REVIEW: The High Priest’s Daughter by Katie Cross

It’s launch day for The High Priest’s Daughter, the third book in the Network Series by Katie Cross (though it’s sort of also the fifth book because there’s a prequel and an ancillary novella as well).

The High Priest's Daughter cover image

This is the best book in the series yet! If you’re new to the Network Series, you should probably start with either Miss Mabel’s School for Girls (book one) or Mildred’s Resistance (the prequel), depending on how you like to get into a series—original-first or chronological. Or you could just get this one today and then go back and start from the beginning afterward.

Review

Having read the earlier books in the series, I knew even before I started reading this one that I was in for a treat.

The Central Network is preparing for war and Bianca is involved in some tense diplomatic action and political intrigue. The horrors of dark Almorran magic become more apparent as the conflict erupts. At the same time, Bianca and her best friends are growing into adulthood, and as the other girls begin dating, she fears she will lose them to love and marriage. Then her adored father starts to come on heavy about what she’s allowed to do and whom she’s allowed to spend time with, and an evil voice whispering in her dreams tries to force her to make an impossible deal.

As with the other books in this series, there are some darker elements (pain, death, evil spells, an amputated limb) that might be a bit much for very sensitive readers or those below middle school. The emerging romances are handled with such a light touch that I’d feel comfortable recommending it even to (advanced) readers as young as fifth grade, despite it being a complex enough story for mature readers to enjoy.

Also, I want a Volare.

The message? Change is hard, but inevitable, and the bonds of friendship and family grow stronger through it in the end.

Favourite quote? “I pressed my hands onto the Volare to test it, delighted when it rippled as fluidly and lightly as silk. It lowered itself so I could scoot on rear first. I slipped across the soft weave, expecting it to feel loose, like sitting on a piece of cloth suspended between two chairs. But the Volare remained sure and firm.”

How I found this book? The author is one of my e-book production clients; I read it while working. (Note: a review is NOT part of my client services.)

4.5 stars • rare • truly excellent, blew me away, unforgettable

About Katie Cross

KATIE CROSS grew up in the mountains of Idaho, where she still loves to play when she gets the chance. If she’s not writing, you can find her traveling, working as a pediatric nurse, trail running with her husband and two dogs, or curled up with a book and a cup of chai. Visit her at www.kcrosswriting.com.

Where to find The High Priest’s Daughter

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OFFICIAL PAGE WITH LINKS TO iBOOKS, KOBO & MORE

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Review: SEE JANE FALL by Katy Regnery

So I’m lucky enough to be part of the blog tour for See Jane Fall, book #3 in the Heart of Montana series by Katy Regnery.

See Jane Fall Blog Tour Banner

I’ll start off by saying that I’m already a huge fan of Katy’s writing in general and her Heart of Montana series in particular. I don’t think you absolutely need to read the others in the series before this one since it certainly stands alone, but since you’ll probably end up wanting to read them all anyway, it wouldn’t hurt you to grab the first two as well and have a three-book reading binge. And you know what? There’s a Rafflecopter giveaway for e-books of By Proxy (Heart of Montana #1) and Midsummer Sweetheart (Heart of Montana #2) going on until Sunday, as part of the book tour. Just putting that out there. The Lindstroms are… quite a family.

Review

If you enjoy “ugly duckling” stories and family sagas, this is a book (and series) for you. Jane thinks she’s plain, as her name suggests, having grown up in the shadow of her supermodel cousin Sara — known to the world as Samara Amaya. Under family pressure to keep her job as Samara’s assistant despite truly unpleasant working conditions, she’s overdue for a bit of love and happiness. Unfortunately, past experience has proven that every nice thing Jane has gets taken away, and she has no reason to hope it’ll be different this time. So when she meets tour guide Lars Lindstrom during the preparation for supermodel Samara’s fashion shoot in Yellowstone National Park, Jane knows she won’t have a chance once Samara rolls in. Lars says he’s “not that guy” but Jane can’t trust his words, can she?

See Jane Fall is a truly enjoyable book, smoothly written, entertaining, with a nice balance of fun and heat and emotion. I like Jane and her inner turmoil and issues feel real. As for Lars, his choices at certain stages of the book might annoy or infuriate some readers, but I think he comes across as authentic and fully developed, and he certainly redeems himself in full by the end. There’s a bit of red herring jealousy involved, but it’s handled naturally enough that it didn’t really bother me. I adore the way he calls her Minx, and their unfolding relationship is as full and sweet as anything I’ve read in a while.

The message? Family relationships are complicated but everyone has a breaking point beyond which no amount of blood ties and obligation will hold.

Favourite quote? “And yet without his permission or blessing hers was the face the earth had turned to him, to whom he felt bundled and bound, as surely as he did to Yeller, as surely as he was a Lindstrom, and he didn’t know what to do if he couldn’t have her — if she wouldn’t, or couldn’t, belong to him.”

