book review, fantasy, historical fiction, romance, Young Adult

Storm from the East | Book Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: Storm from the East (Glass Alliance, #2)

Author: Joanna Hathaway

Format: Hardcover (own)

Pages: 496

Published Date: 2/11/20

Categories: Historical Fantasy, War, Family, Romance

Battles, revolution, and romance collide in Joanna Hathaway’s stunning, World Wars-inspired sequel to Dark of the West

Part war drama, part romance, Storm from the East is the second novel in Joanna Hathaway’s immersive, upmarket YA fantasy series that will appeal to readers of Sabaa Tahir, Marie Rutkoski, and Evelyn Skye.

War has begun, and the days of Athan’s and Aurelia’s secret, summer romance feel a world away. Led by Athan’s father, the revolutionary Safire have launched a secret assault upon the last royal kingdom in the South, hoping to depose the king and seize a powerful foothold on the continent. Athan proves a star pilot among their ranks, struggling to justify the violence his family has unleashed as he fights his way to the capital—where, unbeknownst to him, Aurelia has lived since the war’s onset. Determined to save the kingdom Athan has been ordered to destroy, she partners with a local journalist to inflame anti-Safire sentiment, all while learning this conflict might be far darker and more complex than she ever imagined.

When the two reunite at last, Athan longing to shake the nightmare of combat and Aurelia reeling from the discovery of a long-buried family truth come to light, they’ll find the shadow of war stretches well beyond the battlefield. Each of them longs to rekindle the love they once shared . . . but each has a secret they’re desperate to hide.

  • We return to this intriguing historical fantasy world, the second novel in the Glass Alliance series and the stakes are higher. The plane fights are more thrilling as Athan tries to advance in his career as a fighter pilot and impress his father (who is barely impressed by anything he does). Aurelia is trying to stop a war but making more of a mess of things. There are secrets, there are truth bombs, and real bombs, there is romance. There is so much I feel like this should be a movie.
  • The family dynamics of the Dakar’s is fascinating, toxic, riveting and I really need to know what Sinora has on the General! But the siblings in this family has been raised in an unconventional way, all they have known it seems is war – they grew up with a manipulative father and they are left hungry for his love and praise. I feel like we get snippets here and there about each boy, of course we know more about Athan, but Arrin and Kalt, are intriguing – mostly Arrin at this point. Their sister doesn’t get a lot of scenes but she seems interesting as well.
  • Aurelia travels to Resya and learns more about her mother’s background and some shocking truths are revealed. I kept feeling like she means well and thinks she’s a step ahead when really sometimes her involvement just messes things up more. She has a good heart and wants the war to be over because she knows how evil it is, all these lives dead for what? But she’s torn because of her family secrets as well. How does she stop a war and keep her family safe at the same time? It seems impossible.
  • I love how this series is written. Each chapter gets to the point quickly and it moves the story quickly. I really like how this story questions all sides fighting a war, is it ever worth it, who is the more evil one, who will benefit in the end, and will it ever end when vengeance is the motivation? And what is the true cause each side is fighting for?
  • PTSD gets a spotlight in this series and we see Athan really start to go through it. We already know Arrin’s affected by it, but Kalt not so much maybe because he’s on a ship? And then there are the people caught in the crossfire of war who suffer greatly as well.
  • The ending was a shocker and I am definitely going to be reading the arc to book three, ASAP.

Triggers: violence, war atrocities, suicide, PTSD

  • Athan and Aurelia have a few scenes together in this series but for the most part they are not together. There are letters written between them that aren’t sent but we feel the yearning between them.
  • Will war ever end? When will it be enough for General Dakar?

This sequel really keeps the story moving at a clipped pace, almost like we are the ones marching into battle along with everyone else. I felt the tension between the Dakar boys and Athan’s thrills in the plane and fears. I was shocked with Aurelia’s discoveries and Sinora’s actions, and Athan and Aurelia’s love is so bittersweet but will it stand a chance? Can peace be achieved between all sides? I’ll be reading the third book right away to find out!

