Tag: Historical Fiction (Page 1 of 4)

BOOK REVIEW: OUR VIOLENT ENDS (These Violent Delights #2) by Chloe Gong

BOOK REVIEW: OUR VIOLENT ENDS (These Violent Delights #2) by Chloe GongOur Violent Ends (These Violent Delights #2)
by Chloe Gong
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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

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

Review

*Arc provided by SimonTeen in exchange for an honest review-And I literally cannot thank them enough as they have made my whole year*

“You destroy me and then you kiss me. You give me a reason to hate you and then you give me a reason to love you. Is this a lie or the truth? Is this a ploy or your heart reaching for me?”


I am going to be frank right up front: A book hasn’t caused such a deep, emotional, and visceral reaction out of me in a very long time. I eagerly awaited the moment I could dive back inside myself, immerse myself into this lush, enriched world of enemies to lovers. I lost sleep waiting and pining and anticipating what fate my beloveds were dealt…and I only had to wait a few weeks. So I can’t even imagine what my frowny French friend feels, how she deals with the wait on a daily basis. Because I have to say it-My heart couldn’t possibly have waited any longer, it had too many questions and needed far too many answers. And this author? She delivers.

Juliette was not frightened. If anything, she was only resentful-not at Roma, but at herself. At wanting to lean in even while Roma was actively trying to kill her. At this distance between them that she had willingly manufactured, because they had been born into two families at war, and she would rather die at Roma’s hand than be the cause of his death.

I am SUCH a final book snob. One minute duologies are my favorite, the next, trilogies. Then sometimes standalones. And, I have to say, standalones sometimes keep my heart the longest-though they are far and few between-because there is little margin for overthinking/overwriting/underwhelming endings. It’s all wrapped up in a neat little package all at once. But here, now, Gong has showed just how amazing and well-done a duology can be. How, if done correctly, it delivers great impact in smaller quantity. How, if she CHOSE to expand the universe, to connect with MORE people without dragging it on too long, she could easily pick a less explored side character and create a whole new spin-off without everyone already being exhausted with it (Can anyone rejoice this is, in fact, happening?). Gong restored my faith in books. She restored my faith in how I can be addicted and pine and hope for a certain path to be taken and for the author to write certain things, it not go my way (I am veryyyy picky with my romance and enemies to lovers and peril), and STILL love how it goes. Not one thing felt forced. Not one moment blemished by rushing and trying to fit everything in. It all felt real, it felt natural. That is the mark of a true author. THAT is how you create forever fans. THAT is how you CRUSH the YA world.




And with that realization, it should be no secret that Roma and Juliette own my soul. Not a week goes by that I don’t reminisce over my favorite moments between them-the what-ifs, the pain and longing and anger, the imminent danger that continually brings them together. Not a moment passes without the crescendo of chaos crashing in around them, melding into the most perfect storm raging inside my heart. These two are a couple that are so deeply rooted into one another, into me, that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget them, even for a second.



Gone are the games of book one. Blood has been shed, lines have been drawn, sides have been chosen. The masks are back in place and their hearts are no longer on their sleeves-betrayal has cut deep and Roma can’t see past the pain and heartache that Juliette has caused…he also still can’t fully believe it. Thus begins the tragic circling of one another as they have to work together-again-against a common enemy for the greater good.

He thought her a monster. He thought she had hated him the whole time, so viciously that she would destroy everything he loved, and he had to think that if he was to keep his life. Juliette refused to drag him down just because she was weak-willed.

I truly loved these two for more than their romance, though-Juliette became this girl that I loved so deeply in my heart, because even though it hurt to not see eye to eye with everyone, with her own familyshe followed her heart to do what was just and right. She cared more for her people, for her city, than she did for an ancient blood feud that had no end in sight. That didn’t allow her to be with the love of her life. She cared more for Roma, his sister, the friends she made, and even her cousins, more than something as petty as being a gang leader-in the end, love and hope and the unknown were more important than upholding a reign of terror that was shredding the city apart, piece by piece, no side truly safe.

