Book Review: My Lady Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows

A hilarious alternate historical fiction novel that was just so much fun.

5/5 stars

cover my lady jane

synopsis for reviews 2

The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England

Add it on Goodreads

my thoughts for reviews 1

From page one, this book was hilarious. I have rarely read a book that reveled so completely in being ridiculous. There are references to Shakespeare, The Princess Bride, and the Monty Pythons. (Full disclosure: if you don’t know the source material, this book will be way less funny.) The narrators talk directly to you and sometimes even point out plot holes. I laughed out loud throughout the book.

I loved the alternate historical premise of this book. The authors re-framed the Catholic-Protestant divide under Henry VIII as a conflict between humans that turn into animals (Edians) and those that hate Edians (Verities). From there, they took further liberties with the chronology of history, which the narrators call them out on in a hilarious fashion. Overall, the way that the authors twisted history created a perfect backdrop for the rest of the absurd story. (If you love this time period and will be pained by historical inaccuracies, I don’t blame you, but probably don’t read this one.)

My Lady Jane is told from three perspectives: Lady Jane, the future queen; Edward, Jane’s childhood friend and the dying king she will replace; and G, the cursed aristocrat that will marry Jane as a part of his father’s power grab. I loved that all three perspectives had clear voices and personalities, and that they were all equally important to the story. Also, the switch from perspective to perspective felt natural and never broke up the flow of the story.

I’ll start with Jane. She was bookish and introverted, and she had always known that she would not be important to court life (she was wrong). She got thrust into an arranged marriage, then into a position of power, but all she really wanted was to read. (Relatable.) I loved her optimism and her stubbornness, even if they were frustratingly naive occasionally.

Edward was equal parts infuriating and endearing. Infuriating because he’s a spoiled, sexist prick. Endearing because once the plot knocks him off his feet, he starts to realize just how spoiled and sexist he was, and he grows. He never wanted to be king, and he was surrounded by people that let him have the power without actually doing anything. He hid from responsibility, and in the face of his own mortality, he had to grow up a lot. So while I hated parts of his character, I loved watching him grow into a character that I didn’t hate.

If you’re worried about the sexism, I’ll say two things: 1) the narrators call him out on his sexism, and 2) his voice is not focused on being sexist, so you won’t have it shoved in your face constantly while reading. (If that’s not good enough for you, I don’t blame you.)

G was possibly my favorite character (maybe tied with Jane—I’m indecisive). Cursed to turn into a horse whenever the sun is up, G’s entire life is pretty ridiculous. Still, I loved his a clear, emotional voice. I was able to connect with his character’s frustrations and longings. He was surprisingly down-to-earth and honest, and I loved how those character traits juxtaposed with his horse curse’s humor.

The plot of My Lade Jane was equal parts court intrigue, romance, and rebellion (all of it humorous, of course). Most of the plot consisted of Jane, Edward, and G unwittingly getting caught in a web of power plays and faction rivalries and then trying to survive the mess. The pacing of the plot was just fast enough to keep me reading and to prevent the nearly 500 page book from feeling long, but not so fast that I felt dragged along.

The romance was a large part of the book, but it did not overshadow the political side. Watching Jane and G fall in love was adorable, but it was not the only thing forcing both characters to develop. I appreciated that romance was often used to support and comfort characters, rather than to tear them down. Additionally, Edward’s less-than-perfect love life helped to keep the book from feeling like a rom com.

Still, it would be a lie to say My Lady Jane is not heavily oriented about romance, or to say that the romance never gets cheesy. I let myself get carried away by the story and chose to enjoy the more middle-grade romantic arc, and I had a blast.

I would recommend My Lade Jane to anyone that needs a break from the stress of reality. You have to be able to suspend disbelief and enjoy the ridiculousness of the story. This book gets 5/5 stars for being unabashedly hilarious, not for any deep themes or gorgeous writing. My Lady Jane does not take itself seriously—at all—and if that sounds like fun, then you should definitely pick it up.


Problematic Moments and Trigger Warnings: (A new section where I call out books for problematic moments and alert readers to possible triggers. Please note I am by no means an expert on either, but I will do my best to research the books I review as I write this section. I added this to help readers, but I cannot promise it will be perfect. I am still learning, and any critiques you have will be greatly appreciated. If I missed something in either category, tell me and I’ll edit the review to include it.)

Problematic things: It’s straight and white. There’s no sugar coating it: this is not a diverse story. It’s just not.

Trigger warnings: sexism, violence against people/animals, terminal illness, (recreational) drinking

Top Ten 2016 Releases I Will (Probably) Read in 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

My first TTT of 2017 is a look back at 2016. A ton of incredible books came out that I 100% planned to read…and didn’t. Here are some that I still plan to read (hopefully).

1. Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

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I was so drawn in by the concept of this book, but I was just…never in the mood to actually sit down and read it.

2. This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

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I have been meaning to read more by Schwab forever, and I honestly though 2016 would be my year. Hopefully it will be 2017. 🙂

3. Gemina (Illuminae #2) by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

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I don’t blame myself for not having the emotional courage or energy to read this book. Besides, it has been getting mixed reviews, and I do not want to have my hopes dashed. Still, I have to know what happens next in this amazing series.

4. And I Darken by Kiersten White

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I love the idea of this book, and rave reviews have given me hope that it lives up to its potential. I honestly have no excuse for not reading it besides that I never bought it for myself.

5. Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

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This book has been on my radar forever. I keep coming back to it, though I have yet to buy or read it—something I want to fix.

6. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

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My sister just read this book and LOVED IT. I feel ridiculous for not picking it up sooner, but I plan to ASAP.

7. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

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From everything I’ve heard, this book has incredibly gorgeous prose, which I need more of in my life.

8. P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

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Kasie West always surprises me with how she is able to take a flippant premise and create an adorable, sweet, and thought-provoking story. I want to read more of her work, and the synopsis of this one is A+.

9. Blood for Blood (Wolf by Wolf #2) by Ryan Gruadin

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Another sequel I held off from to save my emotions. When it came out, I was not ready to read it—but I cannot go an entire year without finishing this ridiculously powerful duology.

10. The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

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This book (for me) came out of nowhere and took over the blogging world. I think it will ruin me emotionally, but sometimes that is worth it.


What 2016 releases did I miss? I always want to increase my TBR, especially with books that might not be on my radar yet!

What books do you plan to read in 2017?

2016 Reading Wrap-Up

With 2016 (finally) coming to an end, I wanted to look back at some of my favorite books of the year. I chose the categories randomly so that I could feature some of my favorite books. There is no distinction between books released in 2016 or from before. Reviews are linked to in the ratings.

Favorite Fantasy

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

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5/5 stars

Favorite Historical Fiction

Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez

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4.5/5 stars

Honorable Mentions: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin, Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Favorite Contemporary

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

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5/5 stars

Favorite Book From A Genre I Don’t Usually Read

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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4/5 stars

Favorite Reread

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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5/5 stars

Honorable Mention: The Wrath and the Dawn by Rene Ahdieh, The Sweet Far Thing (Gemma Doyle #3) by Libba Bray

Favorite Standalone

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

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4.5/5 stars

Favorite Series

The Starbound Trilogy by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

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4/5 stars

Book I Can’t Believe I Didn’t Read Sooner

His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire #1) by Naomi Novik

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4.5/5 stars

 Favorite Book That Opened My Eyes

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

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3/5 stars

Favorite Book That Made Me Cry

The Raven King (TRC #4) by Maggie Stiefvater

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5/5 stars

Honorable Mention: Empire of Storms (TOG #5) by Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Mist and Fury (ACO #2) by Sarah J. Maas

Favorite Book That Surprised Me

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

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5/5 stars


What were your favorite books in 2016? Do we share any favorites? Do you have any recommendations for 2017?

November Wrap-Up 2016

In My Life

November was a pretty terrible month. The election happened, and I’m still not over it (and refuse to get over it). Watching Trump’s cabinet assemble has horrifying and frustrating, making it hard to get excited about the year ending.

Other than that disaster, November was focused on college apps and schoolwork. I had a week off from school, which was great, but I spent entire days working on college essays, so it wasn’t all fun and games. Thanksgiving was filled with family and wonderful food.

On This Blog

This was an okay month for blogging. I did not meet my goal of posting three times a week, but I liked the posts I did manage to write. I posted 10 times.

Also! After two and a half years of blogging, 52 Letters now (finally) has a review directory. I have been putting it together since summer, but I managed to finish it over break.

Top Ten Tuesday

Discussion Posts

In Reading and Reviewing

I read 5 books this month, which is better than I expected, to be honest. They were all incredible, which is a bonus. I also caught up on one review (Drowning is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley — 4/5 stars).

  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater — 5/5 stars (will not be reviewed)
  • His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire #1) by Naomi Novik — 4.5/5 stars (review)
  • Throne of Jade (Temeraire #2) by Naomi Novik — 4.5/5 stars (review)
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare — 4/5 stars (review to come)
  • Headless by Tristram Lowe — 3.5/5 stars (review)

In Writing

This was a great month for writing. I added almost 13,000 words to my WIP, which brings my total word count up to 84,500. That puts the end in sight, and I now officially think I can meet my goal of finishing it by the end of the year. I also shared one poem here, This Was Supposed to Be a Poem, in response to the election.


