book review, fantasy, netgalley, romance, Young Adult

Southern Sun, Northern Star | ARC Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: Southern Sun, Northern Star (Glass Alliance, #3)

Author: Joanna Hathaway

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 432

Publication Date: 4/20/21

Publisher: Tor Teen

Categories: Historical Fantasy, Romance, War

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

Battles, revolution, and romance collide in Joanna Hathaway’s stunning, World Wars-inspired Southern Sun, Northern Star

Reeling from the tragedy that beset her family, Princess Aurelia has joined the resistance in Havenspur, spying on the Northern leaders who were once her allies and determined to stop her uncle’s machinations for war. Meanwhile, her beloved pilot Athan leads his squadron into battle as the Safire wage a losing war abroad and combat growing unrest back home.

When Athan is sent on leave to Havenspur following the death of a comrade, the pair reunite and rekindle their romance until Aurelia uncovers one of Athan’s secrets, a secret that could save countless lives. But exposing it to the right people will cost her Athan’s trust, and this time, their shared memories of love might not be enough to stop the fateful path of destruction that threatens all they’ve fought to defend.

As history unfolds around them, every move they make drives them one step closer to either recreating their parents’ shadowed past or redeeming the alliance that could bring peace.

The breathtaking finale to a legendary series. Part war drama, part romance, Southern Sun, Northern Star is the epic conclusion to the Glass Alliance series.

  • War is horrible and it affects everyone on both sides or every side, in awful ways. This book is the culmination of the war Safire is waging, the precipice where we find out which way the ending will unfold. And it comes with fire, death, and the sheer will to keep going, fighting and surviving. We are at the front lines, we are in the trenches with these characters and it’s grueling.
  • We see Aurelia make the most drastic change of all the characters, she becomes the thing she never thought she could be. The reason I love this series is in most fantasies where a girl turns into a killing machine, there is an evil she is fighting. In this series, it is not so black and white ~ there is so much gray and the killing here is realistic. It is people killing people, not people killing fantastical creatures/people. So Aurelia changing from a sheltered Princess into a killer, saddened me. I was hoping someone would keep their innocence in this war but that’s what war does – it robs the young of their innocence.
  • Athan’s change comes with being a fighter pilot for way too many campaigns. He has killed, shot planes down, it’s become automatic but something has got to give. What gives is his family breaking apart. Athan’s childhood and young adult life has been tragic, but in this final book it takes his tragedy to a new level. Athan could have broken so many times…but he stays strong as best he can, it’s all he can do.
  • All the loose ends are tied up nicely in this conclusion. Secrets are revealed and very hard choices are made. The writing is beautiful consistent from the start to the finish of this trilogy.

Triggers: death, violence, war, PTSD

  • Arrin was the one who I wanted to know more about as the books went on and we do find out more about him which I’m happy for but his story is sad. Everyone’s story broke my heart but I was hoping something could turn around for Arrin.
  • I’m not sure if it was just me, but there were some spots I had to reread because I felt like I missed something, for example, the General’s secret being revealed. It took me awhile to realize how Athan found out, but minor things like that where I should have been paying more close attention, I think it was because I was so emotionally exhausted (the war scenes are gritty), I just missed a few things because I was trying to look for a happy moment and in this book it is rarely there.

This book is the perfect conclusion to the whole Glass Alliance series. What could I expect of a story of two families mired in war? Heartbreak. Despair. But it was so realistic, I was always hoping so hard for the war in the story to end. I love how this series delves into the changes that happen to the characters and shows how war affects everyone involved in it from the front lines, the masterminds and the people bothering not getting their hands dirty. From start to finish this series was written beautifully. It’s definitely a must read if you are into historical fantasy.

