Audio Book Review: Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill, Narrated by Andrew Kanies And Morgan Fairbanks

Book: Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill, Narrated by Andrew Kanies & Morgan Fairbanks

Published March 2019 by Blink|Run Time: 9 hours, 37 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: None

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Evalina Cassano’s life in an Italian-American family in 1941 is everything it “should be” until she falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants. Despite the scandal it would cause and that inter-racial marriage is illegal in California, Evalina and Taichi vow they will find a way to be together. But anti-Japanese feelings erupt across the country after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Taichi and his family are forced to give up their farm and move to an internment camp.

Degrading treatment make life at Manzanar Relocation Center difficult. Taichi’s only connection to the outside world are treasured letters from Evalina. Feeling that the only action she can take to help Taichi is to speak out on behalf of all Japanese Americans, Evalina becomes increasingly vocal at school and at home. Meanwhile, inside Manzanar, fighting between different Japanese-American factions arises. Taichi begins to doubt he will ever leave the camp alive.

With tensions running high and their freedom on the line, Evalina and Taichi must hold true to their values and believe in their love to make a way back to each other against unbelievable odds.

I liked Within These Lines!  I didn’t love it but I did like it.

For me, Taichi’s story was so much more interesting than Evalina’s.  I really felt for Taichi, and everyone else who had to go to the internment camps.  It wasn’t until listening to this book that I realized how little I know about the internment camps.  I’ve heard of them, but all I knew was that they came about after Pearl Harbor.  I didn’t know anything else, and I was horrified by what Taichi went through at Manazanar.

No one should have to go through that, and the way people talked about Japanese-Americans was horrible.  But I was reminded of today, and how people are still treated because of where they come from.  It’s just hard to believe that it happened only 70 or so years ago.  It feels like it was a long time ago, and yet, it also feels so recent.

I was glad Evalina was so outspoken about what was going on.  I don’t think she realized or knew how bad it really was, but I was glad she spoke up about it.  It would have been really easy for her to not say anything, and just let it be.  She definitely did not let it be, and I thought it was really cool that she wanted to be a lawyer.  In the epilogue, we see she’s a civil rights lawyer, and that seems to fit her very well.  I wasn’t as interested in her story as Taichi’s, but I thought their stories together were important.  As a whole, the story was great because you see how it affected people, but on an individual level, Taichi’s story got my attention a lot more than Evalina’s.

The epilogue really got to me, and I was definitely crying because of how it still affected Taichi.  Even though the epilogue was years later, I was heartbroken for Taichi.  I don’t think it will ever be over for him, but I did think his story was really well done.  I hope he’s able to find peace after everything that happened.

I did like the narrators, Andrew Kanies and Morgan Fairbanks, though I did like Kanies a little bit more.  They both brought the characters to life, but Kanies really stood out, and really made Taichi someone worth caring about.  It’s not that I didn’t care about Evalina, because I did.  Just not as much as I cared about Taichi.  Still, Fairbanks did a great job at narrating Evalina’s part of the story.

3 stars.  I liked Within These Lines, and thought Taichi’s story was one worth reading.  His story really made this book worth reading.

Book Review: The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad Of Mulan by Sherry Thomas

Book: The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad Of Mulan by Sherry Thomas

Published September 2019 by Tu Books|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

CHINA, 484 A.D.

A Warrior in Disguise

All her life, Mulan has trained for one purpose: to win the duel that every generation in her family must fight. If she prevails, she can reunite a pair of priceless heirloom swords separated decades earlier, and avenge her father, who was paralyzed in his own duel.

Then a messenger from the Emperor arrives, demanding that all families send one soldier to fight the Rouran invaders in the north. Mulan’s father cannot go. Her brother is just a child. So she ties up her hair, takes up her sword, and joins the army as a man.

A War for a Dynasty

Thanks to her martial arts skills, Mulan is chosen for an elite team under the command of the princeling–the royal duke’s son, who is also the handsomest man she’s ever seen. But the princeling has secrets of his own, which explode into Mulan’s life and shake up everything she knows. As they cross the Great Wall to face the enemy beyond, Mulan and the princeling must find a way to unwind their past, unmask a traitor, and uncover the plans for the Rouran invasion . . . before it’s too late.

Inspired by wuxia martial-arts dramas as well as the centuries-old ballad of Mulan, The Magnolia Sword is perfect for fans of Renee Ahdieh, Marie Lu, or Kristin Cashore–a thrilling, romantic, and sharp-edged novel that lives up to its beloved heroine. 

