Posts Tagged: Historical

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Read It So You Can Read the Sequel: Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway

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Read It So You Can Read the Sequel: Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway
Dark of the West
Joanna Hathaway
Series: Glass Alliance #1
Genre: Historical, YA
Publication date: February 5th, 2019
by Tor Teen

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He was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner's Cursein Joanna Hathaway's Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.
-A copy was provided by Tor Teen for review-

I think it was the comp to The Winner’s Curse that drew me to Dark of the West (which is funny because I still haven’t read that series) but I dove into this book with not many expectations. The only one I remember having was that Dark of the West was a fantasy but it became abundantly clear very early on that it was not. The main reason I bring this up is because it very much felt like false advertising. There are no fantastical elements to this book. In fact, calling it a historical novel would be way more accurate since it seems to draw inspiration from the World Wars of the early 20th century. A lot of the technology we have exists in this world too: planes, cars, guns, etc.

False advertising aside, Dark of the West is a good book. As someone who has been struggling with fantasy lately, the fact the book wasn’t a fantasy novel actually made it a lot easier for me to get into and enjoy. It is very character driven which made it a slow read but I liked getting to know the characters.

Aurelia and Athan come from vastly different worlds and much of the book is not about their romance. It accentuates the differences in their worlds. From their families, siblings, political systems and even beliefs (at least early on.) To be clear, this isn’t really an opposites attract situation because while they are different, they have their similarities. For example, they are both incredibly loyal and passionate. I love that the book spends so much highlighting their worlds aside from one another because it definitely makes their romance feel all the more real.

The fact that the book plays up on these differences is also especially helpful because it adds to our understanding of the war that is brewing. That being said, because the book focuses so much on those things, we also get no context for what the fuck the war is actually about besides everyone lying their ass off. We hear about the Nahir rebels on several occasions and yet I could not find any one instance in the novel that states what it is they want aside from vague mentions of freedom. Freedom from what????? I did actually do a proper search too and came up with nothing.

Moreover, Dark of the West feels more like one incredibly long prologue with the actually prologue having more tension than most of the book. This is partly why to me, Dark of the West is merely a good book rather than a great one because its entire purpose seems to be laying the foundation for a sequel. There is stuff happening but most of the action we get happens in the last 15% of the novel with the other 85% being spend building characters and the world (sort of since we still don’t know anything about the war.)

If laying the foundation for all the goodness of the sequel was truly the author’s intention than she has been very successful because I am extremely excited to read the sequel. ESPECIALLY BECAUSE that intense prologue seems to be a snippet from a sequel.

Basically, I think this book is not so much exciting on its own as it is within the context of what could happen in the future. So you should read Dark of the West, but you should read it because it’s the only way we’ll all get to read what I can imagine will be a phenomenal sequel.

3 Stars
3 Hot Espressos

Dear Great-Grandma

Dear Great-Grandma

Posted by on 03/20/2018 • 3 Comments

Dear Great-Grandma,

I am not the best at writing letters that are also going to be on display but you know, I am trying. I recently read The Night Diary, which is currently the only book I am calling a favorite of this year and I’ve read 86 books so far. Reading it has made me incredibly pensive because the entire time I was reading it, I kept thinking that I was reading your and grandma’s story too. Sometimes its disheartening that something that impacted my family and 16 million other people so much isn’t really talked about. Everyone always talks about the liberation of India with pride or the end of a colonial rule but they always forget about the 14 million people who were displaced. The 14 million people…

A Fierce Adventure: The Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras

A Fierce Adventure: The Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras

Posted by on 03/05/2018 • 0 Comments

I am garbage for a good middle grade adventure so when The Mad Wolf’s Daughter was pitched to me, I was on board and wanted to gobble this book up. Good thing it wasn’t disappointing, amirite?

Here is the thing, among the sea of commercial fiction that dominates Middle Grade books, The Mad Wolf’s Daughter doesn’t necessarily stand out but thats not really a good or bad thing? Familiar tropes and adventures are good things and just because The Mad Wolf’s Daughter isn’t necessarily //different// doesn’t mean that it is a bad book or a mediocre book?

