Author: Nadine Brandes
Published: May 7, 2019
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
The history books say I died.
They don’t know the half of it.
Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them, and he’s hunted Romanov before.
Nastya’s only chances of saving herself and her family are to either release the spell and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya has only dabbled in magic, but it doesn’t frighten her half as much as her growing attraction to Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her.
That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.
This is the second book of Brandes that I’ve attempted and the first that I’ve read all the way through. The problem that I had in Fawkes came out a little in Romanov but thankfully not enough for me to DNF it. It’s honestly my only real criticism. Brandes has a habit of writing books that need a prerequisite. She throws in details about magic and culture that have no context and I automatically felt like I was missing something important. As I said, I felt that a little in Romanov but not as bad. I’ve also studied the last Romanovs so I understood the historical context. Brandes seemed to try to stick as close to history as possible and I liked that a lot.
The unfortunate side effect was that the Romanovs’ boring lives in Ekaterinburg and Tobolsk bled through into the story and there were times that I wanted things to move a bit faster. However, I liked her portrayal of the family and of the Bolsheviks. I believed every word and action and I would be the least bit surprised if it all happened exactly like in the book. I really liked this book and would recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction. It’s also safe for teens to read, but due to the slow pacing, I’d save it for older teens.
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Published: June 4, 2019
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.
Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.
As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.
This is a great story! I get really tired of all the same stories told over and over again, and Sorcery of Thorns is refreshingly unique. The cover is also gorgeous! I love everything about this book. The characters were all larger than life and were still realistic and relatable. I related to Elizabeth really well, especially her sheltered background. The story would have suffered greatly had Silas not been included. He was one of the most complicated characters I’ve seen in a while and I loved him! The setting was beautiful and those libraries; I would totally visit those libraries! One thing that stood out to me was the pacing. Everything was well spaced out and after every calm sequence, action followed. The reading was easy and quick. Overall, an excellent fantasy book for anyone, especially for teens![Top]
Author: Gita Trelease
Published: February 5, 2019
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries—and magicians…
When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist—who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.
But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she’s playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic—before Paris burns…
First off, let’s all take a moment to admire this cover! It makes my skin tingle!!! Definitely in my Top 5 fave covers of the year! I predict it goes pretty far in Series two at the end of the year for our Most Gorgeous Cover competition! Unfortunately, the cover is far better than the story. It has its good elements, but overall, I wasn’t impressed with the story. I’ve said before that I like more condensed scope that feels more intimate and manageable. However, if the situation calls for it, a wider scope works and works well. This book felt like it should have been far wider in scope than it was. For Camille, it never seemed to get farther than getting money so they can survive. I get it, that’s obviously a good goal, but in the middle of the French Revolution? I expected more to happen. She talked a good game about wanting equality and down with the nobles and all that, but she never DID anything. When you look at the story as a whole, it’s literally a tiff between teen nobles . . . And that’s pretty much it.
Yes, there was magic, but you never learn anything about it. The characters, while mostly likable, felt very static. I found myself pulling for the bad guy and looking for a twist that never happened. Most of the facets of the story felt like they didn’t fit in with each other. The balloon didn’t really fit with the revolution, the magic didn’t really fit with Versailles, the villain’s motivation seemed so shallow and flat compared to the times. I’m glad I read it, and I liked hearing about the fashion and life at Versailles, but I don’t think I’ll ever read it again. I also wouldn’t really recommend it to too many people. Maybe readers with a deeper imagination than I have would like it better.