Book Review

Book Review: Lost Roses (Lilac Girls #2) by Martha Hall Kelly

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical Fiction
Length: 432 pages
Author: Martha Hall Kelly
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: April 9th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The runaway bestseller Lilac Girls introduced the real-life heroine Caroline Ferriday. This sweeping new novel, set a generation earlier and also inspired by true events, features Caroline’s mother, Eliza, and follows three equally indomitable women from St. Petersburg to Paris under the shadow of World War I.

It is 1914 and the world has been on the brink of war so many times, many New Yorkers treat the subject with only passing interest. Eliza Ferriday is thrilled to be traveling to St. Petersburg with Sofya Streshnayva, a cousin of the Romanov’s. The two met years ago one summer in Paris and became close confidantes. Now Eliza embarks on the trip of a lifetime, home with Sofya to see the splendors of Russia. But when Austria declares war on Serbia and Russia’s Imperial dynasty begins to fall, Eliza escapes back to America, while Sofya and her family flee to their country estate. In need of domestic help, they hire the local fortuneteller’s daughter, Varinka, unknowingly bringing intense danger into their household. On the other side of the Atlantic, Eliza is doing her part to help the White Russian families find safety as they escape the revolution. But when Sofya’s letters suddenly stop coming she fears the worst for her best friend.

From the turbulent streets of St. Petersburg to the avenues of Paris and the society of fallen Russian emigre’s who live there, the lives of Eliza, Sofya, and Varinka will intersect in profound ways, taking readers on a breathtaking ride through a momentous time in history.

TEAR-JERKER.

I don’t really cry during books, but I tend to tear up to those hard hitting ones. This would be the case here. Oh goodness, Kelly’s books just always hit me in the soul. One of the story lines really had my heart hurting and begging for those last few pages to give me a (what I would consider) hopeful ending. There’s not joyous, happy endings here. But I love that there is a semblance of a light at the end of a tunnel.

This was a powerful story that I immensely enjoyed. I loved that this was a World War 1 setting and took place all over the world. The three leading ladies had me cheering for their hope and rescue and also spitting mad at other times. I felt drawn into their lives and the paths they were being forced to walk.

I love that this is a “prequel” book and that the next book in this series will be even further back. The research and love that clearly went into this book is evident through the beautiful writing and remarkable stories. The storytelling is captivating and poignant. It’s a bit slower than Lilac Girls, but still holds that magnetism to make the pages move by.

Definitely recommend for those who love historical fiction.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction [World War 1]
  • Language: some
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: see Trigger Warnings
  • Trigger warnings: sexual assault of a minor, multiple instances of sexual harassment, kidnapping, loss of loved ones, incest (half-brother sexually assaults his half-sister multiple times), murder, depictions of war, gun violence

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Book Review

Book Review: The Forgotten Kingdom (The Lost Queen Trilogy #2) by Signe Pike

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical Fiction + Fantasy
Length: 496 pages
Author: Signe Pike
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: September 15th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The story continues in The Forgotten Kingdom, the second book in the astonishing Lost Queen trilogy, already hailed as “Outlander meets Camelot” (Kirsty Logan) and “The Mists of Avalon for a new generation” (Linnea Hartsuyker).

AD 573. Imprisoned in her chamber, Languoreth awaits news in torment. Her husband and son have ridden off to wage war against her brother, Lailoken. She doesn’t yet know that her young daughter, Angharad, who was training with Lailoken to become a Wisdom Keeper, has been lost in the chaos. As one of the bloodiest battles of early medieval Scottish history scatters its survivors to the wind, Lailoken and his men must flee to exile in the mountains of the Lowlands, while nine-year-old Angharad must summon all Lailoken has taught her and follow her own destiny through the mysterious, mystical land of the Picts.

In the aftermath of the battle, old political alliances unravel, opening the way for the ambitious adherents of the new religion: Christianity. Lailoken is half-mad with battle sickness, and Languoreth must hide her allegiance to the Old Way to survive her marriage to the next Christian king of Strathclyde. Worst yet, the new King of the Angles is bent on expanding his kingdom at any cost. Now the exiled Lailoken, with the help of a young warrior named Artur, may be the only man who can bring the Christians and the pagans together to defeat the encroaching Angles. But to do so, he must claim the role that will forever transform him. He must become the man known to history as “Myrddin.”

Bitter rivalries are ignited, lost loves are found, new loves are born, and old enemies come face-to-face with their reckoning in this compellingly fresh look at one of the most enduring legends of all time.

LONG AWAITED [WORTH IT] SEQUEL.

This is such a hidden gem of a series. If it’s even remotely your niche I definitely recommend picking them up! The Lost Queen is the first for this trilogy and I was once again entranced by book two.

This is not a fast read. It’s one of those that takes you on a slower journey through the pages, yet it doesn’t seem to bother anyone. I like how this story moves. The characters feel right out of history (a testament to the research Pike has done for these novels) and the road they go on always leaves me in shambles.

