, Every Me is a one-of-a-kind departure from a one-of-a-kind author.

Review Overview:

  • Writing style forced me slow down when reading
  • The photographic addition to the narrative is different, but I can’t say I was stunned by the photography
  • Not my favorite Levithan book but still worth picking up for the mystery

The style of EVERY YOU, EVERY ME is not one that I’ve encountered before. At his book signing, Levithan properly gave credit to the author that used it first, but of course, I can’t remember who that certain author is. Written from the perspective of Evan, the narrative style is very stream of consciousness. Evan says whatever he wants to, but he constantly strikes out words when he second guesses what he says. You’ll see a lot of excess adjectives crossed out; sometimes entire sentences. I found that the writing style forced me to slow down while I read. While it made me appreciate the style a bit more, I also found it a lot more challenging to read. The combination of constant striked out sentences and the stream of consciousness writing felt extremely choppy to me. The novel doesn’t flow as much as I preferred as a reader, and as a result, I read a lot slower than usual.

Of course, it’s difficult to talk about this book without touching on the photographs – because let’s be honest: that’s one of the other reasons that make this book unique. Levithan worked with his friend Farmer to create a novel that worked with photographs. Farmer took each photograph featured in the book and it was up to Levithan to find a way to incorporate every single one. Farmer had no idea what Levithan was writing, and Levithan had no idea what photograph would follow. It was great to take a break from the usual storytelling format, but I wouldn’t say that I was stunned by any of the pictures in the book. I love the idea that both of them were able to work so well together to create a story – even if they had no idea that it would work at the time.

Nonetheless, the mystery behind Ariel kept me hooked. I had some theories as to what had happened to her, but Levithan still managed to keep me on my toes the entire time. Just when I thought I was coming to a conclusion, the characters would just say something that made me second-guess myself.

The combination of photographs and choppy sentences also makes this book a really short read. The book isn’t long to begin with, and since many pages are not filled entirely with text, it is very easy to read this book in one sitting.

I would definitely recommend this book to fans of David Levithan. This one isn’t my favorite work of Levithan, so I wouldn’t exactly recommend this book to someone who has never picked up one of his works. However, if you’re really in the mood for a book that will keep you guessing, pick this one up!

If I wasn’t such a huge Levithan fan, I would have been disappointed that I bought this book instead of just borrowing it from the library. This one is definitely a Borrow It for me if it was written by anyone else.

Why I’m Biased: David Levithan is one of my favorite authors. Ever. So I admit I have a tendency to hold high standards.

Other Reviews:
Gone with the Words
Good Books & Good Wine

About the Author

David Levithan (born 1972) is an American children’s book editor and award-winning author. He published his first YA book, Boy Meets Boy, in 2003. Levithan is also the founding editor of PUSH, a Young Adult imprint of Scholastic Press.

Find the Author

Website | Twitter | GoodReads



Comments 5 comments

Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Three Stars - , , , , , , | Words 1107 words



When the day shall come that we do part, if my last words are not 'I love you'-ye'll ken it was because I didna have time.
- Diana Gabaldon, The Feiry Cross


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