I was really excited about this one because it’s a re-telling of Mulan, but unfortunately, I didn’t like this one as much as I wanted to.  It ended up being an okay read for me.

There were some things I really liked about The Magnolia Sword.  I really liked that she was a twin, and that her family was at odds with the prince’s family.  I liked that each generation had to duel- it wasn’t what I expected, but I thought it worked really well.  Especially with how they came together during the book.

I also liked how detailed this book was.  You could tell that Thomas did her research while reading this book.  It really shone throughout the book, and while I know nothing about this time period or the original telling of Mulan, it felt like it was pretty true to the time period.  Please take that with a grain of salt, though, because I’m only familiar with the Disney movie.  And even then, it’s been ages and ages since I’ve watched it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find the book thrilling or romantic, the way it was described.  I was bored, which made me sad, because I didn’t want to be bored.  The Magnolia Sword is more about the characters, which is fine, but I don’t think it was what I wanted.  I wanted more action and battles, and considering the fact that there seemed to be a lot going on at the time, I wanted to be more interested in the book.  Instead, I was really close to not finishing it, and I’m not sure how I did.

Mulan…was not memorable.  I wish I could tell you more about her, but she didn’t stand out to me.  Considering the book was more character driven, and she’s the main character, that was a little disappointing.  And the prince is even less memorable, considering I can’t even remember his name.  And the fact that he and Mulan end up dueling, and they spend a good amount of time together…it’s definitely not a good sign.  You’d think I’d be able to remember but the name didn’t stick.

2 stars.  The Magnolia Sword was just okay, and while there were some things I liked, overall, I was pretty bored.

Book Review: Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez

Book: Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez

Published June 2018 by Imprint|384 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Sweet Black Waves #1

Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Re-Telling

Not you without me, not me without you.

Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.

As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what’s right, even as her powers grow, will set Branwen against her best friend and the only man she’s ever loved.

Inspired by the legend of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance.

I ended up really liking Sweet Black Waves.  I wasn’t sure about it at first, but the more I read, the more I liked it.

I’m only vaguely familiar with the story of Tristan and Eseult, and that’s only because of the movie that came ages ago.  I think I was expecting to see things from Eseult’s perspective, and not Branwen’s.  I still liked seeing things from Branwen’s POV, and it did make for a really interesting re-telling.

Knowing how the movie ended- which I know isn’t a great comparison, but the only one I have- I wasn’t sure how things were going to go.  I was surprised by the ending and the fact that there are going to more books.  We haven’t gotten the full Tristan and Eseult story, of course, and I don’t know how much Perez can drag this story out.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m planning on continuing the series, and I really want to know how it all ends.  I’m just a little hesitant, that’s all.

It didn’t go as in-depth as I would have wanted, and it does have quite a bit of drama in it.  Which is fine, but it didn’t really go too much into the Tristan and Eseult story.  I suppose we’ll see that in the other books.  I hope so anyway.  The book does set things up, and it did a pretty good job of that.  With how the book ended, it really made me wish the next book were out to see what happens next.  Branwen is definitely out for blood.

It’s also really well-researched, and I liked the author’s note at the end of the book.  She talks a lot about the choices she made regarding language and the source material.  You don’t need to be familiar with the story to like the book, but I did like that a lot of research went into the book.  It really showed, and I felt like I was really immersed in Branwen’s world.

I loved the magic in the book, and it felt very real.  It blended into Branwen’s life and world so well, and it made so much sense.  It was easy to understand, and it added something to the book.

4 stars.  Even though I didn’t love Sweet Black Waves, I still really liked it!

ARC Book Review: Romanov by Nadine Brandes

Book: Romanov by Nadine Brandes

Expected Publication Is May 7, 2019 by Thomas Nelson|Expected Number Of Pages: 352

Where I Got It: I received Romanov as an e-ARC from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review

Series: None

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

From the author of Fawkes comes a magical take on the story of Anastasia Romanov.

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 either to release the spell and deal with the consequences, or to enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya’s only dabbled in magic, but it doesn’t frighten her half 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.

I liked Romanov, but not as much as I wanted to.  After reading Fawkes, I was pretty excited about this one, but I struggled to get through this book.

It’s a little sad, because the idea is really cool.  It’s a different take on the Anastasia story, but the book started off really slow.  It didn’t pick up the her family is executed, and that’s when Romanov got interesting.  That’s where I’m torn, because on the one hand, it took too long, with too many details before things started moving along.

At the same time, having that background did give some insight into what was going at the time.  So while starting right before the execution would have started things off with a bang, I think we also might have missed out on a lot.  Unless Brandes found a way to include in the book, through flashbacks or something.