Speaking of shambles, can I get some good news in the third book? I am overly distraught over how some of my ships went about their time together and need more answers! Granted, I know this is based on history, and I don’t know the exact history, so I might be in for a wallop of a time anyways, BUT I DIGRESS. I will hopefully get some kind of soothing ending to my favorites.

This time around the story leaned towards Lailoken and the battles he travailed through in wanting to keep his kingdom as it was. I love the way this is written and the clear character changes that show up as times goes on [it’s believed he’s the basis for the character we know today as Merlin]. I loved his story line. I still love Languoreth’s plot too. She is a fierce, protective queen who gets stuff done. And we added in a new story with Languoreth’s daughter, Angharad. I thought her pieces might drag a bit, but as the chapters increased it was clear just how important she was to the overall story.

A heart-aching read with war and strife, with people from history brought to life. I adore this series and can’t wait for the conclusion.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction [with some fantasy aspects]
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses; innuendo
  • Violence: gory/bloody; war, battle scenes, murder, dismemberment and more

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Book Review

Book Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult historical fiction
Length: 344 pages
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Philomel Books
Release Date: March 22nd, 2011
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously—and at great risk—documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

INFORMATIVE.

I did find enthralled in the story, but I struggled with some pieces of it.

This was intense and informative to other parts of World War 2 that I am less familiar with. I like that it tackled the Baltic countries and what the Soviet Union was doing to oppress them and trying to make them disappear. It was heart-breaking and I struggled to read through a lot of it.

But I did feel like this lacked a plot. Lina’s painful journey was just that, a painful journey. There was a repeat of events that really emphasized how pretty this book isn’t. I wish there was a little more development with Andrius to really solidify the side romance occurring.

What I felt on another level was Lina’s Mom. The way she cared for her children and even took time to show love to those around her really melted me. The strength and resilience she gave to others clearly was in Lina as well. Lina was courageous and tough as she dealt with trial after trial.

I didn’t love how abrupt the ending was. I turned the next page and all of a sudden I was in an epilogue years later. I wish there was a bit more of a conclusion or a general sense of the situation coming to a close.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction
  • Language: very little light
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: murder, gun violence, physical altercations; bloody/gory; depictions of wartime, abandonment
  • Trigger warnings: brief sexual harassment, loss of loved ones

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Georgana’s Secret by Arlem Hawks

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical Romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Arlem Hawks
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Release Date: January 12th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

1811, HMS Deborah

A Regency romance on the high seas.

As a young girl, Georgana Woodall dreamed of beautiful dresses, fancy balls, and falling in love. However, when her mother dies, she cannot face a future under the guardianship of her abusive grandmother and instead chooses to join her father on his ship disguised as his cabin boy, “George.”

Lieutenant Dominic Peyton has no time in his life for love, not with his dedication to His Majesty’s Royal Navy claiming his full attention. Determined to prove himself to his new captain, he strives to be an exemplary officer and leader. When he sees the captain’s cabin boy being harassed by the crew, he immediately puts a stop to it and takes the “boy” under his wing. After discovering a number of clues, Dominic deduces that George is really a woman. Knowing that revealing the cabin boy’s secret would put her in serious danger from the rowdy crew, Dominic keeps silent and hides his growing affection for her.

Georgana is quickly losing her heart to Dominic’s compassion and care but is convinced nothing can come of her affection. She cannot continue to live her life on the sea, and having already missed too many seasons in London, her chances of being welcomed back into polite society and finding a suitable husband have slipped away.

Thank you to Shadow Mountain Publishing for a copy of Georgana’s Secret in exchange for a review.

A HIGH SEAS SECRET ROMANCE.

I was fairly swept away by this tale. I found it full of adventure, some daring antics, and a romance. A great combination for an affair on the high seas.

The development of the connection between Dominic and Georgana was sweet. I liked how it grew out of friendship, but that also her secret didn’t stay secret too long. I hate when it’s dragged out and then leaves me flustered when everything comes out. This worked really well in that there was still plenty of time for them as well as the story as a whole.

I loved Georgana’s strong yet reserved nature. Trying to do the best she could in the situation she ended up in. Her nature to reach out rather than fight back was great, but I definitely loved when she fought back too. She and Dominic really had chemistry from the get go and I adored their banter and tender moments.

This was filled with a lot more than a bunch of people on a ship. I liked having scenery changes with landings, crossings with other ships, and back at home. This mix up kept everything from getting too stagnant and like I was stuck on a ship. It’s a regency story that has a vibrant and different setting.

I enjoyed the sweet little epilogue at the end and felt satisfied with how things worked out for all of the characters.

Overall audience notes:

  • Regency Proper Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: ship battles, physical altercations, severe wounds and illness

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