✈︎ ~ 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

book review, contemporary, E-book, romance, Young Adult

Book Review: The Lovely War

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2

Author: Julie Berry

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 480

Categories: War, Gods, Romance, World War I

Book Blurb:

They are Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette. A classical pianist from London, a British would-be architect-turned-soldier, a Harlem-born ragtime genius in the U.S. Army, and a Belgian orphan with a gorgeous voice and a devastating past. Their story, as told by goddess Aphrodite, who must spin the tale or face judgment on Mount Olympus, is filled with hope and heartbreak, prejudice and passion, and reveals that, though War is a formidable force, it’s no match for the transcendent power of Love.

MY REVIEW

The Lovely War, is amazingly written and I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into when Aphrodite starts narrating this love story. I was afraid the narration would take me out of the story and maybe sometime near the ending, it did just a smidge – because it was wrapping up the story lines and felt a little rushed. But other than that, this book is really fantastic.

“Let them start their dreadful wars, let destruction rain down, and let plague sweep through, but I will still be here, doing my work, holding humankind together with love like this.” – Aphrodite

The Lovely War by. Julie Berry

The story is a combination of mythology, history, music history and romance. Romance is what drives the story but it also explored prejudice and racial divides of the American troops especially when the black regiment is sent to fight in World War I. I will admit this, I know so much more about World War II because there are many movies, tv series and books about it that World War I is sort of lost on me. I know it happened, I learned about it in history class twenty plus years ago, but no one continues to talk about it as much as WWII. So this book was engaging and I kept highlighting passages in the book to make sure I do some research on it later. But the author goes into more depth with historical notes after the story ends and also added a selected bibliography list. Thank you to the author, Julie Berry, for that!

Aphrodite’s purpose for telling this particular story is due to the fact she is being put on “trial” by her husband Hephaestus for infidelity. The story of Hazel and James, and Colette and Aubrey is her evidence of some of her greatest work as the goddess of love. Their beginning is sweet and appropriate as it was in that era but I was afraid of a sad ending for all them. I love Colette, she is so strong. I adore how she and Aubrey come together through their trials in life and love of music.

Aubrey’s story portrayed the prejudices he and his regiment experiences being an American soldier, well not quite soldier, he’s a musician. Aubrey, being from progressive New York City has much more opportunities there but as he points out, it was still segregated. Racism was everywhere in America and it shows us how far we’ve come and how much more we have to go. Another interesting aspect of his story is the introduction of rag-time and jazz music in Europe! I learned so many things in this book.

When James goes to war, I know it’s inevitable but it still broke my heart. I thought the war scenes were intense but it really moved the story along. And it gave me a sad feeling in his happily ever after with Hazel, just knowing their children will come to experience WWII. We also get a glimpse of James suffering from PTSD and how he deals with it. And I learned a lot about the roles of women back in WWI, since they weren’t allowed to fight. Hazel and Colette worked with the YMCA and the Red Cross. Because I was raised on stories of WWII, the iconic image of women helping in the war was Rosie the Riveter. So shining a light on the women of WWI was a nice change.

Now the gods were great characters in the story as well, Hades being my favorite. We see death as something depressing and scary, but Hades’ narration was a lovely way of showing how even though our loved ones are gone, they are watching us from beyond.

“I am so often moved by souls whose first concern is not for their own lost years, but for the grief their passing will cause to those they love.” -Hades

The Lovely War by. Julie Berry

With all the love stories being told, you’d think I would have been attached to the main characters. And the gods have their own love story too. But the story that finally got me was the moment James talks to Frank Mason’s wife. That’s the moment this book almost brought me to tears. 😢 The Masons scenes were brief but so impactful. I think all the sorrow, stress, fears and anxiety culminated it in that point for James and the whole story. That moment was a big exhale, a very pivotal moment for the characters to choose to go on living.

After everything these characters go through with this war and how it brings them together, tears them apart and for some together again, there is still love. There is hope and forgiveness also. This story moved me in so many ways. It is an emotional and beautiful homage to part of our history and the people that lived through it. It also reminds us that love is always worth fighting for.

Get it here: Amazon

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