Blog Tour: Enchantée by Gita Trelease

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ARC provided by Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Enchantee

Author: Gita Trelease

Pages: 464

Genre: YA Historical fiction, fantasy

Publication Date: February 5, 2019


About the book:

Love. Magic. Revolution…

“Deliciously addictive.” ―Stephanie Garber, author of Caraval
“A heady, sparkling dream of a book.” ―Margaret Rogerson, author of An Enchantment of Ravens
“An utterly beguiling spell.” ―Laura Sebastian, author of Ash Princess

Paris is a labryinth of twisted streets filled with beggars and thieves, revolutionaries and magicians. Camille Durbonne is one of them. She wishes she weren’t…

When smallpox kills her parents, Camille must find a way to provide for her younger sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on magic, Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille pursues a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

Using dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into a baroness and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for magic. As she struggles to reconcile her resentment of the rich with the allure of glamour and excess, Camille meets a handsome younge inventor, and begins to believe that love and liberty may both be possible.

But magic has its costs, and soon Camille loses control of her secrets. And when revolution erupts, Camille must choose―love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, reality of magic―before Paris burns.


Review:

Enchantee is a story set in Paris during the French Revolution in 1789, but with a magical twist. We follow Camille, a girl who is trying her best to support her siblings after her parents died. She has a younger sister, Sophie, who is ill, and an older brother, Alain, who is basically a worthless, gambling-addicting drunk.

Sophie knows she can wield magic. In fact, there are three types of magic in this alternate Parisian universe:

  1. Magie ordinaire: “for changing things.”
  2. Glamoire: “for changing oneself.”
  3. Magie bibelot: “for imbuing objects with magic, making them sentient.”

But then Sophie discovers a rare magical item that she can use to glamor herself, and she decides to enter the French Court, playing cards and gambling but using magic to help along; with the end game of giving herself and her sister a better life.

“Magic is a cheater’s game, and everyone who sees it wants to play.”

I was immediately enthralled in this historical fantasy world and was really looking forward to seeing how the magic system was going to play into the story. While we do get to see some magic, it actually was quite minimal, so I was hoping for more. Also the scenes in Versailles turned out to be my least favorite parts, which was a surprise because I thought I’d like them the best. And if I’m being honest, the villain wasn’t my favorite. I think my feelings are that I’m not super into gambling stories and this book had several scenes depicting it.

“But under the surface of the glamoire there was rot.”

However, my favorite parts of this book actually weren’t even tied to the magic or aristocracy; rather I was loving the scenes with the hot air balloon inventors. It was clear (and confirmed in the notes at the end of the book) that certain characters were inspired by the Montgolfier brothers, who pioneered the first lighter-than-air ships (I’m an aviation nerd, sorry.) I wanted to see more of these balloon makers tied into the main story line, but I really loved how a certain romance bloomed from it.

I also really appreciated how a certain biracial character talks about racism, and that being biracial has sometimes made him feel confused and the target of hate. As someone who is biracial, I completely related to this character about feeling like I don’t quite fit into a certain identity. I truly loved how the author respectfully brought up this topic.

This book took so many monumental events in France’s history and spread them throughout the story. While sometimes I felt like it got to be a bit much, I really think fans of historical fantasy may appreciate all the nods to the French Revolution in this book. There are also the themes of sisterhood, poverty, and hope, and how terribly corrupt the aristocracy was at that time. If you’re a historical fiction fan but want some elements of magical fantasy sprinkled throughout, then I think you may enjoy this book!

Trigger/content warnings: abuse, gambling, alcoholism, slut shaming.

All quotes are taken from an advance reader’s copy and may change upon publication.


About the Author:

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Born in Sweden to Indian and Swedish parents, Gita Trelease has lived in many places, including New York, Paris, and a tiny town in central Italy. She attended Yale College and New York University, where she earned a Ph.D. in British literature. Before becoming a novelist, she taught classes on writing and fairy tales. With her husband and son, Gita divides her time between a village in Massachusetts and the coast of Maine. ENCHANTÉE is her debut novel.


