{Book Review}: Lana’s War by Anita Abriel

My Review:⭐️⭐⭐.5/ 5 stars 

This book follows the story of Lana Antanova in 1943 in Paris where she is on her way to see her husband Frederic about her pregnancy at a music school he teaches at.  From elation to pure terror, she witnesses him getting murdered by the Gestapo officers after finding out he was hiding a young Jewish girl in the piano. She falls into depression after the death of her husband and unborn baby until she is approached to join the French Resistance  on the Riviera where she could finally get her revenge for the murder of her husband. To fit into the society there, she would use her own name and Russian aristocratic background  to create the best cover story to mingle with the high ranking German officers, including the one who shot Frederic. A part of her cover story also has her playing mistress to a rich, Swiss industrialist & resistance member, Guy Pascal. Together they find intel for future raids and helping Jewish communities escape. One of these include Odette, whom Lana has a very close relationship with despite all the dangers. 

This story is incredibly heartfelt and sad to think that these atrocities happened in the real world. It reminds me of the Nightingale and Atomic Love. For some reason, I could not stand Odette, even though she is young. There were so many things she did that jeopardized those around her, and I wanted to scream reading through the pages. She is 12 in the book, not a young child. Some parts went a bit slow for me and the ending seemed a bit rushed and rubbed me the wrong way. (Spoiler alert) -She is a strong woman throughout but at the end, you are left thinking she would drop her  life to be with someone even though he didn’t really try to contact her for 10 years. 10 YEARS! If you are a fan of WWII era historical fiction, then you would really enjoy this! 

Thank you to Atria Books and Netgalley for the  advanced copy/e-arc  in exchange for my honest review.

US pub date: this week on January 12, 2021

{Book Review}: A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer

My Review:⭐️⭐⭐⭐.5/ 5 stars 

I was lucky to get an advanced look at 4 chapters of the upcoming 3rd installment to the Cursebreakers series. I just finished the 2nd book yesterday so THIS was a real treat and a real tease at the same time. 

This takes place right after the 2nd book when (Spoiler alert for those who didn’t read the earlier books) –  Grey gave Rhen 60 days before setting an attack on Emberfall to claim his rightful throne as the heir. In this time, Prince Rhen has pushed everyone away including Harper, due to his own personal demons and secrets. At the same time, Lia Mara, a newly appointed Queen herself of Syhl Shallow after the death of her mother, faces many challenges to her more gentle ruling style. The people under her rule are wary of allowing magesmiths to be a part of their kingdom after relinquishing it in the past from their lands. 

I cannot wait to read more about Grey and Lia Mara,  and even Harper — and hopefully Rhen will be more tolerable in this one.

Thank you to Bloomsbury and Netgalley for the  advanced copy/e-arc  in exchange for my honest review.

US pub date: January 26, 2021!

{Boom Review}: A Heart so Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

My Review:⭐️⭐⭐⭐/ 5 stars 

Finally reading the sequel to the Cursebreakers series and this did not disappoint me at all. I think I may have liked it more than the first one, which was too obviously a Beauty and the Beast re-telling in which I found Harper and Grey more exhilarating to read. Prince Rhen is just completely unlikeable. This installment focuses on the months after the events from the first book. Grey is in hiding after the news broke that there is an heir to the Emberfall throne – and the people are rejecting Prince Rhen as the true heir – and his alliance with the mysterious people of “Disi ” with “Princess” Harper. The other POV in this story is pf Lia Mara, the elder daughter of Karis Luran, Queen of Syd Shallow (enemies of Emberfall who seek an alliance). She wants to ease her mothers violent rule and plan for Grey…and hopefully find peace between the neighboring kingdoms. 

I thought I preferred Grey and Harper together, but after reading this, I am definitely feeling the epic romance between Lia Mara and Grey instead. He is such an interesting, conflicted person to read about and so was learning about the world of Syd Shallow. This whole series just gets better and better – at some points a fantasy and a starcrossed romance the next… I thoroughly enjoyed the world that Brigid created. The 3rd book is out this month and I cannot wait to read it!