“This is Scarlet territory.” Her words were even, but it took everything in her to keep them that way. “You forget yourself.”
Roma grew still. He stared at her, utterly unreadable as the moment drew long-long enough that Juliette almost thought he would surrender.
Only then Roma leaned into the blade instead, leaned until the metal was pressed right into his neck, one hairsbreadth away from breaking skin and drawing blood.
“Then do it,” Roma hissed. He sounded angry….He sounded pained. “Kill me.”


And Roma-He was far darker in this story and, clearly, that only made me love him more. Is this a flaw in me? No. It is the BEST part of me…I LOVE a good moral dilemma within a character, and when Juliette broke his heart, it opened a dark chasm inside of him that made him question everything he knew about the girl he had always fought side by side with. But that’s just it- he knows her inside and out-at least he thought he did, and nothing adds up. From her actions in book one to her complete lack of doing what he’d expect time and time again, she remains someone he can’t figure out. But they are enemies once again, regardless, and he needs to eliminate her. End of story. But that’s easier said than done as he misses opportunities time and again, never fully able to do what needs to be done to rest his broken soul. But once it’s done it cannot be undone, and that is what truly haunts him.



I can say without a shadow of a doubt that if someone loved book one, they are going to devour book two. The pain, the heartache, the lead up to an inevitable end…it’s so deliberately and deliciously evil that I couldn’t help but fall head over heels for each stolen moment they shared, every future within grasp but hate nipping at their heels, no one content to let them be free, and each stolen moment that slipped from my greedy claws, keeping me on my toes and pining for more-always more-in their battle to do what’s right for their city…while also selfishly trying to escape to a world where they can be free to love one another openly for the rest of their lives. I don’t know about you, but I see myself reading these books over and over until the end of time, and I don’t think I could ever find a flaw. Period.

****

I LITERALLY CANNOT CONTAIN MY EXCITEMENT.

SO MANY THANKS TO THE PUBLISHER FOR SENDING ME AN ARC!!! AGHHH I AM STARTING RIGHT. NOW.

If you don’t ever hear from me again, it’s because I drowned in a puddle of my feels. Kay bye.

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Curse of the Specter Queen (Samantha Knox #1) by Jenny Elder Moke

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Curse of the Specter Queen (Samantha Knox #1) by Jenny Elder Moke

I’m so excited to be on the tour for Curse of the Specter Queen! I absolutely loved this story! So check out my 4.5 Star Review below and enter to win a copy of this book! Enjoy!♥

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Curse of the Specter Queen (Samantha Knox #1) by Jenny Elder MokeCurse of the Specter Queen (Samantha Knox #1)
by Jenny Elder Moke
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

A female Indiana Jones meets Tomb Raider when Samantha Knox receives a mysterious field diary and finds herself thrust into a treacherous plot. After stealing a car and jumping on a train, chased by a group of dangerous pursuers, Sam finds out what’s so special about this book: it contains a cipher that leads to a cursed jade statue that could put an end to all mankind.

MAY THE HAZEL BRING YOU WISDOM AND THE ASPEN GUIDE AND PROTECT YOU...

Samantha Knox put away her childish fantasies of archaeological adventure the day her father didn't return home from the Great War, retreating to the safety of the antique bookshop where she works. But when a mysterious package arrives with a damaged diary inside, Sam's peaceful life is obliterated. Ruthless men intent on reclaiming the diary are after Sam, setting her and her best friend, along with her childhood crush, on a high-stakes adventure that lands them in the green hills outside Dublin, Ireland. Here they discover an ancient order with a dark purpose - to perform an occult ritual that will raise the Specter Queen, the Celtic goddess of vengeance and death, to bring about a war unlike any the world has ever seen. To stop them, Sam must solve a deviously complex cipher - one that will lead her on a treasure hunt to discover the ancient relic at the heart of the ritual: a bowl carved from the tree of life. Will she find the bowl and stop the curse of the Specter Queen, or will the ancient order bring about the end of the world?