How I found this book? I know the author through Facebook and was invited to be part of the blog tour — Book Plug Promotions gave me a PDF review copy, but I ended up buying it for my Kindle anyway.

4 stars • a definite keeper, highly recommended, totally gripping and very well done

About Katy Regnery

KATY REGNERY, contemporary romance author of the Heart of Montana and Enchanted Places series, has always loved telling a good story. She credits her mother with making funny, heartwarming tales come alive throughout her childhood. A lifelong devotee of all romance writing, from Edwardian to present-day, it was just a matter of time before Katy tried her hand at writing a love story of her own. Living in northern Fairfield County, Connecticut, where her writing room looks out at the woods, her family creates just enough cheerful chaos to remind her that the very best love stories of all are the messy and unexpected ones.

Please track down Katy on Twitter (@KatyRegnery) or Facebook (KatyRegnery) where she loves interacting with her fans…especially at #LunchtimeLiveWithKaty every weekday from 12-1pm EST.

Where to find See Jane Fall

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Review & Interview: Miss Mabel’s School for Girls by Katie Cross

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Review

If you like YA fantasy, Miss Mabel’s School for Girls is a must-read. Set aside your comparisons with Harry Potter (inevitable forevermore when an author combines boarding school and witches, not to mention competitions and curses), because Miss Mabel’s is an all-girls boarding school, and Bianca Monroe is far from a “smart girl” stereotype in a witch hat. She struggles with homework, prefers practical study to book learning, adores her family, can’t bear to be caged in… and then there’s that deadly curse she needs to get rid of. To live past the age of seventeen, she has to negotiate with an ultra-glamorous and deadly devious witch who’s playing a much deeper game than anyone knows.

It’s a page-turner that will tempt you to read it all in one sitting, staying up past your bedtime or whatever it takes. The characters are engaging, and the plot clips along with enough unexpected twists to keep you guessing. Don’t expect romance — the only men we see are Bianca’s father and the old coachman — but the plot doesn’t need it. Do expect some darker elements; there’s illness, pain, nasty curses, a couple of deaths, and hints of impending war (so readers below middle school might not be ready for it). This book would make a fabulous movie.

The message? You can be as strong as you need to be.

Favourite quote? “It felt good, mixing fear with a bit of courage, making me feel like I stood up to her, when really I depended on her for my life.”

How I found this book? I know the author through Facebook and am on her launch team — go, Katie!

4.5 stars • rare • truly excellent, blew me away, unforgettable

My Interview with Katie Cross

Kella: Could you tell me a little about the world of the Network, beyond the book?

Katie: Yes! And then we’ll make this an exclusive interview that no one else has. Ha!

Kella: Does everyone there do at least some magic — is it a world entirely of witches?

Katie: It’s a world of just witches… for now. Although, off the record, there’s a distinct possibilities that mortals could make a reappearance in some vague future book.

Kella: I get the sense that it’s a relatively low-tech world of horse-drawn carriages and candles; is there any interest in technology, or does everyone rely on magic for progress?

Katie: It’s all kinds of Medieval! Which is, for me, part of the appeal. Bianca (my main character) doesn’t need her iMac to be bad ass, which is awesome. I envy her courage.

Kella: There are some references to potential war between the Networks… what would that involve? A magical war, like a large-scale multi-person Mactos?

Katie: War, which is inevitable for this world, will involve both magic and brute strength. Each Network has their own kind of culture around the magic, which means they will all fight it differently. I haven’t actually figured that out entirely yet. I’m still in negotiations with the East.

Kella: You mention some coins called sacrans and pentacles; how does the money system work? Is everything done by payment with coins, or is it a world where one might also barter, or incur obligations by doing favours?

Katie: There are coins, but many people take care of things on a bartering level. For example, I would easily buy twelve of Miss Celia’s cinnamon buns for a pentacle. Whereas she’ll sometimes trade them for new material for an apron.

Kella: So, which character was the hardest for you to write?

Katie: Bianca, the main character. I felt like I didn’t really find her until later drafts. Once I found her though, she was an open book. She’s got a snarky side that’s pretty easy to like.

Kella: Why did you choose to write a YA Fantasy series?

Katie: I kind of felt like the book chose me, if that makes any sense. It just seemed to fall out of me. The first draft only took seven weeks to write.

Kella: Who inspires you?

Katie: Pinterest. Seriously. I love to stroll through the boards when I’m stuck. Husband is a big inspiration to me because he’s constantly pushing himself to be better and strive higher. There’s nothing he can’t do and I think that’s incredible.

Kella: What is your personal favourite line from Miss Mabel’s School for Girls?

Katie: Oh, there are so many. Bianca’s a true snark at heart so I’m going to give you two —

“I’m Bianca Monroe and I run in the woods with my skirts up.
I also don’t know how to steep or pour tea.”

“I am more than what they train me to be.”

You can “like” Miss Mabel’s School for Girls on Facebook
or visit the official website.

GET THE BOOK ON AMAZON (paperback or Kindle)
OR SMASHWORDS (ePub)