{Book Review}: The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous

My Review:⭐️⭐⭐⭐/ 5 stars 

This book had many guessing to the very end! It tells the story of 3 different POVs – one is of Beth Soames, an orphan in 1988 who is dropped off at Raven Hall (in East Anglian Fens) by her aunt Caroline after bouncing around at different children’s homes. The Meyers welcome her and she befriends their daughter Nina – and here she truly feels at home and a part of the family despite their strange rules and one “little” game that she believed to be truly harmless. The other POV is of Sadie, in 2019, a unsuccessful actress who agrees to be apart of the Murder mystery dinner at Raven Hall because she desperately needs rent money. As the night goes on, she realises the mystery host might have more in store for them than she initially thought. The other POV is a mystery woman, who has a history with the estate. 

First off, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was so intrigued by the Meyers/Averalls and why they did the things they did – and why Nina was kept indoors all the time. It was quite unusual and I was DYING for answers. You will be definitely left guessing throughout, figure a few things out on your own, and then find more surprises along the way. A wonderful mystery read! 

Thank you to Berkley Books and Netgalley for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review!

US Pub date: January 12, 2021!!

{Book Review}: The Wicked King by Holly Black

My Review:⭐️⭐⭐⭐/ 5 stars 

I read the Cruel Prince almost exactly a year ago and do not know why I waited so long to read the sequel. I forgot how GOOD this was – the deception, the world that Holly Black created is so detailed and whimsical. It follows the story of Jude right after the jaw dropping ending from the Cruel Prince where Oak is revealed as the true heir to the Faerie throne. In the meantime, Jude is controlling Cardan as the “puppet” king as she works alongside him as his seneschal while also trying to investigate who could be betraying her at the same time. In a court of ever changing alliances and distrust of mortals – she finds it hard to find someone she can actually trust. Cardan’s fascination with Jude  has only confused her and she wonders if one could truly change. 

I think I loved the sequel more than the first book – the entire book was so interesting and the characters had you constantly guessing. I didn’t really like Cardan and Jude in the first book – I honestly was over men just treating women like crap and they somehow still fall in love? Jude is SO not that… she is guarded with her feelings and whip-smart, but somehow keeps her humanity intact at the same time. She has a lot of trust issues and rightfully so… the world she lives in is crazy! Definitely waiting a year to read the next installment – I am addicted!

{Book Review}: The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

My Review:⭐️⭐⭐⭐/ 5 stars 

I love a good re-telling and this one is SO good. It is a modern twist to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. This story takes place at Thornfield Estates (think of those Real Housewives tv shows) – all wealthy with fancy McMansions, luxury cars, and more jewelry than they know what to do with. Jane is a dog walker for this community, and eventually meets Eddie Rochester, a mysterious widower, whose wife Bea and her best friend Blanche disappeared from a boating accident months before. Presumed both dead, Eddie seems ready to move on when he starts to date Jane, who is running from her own past and in need of stability and love. The more time she spends with Eddie at his home, the more she compares herself to Bea and there are very odd sounds in the house she can’t quite figure out. It’s pretty obvious what the sounds are because the POV shifts between Jane and Bea mostly… 

The pace for this thriller is just perfect. Short chapters made reading it a breeze and you are constantly on the edge of your seat waiting to see what happens – even if you kind of can guess what happens – there is a twist! The ending had me satisfied, but still wanting more – and wondering what really happened. It is a re-telling, but also done in such a way that seems original in its own right. Highly recommended for the avid thriller reader! 

Thank you to St Martin’s Press and Netgalley for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review. I loved it so much I also bought the Book of the Month edition. 

US Pub date: January 5, 2021!

{Book Review}: The War Widow by Tara Moss

My Review:⭐️⭐⭐⭐/ 5 stars 

Happy Pub day to this new historical fiction/mystery by Tara Moss that takes place in 1946 Australia. It is the first book in the Billie Walker series, I presume. It is right after the war and the former soldiers are coming home to take back the jobs that women were working in the meantime. Former war correspondent, Billie Walker, now works as a PI in Sydney, who normally is tasked with finding evidence on cheating husbands.  One day. Nettie Brown shows up with an alarming case – her son is missing. with the help of her assistant Sam, investigates the disappearance of Adin Brown and of his whereabouts in the last week. As she digs deeper, his disappearance links to what seems to be a much bigger secret – one that is much bigger and tied to the past and in the deep underbelly of the Australian crime underworld.