📚 ~ Yolanda

book review, fantasy, historical fiction, romance, Young Adult

Dark of the West | Book Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: Dark of the West

Author: Joanna Hathaway

Format: Hardcover (owned)

Pages: 480

Publication Date: 2/5/19

Categories: Young Adult, WWII Inspired World, Historical Fantasy, Romance, Family

He was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner’s Curse in Joanna Hathaway’s Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.

  • My favorite part of this book is the intensity in brings. Athan is the youngest son of a General who is ruthless and has a reputation for fighting and winning wars. The General is a hard man who is always scheming. Aurelia is a Princess raised with rules but her mother is a Southern with a past that threatens their monarchy rule. There is a lot of political intrigue in this story and it brings the tension between all sides involved.
  • I was very invested in Athan and his struggles with wanting his dad’s approval, competing with his older brothers and wanting to be with his mother. I felt awful for him and what he had to deal with just to survive his family. His brothers all want to be the apple of their father’s eye and will do anything for his praise. Athan wants to disappear but he can’t because of his loyalty to his family and his mom’s memory. So what will he do?
  • Aurelia’s mother, the Queen of Etania is an intriguing character. She’s from Resyna but we don’t know much about the country because the story doesn’t travel there yet. All we know is what the characters tell us, and Sinora, the Queen has past that is entangled with Athan’s father. What happened exactly? We don’t know, but I hope I find out more about it in the sequel.
  • Having grown up in the 80’s, I was a big fan of the movie Top Gun and watched it a lot. This story is inspired by World War II but the plane fights reminded me of Top Gun and Athan is definitely Maverick. And Cyar is Goose ~ except I hope Cyar has a better storyline than Goose did in the movie! I enjoyed the flying and stunts in this book a lot though.
  • The political intrigue and scheming is very good and just like chess. Everyone is making moves and we aren’t sure who is going to win at this stage of the series. It’s a back and forth match but winner will take all. Unfortunately Athan and Aurelia are caught in the cross-fire.
  • The romance between Athan and Aurelia is sweet and very slow. They are both young, both have secrets but enjoy each other’s company. Will their bond continue to stay strong when the truth lets out?
  • Triggers: murder, violence, war
  • Aurelia at times comes off as naive but there was a moment in the end where she shows that she really isn’t just a useless princess. I’m curious to see what happens to her in the sequel.
  • Athan is said to be brilliant and smart but his character doesn’t seem to show it at all. He’s a good pilot, maybe shows off and disregards the rules too much, but brilliant strategist or something? I don’t see that yet. Maybe in the sequel?

I am glad I finally picked up this book. I was thoroughly entertained and was invested in the story because the tension between the warring countries was really good. The General seems to be a step ahead of everyone, or is he? I’ll need to find out more in the sequel but so far I’m enjoying this WWII inspired fantasy world with intriguing characters and a lot of political intrigue.

✈︎ ~ Yolanda

adult fiction, book review, fantasy, historical fiction, magic, Mystery, netgalley

The Conductors | ARC Review

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Title: The Conductors

Author: Nicole Glover

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 384

Publication Date: 3/2/21

Publisher: John Joseph Adams/Mariner Books

Categories: Mystery, Historical Fantasy, Slavery, Underground Railroad, Magic, Adult Fiction

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

A compelling debut by a new voice in fantasy fiction, The Conductors features the magic and mystery of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files written with the sensibility and historical setting of Octavia Butler’s Kindred: Introducing Hetty Rhodes, a magic-user and former conductor on the Underground Railroad who now solves crimes in post–Civil War Philadelphia.

As a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Hetty Rhodes helped usher dozens of people north with her wits and magic. Now that the Civil War is over, Hetty and her husband Benjy have settled in Philadelphia, solving murders and mysteries that the white authorities won’t touch. When they find one of their friends slain in an alley, Hetty and Benjy bury the body and set off to find answers. But the secrets and intricate lies of the elites of Black Philadelphia only serve to dredge up more questions. To solve this mystery, they will have to face ugly truths all around them, including the ones about each other.