How was your November? Did you read any amazing books? What are you going to read in December?

Book Review: Throne of Jade (Temeraire #2) by Naomi Novik

A lot more emotionally painful than the first book, but in a good way. Combined with a new setting, I am officially 110% in love with this series.

4.5/5 stars

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Read my review of the first book, His Majesty’s Dragon, here.

synopsis for reviews 2

When Britain intercepted a French ship and its precious cargo–an unhatched dragon’s egg–Capt. Will Laurence of HMS Reliant unexpectedly became master and commander of the noble dragon he named Temeraire. As new recruits in Britain’s Aerial Corps, man and dragon soon proved their mettle in daring combat against Bonaparte’s invading forces.

Now China has discovered that its rare gift, intended for Napoleon, has fallen into British hands–and an angry Chinese delegation vows to reclaim the remarkable beast. But Laurence refuses to cooperate. Facing the gallows for his defiance, Laurence has no choice but to accompany Temeraire back to the Far East–a long voyage fraught with peril, intrigue, and the untold terrors of the deep. Yet once the pair reaches the court of the Chinese emperor, even more shocking discoveries and darker dangers await.

See it on Goodreads

my thoughts for reviews 1

While His Majesty’s Dragon made me fall in love with the Temeraire world, Throne of Jade was the book that captured my heart. It was not like I did not have an emotional connection to the first book, but I had a much stronger (and more painful) one with the second.

Throne of Jade revolves around Temeraire and Laurence’s fight to stay together, despite Chinese tradition that says Celestial dragons must belong to emperors. Politics, customs, and the lure of Chinese dragon culture all come between the two of them, creating an undeniably stressful story.

The world-building was incredible. Though two-thirds of the story focus on the journey to China, Naomi Novik still started to introduce the new characters and customs that they would encounter directly once they reached their destination. She brought the new setting to life and created an entirely different dragon culture than the one she had established in Britain.

Despite the complexity of the world Novik built, the specifics were never hard to keep track of. I easily understood the different perspectives of the Chinese envoys, the power struggle in the royal household, and the different aspects of dragon life. This creative but understandable world-building allowed me to enjoy the new setting without losing the train of the original story.

Temeraire experienced significant growth, becoming an even stronger character. The Chinese had a distinctly different view of dragons than the British, and in the new environment, Temeraire started to embrace different parts of his identity. Though it was painful when those changes brought him away from Laurence, I loved watching Temeraire’s development. He truly was a three-dimensional character, more fleshed-out than most of the human characters in the series.

Laurence changed in his own ways, fully embracing his identity as a dragon captain and fiercely fighting to keep Temeraire. I had not expected the argumentative side of Laurence that appeared, but I enjoyed seeing him come out of his uptight shell. Though he took longer to adjust to the Chinese culture, Laurence did allow it to change how he saw his native country.

The side characters remained somewhat one-dimensional, though the characters that were introduced in Throne of Jade had more layers than those that stuck around from the first book. I did not mind the way the characters were portrayed, because it did not hamper the story. Each character added a necessary element without getting in the way.

Throne of Jade was well paced, with action-packed fight scenes balanced against more emotional scenes of character growth. Though the book was not constantly dramatic, the threat to Laurence and Temeraire’s relationship kept me engaged and eager to read on.

Of course, with the Napoleonic Wars still going on, there are lots of intense fight scenes. One part of this book that separated it from the last one was the complexity that was added to Temeraire’s bloodthirsty nature. Yes, he still loves a fight, but he starts to think about the consequences of his actions and the nature of the battles he is fighting.

I would recommend Throne of Jade to anyone who read His Majesty’s Dragon. If the world-building or characters were not complex enough in the previous book, that problem is solved. If you want more fight scenes and dragons (who doesn’t?) they are just as dramatic and nuanced as before. And if you fell in love with the series in book one, book two will not disappoint.

Top Ten Books to Give Friends to Turn Them Into Bookworms

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s theme is a Holiday Gift Guide freebie, so I’m talking about books to give people to turn them into bookworms. I think a lot of people want to be readers, and know what they’d want to read about, but do not know which books to read.

For the person who wants magic

1. Graceling by Kristin Cashore

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One of the first YA books I ever read, Graceling has stuck with me because of its unique world-building, fierce characters, and slow-burn romance.

2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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Nothing says “magic” like The Night Circus. Told in an interesting voice, this book creates a vivid and wonderful magical world and throws the reader into the middle of a heartwrenching romance.

