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: The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves #2) by Roshani Chokshi

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Young adult fantasy + historical fiction
Length: 416 pages
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: September 22nd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Returning to the dark and glamorous world of her New York Times instant bestseller, The Gilded Wolves, Roshani Chokshi dazzles us with another riveting tale as full of mystery and danger as ever.

They are each other’s fiercest love, greatest danger, and only hope.

Séverin and his team members might have successfully thwarted the Fallen House, but victory came at a terrible cost ― one that still haunts all of them. Desperate to make amends, Séverin pursues a dangerous lead to find a long lost artifact rumored to grant its possessor the power of God.

Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into icy heart of Russia where crystalline ice animals stalk forgotten mansions, broken goddesses carry deadly secrets, and a string of unsolved murders makes the crew question whether an ancient myth is a myth after all.

As hidden secrets come to the light and the ghosts of the past catch up to them, the crew will discover new dimensions of themselves. But what they find out may lead them down paths they never imagined.

A tale of love and betrayal as the crew risks their lives for one last job.

Thank you to Wednesday Books, and Netgalley for the e-ARC. All opinions are my own!

MY SOUL IS IN TORMENT.

Why you may ask? Well because THAT ENDING HURT ME. It was exactly what the book called for though. Not really a cliffhanger, but feeling a desperate need to see how everything is resolved in the last book. Ohhhhh how I need the last book. If these first two books are any indication (The Gilded Wolves review here!), this finale will rock.

The ANGST I felt in this book for Laila and Severin was on another level. Oh em gee. It was the kinda of slow fire, second chance, enemies to lovers-ish vibe that I was ALL OVER. My cinnamon roll Severin who is struggling to work through some things has caused him to push people away. This hard outer shell only makes me love him more. Seeing his inner dialogue is wonderful. I love the rotating chapter POVs because I truly feel for all of these characters now. I want to be apart of this dysfunctional family too.

I liked the way the story moved. I felt there was a steady flow of action, then a lull, then back up again, all at the right times. I was never bored because things were constantly moving. If they weren’t solving a mystery, someone or another was having a tender moment. This gave me a lot of scenes that brought this installment home. The writing was beautiful with plenty of sentences I wanted to highlight and save for later.

The villains are pretty easy to spot, but are quirky and have many layers that I need to sift through. They were a bit creepy and kept me on my toes, especially in the last 20%. I flew through pages trying to figure out what was going to happen next. While my heart shattered at some point, the pieces were picked back up and put in a jar for further introspection. Everything in this book is a few shades darker. There is a lot of pain, inner turmoil, and I feel like I’m waiting on half the cast to apologize to the other half. It’s forming great characters arcs though and I am appreciating watching everyone grow.

Still, I have so many questions!! There is a vast amount of open-ended issues when it comes to everyone. Who is into who? Who is upset with who? Who is alive? Where is who? Why can who do this? I barely had questions answered before I thought of a thousand more. While sometimes too many unknowns can be a bother, I felt this really convinced me I want book three (which I don’t mind in the slightest). I think everything will be answered and while I have no idea how this well end, I am here for it all.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy + historical fiction
  • Language: some language
  • Romance: a few kisses, make-outs, a no detailed quick fade to black, but mentioned love scene (very appropriate for a true YA book)
  • Violence: poison, animal attacks, magic, fire, knives, murder
  • Trigger warnings: a person disguises themselves as someone else with intent to do sexual things, mentions of child abuse, drugging people without consent

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Book Review

Book Review: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Historical fiction
Length: 346 pages
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Speak
Release Date: February 12th, 2013
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.

Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.

UNIQUE SETTING.

Okay, time to break the news.

This is not one of my favorite books by Sepetys. I’m still catching up on her backlist titles and was hoping this would be another hit, but was left wanting so much more.

I didn’t think the plot was big enough. It was mostly a focus on Josie trying to get into college (which isn’t the most exciting thing ever). Her life has a lot of craziness to it and while it bled over into her decisions and overall choices it was taken down by the LACK OF COMMUNICATION.

Oh goodness, drives me up a wall when everything could be easily fixed by a simple sentence. This was the case for Josie. I loved her tenacity, braveness, and desire to rise above what her mother has put her through. I wish she would have just told others about what was happening. By hiding it to further the story it made things drag out.

I also wish the romance would have been taken out too. Or had more added to it. There wasn’t much background on the two suitors and things would randomly happen between them without build-up. I was left desperately begging for more between them and wish there was more follow through.

I do love how easy Sepetys books are to read. They are quick, shorter chapters and make me want to read them. I love that this book is focused on 1950s New Orleans. Such a unique time period choice for historical fiction (which was an initial reason I wanted to read it). The flavors and history of the French Quarter really came alive through the writing.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: murder, poison, physical, manipulation

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Book Review

Book Review: The Defiant (The Valiant #2) by Lesley Livingston

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy + historical fiction
Length: 374 pages
Author: Lesley Livingston
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: January 23rd, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Gladiator Fallon and her warrior sisters must face off against a rival gladiator academy in this lush sequel to the highly anticipated historical fantasy The Valiant.

They call her “Victrix” now. Victory.

But winning the highest honor ever bestowed upon a gladiatrix in Rome has earned Fallon more deadly enemies outside the arena than she ever faced within it. And it is those dearest to Fallon who will pay the price for her success.

Now, Fallon and her warrior sisters are thrust into a vicious conflict with a rival gladiator academy, one that will threaten not only Fallon’s heart – and her love for Roman soldier Cai – but the very heart of the Roman Empire.

MORE INTO THIS.

We all know the terror of reading a second book and feeling let down. This series [to me] did not have that happen! I felt more invested in the characters and story the second time around. I felt like I knew them more and that more things made sense.

I’m happy that the romance was way easier to enjoy. I thought it was rushed and iffy in the first book. I found myself utterly smitten with Cai in this book and how much he wants to be a partner with Fallon. I like that they’re on the same side and their quiet moments were tender and I better get a happy ending in the last book.

There was plenty of action in this book! It’s fantastic getting a lot of bad-a women being gladiators and owning it and taking down creepy cult groups. YES. While there is a romantic sub-plot the focus is on the group of women as a whole.

I love how the history of Rome weaves through the story. Talk of Caesar, coups, politics, Cleopatra, war. It helps bring the story to life and listening on audio has been stellar in this format.

Not quite sure why there’s a book three or what it will intend (I usually don’t read synopsis for later books), but I definitely intend on reading it!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Historical fiction + fantasy
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: skirmishes, swords, arrows, physical

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