Book Review

Book Review: Lovely War by Julie Berry

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult historical fiction + romance
Length: 480 pages
Author: Julie Berry
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 5th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A sweeping, multi-layered romance with a divine twist, by the Printz Honor-winning author of The Passion of Dolssa, set in the perilous days of World Wars I and II.

It’s 1917, and World War I is at its zenith when Hazel and James first catch sight of each other at a London party. She’s a shy and talented pianist; he’s a newly minted soldier with dreams of becoming an architect. When they fall in love, it’s immediate and deep—and cut short when James is shipped off to the killing fields.

Aubrey Edwards is also headed toward the trenches. A gifted musician who’s played Carnegie Hall, he’s a member of the 15th New York Infantry, an all-African-American regiment being sent to Europe to help end the Great War. Love is the last thing on his mind. But that’s before he meets Colette Fournier, a Belgian chanteuse who’s already survived unspeakable tragedy at the hands of the Germans.

Thirty years after these four lovers’ fates collide, the Greek goddess Aphrodite tells their stories to her husband, Hephaestus, and her lover, Ares, in a luxe Manhattan hotel room at the height of World War II. She seeks to answer the age-old question: Why are Love and War eternally drawn to one another? But her quest for a conclusion that will satisfy her jealous husband uncovers a multi-threaded tale of prejudice, trauma, and music and reveals that War is no match for the power of Love.

CLOSED THE BOOK WITH TEARS IN MY EYES.

Y’all. When I first read the synopsis I thought it was a bit curious to combine Greek mythology with World War 1. I have heard good things about this book and decided to give it a shot, IT WAS AMAZING. SERIOUSLY.

The writing was absolutely beautiful. This had some insta-love that we all know I’m weary of. This is one of those times when it worked out flawlessly. The writing really captured my soul and it had me cheering on both of these couples through their trials.

Hazel and James were my precious broken souls. Oh how I love them. I was most involved in their story and was wrapped up in the nuances of the few chance meetings they got over the months while James was in the trenches of France. Lovely War showed a lot about the human condition. Struggling with having to kill others, PTSD, explosions, loss of friends and family. I felt the atrocities of war brought to an awful light.

Aubrey and Coletter were a wonderful relationship to watch flourish too. As an inter-racial couple in this time period the amount of awful things they had to deal with just to be together makes my stomach turn. They both had the hope and fight to be with one another and I begged for them to get a happy ending.

The narration of the story by the gods (mostly Aphrodite) was definitely unique. Thought it was a bit odd at first, but the deeper I got into the story, the more it all made sense. Bringing in Ares, Apollo and Hades brought new point of views. By the end their was an even bigger love story between Aphrodite and Hephaestus. I thought this played out beautifully and connected all the dots in the end.

One of my favorite tidbits was that it’s mostly set in World War 1. I’m always looking for different historical fiction books set in time periods I don’t normally read about.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction + romance
  • Language: a few words
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: war, physical, guns, see trigger warnings for more
  • Trigger warnings: racism, hate crime, PTSD, sexual assault (unwanted grab and kissing), descriptions of the trenches and battle scenes

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Book Review

Book Review: Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2) by Kerri Maniscalco

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Historical fiction + mystery
Length: 435 pages
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Release Date: September 19th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In this New York Times bestselling sequel to Kerri Maniscalco’s haunting #1 debut Stalking Jack the Ripper, bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer…or has the depraved prince been brought back to life?

Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe’s best schools of forensic medicine…and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life’s dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school’s forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.

STILL ONLY HERE FOR THOMAS CRESSWELL.

This wasn’t bad. I think it’ll probably be my favorite of the entire series.

I keep expecting these books to have a better plot line, because it keeps forcing whatever mystery is happening in my face rather than letting the romance really shine. And so far I’ve been disappointed twice. I think HPD would be better if everything was turned more towards the relationship between Thomas and Audrey Rose. BECAUSE THOMAS Y’ALL.

I fear every story will repeat the same saga. Murder, murder, run around, fight with Thomas, love Thomas, murder, solve it quickly. That’s what I see in my future, yet here I am already downloading book three. There’s something oddly catchy about these books and I think it all goes back to THOMAS Y’ALL.

Cleary, I have a new book boyfriend and he really holds all of the cards here. I love his banter, confessions of love and the general way he swaggers about. This paragraph may be small, but my love for Thomas is large. I understand why everyone reads these for him, I’m doing the same dang thing.

Audrey Rose is fine. She’s still one of those main characters that runs around scatter-brained and trying to accomplish everything while accomplishing nothing.

I liked the change in setting and though the mystery around Dracula was cool. We got to meet a lot of interesting characters and I didn’t pick the bad guy out super early so that’s a plus. I’m captivating by listening to these audio books.

