Tag Archive | historical

Review: Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson

midnight at the electric -jodi lynn andersonKansas, 2065 Adri has been handpicked to live on Mars. But weeks before Launch, she discovers the journal of a girl who lived in her house over a hundred years ago, and is immediately drawn into the mystery surrounding her fate. While Adri knows she must focus on the mission ahead, she becomes captivated by a life that’s been lost in time…and how it might be inextricably tied to her own.

Oklahoma, 1934 Amidst the fear and uncertainty of the Dust Bowl, Catherine longs for the immortality promised by a professor at a traveling show called The Electric. But as her family’s situation becomes more dire — and the suffocating dust threatens her sister’s life — Catherine must find the courage to sacrifice everything she loves in order to save the one person she loves most.

England, 1919 In the recovery following World War One, Lenore tries to come to terms with her grief for her brother, a fallen British soldier, and plans to sail to America in pursuit of a childhood friend. But even if she makes it that far, will her friend be the person she remembers, and the one who can bring her back to herself?

While their stories spans thousands of miles and multiple generations, Lenore, Catherine, and Adri’s fates are entwined in ways both heartbreaking and hopeful.


 

4.5 Drink Me Potions


Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

**Midnight at the Electric comes out June 13, 2017**

Going into this novel, I barely knew what I was getting into. Sure, the synopsis suggests that it’s like a 3-in-1 kinda book, right? 3 girls living at different times with their own set of problems.

But what I hadn’t anticipated? The amazing way that Anderson connected and intertwined the girls’ stories together in a way that was just so beautifully done.

There’s a little something for everyone in this novel. The futuristic side takes place with Adri’s story, living in 2065 where people can actually fly off to Mars to hopefully start over again as Earth has been ravaged with natural disasters and parts of cities have fallen. She’s not a very nice or social person, but her story really sets the foundation of this whole book. Coming to live with the only relative she’s got left in this world, Lily, as she’s about to embark on the opportunity (and journey) of a lifetime to Mars gets her reflecting about family. Enters the gorgeous introduction of the next girl’s story, Catherine, as Adri finds her journal.

Catherine’s story turns this book into a historical plot. With the horrible setting of the Dust Bowl that terrorized the farmlands in the ’30s, her story brought out the true struggles such families faced to even physically survive the amount of dust blowing into their lungs. With a tragic love story at the heart of Catherine’s plot, it kept me greatly entertained and as intrigued as Adri was in figuring out who this family was that used to live on Lily’s farm, and how they may possibly connect to them.

But WITHIN Catherine’s story was a link to Lenore’s story, our final protagonist. As Catherine’s mother’s best friend before she moved away, Lenore’s letters to her childhood bestie made me reminisce about my own childhood friends and the pain of wondering if time changed us no matter how we may’ve wished we stayed the same. Set in the aftermath of WWI, I really enjoyed Lenore’s story too, in a different way from the others. First, I adore letter formats for stories, but Lenore’s voice was so relatable. She wasn’t perfect and she felt far from it many times. There was a bit of romance in there, but it wasn’t essential to have her falling in love with someone for her story to be amazing the way it was. Figuring out how to move on from the pain of losing her brother to the war and feeling the closeness of her relationship with Catherine’s mother no matter how many years it’s been since they were physically together was more than enough. And some mysterious components that were present in Adri’s time could only unfold from as far back as Lenore’s time, which really excited me at the prospect of linking everything together.

But what did I love the most?

We have to go back to Adri’s story. As a person who didn’t know how to get along with others very well, it was how she grew from this experience of connecting to these people who had departed so long ago that touched my heart. She took what Catherine’s journal and Lenore’s letters gave her to realize more about herself and where she was at the moment with Lily. That family was important. And so is what we leave behind that stays beyond the finite length of our lives. It was so profound. And I may have even teared up a bit at the end.

I shall end off with some of Adri’s insights that resonated with me, as I hope they too will also resonate with you (especially after you read it in context of the full novel when it comes out).