  • I love how the underground railroad and slavery history are part of this story. Hetty helped many people escape the South after the Civil War by using her magic and bravery. Now that she is in Philadelphia she plays a role in figuring out murders taking place around them, some of the victims being her friends.
  • The celestial magic in the story was very interesting. I liked how it was based off of constellations and they used sigils to conjure up the magic.
  • Hetty is a strong character – she is smart, caring and so brave.
  • Hetty and Benjy’s relationship was a marriage of convenience but it grew into something more which was so nice to see. They really were partners in solving the mystery and taking care of the people around them.
  • Triggers: slavery, abuse, murder
  • This is definitely a mystery, not quite a cozy mystery, and mysteries and I have a strained relationship – meaning if it’s too slow, I will not be invested in the story. This was slow for me. If you like mysteries though, this might be up your alley.
  • It would have been nice to learn more about the magic system because it sounded so fascinating. I love the idea of using the constellation sigils as magic. I just needed a little more information about the magic.

The concept of blending magic, black history tied to slavery, post civil war and the underground railroad is fantastic. I just wished the story held my attention more and that we got to see more of the magic system. In the end, Hetty and Benjy make a good partnership as they figure out the mysteries and investigates murders happening around them. Even though this book wasn’t for me, I think mystery lovers will really enjoy this book because of it’s uniqueness.

📚 ~ Yolanda

adult fiction, book review, fantasy, historical fiction

Queen of the Conquered | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Queen of the Conquered

Author: Kacen Callender

Format: eBook (own)

Pages: 400

Categories: Slavery, Historical Fantasy, Magic

An ambitious young woman with the power to control minds seeks vengeance against the royals who murdered her family, in a Caribbean-inspired fantasy world embattled by colonial oppression. 

Sigourney Rose is the only surviving daughter of a noble lineage on the islands of Hans Lollik. When she was a child, her family was murdered by the islands’ colonizers, who have massacred and enslaved generations of her people—and now, Sigourney is ready to exact her revenge.

When the childless king of the islands declares that he will choose his successor from amongst eligible noble families, Sigourney uses her ability to read and control minds to manipulate her way onto the royal island and into the ranks of the ruling colonizers. But when she arrives, prepared to fight for control of all the islands, Sigourney finds herself the target of a dangerous, unknown magic.

Someone is killing off the ruling families to clear a path to the throne. As the bodies pile up and all eyes regard her with suspicion, Sigourney must find allies among her prey and the murderer among her peers… lest she become the next victim.

Queen of the Conquered reckons with the many layers of power and privilege in a lush fantasy world—perfect for readers of V. E. Schwab, Kiersten White, and Marlon James.

My Reactions:

My Attention: I had to read this book little by little

World Building: the islands of Hans Lollik (islands in the Caribbean), noble lineages with powers called the kraft

Writing Style: first half was slow, but the second half picks up

Bringing the Heat: no heat except the humidity of the islands!

Crazy in Love: no love

Creativity: this story weaves a dark spell

Mood: mixed feelings 

Triggers: violence, mentions of suicide, whipping, slavery, lynching, mind control, abuse, rape

My Takeaway: What happens when an oppressed person becomes the oppressor?

  • All the conflicted feelings this book conjures up made me ask question after question about Sigourney Rose and why she was doing what she was doing. Oh, I wanted to shake her, yet I could understand where she was coming from as well – her trauma, her revenge, her fears, her guilt, her complacency and still, I just wanted her to stop and do the right thing.
  • Sigourney’s kraft allows her to enter people’s minds, read it, and manipulate it as well. She knows how everyone feels about her, sometimes she cares, sometimes she uses it, sometimes she ignores it. She has revenge and power on her mind, she tells herself she needs to rule these islands so she can help free the slaves. She could free the slaves but in this story she does nothing to help them. I don’t like her but she’s a fleshed out, complicated character. I just wish she was using her kraft to take people out. What was she waiting for? She plays the game of the nobles and it’s frustrating.
  • The second half of this book is when things start really happening. The twist was something I was not expecting at all and it makes me wonder what will happen next.
  • This story covers slavery and depicts its brutality without shying away from it. I took a few days to read this book because the visuals just gutted me.
  • The beginning of the story is slow because Sigourney spends a lot of time in people’s heads and it gets repetitive. So we get a story about everyone she encounters and at times I wasn’t patient enough to care about a noble and their thoughts and feelings of hate towards their slaves. 😒 There was a lot of telling and not showing and that also made me put the book down a few times.
  • Sigourney – she’s complicated. I know her background, her stories about her parents and how they were killed. But I just wanted her to free the slaves and walk away. I hated her for seeing the plight of her people and yet, she had them whipped to impress the other families. She uses them. And she has this plot for revenge…but I only saw one people at the receiving end of that revenge. So I didn’t believe her, like Loren, who distrusted her motives.