I really liked how she included magic with history.  I wish we had more about the history of magic in Russia and how it was used.  I had the same issue with her other book, and it’s the execution of the Romanov family plus Anastasia surviving plus magic, sort of like how Fawkes was the Gunpowder plot but with magic.

We all know how people have claimed to be Anastasia over the years, and how two bodies were quite a bit away from the rest of the family, and this book has a really interesting and magical explanation for that.  It’s certainly an interesting way to have Anastasia survive, and I liked how that was included in the story.

Brandes is really good at re-telling history with magic.  While I wanted more details about the magical aspects, and how it exists in this world, I liked that it was just a normal part of Nastya’s world.  I can’t wait to see what else she comes up, and what part of history she’ll re-tell next.

My Rating: 3 stars.  It took a long time for this book to get going, but I did like it, and how she re-told this story.

Audio Book Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray, Narrated by January LaVoy

Book: The Diviners by Libba Bray, Narrated by January LaVoy

Published September 2012 by Listening Library|Length: 18 hours, 14 minutes

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio book from the library

Series: The Diviners #1

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

SOMETHING DARK AND EVIL HAS AWAKENED…

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries her uncle will discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho is hiding a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened…

I’ve meaning to read this book for a while, and I finally got around to it!  I liked it, and it was great on audio but I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.

I thought the setting was a great backdrop for the paranormal.  It worked really well, especially with the time period and with the book being set in New York.  While it would have worked in another time period/place, I can’t imagine it being somewhere else.  I don’t know that it would have worked otherwise.

There were times where I ended up getting confused.  We’d be with Evie, and then the book would suddenly switch to someone else.  It took a while to figure out how those other stories were connected to what was going on with Evie.  I think it just didn’t translate well to audio, at least for me.

It was really long, and it took me a while to get through it, so by the time I got to the end, I was fuzzy on what had happened at the beginning.  I was never clear on what Evie could do and what led her to New York, and I’m not sure if it’s because I just didn’t remember what happened or if it was never mentioned.

I’m not sure how I feel about Evie.  I didn’t mind the slang at first, but I did get tired of it by the end.  I feel like if Evie were a real person living right now, she’d have her own reality tv show.  She has this ditzy socialite vibe to her, and she seems pretty self-absorbed, even at the end of the book.  Obviously, some don’t change, which is fine, but maybe there’s hope for Evie.

I did like the narrator, though!  January LaVoy did a great job narrating, and she really brought Evie to life.

3 stars.  I liked The Diviners but I didn’t love it.  I might pick up the next book, but I’m still undecided.

Book Review: Flygirl by Sherri L Smith

Book: Flygirl by Sherri L Smith

Published January 2009 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers|288 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Ida Mae Jones dreams of flight. Her daddy was a pilot and being black didn’t stop him from fulfilling his dreams. But her daddy’s gone now, and being a woman, and being black, are two strikes against her.

When America enters the war with Germany and Japan, the Army creates the WASP, the Women Airforce Service Pilots – and Ida suddenly sees a way to fly as well as do something significant to help her brother stationed in the Pacific. But even the WASP won’t accept her as a black woman, forcing Ida Mae to make a difficult choice of “passing,” of pretending to be white to be accepted into the program. Hiding one’s racial heritage, denying one’s family, denying one’s self is a heavy burden. And while Ida Mae chases her dream, she must also decide who it is she really wants to be.

I liked Flygirl!  It’s definitely worth checking out, and I really liked reading Ida Mae’s story.

So one thing I didn’t particularly like was how old Ida Mae was.  It’s mentioned in the book that she’s 20, which I thought was really strange.  I mean, it reads as YA, and I thought Ida Mae was a lot younger than she really was.  That didn’t particularly work for me, but it is what it is.

I did like the friendships she formed with some of her fellow WASP’s, and being a WASP really brought them together.  You really saw how Ida just wanted to be a pilot, like her dad was.  You see her struggle with her fellow WASP’s finding out she’s black, and you see what it’s like for her to be a pilot in a man’s world.  One scene that was really heartbreaking was when her mom came to Ida’s flight school, pretending to be the family maid so people wouldn’t know that Ida was passing as white.

There is some conflict with her family and friends back home about passing for white, but it’s not something that really comes up in her time as WASP.  I think I thought (based on the summary) that it would play more of a part than it really did.  I’m white, though, so I could be completely wrong about that.

The book ended with a lot of things being pretty open-ended.  You’re not sure if Ida Mae goes back home to her family, or if she tries to make it as a pilot once the WASP program ended.  I don’t mind it when books have an open ending, but in this case, I wanted to know more about Ida Mae’s future.