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threestars


BLOG TOUR (1) (1) (1)

Blog Tour: The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1) by Roshani Chokshi

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ARC provided by Wednesday Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

fourstars

Title: The Gilded Wolves

Series: The Gilded Wolves, #1

Author: Roshani Chokshi

Pages: 464

Genre: YA Fantasy, historical

Publication Date: January 15, 2019

My Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Set in a darkly glamorous world, The Gilded Wolves is full of mystery, decadence, and dangerous but thrilling adventure.

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

I’m so excited today is my stop on The Gilded Wolves blog tour! I truly think this will be a hit for fans of treasure heist stories with a quirky, rag-tag team of characters.

I will admit the story is probably more of a 3-star read for me, but the characters really made up for it. They’re such a joy to read and I instantly loved them all from their very first introduction.

The Gilded Wolves is a historical fantasy about reclaiming your birthright and power. Mix that in with some treasure hunting, cool science, diverse characters, and Paris as a backdrop: You really got yourself such an interesting and fun story!

Right away we are thrown into a heist plot line filled with puzzles to solve and codes to crack. Usually these plots excite me but I will admit I got a little confused from the way the story was told initially. I really wanted some more backstory about said treasures and artifacts. In truth, at times I felt like I was reading a Dan Brown novel because it was very “clue-solving-heavy”; however it lacked more in depth research and I felt like I was just skimming a Wikipedia article. I also felt like the magic system was a bit messy.

So while the actual heist story line didn’t quite sell me, I want to say that I 100% loved all the characters and their backgrounds so much. I love a diverse, fun, witty squad. Seriously, this book is filled with so much witty banter and sarcasm. Their personalities felt realistic and pure, and I was living for the romantic tension between two certain characters. I also adored one character who is a scientist/engineer through and through, and another character who is a historian who can lecture you non-stop about anything and everything. And then there’s a certain character with his pet tarantula whom I loved with all my heart.

And speaking of diversity, this book is full of so much representation. There is rep for autism, races and ethnicities (black, Filipino, Indian, Jewish, Polish), and LGBTQIAP+ (pan, bi). While there’s so much rep for all these cultures it is also brought up several times how these cultures are being erased/oppressed due to colonialism. Big props to Roshani Chokshi for including such important themes in this book.

I think fans of heist/treasure hunting stories may enjoy The Gilded Wolves. And if not, then I highly recommend this book if you just want to read about some awesome, fun characters who I want to be friends with. I really liked how this story ended and how badass my favorite character was. I’m looking forward to the next installment already.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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ROSHANI CHOKSHI is the New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen, A Crown of Wishes, and Aru Shah and the End of Time. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Shimmer, and Book Smugglers. Her short story, “The Star Maiden,” was longlisted for the British Fantasy Science Award.


fourstars

Buddy read with Melanie, Melanie, Lily, Kristi, Caidyn, and Alex!

xx,

Amy

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

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fourstars

Title: The Nightingale

Author: Kristin Hannah

Pages: 440

Genre: Adult fiction, historical

My rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

In love we find out who we want to be. In war we find out who we are.

FRANCE, 1939

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real–and deadly–consequences.

The Nightingale was such a powerful story about survival, love, and hope. I haven’t read very much historical fiction set during WWII, but this story really helped open my eyes at all the horror that took place in German occupied France in 1939-40’s.

This book follows two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, who are very much polar opposites. Vianne has a daughter and lives in a small French village with her husband who is drafted to the war. Isabelle is rebellious and sharp-tongued, and she is sent away to go live with Vianne after she’s kicked out of way too many finishing schools.

But this book also flash-forwards to the present, 1995. We don’t know which sister is narrating this part and I was really loving this mysterious element as I tried to connect the dots and follow all the bread crumbs Kristin Hannah left for us.

I can never claim to know what the war truly felt like, or what it felt like to live in the aftermath of that horror, so I don’t feel comfortable stating my opinion on what I liked or disliked about Kristin Hannah’s depiction of the occupation. All I know is that I can’t even imagine the terror everyone felt and the sacrifices they had to make to survive. It is truly heartbreaking and gut wrenching.

