Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Maid of Secrets

Maid of Secrets (Maids of Honor, #1)Author: Jennifer McGowan
Release Date:  May 7th, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre(s): YA Historical Fiction
Pages: 416
*1st Book in a series*

~Spoilers are hidden! Highlight the page to see them!~

Summary (Goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Meg Fellowes is a wry, resourceful thief forced to join an elite group of female spies in Queen Elizabeth’s Court. There she must solve a murder, save the Crown, and resist the one thing that will become her greatest freedom–and her deadliest peril. 

For Meg and her fellow spies are not alone in their pursuit of the murderer who stalks Windsor Castle.

A young, mysterious Spanish courtier, Count Rafe de Martine, appears at every turn in the dark and scandal-filled corridors of the Queen’s summer palace. And though secrets and danger are Meg’s stock-in-trade, she’s never bargained on falling in love…

I read this book via as part of their 31 days of reading!:)

I’ve been in a book slump lately.  Almost every book I’ve read in the past few weeks have been disappointing.  But not this time! (Maybe my luck is finally changing!)

This was a FUN book (despite its darker elements).  Fast paced and exciting- it was intense! And that plot twist? OH MY GOODNESS.  IT WAS SO UNEXPECTED! But, of course, only a good plot not maketh a book (is that even a saying? LOL), but the characters need to be on par too.  And the book DELIVERED.  No cardboard characters here!  I absolutely loved Meg and her Fabulous Five (five including her) made up of superhero spies: the mysteriously cute Sophia, the assassin girl Jane (whose really a big ol’ softie), the gorgeous and flirtatious Beatrice, and the quietly quirky Anna.  I loved getting to know each and every girl through Meg’s eyes, and by the end of the story, I felt like they were my crazy, dangerous sisters!  The bonds between the girls from the beginning of the book to the end grew and strengthened, and it was super sweet to see all their interactions (esp. Beatrice’s! She will NEVER in a million years admit she cares about Meg as a friend, but EVERYONE could see it. There are few things sweeter than grudging acceptance! LOL xD).  

Meg was an AWESOME character.  She was very witty, a little snarky in a funny and not clich├ęd/mean way, and super intelligent (she wasn't one of those characters who couldn't put 2 and 2 together when said 2 and 2 smacked them in the face; she was the type of girl who went seeking for that 2 and 2 and put them together before they even had a chance to realize they WERE the 2 and 2- pretty cool, if you ask me ;)), and I enjoyed getting to know her and getting to BE her.  I’ve always loved the theater (never performed in a play, but I’m a techie!), and it was really interesting peering into the mind of an actress who used her skills for thieving.  She convinced herself that she WAS this certain character, and the author did a great job of portraying that so naturally that it made me wonder if Meg was pulling a Hannah Montana on us. 

And the details! Oh my goodness all those details! The gowns, the town, the castle, the dances, Elizabeth herself (and not to mention the cute guys ;))- everything was described in such great detail that I felt like I was transported there.  (That is truly a great feeling indeed- and something that hasn’t happened to me in a long time. ) Even though we do see the coarser side of England, the amazing details the author used to describe everything made me wanderlust (is it possible to wanderlust for a time period?) for Elizabethan England, with all its bustling villages, majestic royalty, and gorgeous gowns.  

And, of course, the cute guys (saving the best for last! ;-).  Can I just say I actually approved of this (sorta) love triangle?  (I call it a sorta love triangle because the other guy shows up in the beginning and then disappears until much later, but it’s still a love triangle).  It was sooo well done!  First off, NO INSTALOVE! Secondly, I loved how Meg stuck to her morals.  I mean, she’s made it pretty clear throughout the book that she doesn’t want to get married.  So when she meets Count Rafe de Martine (actually even before this with Master James- the other love interest), there’s this internal struggle within her; she likes the guy, but at the same time, she resents herself for liking the guy and resists her feelings for him.

And she doesn’t just suddenly go, “Oh I like him. I'm going to focus my entire life on getting him to be my boyfriend."
Me: Um, didn't you just say you were swearing off guys forever?
Heroine:When did I EVER say that??? You’re being ridiculous!  
Me: Literally like 3 pages ago.
Heroine: That was 3 pages ago! Get with the times!
.... and proceeds to fall for the guy(s) like so many YA heroines do these days (even if they had sworn up and down that they weren't going to EVER fall in love).  But Meg doesn’t do that; she struggles with herself, and by the end, we too are left wondering at her choice (so I guess this could be considered a love rectangle? Her love for the two guys plus her love for her freedom- which would be gone if she married).  Throw in a teeny little complication that Rafe might actually be her enemy, and there’s the romance for ya!:)

Happy readings!:D

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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