The thing about tropes (at least in my opinion) is that it all comes down to how the author uses them to enhance their story. You’re never going to read a book that is free of tropes…

E.K. Johnston’s Favorite Victorian Woman

E.K. Johnston’s Favorite Victorian Woman

Posted by on 10/13/2017 • 2 Comments

Hey everyone! Welcome to Xpresso Reads’ blog tour stop for The Inevitable Victorian Thing! E.K. Johnston won my heart over last year with Exit, Pursued by a Bear and I’ve been a fan ever since! While I haven’t had the chance to read The Inevitable Victorian Thing yet, I am sure it will be amazing and I am sure I will be a FAN. Anyway! Today! We have the lovely E.K. Johnston over on the blog talking about her favorite victorian woman.

E.K. Johnston’s Favorite Victorian Woman

Okay, so my serious answer to this question is Ada Lovelace for a bunch of reasons that you can look up on tumblr.

But my actual answer is a little different.

The year is 1886. At Oxford, four students and one woman (who is a student in…

Playlist for The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman + Giveaway

Playlist for The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman + Giveaway

Posted by on 02/02/2017 • 6 Comments

Hello and welcome to Xpresso Reads’ tour stop for The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman AKA the book I created my goodreads OTP OF PAIN shelf for. I thoroughly enjoyed The Dark Days Club last year but fell head over heels for The Dark Days Pact. In this book, Goodman really upped the stakes and basically put me through hell :’) It was great. Basically, you need this series on your TBR and to help you do that, I put together a playlist that ~I~ think describes the book/series.

THE PLAYLIST

Feat angsty music + some songs that might not be the best fit BUT SINCE I AM MAKING THE PLAYLIST, you’re stuck with them 😉 Also making playlists is H.A.R.D. If you click on the little thing on…

Review: Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel

Review: Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel

Posted by on 09/30/2016 • 2 Comments

The Airborn series was one of my favs ever growing up so I was immediately like YAAS to Every Hidden Thing but then I saw it was pitched as Indiana Jones meets Romeo & Juliet and was like double YAAS. WHO CAN RESIST THE COMBO of a childhood fav author and INDIANA JONES MEETS ROMEO & JULIET? Not me obviously. Anyway, I loved this book and that is all you’re ever going to need to know in your life. BYE NOW. See you again someday.

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*comes back reluctantly to finish reviewing this book*

Every Hidden Thing is fucking amazing brain candy but just because it was brain candy does NOT mean it was easy to read. This book is set sometime in the 19th century (probably late 19th…

A Tyranny of Petticoats edited by Jessica Spotswood

A Tyranny of Petticoats edited by Jessica Spotswood

Posted by on 03/30/2016 • 5 Comments

I don’t usually read anthologies and I find it even harder to review them because there are so many stories and so many different feelings about the stories.

But, A Tyranny of Petticoats did say it was about badass girls and who doesn’t want to read stories about badass girls? If you don’t you have come to the wrong place so toodooloo. It was nice knowing you.

So, I read the stories. I didn’t love all of them yet here I am, reviewing the anthology as a whole. The thing is, whether or not I loved every single story is beside the point. What makes this anthology special is the diversity in it. I think historical fiction has a tendency to privilege white voices over other voices just because that is…

Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Posted by on 01/20/2016 • 9 Comments

Passenger AKA the much awaited, highly anticipated time travel romance. I had hoped it would be everything I wanted, I had hoped I would swoon and die because cuteness, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. Passenger was by no means a bad book, I just had a hard time relating to the character and getting behind the romance (which is kind of a big deal given that it is a time-travel romance.)

Etta is really my biggest problem with the book. It isn’t that she is fundamentally flawed, I just couldn’t get behind her as a character. Her privilege, growing up the way she did and in the century she did, is so blatant and her ignorance of it really bothered me. Being with Nicholas did make her realize that she was…