But I really think I would’ve rated this book higher if some of the things Isabelle did didn’t piss me off. Usually I love badass, rebellious characters, but her carelessness and lack of critical thinking put her family in jeopardy — I wanted to scream. And even though he was a Nazi, I really wanted Beck’s character to be more fleshed out. I am not saying I sympathized with him by any means, but he was complex, and in a really fucked up way, he was Vianne’s key to survival. And I just hated how things happened the way they did with his character. My conflicted feelings toward him was what kept me turning the page, but once I reached a certain point, I became less invested.

So this was probably more of a 3.5 star rating for me, but I’ll round it up to 4 because it really was such a brutal, moving, and powerful book with such important themes and horrific events that we need to remember. And I’d never read a book from the perspective of someone living in an occupied country who did NOT get taken to a labor camp, so this was something different for me. But please be warned there are several triggering topics regarding slavery, rape, abuse, and war.

fourstars

Buddy read with Melanie!

xx,

Amy

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – Non-Spoiler Review

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fivestars

Book: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Pages: 388

Genre: Adult fiction, historical, romance

My rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

I know I’ve said some other books were my favorites of 2018, but y’all… THIS BOOK. I know this will be my #1 book of 2018, or really, in my life. I will forever recommend this book to everyone for the rest of my life. I can’t even put into words how much this book impacted me and evoked so many emotions. I’m not usually drawn to historical fiction, nor am I really drawn to stories about the Hollywood elite. But, oh man, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo blew me away.

In a nut shell, this is a story about a famous Hollywood actress, Evelyn Hugo. A Cuban immigrant, she lost her mother at a very young age and, as her body quickly developed, she knew she had to get away from her abusive father. What comes next is her hunger to survive, to find any means necessary to leave her old life behind. Evelyn slowly breaks into the film industry, beginning in the 1950’s, and continues to have a successful career. And although she’s an acting legend, the public will always remember her as that woman who had seven marriages.

But Evelyn harbored a huge secret all those years. All through her marriages with men, she kept something so precious and loved quiet, and she felt now is the time to tell her story.

Which brings us to the main plot: Evelyn Hugo, now 79 years old, hires novice journalist, Monique Grant, to interview her. Completely shocked and perplexed, Monique takes the job, but she soon finds out there’s a bigger story to unbury, and how much Monique ends up learning from Evelyn.

All throughout this beautiful reading adventure, I found myself relating so much to Monique and admiring Evelyn’s bold and fierce persona. And since this tale starts with Evelyn’s career in the 50’s, you’ll also get a taste of how “real” things were; the misogyny, homophobia, racism, domestic violence, and all the ugliness of that Hollywood era. (Which we sadly still have in our world.)

This book was so beautifully crafted, engaging, and unapologetic. You’ll feel like you’ve become friends with these characters and you’ll want to laugh and cry along with them. And there are so many twists and scandals that I just honestly couldn’t put the book down!

Thank you to Sophie, Laura, and Clarisa for buddy reading this with me. And thank you to Melanie who recommended I read this beautiful, powerful, and heartbreaking story. I will always be thankful! ❤

You can bet I’ll be trying to request an ARC of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s upcoming book, Daisy Jones and The Six! (Due out March 2019)

fivestars

xx,

Amy

Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #3) by Kerri Maniscalco – Non-Spoiler Review

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ARC provided by Jimmy Patterson Books in exchange for an honest review

fourstars

Book: Escaping From Houdini

Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper, #3

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Pages: 416

Genre: YA mystery, historical fiction

Publication Date: September 18, 2018

My Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

In this third installment in the #1 bestselling Stalking Jack the Ripper series, a luxurious ocean liner becomes a floating prison of scandal, madness, and horror when passengers are murdered one by one…with nowhere to run from the killer. .

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?

Oh man, I have some feelings, guys. Lots of FEELINGS.

First and foremost I want to point out that per Kerri Maniscalco, she has written a different ending than what was in this ARC. So this review will be entirely based on what I read in the ARC. I may come back later to change my review/rating after I read the published copy.

