Blog Tour Review: Jo & Laurie

Title: Jo & Laurie
Author: Margaret Stohl, Melissa de la Cruz
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 2, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Bestselling authors Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz bring us a romantic retelling of Little Women starring Jo March and her best friend, the boy next door, Theodore “Laurie” Laurence.

1869, Concord, Massachusetts: After the publication of her first novel, Jo March is shocked to discover her book of scribbles has become a bestseller, and her publisher and fans demand a sequel. While pressured into coming up with a story, she goes to New York with her dear friend Laurie for a week of inspiration—museums, operas, and even a once-in-a-lifetime reading by Charles Dickens himself!

But Laurie has romance on his mind, and despite her growing feelings, Jo’s desire to remain independent leads her to turn down his heartfelt marriage proposal and sends the poor boy off to college heartbroken. When Laurie returns to Concord with a sophisticated new girlfriend, will Jo finally communicate her true heart’s desire or lose the love of her life forever?

Review:

Jo March has just published Little Women. Since it has been so successful, her publisher wants her to write a sequel about the March sisters becoming wives. However, since her sisters haven’t gotten married and moved on in their lives, Jo doesn’t know how to continue the story. While she is struggling to write the continuation of the story, Jo has to deal with her family growing up and changing in ways she isn’t ready for.

This story combines the real life of Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, and Jo March, the main character of Little Women. Louisa based Little Women on her life with her sisters, with Jo being herself. I could see the influences of Little Women, yet there were anecdotes that seemed to come from real life. After reading this story, I’m interested in reading about Louisa May Alcott’s life.

As a reader and a writer, I found the storyline of Jo writing her book fascinating. She was pressured into writing something she wasn’t comfortable with because of the success of her first novel. She had to rewrite the story multiple times in a short period of time, which I imagine would be incredibly difficult. Jo had to keep rewriting it because her male editor wasn’t satisfied with her ending. It wasn’t until she was satisfied with her own life that she could finish the story.

I really loved this story!

Thank you G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy: A Graphic Novel: A Modern Retelling of Little Women by Rey Terciero, Bre Indigo

About the Authors:

Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for teens including The Au Pairs series, the Blue Bloods series, the Ashleys series, the Angels on Sunset Boulevard series and the semi-autobiographical novel Fresh off the Boat.

She has worked as a fashion and beauty editor and has written for many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, The San Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, Teen Vogue, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. She has also appeared as an expert on fashion, trends and fame for CNN, E! and FoxNews.

Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!).

She now divides her time between New York and Los Angeles, where she lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband and daughter

Margaret Stohl is a #1 New York Times bestselling nerd, world-builder, video game creator, comic book writer and festival founder.

As an award-winning young adult author, she has been published in fifty countries and thirty-two languages and has sold more than ten million books worldwide. Beautiful Creatures debuted as the Amazon #1 Teen book of the year; seven of Margaret’s books have reached bestseller lists around the world.

When not roaming the halls of Seattle game developer Bungie -where she oversees the creation of new global IPs -Margaret can often be seen at a Comicon or at one of the teen and youth book festivals she co-founded, YALLFEST (Charleston, SC) and YALLWEST (Santa Monica, CA), thelargest in the country. Wherever she goes, you can find out more about her (and invariably her cats) at @mstohl on twitter or margaret_stohl on instagram or margaret_stohl on snapchat or at mstohl.com

Blog Tour Schedule:

https://fantasticflyingbookclub.blogspot.com/2020/04/tour-schedule-jo-laurie-by-margaret.html

Have you read Jo & Laurie? What did you think of it?

Review: Sky in the Deep (Sky in the Deep #1)

Title: Sky in the Deep (Sky in the Deep #1)
Author: Adrienne Young
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

Review:

Eelyn is a warrior for her Aska community. She fights alongside her father in their rivalry against the Riki. When she is almost killed in a battle, she sees her dead brother among the enemies. Her father assures her that he couldn’t have been there, but when she meets her brother again on the battlefield, he takes her as a prisoner. Eelyn has to figure out how to get back to her father and how to deal with the betrayal of her brother.

This story had a Nordic setting. They were like a viking community. I’ve never read a book like this, but I learned about vikings in school, so I found it really interesting. I really liked that the women were considered warriors alongside the men in this community. In many stories set in ancient times, the women have to stay home while the men fight, leading the main female character to figure out a way to fight. However, Eelyn was able to focus on other issues, since she was already a warrior.

The story started out quite fast paced. The moments where Eelyn saw her brother on the battlefield to when she was captured happened very quickly. The story slowed down a bit once she got to her brother’s new community. However, I was pleased with the ending. I thought the next book in the series would be a continuation of this story, but it has a new plot. I’m looking forward to reading it because I loved this setting.

Thank you Wednesday Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Girl the Sea Gave Back (Sky in the Deep #2) by Adrienne Young

Other Books in the Series:

  • The Girl the Sea Gave Back

Have you read Sky in the Deep? What did you think of it?

