Book Review

Book Review: Our Violent Ends (These Violent Delights #2) by Chloe Gong

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Historical Fiction / Fantasy
Length: 494 pages
Author: Chloe Gong
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: November 16th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Shanghai is under siege in this captivating and searingly romantic sequel to These Violent Delights, which New York Times bestselling author Natasha Ngan calls “deliciously dark.”

The year is 1927, and Shanghai teeters on the edge of revolution.

After sacrificing her relationship with Roma to protect him from the blood feud, Juliette has been a girl on the warpath. One wrong move, and her cousin will step in to usurp her place as the Scarlet Gang’s heir. The only way to save the boy she loves from the wrath of the Scarlets is to have him want her dead for murdering his best friend in cold blood. If Juliette were actually guilty of the crime Roma believes she committed, his rejection might sting less.

Roma is still reeling from Marshall’s death, and his cousin Benedikt will barely speak to him. Roma knows it’s his fault for letting the ruthless Juliette back into his life, and he’s determined to set things right—even if that means killing the girl he hates and loves with equal measure.

Then a new monstrous danger emerges in the city, and though secrets keep them apart, Juliette must secure Roma’s cooperation if they are to end this threat once and for all. Shanghai is already at a boiling point: The Nationalists are marching in, whispers of civil war brew louder every day, and gangster rule faces complete annihilation. Roma and Juliette must put aside their differences to combat monsters and politics, but they aren’t prepared for the biggest threat of all: protecting their hearts from each other.

THIS WAS SPECTACULAR.

I can’t think of one bad thing to say about this book. I LOVED IT SO MUCH.

One of the few things I needed from book one was more romance, AND THIS DELIVERED. ROMA & JULIETTE FOREVER. I loooooooooved the development of their relationship in this one. Enemies to lovers to enemies to lovers. Oh it was the ultimate romance for me. It had everything I could ask for. I was even loving on all of the side character romances too. IT WAS ALL GOOD.

What also was amazing was just this entire storyline. The plot had a bit of everything. Politicking and action, gun-slinging and monsters, romance and swoooooon passionate confessions of love. The rotation of these throughout the multi-POV was executed so well.

The audio book was stellar and I think really sold this book for me. I couldn’t get enough and devoured it as quickly as possible. Not to mention that epilogue was *chef’s kiss*. The ending and everything after was exactly as it should be. I loved the turns on Romeo & Juliette and this duology is one of the top ones I’ve read in a long time.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Historical Fiction / Fantasy / Romance
  • Language: a little strong
  • Romance: closed door
  • Violence: heavy on violence/gore, physical altercations and weapons use
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: gun violence, loss of loved ones

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: YA Historical Fiction
Length: 336 pages
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: PenguinTeen
Release Date: February 1st, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Romania, 1989. Communist regimes are crumbling across Europe. Seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu dreams of becoming a writer, but Romanians aren’t free to dream; they are bound by rules and force.

Amidst the tyrannical dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu in a country governed by isolation and fear, Cristian is blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer. He’s left with only two choices: betray everyone and everything he loves—or use his position to creatively undermine the most notoriously evil dictator in Eastern Europe.

Cristian risks everything to unmask the truth behind the regime, give voice to fellow Romanians, and expose to the world what is happening in his country. He eagerly joins the revolution to fight for change when the time arrives. But what is the cost of freedom?

Thank you to publisher, PenguinTeen for an eARC.

A UNIQUE & INFORMATIVE SETTING.

One of my favorite things about Sepetys as a writer is her clear effort in researching the history of whatever book she’s writing. I also love that most of her books are from more niche areas of history that I don’t know a lot about. They continually inspire me to look up more information and learn even more about the subject.

A bit slow paced in the first half as we watched Cristian go through the day-to-day life of what it was like in communist Romania. The visceral depictions of fear and oppression was at times hard to read. The short chapters kept the book moving steadily as the tension increased on a country tired of being held back.

I liked Cristian as a main character and his heartfelt desire to do right by his family and also do right by himself. His touching inner monologue of wanting more and suffering because of it, but then finally being able to reach a path that would lead to hope. I would have loved a bit more character development for everyone to really feel attached to them.

The intensity of the second half unleashed the betrayals, the riots and moments of clarity. While I didn’t love how the book ended, once reading the author’s note and history in the back of the book (don’t forget to do that!!) it all made sense as the type of writing choice I Must Betray You needed. Another great and informative historical fiction for Sepetys!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Historical Fiction
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: depictions of poverty, a loved one beaten to death (aftermath is witnessed), murder, riots, mass loss of life, gun violence, near death experiences

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Book Review

Book Review: Chain of Iron (The Last Hours #2) by Cassandra Clare

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Urban / Historical Fantasy
Length: 592 pages
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Walker Books
Release Date: March 2nd, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The Shadowhunters must catch a killer in Edwardian London in this dangerous and romantic sequel to the #1 New York Times bestselling novel Chain of Gold, from New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Cassandra Clare. Chain of Iron is a Shadowhunters novel.

Cordelia Carstairs seems to have everything she ever wanted. She’s engaged to marry James Herondale, the boy she has loved since childhood. She has a new life in London with her best friend Lucie Herondale and James’s charming companions, the Merry Thieves. She is about to be reunited with her beloved father. And she bears the sword Cortana, a legendary hero’s blade.

But the truth is far grimmer. James and Cordelia’s marriage is a lie, arranged to save Cordelia’s reputation. James is in love with the mysterious Grace Blackthorn whose brother, Jesse, died years ago in a terrible accident. Cortana burns Cordelia’s hand when she touches it, while her father has grown bitter and angry. And a serial murderer is targeting the Shadowhunters of London, killing under cover of darkness, then vanishing without a trace.

Together with the Merry Thieves, Cordelia, James, and Lucie must follow the trail of the knife-wielding killer through the city’s most dangerous streets. All the while, each is keeping a shocking secret: Lucie, that she plans to raise Jesse from the dead; Cordelia, that she has sworn a dangerous oath of loyalty to a mysterious power; and James, that he is being drawn further each night into the dark web of his grandfather, the arch-demon Belial. And that he himself may be the killer they seek.

BUT WHY.

I kept hearing about this *emotional ending*. I imaginged something catastrophic happening, tears being shed, etc. All I actually felt was RAGE. I know and expect a cliffhanger in Shadowhunter books. It’s fine, but sometimes they don’t match up well for me. This one seemed like it’s going to cause a lot more damage and I am not okay.

COI took a long time to pick up. It was hundreds of pages before I felt really connected to the story. Even with loving a character driven novel, I guess with some many switches between POVs I wasn’t feeling attached to anyone until later down the line.

Granted, once things got going, they got moving quickly. I really liked the second half. And I especially appreciate that this feels like more of a fresh take in the Shadowhunter world. It’s no secret that I’m slowly fading out of wanting to read this series. It’s a lot of books in one world, ya know?

For now, I’m continuing on. Definitely invested enough to read book three and see what happens next. There’s many ships I’m hoping set sail (or for that matter, REMAIN SAILING). I do adore this cast and the whole group of Merry Thieves.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Urban / Historical fiction Fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses to closed door scenes
  • Violence: battles, demonic attacks, weaponry
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: alcohlism

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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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