I am a sucker for 1940s-1950s historical fiction especially since this was such a slowly changing time for women after the war. Also, it was great to read about Australian history during this time! This book has been meticulously researched from the details of Billie’s sewing patterns to what kind of gun she totes around on her body. She is a true badass and such a strong female figure (especially in 1946!). The pace starts slow at first, but builds up quickly as you start to unravel the story of Adin and what had happened. It’s very dark and there are many underlying themes/issues such as racism against the native Aboriginals, especially women and children, and sexism. I loved that it kept me guessing throughout and even the minor characters hold clues or actions that have you cheering. It is very light in romance, but Billie Walker is TOO busy for romance. She is busy saving lives and doing the police’s job! 🙂  I really enjoyed this and definitely recommend it if you are a fan of historical fiction of this time period. 

Thank you to #netgalley and Duttonbooks for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review. It is out today, December 29th!

{Book Review}: In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

My Review:⭐️⭐⭐.5/ 5 stars 

This book has been all over #bookstagram the last month and rightfully so… it’s a perfect romantic read for the holidays. Maelyn Jones spends every Christmas week with her divorced parents and their family friends at the same Hollis Family cabin.  It is tradition. This year she regretfully makes out with Theo and wakes up realizing her big mistake as she has been in love with Andrew, his older brother, since they were kids. Now it seems things are ruined forever when the Hollis’s decide to sell the cabin because of the costly upkeep. Mae is upset in the car ride home with her parents on December 26th realizing this is the end of her childhood. She throws a question out into the universe – To show her what would make her happy. The next thing she knows, there is a car accident and then darkness. She wakes up on the plane heading to the cabin on December 20th – repeating the week over again. She finds herself in this continuous time loop until she gets it right and really goes for whatever makes her truly happy. 

The book is a bit cheesy, but it’s supposed to be because it’s a heartfelt, holiday romantic story. I read this in 1 day on Christmas Day (today) and was really feeling all the emotions. The only thing is that I was not crazy about Andrew – he seemed a bit lackluster. I almost did not believe what was going on between them – but really glad to see how the ending turned out. A perfect romantic Christmas ending.

{Book Review}: The Damned by Renée Ahdieh

My Review:⭐️⭐⭐⭐/ 5 stars 

I read the first book a few days ago so thankfully all the characters was fresh in my mind. Sebastien Saint Germain was just turned into a vampire by his uncle Nicodemus, the most powerful Vampire in the American South in 1872, after being near death. In exchange, Cecile would allow Nicodemus to erase her memories of what happened that night and of Bastien… so they could start their own lives. Bastien is disturbed from the change and does everything he can to try to turn back and be human again (and be with Cecile). Michael & Cecile try to make it work – but she suspects her friends are hiding things from her after having very vivid dreams that cannot be explained. And behind the scenes, a sinister character is trying to exact revenge on the Fallen (aka the Vampires)  after generations of blood shed. 

I based this rating on it simply being much better than the first book, the Beautiful. The story seems a bit more structured and easier to understand the different worlds, characters, and even the love triangle between Bastien/Cecile/Michael. The romance between the main characters in the first book was very tortured, forced, and one dimensional. I didn’t buy their little forbidden, star crossed romance. One minute they just met and the next they are in love? I learned so much more in this one. That being said, the sequel is great, but I did not love it. This whole series was a bit lukewarm for me. The love scene had me wanting more, but more so because of the injustice of waiting through two books for just that measly scene? For a paranormal YA/historical fiction based in New Orleans, a magical city in its own right, this is decent. Will I tune in for the 3rd book in 2021? Probably.

{Book Review}: The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh

My Review:⭐️⭐⭐.5/ 5 stars 

I have been dying to read this for a while now. It was giving me serious Twilight vibes + New Orleans vampires = sign me up. It takes place in 1872 with Celine Rousseau, who had just arrived from Paris after escaping a very dark incident in which she needed to escape consequences. A fresh start at the Ursuline Convent in New Orleans is exactly what she needed until she finds herself meeting Odette, a member of the Court of Lions – famed for their secrecy and power in New Orleans high society. There seems to be something otherworldly about them… even inhuman. The prince of this court is Sebastian Saint. Germain – and as his name suggests, he is pretty dreamy. Celine finds herself falling in love with this world with the festivals – but there also have been bodies found throughout the city viciously attacked which causes suspicion.  Is Sebastian and his family who they say they are and if not, who is committing all these murders? 

I liked this, but did not love it. The world that Ahdieh created is fascinating and she has a beautiful way with words. You can’t go wrong with the gothic landscape of New Orleans and its rich history. However, the passion between Celine/Sebastian is a bit lackluster. A lot of self loathing on both sides – but I am interested in what happens next from that ending…

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