Romanov by Nadine Brandes

Title: Romanov
Author: Nadine Brandes
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: May 7th 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Retellings

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 survival 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’s never dabbled in magic before, but it doesn’t frighten her as much as her growing attraction for 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.

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As well as an Audio Excerpt at: HERE

I was excited to read Romanov. Whenever I see a story that has to do with that period of history in Russia, I immediately am drawn to it because it is strongly connected to my own family history.

My grandmother had to flee Russia at a young age, my great-grandfather who was also fleeing with her did not make it. She was actually saved by a kind Polish woman and made it to America but she lived her entire life, ENTIRE life in fear of the Bolsheviks. She wouldn’t talk about it. There is so much family history that left this world with her because she wouldn’t even tell us her real last name. (she used her mother’s maiden name). So I was glad to see a story that is connected to Anastasia and includes the Bolsheviks. They were a huge part of history for Russia and granted I consider most Anastasia retellings to be really be about Anna Anderson. I thought this story is so unique because it does include these important pieces of history and I was happy to see them.

So again. Yes I’m always invested in these stories of the time period and I loved that Romanov took such a different approach to a plot. The first 60 percent of the book follows the history of the Romanov’s up to their demise. It was sad to read but also really interesting to think about what they might have been thinking leading up to the horrible events. You get to see a personable side of the Romanov family through this book and even though we can’t talk to them now it’s interesting to imagine. There wasn’t many Russian words but I loved that Bubushka was included and talking about Pelmeni because I’ve been craving it. Ha ha!

As far as the magic involvement in the plot. I really liked having what were considered the mystics to be actual spell master. People who could use magical words with spell ink to cast spells. I actually wish it had a more prevalent role. I was really immersed in the family but at one point I did think in my head. Wait where are we going with the matryoshka? When we do get beyond the Romanov history and we go into Nadine’s version of what could have happened to Anastasia the spell work comes more into play. I would have really liked to have seen more of it but I really enjoyed the twist on the possibility of where her story could have lead her. I love how well it intertwines with the actual history.

Nastya was a character that was easy to bond with immediately. To see the world through her eyes and what it might be for a princess who is in exile might feel. Would she be unbearable or just want to keep her family safe. Again the history saddens me but I really enjoyed Nastya as a character. She’s strong and witty. Not perfect in any way, she doesn’t understand the frustrations of her people but begins to see how they could view the family in the light they did.

Zash was also an interesting character. I find the motivations for people to choose a side to always be interesting. Sometimes people pick a side because it’s safe not because it’s right. It’s easy to say that you would always do the right thing but when your family is at stake? I really liked that he represented an interesting perspective.

I also really liked the family except for the Tsarina but that’s just me. I loved the way Nicholas II is portrayed. I don’t know what he was really like but I hope that would be what he was really like.

I really enjoyed the writing. I really liked how the character’s all have their own personalities. Even though more were delved into than others, you had a real sense of the family. I felt the book had good pacing but again I really love historical fiction and I find retellings of events fascinating.

I really liked this Historical Fiction, I don’t think it can be called a Anastasia Retelling. I’m not sure if anyone calls it that. The story is such a great way to bring in the actual history. I hope someday someone will include Grand Duchess Olga, Anastasia's Aunt, but we will see. I enjoyed reading this and I hope it makes people more interested in the history because I’m a history nerd. Ha ha.

Nadine once spent four days as a sea cook in the name of book research. She's the author of FAWKES and of the award-winning The Out of Time Series. Her inner fangirl perks up at the mention of soul-talk, Quidditch, bookstagram, and Oreos. When she's not busy writing novels about bold living, she's adventuring through Middle Earth or taste-testing a new chai. Nadine and her Auror husband are building a Tiny House on wheels. Current mission: paint the world in shalom.

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Prize: Win a copy of ROMANOV by by Nadine Brandes (US Only)

Start Date: 7th May 2019
End Date: 20th May 2019

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Finale by Stephanie Garber

Title: Finale
Author: Stephanie Garber
Published: May 7th 2019 by Flatiron Books
Buy: Amazon : B&N

Welcome, welcome to Finale, the third and final book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Caraval series!

Welcome, welcome to Caraval...all games must come to an end.

It’s been two months since the last Caraval concluded, two months since the Fates have been freed from an enchanted deck of cards, two months since Tella has seen Legend, and two months since Legend claimed the empire’s throne as his own. Now, Legend is preparing for his official coronation and Tella is determined to stop it. She believes her own mother, who still remains in an enchanted sleep, is the rightful heir to the throne.

Meanwhile, Scarlett has started a game of her own. She’s challenged Julian and her former fiancĂ©, Count Nicolas d’Arcy, to a competition where the winner will receive her hand in marriage. Finaly, Scarlett feels as if she is in complete control over her life and future. She is unaware that her mother’s past has put her in the greatest danger of all.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun―with lives, empires, and hearts all at stake. There are no spectators this time: only those who will win...and those who will lose everything. . .

Finale was the perfect finish to the world of Caraval. It’s definitely a series where the books just keep getting better and better as they go along.

I loved how much this final book brought out the details of the Fates, Fated Places and Fated Items. We get to learn so much about these different pieces of the Deck of Destiny and it also is of course, very magical. Before when it was just Legend’s Caraval it felt like the magic was contained. The Fates, however, don’t have a script to follow and when people die, they stay dead. It gives it a bit of a thriller feel to the book as Tella and Scarlett find their own ways to restore order.

Tella and I continue to have a very love/hate relationship. Her character is so interesting in so many ways. I’m glad that parts of her still didn’t change. We see her very selfish moments, as well as, her very loving moments. The tug and pull of her emotions over choices she has to make are very interesting. She stays pretty strong in having faith in the thing that at the beginning of the series she might not have.

I love Scarlet. I’m not sure why, maybe because she is safe but also determined. Just because she isn’t reckless doesn’t make her weak. Her steadiness is what makes her strong. She is the compliment to Tella’s personality. They are kind of the ying and yang of sisters. They probably could be their own card in the Deck of Destiny. Now I’m picturing what the card would look like.

I thought the plot was really really good and was perfect way to finish the series. I don’t want to accidentally give anything away but there was something that I suspected and felt like the series as a whole had dropped clues about it. Little Easter Eggs. I was found the story fast pace and satisfying. Again I love characters who develop but in the natural way so they don’t lose who they are.

Ahh the book is just so amazing!!! I don’t want to say to much! So get out there and enjoy it!