Indiana Jones gets a refresh with this female-driven mystery adventure, set in the 1920s, full of ciphers, ancient relics, and heart-stopping action - the first in a brand-new series!

Review:

Curse of the Specter Queen was impossible not to devour in one sitting.  The story brimmed with adventure, friendship and a sprinkling of romance.  This is a story that will stay with me for a long time to come!  If you’re a fan of books that are impossible to put down, characters with tons of heart and stories that play out like you’re watching a movie, then you definitely need to pick up this book!

She had solved one puzzle only to find another. It beckoned her, laying out cryptic clues and drawing her in like a trap.

Sam lived a quiet life in the 1920s restoring books until a damaged diary ended up in her hands.  From that moment on, her whole life turned upside down.  While trying to protect those she cared about, from men who would do whatever it took to get that diary back, Sam took off on an adventure of a lifetime with her childhood best friend and her best friend’s older brother.  You guys!!  This book was so much fun and a breath of fresh air.  The story quickly picked up pace and there were some fun twists and turns as the story unfolded.  I even jumped and screamed at one point.  Be prepared to get pulled into this world and to not want to ever leave it!

What if, instead of leading them to the answers, she was leading them to disaster?

 I adored Sam!  She seemed so content living her quiet life surrounded with books, but there was so much more to her then meets the eye.  As the story unfolded, we got to learn about her past and her love of solving puzzles and riddles.  Sam was brilliant, clever and I loved how she persevered time and again.  She refused to be stumped trying to decipher a two hundred year old letter and finding a missing relic.  They discovered they had to stop a ritual to raise an ancient god that would end the world.  But through it all, there were so many heartwarming interactions between her, Jo and Bennett.  I loved the three of them together!

“Like I used to say at the academy, good luck and don’t get caught.” Joana gave her a mock salute before disappearing around the side of the house.

Joana aka Jo had been Sam’s best friend, but circumstances pulled them apart from one another.  You could tell that they cared deeply for one another, so I loved watching them mend their friendship.  And Jo, oh she was a blast and so much fun!  I loved how adventurous Jo was and how she loved those around her fiercely.  It was fun watching her help pull Sam out of her shell and seeing the two of them work together.  Especially since Sam wasn’t afraid to take risks like “borrowing” cars lol or giving her brother, Bennett, a hard time or two.

“Doesn’t she look fabulous?” Joana prompted, when no one had said anything for several long moments.
“Like a vision,” Bennett said softly, the words slipping out before he could take careful stock of what they might reveal. Sam’s breath caught somewhere between her mouth and her lungs in a painful lump that got beaten about her chest by her rapidly thrumming heart.

Bennett, eeps!  I fell so hard and quickly for him.  He tried his best to protect Sam and Jo, to send them back home to safety, but neither of them were having that!  They joined Bennett on his quest to go visit his Professor in Ireland.  And we got to see firsthand that while Bennett and Jo were extremely smart and worked seamlessly together, Sam usually one upped Bennett.   I loved that!  There’s so much more I want to say, but my lips are zipped!

Bennett was right: to stay could be disastrous— it probably would be, if she was honest with herself.
But she couldn’t leave . Not now. Not when she was so close to an answer. Not when the fate of the world might be at stake.

Thievery, curses, friendship and adventure were sprinkled throughout the pages making this book impossible to put down!  With magic, unknown enemies, and puzzles to piece together, this book was entertaining from beginning to end.  If you’re a fan of movies like The Mummy, Indiana Jones or National Treasure then you definitely need to pick up this book!  I’m so glad I did and now I can’t wait to go read Jenny Elder Moke’s other book, Hood!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

 

 

Find it: Goodreads I Amazon I Kindle I Audible I B&N I iBooks I Kobo I TBD I Bookshop.org

 

 About  Jenny Elder Moke:

Jenny Elder Moke writes young adult fiction in an attempt to recapture the shining infinity of youth. She worked for several years at an independent publisher in Austin, TX before realizing she would rather write the manuscripts than read them. She is a member of the Texas Writer’s League and has studied children’s writing with Liz Garton Scanlon. She was a finalist in the Austin Film Festival Fiction Podcast Competition in 2017 for her podcast script, Target. When she is not writing, she’s gathering story ideas from her daily adventures with her two irredeemable rapscallions and honing her ninja skills as a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Jenny lives in Denver, CO with her husband and two children.

 Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon

 

Giveaway:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of CURSE OF THE SPECTER QUEEN, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 
 

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

6/1/2021

Fire and Ice

Excerpt

6/2/2021

Lisa Loves Literature

Review

6/3/2021

YA Books Central

Excerpt

6/4/2021

Jazzy Book Reviews

Excerpt

6/5/2021

Rajiv’s Reviews

Review

Week Two:

6/6/2021

The Reading Wordsmith

Review

6/7/2021

Kait Plus Books

Excerpt

6/8/2021

A Court of Coffee and Books

Review

6/9/2021

The Bookwyrm’s Den

Review

6/10/2021

Stuck in the Stacks

Review

6/11/2021

Do You Dog-ear?

Review

6/12/2021

Christen Krumm

Review

Week Three:

6/13/2021

What A Nerd Girl Says

Review

6/14/2021

Nay’s Pink Bookshelf

Review

6/15/2021

Thindbooks Blog

Review

6/16/2021

History from a Woman’s Perspective

Review

6/17/2021

Emelie’s Books

Review

6/18/2021

Eli to the nth

Review

6/19/2021

@fictitious.fox

Review

Week Four:

6/20/2021

Books Are Magic Too

Review

6/21/2021

Star-Crossed Book Blog

Review

6/22/2021

Book-Keeping

Review

6/23/2021

The Momma Spot

Review

6/24/2021

The Book View

Review

6/25/2021

Momfluenster

Review

6/26/2021

onemused

Review

Week Five:

6/27/2021

Book Briefs

Review

6/28/2021

Always Me

Review

6/29/2021

The Book Review Crew

Review

6/30/2021

celiamcmahonreads

Review

 

REVIEW: Rebel Spy by Veronica Rossi

REVIEW: Rebel Spy by Veronica Rossi

I have fallen for every single one of Veronica Rossi’s books that I have picked up, so I jumped at the chance to be on this tour for her latest release. Rebel Spy enchanted me and I’m so happy I got to meet Frannie and all of the other characters in this story! Check out my review below ♥.

REVIEW: Rebel Spy by Veronica RossiRebel Spy by Veronica Rossi
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

A reimagining of the story behind Agent 355--a New York society girl and spy for George Washington during the Revolutionary War--perfect for fans of Tatiana de Rosnay's Sarah's Key and the novels of Julie Berry.

Rebellious Frannie Tasker knows little about the war between England and its thirteen colonies in 1776, until a shipwreck off her home in Grand Bahama Island presents an unthinkable opportunity. The body of a young woman body floating in the sea gives Frannie the chance to escape her brutal stepfather--and she takes it.

Assuming the identity of the drowned Emmeline Coates, Frannie is rescued by a British merchant ship and sails with the crew to New York. For the next three years, Frannie lives a lie as Miss Coates, swept up in a courtship by a dashing British lieutenant. But after witnessing the darker side of the war, she realizes that her position gives her power. Soon she's eavesdropping on British officers, risking everything to pass information on to George Washington's Culper spy ring as agent 355. Frannie believes in the fight for American liberty--but what will it cost her? Inspired by the true "355" and rich in historical detail and intrigue, this is the story of an unlikely New York society girl turned an even unlikelier spy.

Review:

Rebel Spy was addictive and completely enchanted me.  With blackmail, friendship lies, trust and honor floating across the pages, I fell in love with this story.  This was the first historical fiction I’ve read and I’m hooked and will be looking for more in this genre!  I loved how the story slowly unfolded.  It was thick, rich and mesmerizing.  So if you’re a fan of historical fiction with a dash of romance, then you’ll definitely want to add this one to your tbr!