Review: Romanov

Title: Romanov
Author: Nadine Brandes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

Review:

When her parents and sister were sent away from her home, Anastasia’s father, the Tsar, gave her the task of smuggling a special Russian doll with a hidden spell to their new hideaway. However, the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them and he knows that Anastasia has the secret magic. Her situation is further complicated by her sudden attraction to one of the soldiers who is guarding her family. Anastasia will only be able to use the spell when the moment is right, so she has to hang onto the doll until she can save her family.

I knew of the Romanov’s before reading this book, but I didn’t know the details of what happened to them. It was a tragic story. I kept looking up the details of the real Anastasia’s life while I was reading, to find out what was fact and what was fiction. This story follows the real history of what happened to the Romanov’s quite closely.

One part that is fictional is the fantasy aspect. Anastasia wasn’t the keeper of a special spell to save her family. However, the fantasy aspects serve to fill in a gap in Anastasia’s story. Her body wasn’t discovered with her family’s bodies. There were women over the years following their death who claimed to be Anastasia. That was a fascinating story to read about! I don’t want to give anything away, but this story attempts to give an alternate history for Anastasia Romanov to account for the reason her body wasn’t buried with her family.

This was an amazing historical fantasy story!

Thank you Thomas Nelson for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

My Lady Jane (The Lady Janies #1) by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Have you read Romanov? What did you think of it?

Review: The Paper Girl of Paris

Title: The Paper Girl of Paris
Author: Jordyn Taylor
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 26, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Now:

Sixteen-year-old Alice is spending the summer in Paris, but she isn’t there for pastries and walks along the Seine. When her grandmother passed away two months ago, she left Alice an apartment in France that no one knew existed. An apartment that has been locked for more than seventy years.

Alice is determined to find out why the apartment was abandoned and why her grandmother never once mentioned the family she left behind when she moved to America after World War II. With the help of Paul, a charming Parisian student, she sets out to uncover the truth. However, the more time she spends digging through the mysteries of the past, the more she realizes there are secrets in the present that her family is still refusing to talk about.

Then:

Sixteen-year-old Adalyn doesn’t recognize Paris anymore. Everywhere she looks, there are Nazis, and every day brings a new horror of life under the Occupation. When she meets Luc, the dashing and enigmatic leader of a resistance group, Adalyn feels she finally has a chance to fight back. But keeping up the appearance of being a much-admired socialite while working to undermine the Nazis is more complicated than she could have imagined. As the war goes on, Adalyn finds herself having to make more and more compromises—to her safety, to her reputation, and to her relationships with the people she loves the most.

Review:

Alice and her parents take a trip to Paris to visit the apartment that her grandmother left her in her will. The apartment was a surprise, because they didn’t know her grandmother had an apartment in Paris. They discover that the apartment has been preserved in the same state since the 1940s, and that her grandmother had an older sister named Adalyn. Alice is curious about her grandmother’s mysterious sister so she starts to translate her diary. However, when she finds a photo of Adalyn at a dinner with Nazis, she wonders if she wants to keep exploring this family history.

I loved this story! I’ve read stories that are similar to this one for adult readers, where a contemporary woman travels around the world to discover her family’s secrets from an important time in history. I’m so glad this one was for a young adult audience, because it will teach young people about things that happened in World War II.

The story followed two narratives, Alice’s point of view in 2020 and Adalyn in the 1940s. Though they were both sixteen, they had very different lives. Alice’s life was relatively safe, with her going around the city, researching Adalyn’s life. However, Adalyn was involved in dangerous relationships and espionage. It’s amazing to see how different their lives were between the different decades, though they were the same age and in the same place.

This story was fast paced, with romance and suspense. I couldn’t put this story down. Many chapters ended with a cliffhanger, and I had to keep reading. I was surprised at the ending. It didn’t end the way I thought it would, but I liked it.

This is a great historical fiction novel!

Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

They Went Left by Monica Hesse

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Have you read The Paper Girl of Paris? What did you think of it?

Review: The Kingdom of Back

Title: The Kingdom of Back
Author: Marie Lu
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Source: Owlcrate
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: March 3, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu comes a historical YA fantasy about a musical prodigy and the dangerous lengths she’ll go to make history remember her—perfect for fans of Susanna Clarke and The Hazel Wood.

Two siblings. Two brilliant talents. But only one Mozart. 

Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish—to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she’ll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in 18th century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age—her tyrannical father has made that much clear.

And as Nannerl’s hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true—but his help may cost her everything.

In her first work of historical fiction, #1 New York Timesbestselling author Marie Lu spins a lush, lyrically-told story of music, magic, and the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister.

Review:

Nannerl Mozart was the older sister of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. She was an excellent musician, but since she was a girl, she couldn’t write her own music or perform as a career, like her brother could. One day, she meets a mysterious stranger, Hyacinth, who promises to make her dream come true. If she helps Hyacinth regain his throne in the mysterious Kingdom of Back, he will make it possible for her to be a musician. However, this promise comes at a high price.

