quotes Elisquared likes

"Saying 'I notice you're a nerd' is like saying, 'Hey, I notice that you'd rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you'd rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan. Why is that?' In fact, it seems to me that most contemporary insults are pretty lame. Even 'lame' is kind of lame. Saying 'You're lame' is like saying 'You walk with a limp.' Yeah, whatever, so does 50 Cent, and he's done all right for himself."— John Green



Title: Curse of the Specter Queen
Authors(s): Jenny Elder Moke
Publication Date: June 1, 2021
Edition: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook; 352 pgs
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Source: Rockstar Book Tours
Buy: Amazon Kindle Audible
Bookshop.org - Barnes & Noble
Disclaimer: I received a copy from the publisher as part of a blog tour in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tour Schedule

Week One
6/1/2021 - Fire and IceExcerpt
6/2/2021 - Lisa Loves LiteratureReview
6/3/2021 - YA Books CentralExcerpt
6/4/2021 - Jazzy Book ReviewsExcerpt
6/5/2021 - Rajiv's ReviewsReview

Week Two
6/6/2021 - The Reading WordsmithReview
6/7/2021 - Kait Plus BooksExcerpt
6/8/2021 - A Court of Coffee and BooksReview
6/9/2021 - The Bookwyrm's DenReview
6/10/2021 - Stuck in the StacksReview
6/11/2021 - Do You Dog-ear?Review
6/12/2021 - Christen KrummReview

Week Three
6/13/2021 - What A Nerd Girl SaysReview
6/14/2021 - Nay's Pink BookshelfReview
6/15/2021 - Thindbooks BlogReview
6/17/2021 - Emelie's BooksReview
6/18/2021 - Eli to the nthReview
6/19/2021 - @fictitious.foxReview

Week Four
6/20/2021 - Books Are Magic TooReview
6/21/2021 - Star-Crossed Book BlogReview
6/22/2021 - Book-KeepingReview
6/23/2021 - The Momma SpotReview
6/24/2021 - The Book ViewReview
6/25/2021 - MomfluensterReview
6/26/2021 - onemusedReview

Week Five
6/27/2021 - Book BriefsReview
6/28/2021 - Always MeReview
6/29/2021 - The Book Review Crew - Review
6/30/2021 - celiamcmahonreads - Review

The Summary

A female Indiana Jones meets Tomb Raider when Samantha Knox receives a mysterious field diary and finds herself thrust into a treacherous plot. After stealing a car and jumping on a train, chased by a group of dangerous pursuers, Sam finds out what’s so special about this book: it contains a cipher that leads to a cursed jade statue that could put an end to all mankind.


Samantha Knox put away her childish fantasies of archaeological adventure the day her father didn't return home from the Great War, retreating to the safety of the antique bookshop where she works. But when a mysterious package arrives with a damaged diary inside, Sam's peaceful life is obliterated. Ruthless men intent on reclaiming the diary are after Sam, setting her and her best friend, along with her childhood crush, on a high-stakes adventure that lands them in the green hills outside Dublin, Ireland. Here they discover an ancient order with a dark purpose - to perform an occult ritual that will raise the Specter Queen, the Celtic goddess of vengeance and death, to bring about a war unlike any the world has ever seen. To stop them, Sam must solve a deviously complex cipher - one that will lead her on a treasure hunt to discover the ancient relic at the heart of the ritual: a bowl carved from the tree of life. Will she find the bowl and stop the curse of the Specter Queen, or will the ancient order bring about the end of the world?

Indiana Jones gets a refresh with this female-driven mystery adventure, set in the 1920s, full of ciphers, ancient relics, and heart-stopping action - the first in a brand-new series!

Advance praise for CURSE OF THE SPECTER QUEEN:
"Pure fun from start to finish. Curse of the Specter Queen is a delightful historical romp, riddled with cryptic puzzles, hints of romance, and an adventurous cast of characters. An ideal escape for fans of curses, magic, and mystery."—Stephanie Garber, #1 New York Times best-selling author of the Caravel series

“This lush, high-stakes, adventure tale has it all—a rollicking plot, a sweet slow burn of a romance, and a heroine on an epic journey filled with ciphers, curses, and twists that kept me guessing at every turn. A delightful read from start to finish, Curse of the Specter Queen is one of my new favorites.”—Alyson Noël, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Immortals 

“Apocalyptic curses, blood-chilling demons, and a centuries-old treasure hunt with a brilliant bookish heroine. Curse of the Spector Queen had me feverishly turning pages until I finally arrived at the epic conclusion.”—Livia Blackburne, New York Times best-selling author of Rosemarked and Midnight Thief


Chapter One

Sam let the first door chime go unanswered, occupied as she was with the stack of delicate books cradled in her arms. The second chime earned a grunt of displeasure from her as she scanned the shelves for the first edition of John Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding she had repaired last week. She spotted it, tucked safely between Kant and Machiavelli. The third chime rang so insistently that she tipped the book forward too hard and it dropped to the floor with an ominous crack.

“Oh dear,” she said, crouching down to retrieve the book. “Mr. Locke, I apologize. And I swear to you if it’s the butcher’s boys again, I will take the broad side of his cleaver to their rear ends myself.”

The spine appeared unmarred, which was more than Sam could say for her disposition as she stacked the book on top of the others and jostled to a standing position. She tottered to the front of the shop and set them down on the desk. In the window stood the rounded figure of Clement’s postman, his face pressed to the glass and obscuring the gold lettering across the door. She checked off each book on her inventory list, letting him freeze in the early January snows of rural Illinois, before crossing to the door and unlocking it. A blast of cold drove it open like an unwanted guest.