I had only myself to count on now.
I brushed the wetness from my cheeks. I was going to have to be enough.

In 1776 Francisca was trapped.  She had an abusive and cruel stepfather who wanted more from her and her means of bringing them money was dangerous, wrecking for treasure in the ocean.  I instantly connected with Frannie and felt her pain. Her only solace was from one good friend and when she was fathoms deep in the ocean.  When the body of Emmeline Coates washed upon the shore, and she heard people searching for her in the distance, Frannie took a chance.  And fate led her towards a new life in Philadelphia.

I wanted to do things that mattered. I wanted to sink my teeth deep into the world. I’d stood by as Asa had been beaten. I never again wanted to feel that way again— like less.

I was so nervous and unsure over Frannie’s future, just like she was.  But she was smart, brave, sympathetic, fierce and clever so I was also excited for her!  During those times, America was in the process of asserting their independence from the British.  But Frannie had been far away from war, now she was heading right into the middle of it.  And her first taste of it was with Asa Lane.  Asa was an American rebel who was on her ship, which was filled with loyalists.  He captured my attention right away.  Not only because he helped Frannie and made me smile.  But there was a chemistry and heat between them that couldn’t be ignored.  I loved how they were open, honest and philosophical with each other.  But again, fate intervened and threw Frannie on a path that guided her heart to being a spy.

Everything coarse and uncivilized about me had to stay in the past. From now on, everything was going to be perfect.
I sank into a deep curtsy.
Then I rose, a lady.

Her new life in Philadelphia lead to a courtship with Lieutenant James Duncan.  And when she realized how her relationship with him could help the Americans, she became Agent 355 for George Washington.  And as someone who was awful at history, I more than appreciated how we slowly learned the world and history Frannie was immersed in.  It was all so easy to grasp and understand.  But one thing that was hard for me to watch was how she collected intel from those around her. Those who saw her as a friend or something more, like Duncan who seemed so open, honest and sweet.  But all’s fair and love in war, or so I kept reminding myself.

Spying was stealing from the enemy— but what if that enemy was someone decent? Someone with a charming personality, perfect lips, and eyes like pools of honey when they caught the sunlight?

The atrocities of war were beyond horrific and there was nothing I could do but sit there and watch it unfold on the pages.  So of course I found myself cheering for Frannie and the rebels.  It was impossible not to, right along with having sweaty palms and tears in my eyes quite a few times.  I hurt for these people who had become my friends.  But at times I didn’t want them to make rational decisions.  I wanted them to be selfish.  Especially since Frannie and one of the men had an impossible future.  Even though they fit so perfectly together.  

He kissed me then. Deeply. Passionately. We grasped and tugged at each other like we’d only breathe again if we became one, but that was what I’d always felt with him. Together, we made something whole.

Rebel Spy was vivid, enticing and slowly enraptured me in its story.  I was so wrapped up in this book that I forgot about that first chapter, which was a peak into the future in 1780.  So when the present collided with the future, I was not ready.  It stole my breath and I had to know what happened next.  I loved how the story flowed and the few jumps in time were done seamlessly.  And that ending, oh how I desperately wish there was an epilogue or a few more pages.  I kept clicking on my Kindle for more.  It ended with a HFN, happily for now, but I need more of Frannie’s life please or a peak into their future.  I’m not ready to say goodbye to her or him♥.

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

 

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Favorite Quotes:

I stared into his eyes. He’d made me think. “I never thought about changing the world before, Asa. I never even thought I’d see any of it.”
He tipped his head. “There you are, Miss Tasker. The world.”
I looked through the window, at darkness and moonlit clouds. I couldn’t actually see the world, but I felt it out there. Waiting for me. All that I’d never thought possible.
 
He snorted. “En’t anybody ever teach you to watch your mouth?”
“Yes. Then I tried to kill him.”
Hackett stared at me. “My, my, Little Salt. I think I believe you.”
 
Rare is you, Frannie. Rare as a comet.
 