I definitely have mixed feelings about this book. I think this book has so much potential and it came about in the last part of the story. The beginning was bogged down with Sigourney entering so many minds and telling their stories. Some I cared about, others I didn’t. I think it’s an important story because of the topic of slavery and the thoughts and actions of a black slave owner. The history of the islands and Sigourney’s past lays the groundwork for revenge but she was conflicted about her motivations. The twist in the end makes me wonder what is going to happen in book two and will she eventually join the rebels side? Or will she fight to remain their master? 😞

book review, fantasy, romance, Young Adult

Book Review | The Beautiful

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Beautiful

Author: Renée Ahdieh

Format: Hardcover (owned)

Pages: 448

Categories: Paranormal Romance, Historical Fantasy, Young Adult

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.

I finally read The Beautiful! I had ordered through the YA Book of the Month club and waited almost 3 weeks for it. Then when it came, it sat on my shelf as I had to get through some arcs and library books first. But I’m glad I waited, because the hype died down and also…the reviews were coming in disappointing. 😕 It helped lower my expectations and so now that I’ve finally read it I can say, I actually liked it a lot!

Celine Rousseau is a girl with a past. She’s left Paris and now lives at a convent in New Orleans and no one knows her secret. Celine falls into a mysterious crowd of people called the Court of Lions and is enticed by their decadent world of parties, and…magic. Celine has a feeling they are different, more than inhuman, but what?

But there is also a killer on the loose in the city and this killer keeps leaving bodies where Celine is usually present. Will Celine be able to resist the charms of this dark court, and can she uncover who this killer is before it’s too late for her and the ones she care about? Celine has stumbled upon something bigger than what she thinks she knows

  • I have loved vampires since L.J. Smith wrote The Vampire Diaries in 1991 and then Anne Rice and her decadent world of vampires in New Orleans with The Interview with the Vampires, then of course there’s Twilight (and yes sparking vampires did make me pause when I first read it but I enjoyed it all the same 😂) and then Vampire Academy. With that said…this book had all the dark danger that I love about the world of vampires.
  • I love the cliches – I know, I know, it’s all been said and done, but I love it. Give me the forbidden love trope, the love triangle trope even, and give me the bad boy hot vampires too! This story has it and it’s nothing new, but I enjoy it anyway.
  • The book is written in third person except for the killer’s perspective which is in first person. The killer gave us insight into their thoughts of revenge. I really liked the murder mystery and the twist at the end wasn’t something I expected at all, so I look forward to reading the sequel to see what happens there!
  • I love the setting of New Orleans. It shows it’s dark, decadent side but also gives us a little history of the time it’s set in, 1870. Of course this book made me hungry, but I didn’t know most of the french foods that was being described, but it sounded delicious!
  • I liked the characters: Celine has secrets and lives at the convent but she is not a timid girl – she actually questions if what she did in the past makes her evil, also at times she is reckless and a rebel. She likes to play with fire, regardless if she gets burned or not. Bastien, was exactly how I want my bad boy – beautiful, powerful, and trying hard to resist Celine but he can’t help himself. Odette, Arjun, Pippa, and Detective Grimaldi were also interesting characters that I hope we get to see more of in the sequel!
  • Triggers: murder, blood, violence, memories of sexual assault, curse words
  • Not gonna lie, there was a lot of french in this book that just went over my head.
  • Celine…haha yes I did put her in the “like” section because I did like her sass and her reckless bravery at times, but sometimes she was a bit too much. She wants to be miss independent and not fall for Bastien but what does she do? 💆🏻‍♀️ But I don’t blame her, he’s rich, powerful, young and gorgeous…and the sparks between them. But there is another guy involved who…well we shall see what happens in book two, but warning, love triangle red flags!!! I’m here for it though. 🙋🏻‍♀️
  • Cliffhanger ending…😩.