“Yes, Georgie, what is it you need?” she asked, shivering back from the chill.

“Got your mail,” Georgie huffed, bustling past her to drop his sack on the desk. He trod in drifts of snow across her pristine carpet and she swept the more offensive piles back out the door as she swung it shut.

“That’s why I had the package drop put in, Georgie,” Sam said.

“So you can leave them in a protected box without them getting soaked by the melting snow you’re tracking in.”

“It’s colder than a brass toilet seat in the arctic out there,” Georgie replied, leaning against his mailbag like he planned to stay. He peered into the stacks behind Sam. “It’s toasty in here, though. Must be nice for you, being tucked up in this place all day.”

“We keep the temperature stable for the books,” Sam said, her patient tone fraying at the edges. She had plenty to do before her long walk home in that same snow, and she couldn’t do it as long as Georgie was here chewing the cud. “Extreme heat and cold damage the leather. You said you had my mail?”

“Oh, sure.” Georgie ducked his head into the thick canvas sack. “Couple of these are too big, wouldn’t fit through the slot.”

Sam was sure his bell ringing had far more to do with the warm interior of the shop than with any oversize packages, but it was too late for that. Here he was already, invading her space and upending the careful equilibrium she maintained. He didn’t care that there was the rest of the inventory list to get to, plus the packages to prepare and send to Mr. Peltingham in London and Mr. Burnham in Oslo, never mind the repairs to the copy of Medieval Remedies for Cistercian Monks they had received at the shop last week. She didn’t have time for Georgie Heath and the trail of muddy snow he dragged everywhere.

He pulled a small collection of boxes from his sack—none of them, as Sam suspected, too large for the mail slot—with an exotic array of stamps across the front. Sam’s heart rate picked up when she spotted Mr. Studen’s scrawled handwriting. He always had the best finds in Paris. She grabbed her letter opener and sliced through the thick paper.

“Books,” Georgie said, in the same tone his father used when talking about the neighbor’s marauding hogs. “Always books, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” Sam said with a happy little sigh, extracting Mr. Studen’s letter along with his latest find. “We are a bookshop, Georgie.”

Oh, clever Mr. Studen. She smiled at the first few lines of introduction, a jumble of letters and pictographic marks. He’d sent her another cryptogram, with a small note dashed at the top that read I’m sure to stump you this time.

He wasn’t, but she appreciated the challenge.

Georgie gave a snort. “I don’t know what we need with a bookshop here in Clement, anyhow. We’ve already got a library.”

“A collection of old family bibles does not count as a library,” Sam said, reaching for a pencil and paper. It looked to be a straightforward monoalphabetic cipher despite the distraction of the pictographic marks, but she didn’t want to underestimate Mr. Studen so quickly.
Georgie shrugged. “I was happy enough to give that stuff up the second I walked out of Mrs. Iris’s schoolroom for good.”

“Madame Iris,” Sam corrected.

“Madame,” Georgie said in a gross mockery of the French madame’s accent. “Pa says a book is only good for propping open a door or knocking a fella out.”

“Well I would expect no less from the man who led a town-wide protest when Mr. Steeling hired a Frenchwoman to teach at the schoolhouse,” Sam murmured, making a list of the most frequent letter appearances and the most common letter groupings in the cipher. Georgie craned his neck around, squinting at Mr. Studen’s neat handwriting.

“What is that?” he asked. “Some kind of gibberish?”

“It’s a cipher,” Sam said. “A code. It’s meant to keep a message hidden.”

My Review

I love a great adventure book, and this one has many things I love: books, romance, and friendship.  A great combo when put together and led by a gutsy, sharp-witted, and resourceful heroine.  And Curse of the Specter Queen has it all in spades.

Sam, our heroine, is immediately likable, and the reader will want to go anywhere and everywhere with her. She uses her knowledge and her strength of character to lead her friends on a epic treasure hunt fraught with danger.  Joanna and Bennett are also great characters, bringing the humor and romance individually And what Jenny Elder Moke does so well with this gang of intrepid venturers is putting them in intense situations on their way to unravel the mystery set before them.

This mix of plot- and character-driven story pushes the reader to devour each chapter, especially with all the cliff-hangers.  I do love a good cliff-hanger.  And the world-building was fantastic.  There are puzzles to solve and magic to see all within the context of actual historic events.  The magic was a surprising touch, but done with a deft hand so it doesn't feel out of place within the more realistic scenes.

Overall, Curse of the Specter Queen is a high-speed puzzle of a book. An amazing start to a new series, Jenny Elder Moke delivers with her sophomore book, and I can't wait to read the next Samantha Knox story!

Final Rating

About the Author

Jenny Elder Moke writes young adult fiction in an attempt to recapture the shining infinity of youth. She worked for several years at an independent publisher in Austin, TX before realizing she would rather write the manuscripts than read them. She is a member of the Texas Writer’s League and has studied children’s writing with Liz Garton Scanlon. She was a finalist in the Austin Film Festival Fiction Podcast Competition in 2017 for her podcast script, Target. When she is not writing, she’s gathering story ideas from her daily adventures with her two irredeemable rapscallions and honing her ninja skills as a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Jenny lives in Denver, CO with her husband and two children.

3 winners will receive a finished copy of CURSE OF THE SPECTER QUEEN, US Only.


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