I’d thought spying would let me breathe— but lies were lies. Even when they were told for noble reasons. And yet, I wanted more. I needed more.
 
I couldn’t put into words what Asa’s hands were saying as they kneaded my cold ones back to life. But I wanted the whole world to be made of what I felt in them.
“Do you remember?” Asa whispered. “We were always burning.”
 
I knew such flights of fancy were dangerous. I had a family and friends. I had Duncan. Nothing good could come of imagining other possibilities. But I couldn’t leave the house, nor could I spy. Nor could I ask Asa what he’d meant by none but yours.
So I allowed myself to dream.

 

About Veronica Rossi:

Veronica Rossi is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the UNDER THE NEVER SKY series. She was born in Rio de Janeiro, grew up in California, and graduated from UCLA. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two sons, one of whom just surpassed her in height. Find her online at veronicarossi.com or on Twitter at @rossibooks.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

BOOK REVIEW: The Night Circus by Erin MorgensternThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

“You are in the right place, at the right time, and you care enough to do what needs to be done. Sometimes that is enough.”

Books have the power to transport us. To transform us. To take us anywhere in the world we want to go. We can live different lives, become the hero, become someone we’re too scared to be in real life. We get to be the best version of ourselves, and it’s all nestled in the pages of books. But who tells us those stories? Are the storytellers the heroes themselves? Do the authors live their best life, or are they living out a fantasy right alongside us, bringing their dreams to life, letting us immerse ourselves into their delicately woven illusions? That’s the power of storytelling…and it’s the heart of this book.

The circus is one of those phenomenons that either strike you odd or ignite your whimsical, child-like side that can’t help but be addicted to it’s splendor. I’ll admit I’ve never had an opinion either way-yes, I went as a child, but no, not often and not enough to truly obsess about it. But during college, I picked up a book centered around a circus because it was coming out as a movie-Water for Elephants. I loved it. And I can’t say I immediately needed more books about a circus, but I wasn’t who I am now. I didn’t think to expand on a topic that was new to me, that appealed to me, because I simply didn’t understand that I could. The thought didn’t even cross my mind.. I didn’t obsess like I do now. And…well…I can obsess like no one’s business.

And here’s the thing-circuses are, like, a coveted theme now. Caraval, Legendary (which is what lead me here because I NEED MORE CIRCUS), and, obviously, as mentioned above, Water for Elephants. And, ya know, I just can’t seem to find that many circus books that appeal to me. Everyone is obsessed, there are movies that touch on it, and yet, these are the only circus books that speak to me, and they are all vastly different. One is about running away with the circus to chase your dream and finding out the circus is far darker than you could ever have imagined. One is whimsical and flowery and completely mysterious-a game within a game within a game. And then, inexplicably, one is literally made because of a game. The sole purpose of the characters’ lives…is to win a game against an unnamed opponent. So here we are. My point in all this was-it’s a total fandom and I’m just now jumping on the bandwagon, but I fell hard after Finale (especially), and now I have nowhere to go, like I’ve hitched my wagon to a horse that’s reached the end of it’s journey.

I wouldn’t change it for the world-I’ve piqued with Tella and Scarlett, Dante and Julian, Jacob and Marlena, and, most recently, Marco and Celia. It’s been a slow journey over the years, building up into something inexplicably magical and wholly unattainable, when you get right down to it. Nothing will ever live up to this wonderful batch of books. And, with this latest discovery, I feel so wholly…uplifted.

“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”

When I finished this book, it was like the air was vacuumed from my lungs-I was breathless. Speechless. I was crying, FFS. Like…why? It wasn’t as if this whole book wasn’t beautiful-it was-and the romance??? My God the romance. It was everything. The atmosphere? Otherworldly. Mesmerizing. Dazzling. Glamorous. But it was as if a piece was missing. I adored it, mind you, but it felt unfinished, in a way. I couldn’t explain it. I was missing that unforgettable ‘wow’ factor everyone seemed to have grasped onto. And I didn’t get it because I had gotten what I wanted-the peril. The romance. The break down. The ultimate sacrifice. Yet my heart wasn’t full. But then. Then.

“Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words.”

I can’t explain it. I still can’t, even after sleeping on it. Words have truly failed me-And words are what help me express what’s built up inside me, helps me move on and feel whole after finishing a book I love, or, in some cases, didn’t love. But, the best I can explain it is like this: Imagine you got everything you wanted…but didn’t know what you needed to make you feel complete. You just knew something was missing. And then. THEN. The end. The narrator. The representation of what it means to tell stories. To create worlds. To bring everyone together through intricately woven layers of words that bring vivid imagery to your mind, but still letting people see it as they wish, played out in their own minds as they want to-the story is the same, but everyone gets there differently-different images and different people and different ideas.

“The finest of pleasures are always the unexpected ones.”

The way words are made so powerful with a few sentences…it makes your not-so-full heart suddenly overflow with words-so many words-too many words-Emotions, ideas, realizations. It makes the romantic peril so much more. The end of the game’s meaning becomes vastly larger. The people surrounding the players come to life so vividly, like you didn’t even see them the whole time, even though they were so clearly there. I don’t get it. I don’t understand it. All I know is I’m gone for this book, and it’s like it all clicks into place, all at once, and this book is groundbreaking, jaw-dropping, and axis tilting. And never in my life has this happened to me. Ever.

Brilliant. Breathtaking. Awe-inspiring. Spellbinding. And still I find my review inadequate and feel as though I’m a kindergartner posing as an adult. But let’s get to the reason this novel spoke to me (I mean yes the end, but the romance still owns my soul).

“Celia, wait,” Marco says, standing but not moving closer to her. “You are breaking my heart. You told me once that I reminded you of your father. That you never wanted to suffer the way your mother did for him, but you are doing exactly that to me. You keep leaving me. You leave me longing for you again and again when I would give anything for you to stay, and it is killing me.”
“It has to kill one of us,” Celia says quietly.”

I don’t even know how to explain what Celia and Marco have, and I surely don’t know how to explain what their game truly entailed-it wasn’t what I expected in any capacity, and I find it almost jarring. It was technically a battle, yes, but was it really? To me it was watching from afar, gazing at someone that you could never possibly have, yet falling for them anyway, trying to dazzle them without them realizing it and, more importantly, you not even realizing it, yourself. Not realizing you have fallen for that someone yourself and that you’re trying to impress them more than actually win the game. And, surrounding that, we have characters that I didn’t think I could possibly be interested in, yet I had just as much of my heart at stake with them as with Celia and Marco.

“I have tried to let you go and I cannot. I cannot stop thinking of you. I cannot stop dreaming about you.”

Okay. Well. Not AS much, but technicality.

And the sacrifice on top of sacrifice and technically forbidden love. The slow build. The feeling of falling for someone without trying to, fighting it every step of the way until you realize you’re already too far gone. And, the end, when you reveal what we all already knew but needed confirmed-that wish tree. Revealing your deepest truth.. I got intense and immeasurable feels, tears sprang to my eyes (still, though, not as much as at the end, inexplicably), and it was like the saddest but happiest conclusion. Amazing. And still, I have no breath left to breathe.

And, I do feel I need to say this, but I feel as if I’m stealing someone else’s words. Arielle is the reason I tried this book again, so I obviously looked at her review before giving this one a go. And I’ll quote her indirectly to address one of the more appealing aspects of this book-the chapters that use 2nd person POV to make you feel as though you’re walking around the circus yourself. She nailed it on the head-it’s so surreal, and it almost doesn’t work and you kind of question it, but, in the end, it immerses you into the story and it makes you feel as if you’re a part of the world, which only heightens your senses and makes the feels more intimate. And, okay, that was EXTREME paraphrasing and lots of my own thoughts mixed in, but you get the idea. You feel like you’re in the circus and, in the end, that adds to the breathlessness and utterly profound feeling, too.

