#1 in the Maids of Honor series
This is the book I wanted the Palace of Spies series to be. Both series follow a maid of honor/ladies in waiting type of group and involves courtly mysteries and an interesting historical backdrop (with minor appearances by real people). However, of the two, I much prefer the Maids of Honor series.
While the series isn't amazing, it does have likable characters (and nice camaraderie between them) and a mystery that did keep me engaged. It's fun. The stakes felt higher, and I was definitely considering nail-biting during the torture scene. Best endorsement? It grabbed me quickly and got me out of a reading slump.
This is the first in a series, but it ended well enough as a standalone. I didn't feel the need to immediately read the sequel (I read Maid of Secrets in May 2014), but I do intend to read Maid of Deception soon (I actually took it out of the library the day before I was approved for Dangerous Deceptions, the sequel to Palace of Spies, but they were just too similar to read so close together).
Recommended, especially to readers who like light historical mysteries.
4 out of 5 stars
A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard
#2 in the Something Strange and Deadly series
I put off reading this book for a while, because while I liked Something Strange and Deadly well enough, I didn't love it. It was fluffy and fun enough and it moved pretty quickly (which is always a plus), but it lacked pretty hard on the character front.
Those characters only got worse in the sequel, which is why I ultimately DNF-ed. The story of A Darkness Strange and Lovely was good-ish, if kind of slow (halfway through the book and NOTHING has happened). Still, I was having a pleasant enough time.
But then Eleanor meets this guy Oliver who seems to be a pretty nice guy (if suffering from the same "gosh you're young" personality as Eleanor's love interest). And she proceeds to treat him like absolute, total crap. What gives, Eleanor??
Then she met up with her Spirit Hunter friends (I can't help but inwardly groan every time that cutesy-quirky stereotypical band of do-nothing, lame slayer wannabes come on the page. Harsh, I know, I'm sorry!) and she decides to LIE TO HER FRIENDS. For no good reason (except dragging out contrived drama).
DNF on page 150 of 295 (e-book pages. The print book has 400ish pages)