3 stars.  I liked Flygirl, and how Ida Mae was caught between two different worlds.  It’s a great book if you want World War II historical fiction about a part of history that doesn’t come up in your average history class.  I didn’t love it, but it was an interesting read.

Book Review: Bright We Burn by Kiersten White

Book: Bright We Burn by Kiersten White

Published

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: The Conquerer’s Saga #3

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Haunted by the sacrifices he made in Constantinople, Radu is called back to the new capital. Mehmed is building an empire, becoming the sultan his people need. But Mehmed has a secret: as emperor, he is more powerful than ever . . . and desperately lonely. Does this mean Radu can finally have more with Mehmed . . . and would he even want it? 

Lada’s rule of absolute justice has created a Wallachia free of crime. But Lada won’t rest until everyone knows that her country’s borders are inviolable. Determined to send a message of defiance, she has the bodies of Mehmed’s peace envoy delivered to him, leaving Radu and Mehmed with no choice. If Lada is allowed to continue, only death will prosper. They must go to war against the girl prince. 

But Mehmed knows that he loves her. He understands her. She must lose to him so he can keep her safe. Radu alone fears that they are underestimating his sister’s indomitable will. Only by destroying everything that came before–including her relationships–can Lada truly build the country she wants. 

Claim the throne. Demand the crown. Rule the world.

I have loved this series since the beginning, and this book is no exception.  Also, it’s Kiersten White, and I love her, so of course I absolutely loved this book.

Look, Lada is not a likeable character, and that is what I love most about her.  I wanted a Wallachia ruled by Lada- it’s what she wanted more than anything, and I hated Mehmed and Radu for trying to take that away from her.  She will do anything to make sure that Wallachia is allowed to be the country it should be, even if it means destroying everything around her.

She’s bloodthirsty, on a murderous rampage, and pretty good at losing allies.  I can’t help but like Lada, even though she really pushes it and tests it.  But I think the limitations she has a woman trying to fight for her country rang true.  Lada is screwed up, and yet, there are times where I think we see the self-doubt and vulnerability.  It was those moments where we see a more humanity than what you’d expect from someone like Lada.  White has done such an amazing job at showing why Lada does what she does, and that she really does believe she’s doing the right thing, even if her methods are a bit…different.

Radu and Lada are such different people, and it’s amazing that they both grew up in the same environment, but turned out so different.  Radu could have been liked Lada, but he wasn’t.  He wanted love, and chose that, while Lada was hellbent on being prince of Wallachia.  They really balance each other, and while Lada veers towards blood and violence, Radu chooses love and people.  Radu and Lada had their paths- very different paths, I might add- and I am glad I went along for the ride.  I love that Radu was the softer character and that Lada was the more vicious character, and it was perfectly normal for them to be soft and vicious.

I won’t spoil the ending, and I wasn’t sure what to expect with it.  I loved the ending, and this really is a great ending for the series.  I’m sad it’s over, because I really have loved this series, but I couldn’t ask for a better ending.

5 stars.  I absolutely loved this book, and Lada, while on a vicious, bloodthirsty rampage, is also absolutely amazing.

Book Review: The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice And Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Book: The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice And Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Published June 2017 by Katherine Tegen Books|513 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Guide #1

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

I liked this one!  Gentleman’s Guide was my YA book club’s most recent pick, and even though I’ve seen it around, I never felt compelled to pick it up before.

It was a fun read, and something about the book made me think of My Lady Jane.  I think the humor and writing style is what reminded me of My Lady Jane.  And considering the length, it did go pretty fast.  I wasn’t the biggest fan of Monty, though I did like Felicity and Percy. I don’t know that I could pick a favorite between the two…but for some reason, I am leaning more towards Felicity.  I’m not sure if I like this book (or Felicity) enough that I’d pick up the next book (which is apparently going to focus on Felicity) but who knows.  Maybe I’ll pick it up one day.

I did like the author’s note at the end, where she talked more about the tour of Europe and some of the other things we see in the book, like race and epilepsy.  I did think that she only scratched the surface with some of the things we see, like how Percy’s treated because of his epilepsy and his race, and how Felicity wants more education, but can’t because it isn’t expected of women during the time period.

Honestly, I’m not really sure what else to say about Gentleman’s Guide.  It was fun and entertaining, and a light read, which is something you need sometimes.  Maybe I wasn’t in much of a reading mood when I read it, because I did have a stretch where I didn’t really want to pick up a book, or maybe it was just the book.  I can see why people love it, but I can also see why people might not.