I’ll admit this one isn’t for all. Yes, I will be pushing it on people, much like many of my favorites. Though, it takes someone special, someone willing to fight through not only an extremely slow burn romance, but a slow build-up to anything really happening, as well. But, once again, this new Chelsea has found a book that’s slow paced and somewhat day to day, a book she’d have hated back in the day, a book that she will cherish forever. This book is made for us readers and storytellers, it’s like a love note to those who want to voice their dreams…and it’s so utterly magnificent and glamorous that I can’t help but continue to ramble, continue to push, continue to buy all the editions of it (woo buddy I’ve got a pretty one coming!)-and what else can you really ask for in a story? I mean, honestly.

****

Words cannot express the emotion I felt upon finishing this book. This was so much more than a romance-and I never say that. This is for all the readers who feel they are never heard, understood. Who feel they are out on an island with no one to listen to them. For those who feel the world has lost it’s whimsy. Who feel that storytelling is considered a lost form of art. This book has such a deep, profound message that you can’t truly unfurl until the very last page-and, somehow, it makes this book so much better. So much more meaningful-it strikes you deaf and dumb and speechless. And, most importantly, it gives a voice to the readers and story-tellers who strive to keep words alive.

I was breathless when I closed this book. I had tears in my eyes. A story seared into my soul.

Dazzling. Enchanting. Breathtaking.

A forever favorite.

There are truly no words to express the depth of respect I have for this book and it’s creator.

RTC.

View all my reviews

BOOK REVIEW: The Girl in the Tower (Winternight #2) by Katherine Arden

BOOK REVIEW: The Girl in the Tower (Winternight #2) by Katherine ArdenThe Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden
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Synopsis:

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

You cannot love and be immortal.

First, let me say that I found MUCH enjoyment out of this series. There were some definite highs and lows-more on that later-but this book, mostly, brought me immense joy. After the first, I truly didn’t think this series was redeemable-and, in a way, it isn’t. It’s perhaps my fault that I can’t stomach babies dying (I mean, WTF?) and horses being burned alive (whether on a broader scope of attack and war, or not), but I’m sorry: These things will never be okay with me. But, besides those two transgressions, ie extreme triggers for me, this book was by far the strongest of the three (I’ve finished the third in ARC form).

Morozko remains the high point of this series, followed shortly by my baby horse, Solovey. They added heat when the book was growing cold, and humor when things got too dark. And, as anyone who has read this series knows, apparently horses can communicate with certain people? And, can I just say, they are snarky little turds and I was totally here for it.

But, back to Morozko. This book just…it catapulted a character I was already fond of into obsession mode. He was witty. Sharp. Dark. Protective. Seductive. And, I dare say, a bit tortured? I was absolutely head over heels for this very anti-hero, and he is Vasya’s perfect match.

The mare stood quietly, chewing at her hay. Morozko was staring into the fire and did not turn his head when she rose. Vasya thought of the long featureless years of his life, wondered how many nights he sat alone by a fire, or if he wandered the wild instead and made his dwelling seem to have a roof and walls and a fire only to please her.

THAT BEING SAID. Vasya irritated me many times-especially the end. This one part totally made me rage, and I find it wholly unforgivable. It was sick. It was weird. And I want NO FING PART OF IT. If not for this one part, this book would be an absolutely unforgettable favorite-and now, it’s honestly memorable (in some good ways, yes, OBVIOUSLY-it was by far my favorite of the series!) for all the wrong reasons, if I’m being honest.

But as though her words were a summoning, a door among the firs—a door she hadn’t seen—opened with the crack of breaking ice. A swath of firelight bloodied the virgin snow. Now, quite plainly, a house stood in this fir-grove. Long, curling eaves capped its wooden walls, and in the snow-torn firelight, the house seemed to lie breathing, crouched in the thicket.

This story is full of so much passion. Heart. Explosive action-it was honestly an amazing book that had me swooning so hard I scarcely found it easy to breathe-but that does NOT mean I forgive it’s transgressions-no matter how beautiful the covers are.

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