And as always, since this is book #3 in a series, there might be spoilers from the first two books.

Escaping From Houdini opens on board the RMS Etruria. Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell (be still my heart) joined Audrey Rose’s uncle to help investigate another case in New York. But once they begin their week long voyage, passengers are murdered and everyone becomes a suspect. To add to the mayhem, there’s a circus troupe on board working as the ship’s entertainment, and the mysterious Mephistopheles has made a dark bargain with Audrey Rose.

And just like the other two books, we once again get more witty banter, swoon-worthy one-liners, and large doses of feminism to make my heart happy. While Audrey Rose’s attitude in this book was not my favorite, I still appreciated the author addressing Audrey Rose’s conflicting romantic feelings; that it is normal to feel confused when you’re only seventeen. We also get lots of forensics, murder investigations, and Thomas’ sly Sherlockian-style deductions. (Seriously, I could read an entire book about how Thomas investigates a murder scene!)

Also, does anyone else think this book would make an AMAZING cross-over with Stephanie Garber’s Caraval/Legendary? Because I am so game for that.

So, let’s talk a little bit about what I did not love. As previously stated, Audrey Rose’s actions in this book felt a bit out of character, and she does some hurtful things that just made me shake my head. I really hope the alternate/final ending will tidy that up more, because if I have to be honest with myself, I did not love the last 1/4 of the book. The introduction of Mephistopheles was a buzz-kill and opened the door for a really forced love triangle. His personality was like a watered down version of Thomas’ and I was not a fan.

And last but not least, there’s Houdini, who was rarely in the book and felt like an after thought. Much like the last two books, the title characters aren’t the main characters with a bunch of screen time.

I’ve said this before in my last review for Hunting Prince Dracula, but usually the endings for each of these books fall a bit flat for me. In this case everyone is stuck on a cruise liner, giving us that added mysterious ambiance in good ol’ Agatha Christie fashion. It’s a perfect whodunnit setting, yet I felt that the potential suspects didn’t drop very many subtle clues for a motive, and the red herrings were, once again, too obvious.

With that being said, I still thoroughly enjoyed this book and I recommend it wholeheartedly. I loved being back in that world and being surrounded by those characters who now feel like my friends. My heart was breaking so many times and I am still recovering from so many feelings! I am already dying for the next (and final) book, and I cannot wait to hear everyone’s thoughts when Escaping From Houdini comes out on September 18th!

fourstars

xx,

Amy

Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #2) by Kerri Maniscalco – Non-Spoiler Review

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fourstars

Book: Hunting Prince Dracula

Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper, #2

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Pages: 434

Genre: YA mystery, historical fiction

My Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

This review might contain spoilers from the first book, Stalking Jack the Ripper.

I always enjoy a good, creepy mystery. And I especially love it when the book is set in the 1880’s with a powerful, feminist message.

In Hunting Prince Dracula, Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell embark on a new “adventure”; they’re both vying for a spot at the Academy of Forensic Medicine and Science in Romania. By far the setting and story line alone is my favorite among the two books in this series. There is nothing I love more than a castle with a dark history, plus all the forensic/medical speak. It makes my heart so happy.

The book starts with a murder on a train, and the deaths do not stop there. Bodies keep turning up at the academy, and soon Audrey Rose and Thomas team up once again to investigate these gruesome murders. Stories of local legends of Dracula (aka Vlad the Impaler) and monsters in the forest circulate around the school, and the deaths mimic that of a vampire causing everyone to be put under suspicion.

What I loved about this book was how PTSD was addressed. Audrey Rose is still reeling from the aftermath of the Ripper case. Her family is torn apart. And as much as she loves forensics, she deals with the anxiety when performing autopsies because it reminds her so much of what happened with her brother’s gruesome experiments on their mother.

And let’s not forget Thomas Cresswell, who has unlocked Book Boyfriend Status. Please give me all the swoony Thomas one-liners please. He witty humor is such a treat and I love how feminist he is. I also adore his mind; it reminds me so much of Sherlock Holmes. I could sit down and read chapter after chapter of how he deduces a murder scene. In fact, I really wish Maniscalco included a dual POV between Audrey Rose and Thomas.

