Author: Mark Sullivan

Publisher: Lake Union


Synopsis: Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.

In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier—a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders.

Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret, his courage bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share.

Fans of All the Light We Cannot See, The Nightingale, and Unbroken will enjoy this riveting saga of history, suspense, and love.


Review: This book blew me away. I laughed, I swooned, I cried…a lot. Pino Lella’s story needs to be shared with the world, and author Sullivan told it beautifully. I couldn’t put the book down. I was there with Pino as he experienced the darkest hours of WW2. My heart raced as he trekked through snowstorms to help the Jews find sanctuary, it soared when he embraced the love of his life, it nearly beat out of my chest every time he drove General Leyers through Nazi checkpoints, and it broke as he witnessed the devastation of war.


This book is NOT for the faint of heart. The author captures the grey areas of war. It was a phenomenal read the twist at the end left me breathless.


Plot: 5/5

Pacing: 4/5

Escapism Factor: 5/5

Emotional Connection: 5/5

Character Development: 5/5


Warnings/Triggers: violence, language, genocide, and graphic scenes involving shootings, hangings, explosions, and sadistic acts. Veterans suffering from PTSD may find this book triggering.


Star Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Completed Read: 1/31/2021

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Author: Stephanie Garber

Publisher: Flatiron Books


Synopsis: A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win. After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name. The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more―and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister's. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about―maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever. Welcome, welcome to Caraval...the games have only just begun.


Review: I adored Caraval, but Legendary fell flat. The plot felt forced, and the characters failed to keep me engaged. I wanted to like Tella, unfortunately her naivete drove me crazy. Yes, she’s a young teen, yes, she’s lovesick over Dante, but I prefer strong female leads who don’t fall at men’s feet.


Scarlet’s POV in Caraval was much more enjoyable than her sister’s in Legendary. Speaking of Scarlett, her minor role in this book made me forget about her altogether. The author’s over the top descriptions pulled me out of the story. I love vivid details, but the purple prose did nothing to enhance the scenes. Most of the time, I giggled at the silly similes and metaphors.


Now, I will say this, my reading taste has matured over the years. This is probably why I didn’t enjoy this book. It’s catered to younger audiences.


On a positive note, Garber has created a magical world of deception. The characters are colorful and mysterious. The plot twist, though predictable, are fun and the cliffhanger leaves you curious about the next installment.


Plot: 3/5

Pacing: 4/5

Escapism Factor: 3/5

Emotional Connection: 3/5

Character Development: 3/5


Warnings/Triggers: N/A

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️


Completed Read: 1/31/2021

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Author: S.A. Chakraborty

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Synopsis: Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad—and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.

Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of a devastating battle, Nahri must forge a new path for herself. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her family—and one misstep will doom her tribe..

Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the marid—the unpredictable water spirits—have gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.

And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad’s towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.

Review:

As an author, I’m constantly searching for books that help elevate my writing. S.A. Chakraborty’s series is a blessing. Words can’t express my love for the Daevabad trilogy.

I devoured The Kingdom of Copper. It’s the perfect sequel to The City of Brass. I feared the author would leave out one of my favorite characters in this installment, but thankfully he made an appearance sooner than later. I refuse to give any spoilers in this review. The twists and turns blew my mind.

The award for MVP goes to Ali. His growth amazed me. Nahri stayed strong and Dara…oh, Dara. I’m hoping for a story of redemption in book three.

The author has the magical ability of making her readers develop love/hate relationships with her characters. I despised a certain royal only to find myself cheering for him in the end. Go figure. I definitely recommend this series to those who enjoy epic fantasy. This is not an easy read. The world building alone can leave your head spinning.

Plot: 5/5

Pacing: 4/5

Escapism Factor: 5/5

Emotional Connection: 5/5

Character Development: 5/5

Readers: for those who love epic fantasy, complex reads, Middle Eastern culture, and stories of betrayal

Writers: a brilliant case study for those writing epic fantasy, tension, combative scenes, dialogue, and plot twists

Warnings/Triggers: adult language, violence

Star Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Completed Read: 1/12/2021

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