This story was based on a real history. Nannerl was the older sister of Mozart, and she was an excellent musician as a child. Since she was a girl, she wasn’t allowed to put her name on any compositions or perform past childhood. It’s scary to think about how many talented people weren’t allowed to practice their talent because of their gender, nationality, or race. I’m glad that Nannerl’s name is known now, but she could have made a contribution to the musical community if she was allowed to follow her dream.

I loved the way the fantasy was mixed into the historical narrative. The Kingdom of Back was like Narnia or Oz, because it was a magical place that the children could travel to through doorways and dreams. The Kingdom of Back is based on a story that Nannerl and Wolfgang made up. It was a great detail about their childhood that was expanded in this fantasy story.

I loved this historical fantasy novel!

What to read next:

The Mozart Girl by Barbara Nickel

The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising #1) by Kiersten White

Have you read The Kingdom of Back? What did you think of it?

Review: The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves #1)

Title: The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves #1)
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Wednesday Book
Source: Owlcrate
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: January 15, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.

It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.

Review:

In Paris in 1889, there are four family houses that run the city: House Kore, House Vanth, House Nyx, and the Fallen House. Only two are left standing, with House Vanth and the Fallen House having supposedly died out. Séverin knows he is the heir to House Vanth, even though he was denied that title years before. He wants to get his title back but it will take a lot of work. Him and his friends steal an artifact belonging to another House, but they get caught. They go on a mission to retrieve Séverin’s status, while also preventing their enemies from rising to power.

I loved the historical references in this book. There were some Greek mythology references within the structures of the houses. For example, they had roads named after the rivers in mythical Hades. In 1889, Paris had the Exposition Universelle, which unveiled the Eiffel Tower. Part of this story took place in the Paris Catacombs, which is a fascinating area of the city.

Though there was lots of glitz and glamour in the city, there was also a darkness as well. The exposition had a “human zoo,” called the “Negro Village,” which was exactly what it sounds like: people could go view other humans like they were animals in a zoo. This seems so absurd that it could be a highlight of an event, when it is completely offensive to treat people who look different from yourself like animals. This part of the expo didn’t play an important part in the novel, but it was mentioned. It shows the dark sides of history that aren’t usually talked about.

I love heist novels with a diverse cast, like this book. In other books, I’ve found that the action scenes can be confusing, because there is so much happening at once. This story was clear the whole time. It was very exciting at the end.

This is a great story! I’m excited for the next book in the series to come out in a couple of months.

What to read next:

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Grim Lovelies (Grim Lovelies #1) by Megan Shepherd

Other Books in the Series:

  • The Silvered Serpents

Have you read The Gilded Wolves? What did you think of it?

Review: The Mothers of Quality Street

Title: The Mothers of Quality Street
Author: Penny Thorpe
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: March 5, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

The ups and down of three plucky factory girls, set in Britain’s best loved wrapped chocolate factory.

The Quality Street Factory is fizzing with the news that the King and Queen and the two young princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret Rose, are going to visit the Mackintosh Factory where the country’s favourite wrapped chocolate is made. The factory floor is heady with excitement but plans are dealt a blow when a much loved staff member is the victim of a poisoning incident.

Everyone is under suspicion, which only adds to Reenie Calder’s woes, anxious that her new promotion has only made her stick out even more like a sore thumb. Can she and her friends, Mary and Diana, get their heads together and find the malicious troublemaker before something unthinkable happens?

Review:

The King is coming to visit the Quality Street factory. Everyone is excited about planning the event. They bring married women back to work, who lost their jobs when they got married, because they need more workers on the floor. A sudden scandal threatens to cancel their event when poisoned candy is found. They have to figure out how to make the workers happy, while also preparing to receive the King.

I loved the style of writing in this book. The first line was great: “The toffees for the window display had been carefully painted with strong poison.” I had never heard of candy being painted with poison, so this line hooked me right from the start. The poison was meant to deter rats from eating the candy, but the candies ended up in the wrong hands. Another great line was “She looked like a tart’s handbag turned inside out,” which described a new worker at the factory. These lines made the story so entertaining.

There was some great dramatic irony in this book. Dramatic irony is when the reader knows something that the characters don’t know yet. Right at the beginning the owner of the candy store paints the candies with poison, but then he doesn’t properly dispose of them, so a customer ends up buying them by accident. Throughout the first half of the book, we wait to see who will end up eating the poisoned chocolates, while the characters don’t even know they exist.

There were some other subplots as well, including ones about women returning to the work force after having children and the planning for the King’s visit. I found it so absurd to think that the women couldn’t return to their jobs just because they had gotten married or had children. It happened back then, in 1937, but it seems crazy to imagine today.

This is a great story! Make sure you have chocolates nearby while you read it!

What to read next:

The Quality Street Girls by Penny Thorpe

The Whispers of War by Julia Kelly

Other Books in the Series:

  • The Quality Street Girls

Have you read The Mothers of Quality Street? What did you think of it?