However, one thing that usually falls flat for me in this series is the ending/culprit. I don’t want to compare a YA mystery with an adult mystery, but I’ve read a lot of adult thrillers/mysteries to know my tastes. And usually that means I prefer mysteries where we are presented with several potential suspects where they all each have a big motive. I want subtle clues and bread crumbs. In both of Maniscalco’s books, I feel like the suspects don’t get much screen time, the red herrings are obvious, and what’s supposed to be the big reveal or “ah ha!” moment ends up being anticlimactic. In this case I also felt like the ending was very rushed.

Overall I still immensely enjoyed this story and I loved it way more than the first book. The academy reminded me of a creepier version of Hogwarts, which I thoroughly adored. I still highly recommend this book based on the overall ambiance, school setting, and you get lotssss of Thomas Cresswell!

I am currently reading an ARC of the third installment, Escaping From Houdini, which I will post the review soon!

fourstars

xx,

Amy

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang – Non-Spoiler Review

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fivestars

Book: The Poppy War

Author: R.F. Kuang

Pages: 544

Genre: Adult (maybe borderline YA), fantasy, historical fiction

My Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Rin aced the Keju, the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies, it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard, the most elite military school in Nikan, was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

The Poppy War is one of those books that will forever stay with me and is one of my favorite reads of 2018. My friend Melanie recommend The Poppy War to me and I am forever grateful for this. I always appreciate reading books outside of my comfort zone and I’ve been wanting to read more own voices and adult fantasy this year. I cannot recommend this book enough if you’re a fan of war fantasies/historical fiction.

However, I want to mention some major trigger warnings right off the bat: brutal torture/murders, genocide, infanticide, rape (told via recounting), bullying, racism, drug use/addiction, animal cruelty, and overall very, very graphic scenes and descriptions of war. If you watch Game of Thrones, then I’d say the type of graphic violence in The Poppy War is on par with that (or maybe slightly worse.) Also, even though I’ve seen Goodreads label this as YA, I feel like it’s very loosely a YA book due to all the mature content. The story itself is inspired by the Second Sino-Japanese War, most notably the Nanking Massacre. I implore you to read up on these events to get a better understanding of how horrible, yet important, they are to remember.

I was instantly hooked from the very first page. We follow Rin, a war orphan who, wanting to avoid an arranged marriage, enters an elite military academy. I want to say how much I LOVED this school setting; from the combat classes to the odd teachers and (some horrible) classmates. Here Rin faces bullying and racism, but to watch her character arc has been one of the greatest things I’ve ever read (she is so fierce and badass. In fact, several of the females are in this book.) I found myself rooting for so many characters (even some who didn’t deserve it).

But this isn’t just a story about students; there is an entire continent with a war erupting, and an island nation that seeks revenge. Greater things beyond human control come into play and the story evolves into epic, magical battles.

You’ll also read about some great friendships and loyalty, but do not expect any romance. I will admit I had a few ships in mind. But you’re not going to get any romance out of this book.

While this book is over 500 pages, it is very fast paced and a huge page-turner. Every scene is action-packed and you’ll be in for some big twists. There were times I felt there were info-dump scenes I had to re-read to understand better (history lessons, war strategies), but they were all so interesting and I found myself tabbing alllll the pages! I seriously don’t even know how Kuang was able to construct this beautiful story (and it’s her debut!) but I cannot wait to read more!

fivestars

xx,

Amy

My Plain Jane (The Lady Janies, #2) by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, & Brodi Ashton: Non-Spoiler Review

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ARC provided by HarperTeen via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review

fourstars

Book: My Plain Jane

Series: The Lady Janies, #2

Authors: Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, & Brodi Ashton

Pages: 464

Genre: YA fantasy, paranormal, historical retelling

Publication Date: June 26, 2018

My Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

My Plain Jane has been one of my most anticipated reads of 2018, so I want to say a massive thank you to HarperTeen for the ARC via Edelweiss! My Lady Jane was one of my top favorite books I read last year, so naturally I had the burning need to read and review My Plain Jane ASAP.