“I’m not much on writing, and I always wondered why some people are so drawn to it. But now as I sit here trying to think of what to say, I think I understand. No one wants to disappear. Words pin things down and make them real, and they last so much longer than we do…

I wanted to tell you most of all that I think it’s our love that gets passed along. Onward and forward.”


Overall Recommendation:
Midnight at the Electric connects 3 girls and their stories together in a such a poignant way, touching on various matters from loss of a family member to struggling to save a loved one. Despite the time difference between the stories, they’re all connected somehow, and figuring out the links between them slowly was half the fun of this novel. For such a short length, Anderson really packed it in with just the right amount for each girl. I truly recommend reading it, no matter if you don’t like historicals or futuristic novels. It’s a book that weaves together what’s truly important to people despite the cultural context, and I guarantee this would be a read that keeps you guessing and an ending that leaves some parts up for the imagination.

Review: The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye

Series: The Crown’s Game #2

the crown's fate -evelyn skyePerfect for fans of Shadow and Bone and Red Queen, The Crown’s Fate is the thrilling sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Crown’s Game, an atmospheric historical fantasy set in Imperial Russia.

Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.


2 Drink Me Potions


Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

**The Crown’s Fate comes out May 16, 2017**

What can I say? The Crown’s Fate didn’t do much more for me than its predecessor. But I won’t glum down this review – at least, not for its entirety.

This novel, for those of you who may have rather enjoyed The Crown’s Game, might be a decent sequel (don’t let my low rating score you yet). The gorgeous Russian setting and culture continues to be explored here in this sequel. Maybe not as much as the first novel where we’re all still getting acquainted to all that is Russian history, but it’s still present with a larger focus on historical events over the actual setting and location. There’s an unsettled atmosphere with our main characters after the events of the first book, but it only gets amplified with what happens fairly earlier on in this novel. While that may have started out more exciting, I grew pretty weary with it all rather soon.

But first, any other praises I may have. Hmm.

Well, I suppose one point for Skye was how she handled her “love triangle”. Honestly, this never was a love triangle. It was 2 guys who fell for Vika way too fast because she was “different”. She only ever loved Nikolai (sorry Pasha shippers). And for that I’m glad. She wasn’t some wishy-washy girl who couldn’t make up her darn mind about who she wanted to be with and tagged along both boys until she could decide. She at least knew herself well enough in this regard, and it made me respect her more than the apathetic feeling I had for her before. But the romance was still very much hard for me to wrap around as it didn’t feel like there was enough substance for Vika, and Nikolai for that matter, to feel so strongly for each other. Was being the only 2 magical enchanters enough of a reason to love each other so quickly?

Anything else besides these two things just didn’t impress me. The plotline that started earlier with Aizhana continued here, but it felt so anticlimactic with what happened there. Like, there should’ve been something more to her role that, I don’t know, could’ve brought the main characters closer to unite against one common enemy. But nooooo. The main antagonist in this story felt so….unimpressive. It’s not unheard of for a story to twist like this, but at the same time, I felt like Skye could’ve gone a whole other direction with this book (like maybe focus on saving Nikolai, or defeating some larger problem together).

And this pattern continues from here. The other plotline dealing more with Pasha and his fight for the crown wasn’t exciting. Period. The ensuing climax for this growing tension in his country as he was ascending the throne was short and didn’t really focus in on that element. It was just there as another component to further emphasize the main problem and antagonist of the book (which I really can’t say without ruining everything, but argghhhh was I annoyed with it).

The ending I will concede wraps things up nice enough. It’s a happy ending, no worries. Yet I’m just left unsatisfied. Things ended too quickly and problems such as the country’s feelings towards our trio of characters are pretty much summed up as “yeah, everything’s gonna be fine. we’re totally okay with them and whatever excuses they came up with, I will gobble them up as if they’re truth even though some of it sounds pretty sketchy what with the devastating aftermath”. Honestly, you’ll see what I mean if you read the ending. Just…I’d rather there’d be a 3rd book on Vika/Nikolai/Pasha if it meant doing it right.

But who knows? Skye is trying to write a 3rd book. And if she does, I hope it’ll be on new characters in this setting ’cause I’m getting way too sick of reading a plot that seems to have dried up fairly early on.

