Book Review

Review: The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1) by Alison Goodman

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Regency period paranormal/fantasy, young adult, no language, little romance, violence
Length: 544 pages
Author: Alison Goodman
Publisher: Speak
Release Date: December 14th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Eon and Eona; a Regency adventure series starring a stylish and intrepid Buffy-esque demon-hunter

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

REGENCY PERIOD FOR THE WIN.

This was so fun. There was a lot of work that went into this by the author. Goodman did so much research to make sure that her world depicted London in 1812. It was fantastic. Regency books are some of my favorite and this was very well done. YAY!

Y’all I love Lord Carlston. Because I am a total sucker for brooding men with some dark secrets that are [hopefully] marshmallows. I have high hopes for him. He better not disappoint. I am however, completely on the fence about the Duke. I don’t know where I stand, but I’m not really shipping him at all right now. And we all know, my series love can fall apart if who I ship first off doesn’t end up happening. THE SUSPENSE WILL END ME.

I liked Helen overall. Since she unfortunately had no idea about her powers she is a bit naive in this book. Having to learn everything, and understand the world of the Dark Days Club takes over half the book. I’m looking forward to her character growing as the series does. I want an awesome, sword fighting, Jane Austen-esque heroine.

The magic system in this book is complicated. And that’s probably my biggest reason for 4 stars. It sounded awful to actually be a Reclaimer. The 101 things that have to be done just to see the Deceiver, destroy them, their progeny and the like blew my mind. It was too intricate for me to see the fun in being a part of the Club. I will give points for everything being explained even if I didn’t fully grasp it.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical-fiction, Regency period, paranormal [demons]
  • No explicit language: use of the word whore and others like it for the time period
  • Violence: demons with whip-like extensions, knives, physical, gory-detailed scenes
  • Romance: a passionate kiss, discussion of some sexual things
Book Review, Book Talk

My Favorite Books of 2018!

This was a great year for reads and I fell in love a million times over with too many books. So this is not a top 10 because I have no ability to choose only that many. In no particular order these were the books I enjoyed most:

Thanks to Goodreads I wanted to add some pieces of my Year in Review:

  • Longest book I read: Grant by Ron Chernow — 1,074 pages (first 1,000 page read!)
  • I will finish 176 books (out of the 100 I was aiming for.
  • A total of 55,416 pages were consumed. Wowza.
Book Review

ARC Review: Romanov by Nadine Brandes

Romanov

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Audience: Young adult historical fiction/fantasy, no language, a lot of violence, a kiss or two
Expected Length: 352 pages
Author: Nadine Brandes
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Expected Release Date: May 17th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From the author of Fawkes comes a magical take on the story of Anastasia Romanov.

The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them . . . and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of survival are to either release the spell, and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya’s never dabbled in magic before, but it doesn’t frighten her as much as her growing attraction for Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her . . .

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.

*Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through Netgalley. Opinions expressed in the review are completely my own. Thank you for the opportunity to read Romanov! Publication date, length, etc. subject to change.

HISTORICALLY MAGICAL.

Second note: some of this may seem like a spoiler, but Brandes does a wonderful job of intertwining history WITH the magical pieces. Anything I bring up historically, really did happen and shouldn’t be a surprise at all. 

I think [know] I let myself get too hyped about this and was a little disappointed overall. It was still a good standalone that had the historic story as the basis with magic woven in so well that I was intrigued from the start! Some kinks left me wanting more.

I read this digitally, so let’s see…it took til 54% through the book to FINALLY GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. I know we’re in exile, but I was dying to see something else in my mind. There wasn’t a lot of world building. I felt that I was expected to know what Russia and these other places looked like already so I missed out on the detailing of it all.

What I found really interesting was how Brandes gave the Romanov’s such humanity. History dictates that this 300+ year old royal line was all kinds of crazy cruel (and that’s putting it lightly). Now, I only know so much, this last group with Nicholas II as tsar could have been a more decent family than I’m aware of. It made me stop and think that all in all, this was a family. And this family was brutally murdered without trial.

This gave the whole family a lot more depth as “characters”. They prayed together, were sincere to their captors, and were only wanting to be released somewhere together. Anastasia was fiercely loyal and protective of her brood. There was a huge emphasis on forgiveness from her character. This ideal repeatedly comes up as she struggles (rightly so) accepting her new fate. 

My biggest loss was the magic system. I have no idea how it works. Very little was ever explained. There’s spell masters, spell ink, some can use it, some can’t, how is it made, can anyone be a spell master, how does this spell work, SOMEONE HELP ME. I am so confused. Since this was the fantasy portion of the book I was looking for a more detailed story-line of why magic was the target of the Red Army in the first place. 

I am frazzled with one piece of the ending and booed at my book when it happened, but besides that this was the best ending for this book. And I mean that in a good way! Since it follows history, there’s an assumption of what could’ve happened. I thought it was sweet and hopeful that fates cards were dealt differently for the Romanov’s than what history served them.

One of my favorite parts of books are the Notes from the author (yes, I totally read those). When fully explained, they can really enhance the book! There was a wonderful explanation of what was true, what wasn’t, and why she made certain creative decisions. It honestly made me like the book even more. I was totally surprised about some pieces actually being true! It helped me better understand the plot and the addition of some characters. 

