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Queen of Someday (Stolen Empire) Paperback – October 7, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Serena Chase, Special for USA TODAY
In this tension-filled series starter, the author draws the idea of a love triangle much wider, turning Sophia's desperation and sense of duty into an ambition to survive and thrive in Russia -- on her terms and no one else's.
If you like books with royal court drama, backstabbing politics, romance, and sexual tension, this novel will transport you into history -- or at least Ficklin's rather compelling version of it *winks* -- and leave you eagerly awaiting the sequel.
- Grade level : 7 and up
- Item Weight : 12.1 ounces
- Paperback : 262 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1940534909
- ISBN-13 : 978-1940534909
- Dimensions : 5.51 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
- Publisher : Clean Teen Publishing (October 7, 2014)
- Reading level : 12 and up
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,882,527 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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- Enjoyable even if you don't favor historical fiction
- Neat and solid writing style, made it very pleasant to follow along
- Interesting, memorable characters
- Protagonist's outward growth
- Fairly quick and easy read
- Story really picking up in the last few chapters and finishing in a surprising ending
- The eBook had short videos portraying Sophie after each chapter that added to the experience
- Mostly romance-focused
- Sophie's instant, unaccountable attraction or affection for potential love interests; seemingly falling for anyone that catches her eye
- Sophie's lack of emotional connection; she says she loves him but I don't see any substantial reason at all
- Nothing fuelled my emotional investment. There was no connection. Even when a character was dying, I wasn't feeling the heat
- Lack of depth; not enough conflict, twists, poignancy, or drive (even the "villain" should've been much worse)
- Felt a lot like watching a play on a stage; sometimes entertaining, sometimes bland
- Story not picking up until the last few chapters and finishing in a rather surprising ending
Suitable for fans of 'The Selection' by Kiera Cass
Loved it? No
Regret reading it? No
Will I read the sequel? Probably not
Will I read more from the author: Yes
Top reviews from other countries
This was my second read through of the book and I did find myself racing through it but feeling somehow cheated. I remember it being full of far more intrigue than it actually was. In effect there is a lot of handwringing and overblown emotions that just overpowered the story for me. Even worse, I couldn't really understand why Sophie was putting her future in jeopardy by catting around with "the help". Beyond physical attraction there seemed nothing to draw her to Alexander or Sergei and as things progress the "meeting of minds" thing just fell somehow flat for me.
I don't think it helped that everytime Sophie was depicted as being conflicted about something she would more or less retire to her bed and throw a bit of a strop. Where was the wild creature who took on bandits with a knife hidden in her boot? It just felt like as soon as she arrived at the Royal Court all her strength and vivacity drained away and she almost became a simpering pawn in the "game" between the Empress and Peter.
The glimpses of the Court Opulence were well drawn, I just felt like the true lavishness was downplayed a little - probably deliberately as even genuine Historical accounts boggle the readers mind and it is hard to really wrap your head around just how much Show there was. Knowing where the real Catherine's story went gives me pause as to how the future books will handle her development as a ruler. Although, the way this book opens shows that this fictionalised version has the spirit to become that leader the way it ends makes it hard to comprehend.
Definitely little in the way of genuine history here but it does give you a little taste and did lead me to do some light research in to the real person. Some of the highlights of her pre-reign are here but a fresh spin has been placed on them to make it all seem a little more Machiavellian and dangerous for her than it really seems to have been - although History is written by the victors so how much spin Catherine herself put on the reports of her early life and reign is unknown.
I am looking forward to reading the next in the series though, see how that pesky married life works out before becoming Empress Consort.
Part of the issue is that I wasn't sure what category the book was aimed at. Going by the cover and the blurb I was expecting adult fiction. Instead, it very much reads as young adult fiction. It's in the first person present POV and it felt like a short read, maybe 60k words? Parts of the story felt rushed and while I think the wild emotions have a lot to do with the fact that the protagonists are all young (the book is set around the time of Sophie's 16th birthday), I had to keep reminding myself that she was young and impetuous. It didn't feel like a seamless flow throughout the book. It wasn't just the emotions that felt rushed; often I wanted just a little more description. I mean, it's Russia at the height of her power. Lavish opulence was the order of the day. It was the era of the Winter Palace, the crazy wedding gowns...I just wanted a sense of that and it felt lacking somehow.
There were a few errors with tenses and several spelling mistakes throughout the book, but much of the language is beautiful. I liked all the quotations from the greats, especially Marlowe. They were woven in perfectly with the romanticism of the story. The bittersweet romance and loneliness of it was well presented and it was a stark reminder of the lack of power and value of women in those days. You were nothing but a pawn unless you were manipulative and clever.
I wasn't enamoured enough to download the rest of the trilogy but I feel that to be fair I should state here that had I gone into it expecting a young adult novel, I probably would have enjoyed it. I think it would appeal to fans of the series Reign. It has the potential to be a fascinating and powerful story. It just wasn't what I expected.
I wanted to love Alexander, but I just didn't feel anything for him. Weirdly, I preferred Peter until he went and treated Sophie like a possession, but who I really fell for is Sergei. The ending gives me so much hope for Sergei and Sophie/Catherine and I can't wait to see where that goes.
All the way through, Queen of Someday is so tense and there's a heavy sense of danger in every scene. It felt as if someone would suffer horribly at any moment (spoiler: they actually did!) Apart from not connecting to Alexander, I have no complaints.
Wonderfully written, perfect attention to detail in the historic world building, and a character I really root for in Sophie. The Russian court makes me nervous and I could not do what Sophie does and navigate it, but I can't wait to dive into the next book!
Initially however, I didn't feel there was enough historical context. This could have been set in any time period right up to modern day as the mentions of Russia and Prussia were subtle. You could argue that this is a good way of getting people interested in the history behind the plot, humanising it almost and making the characters central rather than the context, but personally I would have preferred a bit more history.
The characters, emotion and suspense more than made up for the lack of historical context. Absolutely fantastic!