Overall Recommendation:
I’m not sure if I feel more disappointed or apathetic, but The Crown’s Fate just didn’t meet my expectations in anyway. Even with further demonstrations of Skye’s knowledge and love for Russian history and culture, the main storyline faltered in way too many places. The romance, while devoid of true love triangle madness, was too quick without driving home the real chemistry between the characters. The main story arcs were slow and resolved in a rushed manner at the end that felt so anticlimactic. I may be a bit biased as I didn’t love its predecessor, but this novel just wasn’t any better. I don’t know if I’d necessarily recommend it, but if you enjoyed The Crown’s Game, it’s still worthwhile to at least complete this series.

Review: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

Series: The Crown’s Game #1

the crown's game -evelyn skyeVika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip-smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love…or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear—the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.


 

2.5 Drink Me Potions


The Crown’s Game delivered a beautiful setting in nineteenth century Russia that stirred my heart, but ultimately didn’t capture it with its story.

I love the whole idea of this story. A Game set in place for 2 magical enchanters to fight for the illustrious prize of Imperial Enchanter. Add into the mix bits of wonderful magic and princes , you have the makings of a novel that I would absolutely adore to read.

Now what went wrong, exactly?

It took me a long time to finish this book, clearly. And if I had to pinpoint what things really made this experience less than lovely, it would boil down to these few things.

1) The lack of connection

I liked Vika and I liked Nikolai, and I even liked Pasha although he was clearly not the ship I was cheering for in this love triangle (if one can really call it that?). But it was hard for me to really FEEL for these characters. Maybe it’s the 3rd person writing, but I’ve encountered plenty of books who write in 3rd person and still convey feeling as beautifully as first person narrative, if not even better. So I’m a little stumped how I felt so little for these characters over all. I didn’t feel shoots of pain when the cliffhanger ending took place. Just…a twinge of sadness that it had to be this way. So maybe my rating would’ve been higher if this was the only problem, something solely due to me.

2) The slownessssss of the book

For a book that has really short chapters (like honestly, some were less than a page), I dunno how it felt so dragged out. The Game took a while to get started, and the meeting of the enchanters wasn’t as quick as I thought. But then, the Game itself wasn’t as fast-paced as the synopsis might’ve suggested. How can someone take so long to make their turn? Vika and Nikolai alternate their moves by showing off their power in a way that would impress the tsar of Russia, and while they were impressive in some ways, this wasn’t the exciting feats of magic to be performed as I suppose I was hoping for. Turning a river into a display of colours and making a wardrobe that would outfit you however you wish isn’t all that exciting at the end of the day. Impressive, yes, but not exciting.

3) The lack of romance

Huh? How’s that even possible? I thought this book was on a love triangle. Oddly enough, nothing truly moves very fast on this front. True, it’s not the best timing to be falling in love what with the dangerous Game they’re playing, but it could’ve happened. And it’s not like having little romance is a bad thing. Sometimes it’s the perfect move for a novel, but this WAS NOT one of those kind of stories. Then somehow the characters “fall” for each other, and it just didn’t please me as much when the magic of their love never really came across the pages.

Sigh. I guess I can say the overall feeling was a bit of disappointment. I know other reviewers enjoyed the novel, but it wasn’t like I put very high expectations for this. I’m a little sad that the rating isn’t as high as I had hoped it, and even after a break while reading this book, it hadn’t gotten any better. When you’re feeling a little apathetic to Vika and her love life, you know that the experience isn’t gonna get so much better. The only highlight was Nikolai and the beauty of his magic and his unique backstory which unfolded in slightly surprising ways.

Overall Recommendation:
The Crown’s Game had a lot of potential going for it as a historical fantasy set in Russia. With this setting well-researched and an author who actually knows her stuff, I was disappointed with the slowness of the plot – which also had so much potential with the Game between enchanters – and the lack of connection I felt with the characters. Vika was just another strong-willed protagonist but lacked true depth to her personality. The love triangle wasn’t even fully present as the romance took a huge backseat to everything and felt more insta-love than anything. I will read its sequel, but my expectations are already wayyyyy down there.