3 stars.  I really wish I had more to say about Gentleman’s Guide, but I don’t.  It was enjoyable, and while I wasn’t a fan of Monty, I did like Felicity and Percy.

Book Review: Brazen by Katherine Longshore

Book: Brazen by Katherine Longshore

Published June 2014 by Viking Books For Young Readers|524 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Royal Circle

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Mary Howard has always lived in the shadow of her powerful family. But when she’s married off to Henry Fitzroy, King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, she rockets into the Tudor court’s inner circle. Mary and “Fitz” join a tight clique of rebels who test the boundaries of court’s strict rules with their games, dares, and flirtations. The more Mary gets to know Fitz, the harder she falls for him, but is forbidden from seeing him alone. The rules of court were made to be pushed…but pushing them too far means certain death. Is true love worth dying for?

I liked this one!  I read a few of her books a few years ago, and I was in the mood for historical fiction, and this one seemed like a good choice.

It did take me some time to get into it, and for some reason, I was confusing Mary Howard with Anne Boleyn’s sister for a lot of the book.  It didn’t help that a lot of the characters (people during that time period) had the same name. I did like that it was mentioned in the book during a conversation Mary has with a couple of other people at court.

And as much as I love the time period (for some reason, I really love Tudor England, and have for a long time), I felt like we scratched the surface of the drama that I thought we’d be getting.  There was some of the Tudor drama, but based on the summary, I thought we’d be getting a lot more of it.  I really thought we’d be getting more of the testing boundaries with games, dares and flirting.  Instead, it felt like a more boring version of what I thought I’d be reading.

I did want more of Henry Fitzroy, though.  I really did.  I know he’s Henry VIII’s illegitimate son and all, and I know just enough about Tudor England that I have a vague idea who he is.  He doesn’t pop up a lot in anything that I’ve read, so I was excited about this book because I thought he’d be a main character.  Please don’t expect that, because he was more of a side character.  Or maybe I just went in thinking he’d be more important to the story than he actually was.

Basically, Brazen wasn’t what I thought it would be, but it was still enjoyable and still fun to read.  I did feel bad for Mary, because Mary, and a lot of the women in her world, were just pawns and bargaining chips and a way for their fathers to get ahead.  At least, that usually how these sorts of stories go, and we see Mary struggling with what she should do.  There was something hopeful about the story (and Mary), which was nice to see.

It did start off slow, but it does start to pick up a little bit.  I think it does start off slow because we’re getting introduced to the world and what was going on, but I liked the time period and author enough to stick with it.  There is a hint of romance, and I do think any fans of historical fiction with a bit of romance will like it.

3 stars.  I liked it and it was an enjoyable read, but I didn’t love it.  It’s a case of expecting a different story than what I actually read.

Book Review: The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye

Book Review: The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye

Published May 2017 by Balzer + Bray|415 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: The Crown’s Game #2

Genre: YA Historical Fiction/YA Alternate History/YA Historical Fantasy

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.

I didn’t like The Crown’s Fate as much as I thought I would.  I wanted to like it more, but I just wasn’t as interested in this story as I was with The Crown’s Game.  I did end up skimming a good portion of it, but at the same time, I was really curious to see how things ended.

I had a harder time getting into this book than I did with The Crown’s Game.  Now that we have an imperial enchanter, I just wasn’t interested in what came after the events of the game.  It has some consequences, and while I did like seeing how Nikolai tried to return to the real world, but I also liked him less in this book.  He wasn’t the Nikolai we knew from the previous book, though I understand why he was much different in this one.

I didn’t really care about Vika or Pasha in this one, and it was a struggle to get through it.  Oddly enough, I initially tried the audio book but switched to print because I couldn’t stand the narration.  So that was out, but I was so determined to see this through, even though it didn’t have the same pull that The Crown’s Game did.

I think I would have been fine not reading it.  I mean, we do see the Imperial Enchanter in action, and it’s this alternate Russia where magic exists, and it’s a cool concept.  But The Crown’s Game worked pretty well as a stand-alone, and while we see more of that world, I don’t know that this book really added anything to it.

It didn’t really have the same direction the first book did, and a lot of the things I loved about the first book were gone in this one.  I just didn’t care about what happened to Russia or the fact that the crown is at stake.  I was just…bored.  While I was initially excited to see how things turned out, by the end, that excitement was long gone.

2 stars.  It was okay, and I think I would have been fine not reading this one.  Everything I liked about the first book wasn’t there, and I just didn’t care about the story as much.