In case you’ve never heard of The Lady Janies series, they are satirical retellings based on Janes throughout history/literature. My Lady Jane is based on Lady Jane Grey (aka the Nine Days Queen) with a magical twist, while My Plain Jane is a Jane Eyre retelling with a paranormal twist. The third installment will be called My Calamity Jane (I am SO excited for this one!) Do these books have to be read in order? No. But I did notice a little cameo from My Lady Jane in My Plain Jane, so if you blink, you may miss it 😉

Like I said, My Plain Jane is a Jane Eyre retelling. So if you’ve read Jane Eyre, then you’re going to be able to predict the major plot points. Do I think this is a bad thing? Not necessarily. However, I do think it takes a little bit of the mystery away from the story.

With that being said, I still adored this book and all the witty banter, lovable characters, and GHOSTS! My Plain Jane follows a young woman named Jane Eyre and her best friend Charlotte Brontë (hehe, get it?) Jane can see spirits, and there’s a ghost hunting society that wants to recruit her into their ranks. But Jane has her mind set on becoming a governess for the brooding Mr. Rochester of Thornfield Hall.

This book is very much a Ghost Hunters meets Ghostbusters meets Jane Eyre mash up. You’ll be on a ghost hunting adventure as these characters are trying to solve the mystery behind some strange things happening at Thornfield. Not only did I love the Monty Python-esque dialogue between the characters, but I also loved the friendships, cute romance, and various homages to modern pop culture and history. I found myself laughing out loud during so many scenes, and you may even pick up a few hidden Easter eggs as you read along.

I definitely recommend this book if you’re into satire or just want a good, heartwarming laugh. I fell in love with these characters and even found myself tearing up during certain parts. I especially loved Helen Burns, Jane’s ghost friend, and I found myself relating to Charlotte so much. Not to mention the women in this book are so strong and badass. I want to be best friends with them all!

My Plain Jane releases June 26, 2018! Happy reading!

fourstars

xx,

Amy

 

 

Circe by Madeline Miller – Non-Spoiler Review

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Digital ARC provided by Little, Brown via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

fivestarsBook: Circe

Author: Madeline Miller

Pages: 352

Genre: Mythology, Historical Fiction, Fantasy

My rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.

When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe’s place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.

There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe’s independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

My mythology background is pretty much non-existent. I didn’t pay close enough attention in high school when we read The Odyssey and The Iliad. So after I heard the raving reviews about Circe, I instantly knew I had to read it. My need for learning mythology is growing and I was so drawn into the themes of witchcraft in this gorgeous book.

Circe is a very character driven book. It begins with Circe growing up in Oceanus with her father, the sun god Helios, her cold-hearted nymph mother Perse, and her siblings: Pasiphaë, Perses, and Aeëtes. The story follows Circe’s relationships with her harsh family, who believe she is ugly and worthless. She only forms a close bond with Aeëtes, but once he moves away, she is all alone. After Circe casts spells that backfire, Zeus exiles her to the island of Aiaia.

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Circe’s life unfolds before us as she lives her eternal days alone on the island. There she hones her craft; perfecting spells, potions, and tonics. She encounters shipwrecked sailors and is visited by several gods from mythos: Hermes, Athena, Daedalus, and Odysseus.

Other than the insanely beautiful and lyrical writing, I was so pleased to get to read about the other gods as well. We get little glimpses of the rest of the Titans and Olympians. Odysseus and Daedalus play a major role, but we also get to witness the birth of Pasiphaë‘s son, the infamous Minotaur, Scylla the six-headed sea monster, Medea, and Icarus.

There are also some very rough topics such as rape and abuse. And while those were very hard parts to read, this book is also powerful, feminist, and full of hope. It showcases the love a mother has for a child, how we are not our parents’ mistakes, and how we can carve our own paths. This beautiful, epic story had me so hungry to continue my journey into the world of mythos, and I hope you enjoy this book, too!

fivestars

xx,

Amy