The Beautiful had everything I enjoy in a vampire story. It had mystery, danger, forbidden romance, a budding love triangle and the decadence of New Orleans. I mean it’s been so long I’ve read a vampire story that for me, even with all the cliches, I loved it! The ending left me wanting to read the sequel right away, like tomorrow would be good, haha. I look forward to reading the next book in this series!

book review, fantasy, romance, Young Adult

ARC Review: The Lady Rogue

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: The Lady Rogue

Author: Jenn Bennett

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 384

Publication Date: September 3, 2019

Categories: Historical Fantasy, Young Adult, Adventure, Romance

Disclaimer: *I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Some legends never die…

Traveling with her treasure-hunting father has always been a dream for Theodora. She’s read every book in his library, has an impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics, and has all the ambition in the world. What she doesn’t have is her father’s permission. That honor goes to her father’s nineteen-year-old protégé—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, while Theodora is left to sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul.

Until Huck arrives from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him. Armed with her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler—more widely known as Dracula—and that it just might be the key to finding him.

Journeying into Romania, Theodora and Huck embark on a captivating adventure through Gothic villages and dark castles in the misty Carpathian Mountains to recover the notorious ring. But they aren’t the only ones who are searching for it. A secretive and dangerous occult society with a powerful link to Vlad the Impaler himself is hunting for it, too. And they will go to any lengths—including murder—to possess it.

Thank you to Simon Pulse and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eArc.

What an adventure!

Jenn Bennett is one of my new favorite authors because of her young adult contemporary romance novels. But a historical fantasy adventure with two teens romping through Turkey and Romania by train, legs, plane and raft in the 1930’s on the search for Vlad the Impaler’s magical ring? She did good, so good!

Seriously, what a life for Theodora Fox, growing up abroad because of her treasure hunter dad. I envied her freedom to explore. Alas, there are issues that come a long with it like a dad that goes missing and leaves her behind. But Theo is a headstrong and smart girl, who is obsessed with crossword puzzles and putting together clues. She pretty much seemed to be able to take care of herself. Did she resent her dad? Sure, and after her mom’s passing, she really did need her only other parent to be with her.

Then there is Huck who has charisma and is easy on the eyes. They have a past, of course. Jenn Bennett’s characters always fly off the page. They seem solid and real. I felt like I was watching a movie while reading this. I love the banter between Theo and Huck, there is a lot of passion between them and bickering. They like to argue and yell at each other but they make a great team. Huck charms the anger out of her and she keeps him on his toes. All the secondary characters are fun too and add more to the Vlad theories as Theo and Huck search for her dad.

Now the romance part is evenly thrown in there, it doesn’t take over the story, but it is present throughout. But the rest of the story? Good thing I read the author’s note where she explained how the magical ring is fiction, because I was about to google Vlad the Impaler’s (Dracula) magical ring. 🤦🏻‍♀️ Because it’s believable like that, at least the lore could be believable, right? Or, at least I want to believe it because it’s fun!

A secret society, a journal with clues, treasure hunting, magical rings, scary Romanian woods with wolf dogs and the the occult! This story had about everything. There was love, travel, action, history, fantasy and danger. And even with all the dangerous situations thrown at Theo and Huck, the story stayed light and funny because of their interaction with each other. I enjoyed that very much.

This book took me on a fun, amazing adventure with Theo and Huck. I hope there will be more of their adventures in the future. 😉

Get it here: Amazon

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