Really though, THOMAS Y’ALL.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult mystery + historical fiction + romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: murder, baths of blood, bodies being drained of blood, autopsies, near drownings

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Book Review

Book Review: A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell #2) by Deanna Raybourn

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Mystery + Historical Fiction + Romance
Length: 338 pages
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Publisher: Berkley Books
Expected Release Date: January 10th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

London, 1887. At the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task–saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Ramsforth, accused of the brutal murder of his mistress, Artemisia, will face the hangman’s noose in a week’s time if the real killer is not found.

But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems, and unmasking her true identity is only the first of many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural-historian colleague, Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer. From a Bohemian artists’ colony to a royal palace to a subterranean grotto with a decadent history, the investigation proves to be a very perilous undertaking indeed….

THE TENSION IS PALPABLE.

Seriously, Veronica and Stoker. GET WITH THE PROGRAM AND KISS FOR REAL ALREADY.

Oh y’all. I’m LOVING these books! I know I’m only saying that after two of them, but they’re so good and quick to read!

I love that the mystery keeps me on my toes. Its the forefront of each book and it’s in enough of the spotlight that you’re intrigued, but it doesn’t overshadow the main character development. I always have my guesses on who’s the culprit, and whenever the unveiling scene happens I’m surprised with more information to round out the whole book.

Veronica is still the same sassy, full of banter, does what she pleases kind of character. I love that she has continued to make decisions for herself and isn’t swayed by others perceptions of her. It’s nice to follow a confident heroine who can also understand when she needs help or encouragement. I am living for her partnership with Stoker. I sincerely hope they are endgame by the time I finish this series or I’ll RIOT. That kind of chemistry and interactions HAS TO LEAD TO SOMETHING. I’m going to sit here tapping my fingers anxiously until I find out more. I’m hoping it happens soon or the waiting will then become ridiculous.

There were a lot of great scenes throughout this novel. I found myself smiling and laughing at different conversations and wittiness of characters. Veronica and Stoker are easy to love and cheer for. The side characters are charming themselves and don’t take up so much page time that they overshadow the story. I’m curious how Veronica’s background will continue to change the narrative as these mysteries continue.

I like that we got more information about Stoker at last. I believe the third book really focuses on him so it will be nice to receive even more. Learning about him and Veronica has been in bits and pieces over both books. I am grateful there’s not any info dumping, but rather a gradual increase in further knowing these two as they get to know each other.

Overall audience notes:

  • Mystery + Historical Fiction + Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a kiss, a lot of sexual innuendo and conversations (the mystery revolves around a sex club)
  • Violence: murder, guns, physical

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Book Review

Book Review: A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell #1) by Deanna Raybourn

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Mystery + historical fiction + romance
Length: 339 pages
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: September 1st, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

London, 1887.

After burying her spinster aunt, orphaned Veronica Speedwell is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as with fending off admirers, Veronica intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans when Veronica thwarts her own attempted abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron, who offers her sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker, a reclusive and bad-tempered natural historian. But before the baron can reveal what he knows of the plot against her, he is found murdered—leaving Veronica and Stoker on the run from an elusive assailant as wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

THIS SLOW-BURN PARTNERSHIP IS AMAZING.

I read this based off a recommendation on Bookstagram and I was HOOKED.

I love Veronica. She is sassy and snarky and my kinda woman. I love that she chooses her own path and pursues the things she is passionate about. Veronica took her situation into her own hands (accepted some needed help) and figured out what plan would work best for her.

Stoker though? YES. Oh my goodness. Rugged, wild, gruff, yaaaaaas. But among those qualities is also the fact he never tried to control Veronica. They disagreed and argued, and then he would know she was going to make her own choices, AND HE WAS OKAY WITH THAT. They’re not even in a relationship, yet this slow-burn is going to ruin me. I can’t wait to see how they develop over the series. I hope they’re end game.

The mystery was great too. It actually kept me on my toes. The release of information was a slow trickle that was interesting and really added to each scene. It was crazy how everything actually unfolded. I did not see the entire picture at all. It loosely reminds of a better version of Stalking Jack the RIpper (which was fine, and I haven’t read the other books yet, but that’s kind of a vibe I got). So if you like those books, I would definitely recommend these!

There’s a big historical aspect to this as well since it’s set in London, 1887. That plus a mystery and some romance-esque things made for a solid read. I love a good historical aspect when it fits the plot well.

Overall audience notes:

  • Mystery + historical fiction + romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some witty/flirty banter; discussion of having relations, but no actual scenes
  • Violence: murder, fire, physical. guns; somewhat bloody/gory

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Monthly Wrap-Up

Monthly Reading Wrap-Up: October 2019

IT’S NOVEMBER.

IT’S MY BIRTHDAY MONTH.

So while October is cool and all, I’m really here for next month.

I read 23 books for October! Some good, some eh, even read some thrillers to get in that spooky mindset.