For the person who loves social change

3. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

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I will shout about this book until the end of time. I thought it would be a frivilous, trope-filled story about beauty pagents, but it ended up being one of the most unabashedly feminist stories I’ve ever read.

4. Going Underground by Susan Vaught

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This is another book that has profoundly shaped the way I see the world. With complex characters, a subtle romance, and a hilarious parrot, this book is perfect for anyone looking to see teenage relationships in a different way.

For the person who needs A Dramatic Story

5. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

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This is the kind of book that grabs you on the first page and steadily breaks your heart for the next 300 pages. Perfect for anyone who needs to be 110% invested in a story to finish it.

6. Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

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Hilarious and terrifying in equal measure, Illuminae is another book that will force even the most half-hearted reader to devour the story.

For the person who wants fluffy feels

7. The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

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This book is perfectly fluffy, with surprisingly emotional scenes and low-key Doctor Who references.

8. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

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Though this book is long for a contemporary romance, you will savor every single page. More than just a fluffy romance, The Unexpected Everything talks about friendship, self-discovery, the perils of dog walking, and writers block.

For the Person who just doesn’t have time

9. I’d Tell You I Love You, but Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

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This is the kind of book that you can read in one sitting. Light-hearted and slightly ridiculous, the first Gallagher Girls book is perfect for someone who wants to read, but does not have time to commit to a longer story.

10. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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Short but profound, A Monster Calls is the kind of story that breaks and heals your heart simultaneously. For the full experience, read the illustrated version!


What are your go-to books for gifts? Have you read any of these books?

Happy Tuesday!

Book Review: His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire #1) by Naomi Novik

How can dragons be so cute and so bloodthirsty at the same time?!?!?

4.5/5 stars

cover his majestys dragon

synopsis for reviews 2

Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors ride mighty fighting dragons, bred for size or speed. When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes the precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.

See it on Goodreads

my thoughts for reviews 1

Ever since I read Uprooted, I have been dying to read this series. The ninth and final book just came out, so I figured it was time to start.

I loved this book. It’s the Napoleonic Wars with dragons—what could go wrong? But it ended up being so much more than bloodthirsty dragons and fight scenes.

Laurence was the perfect protagonist. He started the book as a naval captain, but then the dragon, Temeraire, chose Laurence to be his companion. Thrust into the Aerie Corps, Laurence had to not only figure out how to be a dragon captain, but unlearn his navy habits and learn new Corps ones.

Older than other captains and an accidental captain, Laurence was a permanent outsider, creating a fascinating POV for the book to be told from. His voice was simultaneously stuffy and empathetic, so if his naval prejudices were ever annoying (which they were), his clear compassion for dragons and his fellow officers made up for it. His character’s arc was nuanced but natural, and though he learned how to be a part of the Corps, he never lost his naval quirks.

While I loved Laurence, I LOVED Temeraire. He was adorable—there’s no way around it. His voice was clear from his first line. He was unabashedly himself and ridiculously loyal to Laurence. Intelligent, inquisitive, and wholly unconvinced about things like royalty, Temeraire was also an outsider in the dragon world. Also, he was freaking bloodthirsty. Like Laurence, his character created a fascinating window into the dragon world because he has one foot inside and one foot outside of it.

The rest of the characters helped round out the novel. None of them had complex characterization, but in their own ways, they added necessary personalities to the story. I especially loved the different dragons that Naomi Novik added to the story and the way they interacted with Temeraire.

The world-building in His Majesty’s Dragon found a rare balance between historical accuracy and fantastical creations. Naomi Novik created an intricate dragon culture both a national level in the Corps and an international one, with different breeds and training systems for countries across the world. Additionally, the Corps’s society was hierarchical but easy to understand.

Set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, the book was tied closely to real historical events and details. However, Naomi Novik managed to add dragons to the story without losing the historical fiction feeling. Reading His Majesty’s Dragon honestly feels like reading historical fiction—so much so that I sometimes forgot that dragons didn’t exist in Napoleonic times (not really, but almost).

His Majesty’s Dragon started out a little slow, but after the first quarter of the novel, the pace picked up. Honestly, I didn’t mind the slow pace of the beginning because it gave me time to understand the characters and the world before the intense fighting started. Laurence and Temeraire’s training was dramatic at times, but also light-hearted, giving the book an interesting mood. However, His Majesty’s Dragon got intense, and if you’re looking for heart-pounding fight scenes, this book is perfect for you.

I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a story that straddles the line between historical fiction and fantasy. Though the characters are adults, I feel like this book would be accessible to YA fans. There is no romance, so the story is a celebration of friendship and loyalty, something every reader can connect to.