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction/fantasy
  • No language
  • A little love story that leads to a kiss or two
  • Violence: y’all there is a lot so everyone is aware, it is the Russian Revolution and historically on point; plenty of blood and fairly detailed
  • Trigger warnings: contemplation of suicide, gun violence
Book Review

Review: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Craw

 

Rating: ☆☆☆☆.5
Audience: Adult fiction/historical, language, explicit content, trigger warnings
Length: 384 pages
Author: Delia Owens
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: August 14th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Fans of Barbara Kingsolver will love this stunning debut novel from a New York Times bestselling nature writer, about an unforgettable young woman determined to make her way in the wilds of North Carolina, and the two men that will break her isolation open.

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She’s barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark.

But Kya is not what they say. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life lessons from the land, learning from the false signals of fireflies the real way of this world. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world–until the unthinkable happens.

In Where the Crawdads Sing, Owens juxtaposes an exquisite ode to the natural world against a heartbreaking coming of age story and a surprising murder investigation. Thought-provoking, wise, and deeply moving, Owens’s debut novel reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

ODE TO MARSH GIRL.

I follow Reese Witherspoon’s book club (Hello Sunshine) and occasionally I’ll read whatever she’s picked for the month if it sounds appealing, and I’m so happy I did!

Kya was such a strong, independent, and tough. Because WHO ABANDONS A 10 YEAR OLD? My heart was crumbling watching her youth be shattered by callous individuals. In her entire life, Jumpin’ remained her only steadfast friend. Family and “friends” flowed in and out like the marsh, as was convenient for them. She spends most of the book reverting back to this childlike state thinking her Ma is eventually coming home. The shame and anguish she feels forces a lot of anxiety and anger to bubble up. Even when she says she’s perfectly fine being alone.

This coming of age story really resounded when she met her first love, Tate. He’s such a sweetheart and their first official meeting with the feathers was precious. And while he made some mistakes with Kya (I may have said “what a jerk” a time or two), his sould always knew where home was.

Chase on the other hand could have been dropped from that fire tower and it still wouldn’t be enough. It was hard, hard to get through this section. Kya is naive in thoughts of love and intimacy and is taken advantage of in the worst ways.

The chapters with the Sheriff and Doctor as the POV were a bit silly. The dialogue wasn’t strong enough. They just flitted in and out til the official trial.

There’s a lot of poetry in here that strongly pertains to the story. The final poem especially had me. This mystery is finally solved. It was a twist for me and hopefully it’ll be for you!

Overall audience notes:
– Adult historical fiction, mystery and romance
– Language
– Detailed sexual scenes
– Trigger warning: abuse, sexual assault/attempted rape
– Some violence

Book Review

Review: The Girl in the Tower (Winternight Trilogy #2) by Katherine Arden

Girl in the Tower

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult historical fiction fantasy, a little language, some violence, some kisses and lewd commentary
Length: 363 pages
Author: Katherine Arden
Publisher: Del Ray
Release Date: December 5th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

OH THE ADVENTURE.

I read the first book in this series over a year ago and remembered enjoying it, but thinking, WHOA that was a lot of story. The Girl in the Tower exceeded my expectations for a middle novel. I was able to be even more immersed in the story because I understood the characters and plot much better after The Bear and the Nightingale.

Vasya is a strong heroine. Not letting her life be put into a box of marriage or a convent, she rides out for her own adventure. And what wanderlust she found! The prose and descriptions of vast Russia are beautiful. Arden interweaves world building and commentary so well you get swept away.

One of the few things I didn’t love was how much everything was Vasya’s fault. This death, that destruction, etc. She could’ve used a break, bless her heart. Vasilii the Brave is a heroine and deserved more praise under her guise.

The love tale woven throughout makes me giddy too. I look forward to more of Morozko and Vasya in the next book. This book isn’t heavy on the love either, and for a reader, I think that can sway them on way or another. I really appreciated the way it was set up. It stands apart from some novels too focused on the love. Vasya has so much loyalty and love for her family. It’s what makes the love with Morozko all the more sincere and tender.

Multiple POV helps you gain an understanding from many different characters. Vasya, Olya, and Sasha are a few on the group who get a momentary narrative. I always love when an author can handle so many characters at once because it enhances the story from all sides.

Can I almost mention MY LOVE FOR SOLOVEY? I want a magical horse that speaks to me. His fierce protection over Vasya gives me all the heart eyes.

I love the historical fiction aspect. Arden has degrees in Russian and tells the history and uses the aspects of names, times, and places to create a magic filled fantasy.

Overall audience notes:

  • A young adult fantasy book that could easily be enjoyed be an older audience
  • Sparse language, did not detract from the story
  • No love scenes, some kissing scenes (all safe for work)
  • Some lewd commentary about rape, and wanting to sleep with others
  • Some violence with minor gore
Book Review

Review: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Before We Were Yours

 

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Adult, no language, child violence/abuse/neglect, no love scenes
Length: 342 pages
Author: Lisa Wingate
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: June 6th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

TAKES A LOT OUT OF YOU.

Oh this book. Oh my heart. WHY ARE PEOPLE THE WAY THAT THEY ARE? It’s one thing to completely fictionalize something, but it’s another to know that it’s a historical fiction.

CRAP LIKE THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED.

Rill and her siblings are swept on the most horrible river of life. I was only moderately appeased by the end, because things yes, do end ‘well’, but then you remember once again all the trauma that they went through and it pulls on your heart strings again.

Be wary that this may be too much for some readers. Thankfully, things aren’t described in depth, but things are insinuated that makes you hug any small child you know tighter.

I enjoyed the perspective of Avery Stafford, but didn’t know if it was totally necessary. I felt it was more added to help give light to the shadows of the past which I do appreciate. There was just some bits that weren’t needed.

Better suited for someone a bit older, no language that I can recall. A lot of child abuse, neglect, and violence. No love scenes, a kiss.