  • The Art of Falling in Love by Haleigh Wenger – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett – (RTC – ☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – (RTC – ☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • Final Girls by Riley Sager – (RTC – ☆☆☆)
  • You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn – (RTC – ☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • The Bands of Mourning (MIstborn #6, The Alloy Era #3) by Brandon Sanderson – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell #2) by Deanna Raybourn – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • DEV1AT3 (Lifelike #2) by Jay Kristoff – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman – (RTC – ☆☆☆)
  • Hunting from Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2) by Kerri Maniscalco – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Spin the Dawn (The Blood of the Stars #1) by Elizabeth Lim – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • [ARC] Ruthless Gods (Something Dark and Holy #2) by Emily A. Duncan – (RTC – ☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) by Kendare Blake – (RTC – ☆☆☆)
  • Escaping from Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3) by Kerri Maniscalco – (RTC – ☆☆☆)
  • Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archives #2) by Brandon Sanderson – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • Heart of the Fae (The Otherworld #1) by Emma Hamm – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G. Drews – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • The Dazzling Heights (The Thousandth Floor #2) by Katharine McGee – (RTC – ☆☆☆)
  • [ARC] Scavenge the Stars (Scavenge the Stars #1) by Tara Sim – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Lovely War by Julie Berry – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • The Hollow Boy (Lockwood & Co. #3) by Jonathan Stroud – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)

Had some really great reads this month! My reviews will be out over the course of November.

My favorite this month was Words of Radiance or Lovely War.

My least favorite was Final Girls and The Bookish Life of Nina Hill.

Have you read any of these? What was your favorite read of October? What are you looking forward to in November? Lets talk in the comments!

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Book Review

Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction + Mythology + Fantasy
Length: 352 pages
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Publisher: Del Ray
Release Date: July 23rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.

A SWEET STORY.

This was my Book of the Month YA pick for September!

I thought this was a nice read, and I thought the writing was gorgeous. It was very whimsical and had a magical fairy-tale vibe to it that I enjoyed. What I struggled with was the pacing. This book is slooooow. Everything happens in slow motion and the story takes a bit to pick up and get going.

The concept of all of these magical doors to other worlds across Earth was stellar. I loved that idea and wish I could have explored even more of the worlds! We only got a taste of a few and I thought they would play a deeper part in the story as a whole. It was all very dream-like and I loved the bits of magic that were added in to help January along her way. Being a word-worker sounds like the coolest job ever.

There’s a big focus on reconnecting a lost family and this was the solid bones of the novel. I found this moving and was hoping that January was going to get her happy ending. I wasn’t sure how part of the story was going to weave into the mix, but after the small plot twist it all started making sense. I appreciated her tenacity to find her parents and have them in her life again.

I wish the villain had a bigger back-story. I definitely thought he was interesting and it took me a bit to catch on to what he was trying to accomplish. I felt he played a good role and added a bit of creepiness to the story.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fantasy
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: a few kisses, nights spent together with pretty much no detail (I barely realized that it was implied they did have sex)
  • Violence: beating of an animal, having someone wrongly sent to an asylum, psychological abuse/manipulation, gun violence, colonialism
  • Trigger warnings: throughout the book are multiple instances of racism and sexism

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Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Titles With Numbers in Them

Y’all this is a hard topic! But hey, HAPPY TOP TEN TUESDAY.

These definitely aren’t all books I’ve read. I put in bold at the beginning of each blurb about the book about how I feel towards it. Whether it’s a book I’ve read, or on my TBR, or I might never pick up but hey, it has a number in it. It is what it is!

And I also am going in sequential order of numbers 1-10. Because I was looking for extra difficulty in my life haha.

The One (The Selection #3) by Kiera Cass

READ: This was such a cute series! BUT ONLY THE FIRST THREE BOOKS. Don’t even get me started on the rampage of books four and five.


One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss

CHILDHOOD FAVORITE: Who hasn’t read a Dr. Seuss book at least once in your life?! Always a great classic.


Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) by Kendare Blake

TO BE READ: This is on a tentative TBR of mine. I own the last book, so it’s making me consider picking this up…should I?


The First Four Years (Little House #9) by Laura Ingalls Wilder

CHILDHOOD FAVORITE: Ohhh this series! One of my favorite childhood reads! Love them forever.


The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave #1) by Rick Yancey

MAYBE EVENTUALLY: This book BLEW UP when it became a movie and I have neither read or seen either version. Probably should remedy that, I’ve heard good things! At least about the first book.


Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo

READ: LOVE THIS DUOLOGY. Read it. That is all.


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Tayllr Jenkins Reid

MAYBE ON MY TBR: I have seen people LOVING this, my mood hasn’t hit me yet to pick it up though. Eventually…maybe…


1984 by George Orwell

READ: A classic I’ve read…and not loved. This book really creeped me out, especially reading in high school. We basically live in a version of this now. Also, I’m counting this because there is an EIGHT in the title.


November 9 by Colleen Hoover

READ: Oh, what CoHo book DIDN’T I love? The answer: NONE. Still one of my favorites of hers!!


The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

READ: A whimsical read that was occasionally slow. Enjoyed it overall though!

I did it! Took me way longer than I am willing to admit. What about you? Do you have a favorite book with a number in the title? Lets talk in the comments!

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