Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

Image result for kiersten white and i darkenAnd I Darken by Kiersten White (The Conqueror’s Saga #1)

Goodreads rating: 3.90

Pages: 475

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, LGBT, Romance

Date published: June 28th, 2016 (USA)

My rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads // Buy this book: Paperback & Hardcover

Synopsis

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

My review

I got and started this book when it came out, back in 2016, but eventually put it down and never picked it back up. Since I’ve been trying to finish the books I’ve started, I decided to resume my reading of And I Darken – and I was definitely not disappointed!

I must confess that, when I first started it, it didn’t really capture my attention, the story didn’t grab me – probably why I didn’t keep on reading. But this time, as soon as I picked it up, I really got into the story. I’ve never been a historical fiction fan, and that’s why I barely read the genre, but this is a great fantasy story with a historical setting. As you probably know from all the hype when it first came out, this story takes place in the 15th century, in and during the Ottoman Empire. Oh, and one of the main characters is based on Vlad the Impaler, which is so cool 🙌🏼

Our main characters, Lada and Radu, are siblings, and they’re from Wallachia, a place in Romania which is under the power of the Ottoman sultan. Their father is the prince of Wallachia, and they are Christian, unlike the Ottomans. One day, something goes wrong and their father basically sells them and leaves them to be raised by the Ottomans as a guarantee, a way to ensure that he won’t misbehave (knowing that his children will be killed if he does). Lada does not accept her fate, and she hates everything about the Ottomans, starting with Islam. Radu, however, is way less of a rebel, and is more accepting of his fate and the people around him, although they are very different and, essentially, his enemies.

Poor eunuchs. Though the chief eunuch said being castrated and sold was the only future his parents had been able to offer him, Radu did not think it was very kind. The chief eunuch was powerful, yes, in charge of the entire harem and privy to the inner workings of the empire, but what a sacrifice!

This is a story filled with political intrigue, as you can probably tell from the synopsis. I actually hate politics, so I never expected to like this kind of plot as much as I did, but it’s amazing!! I was at the edge of my seat in so many moments, I loved how the characters were constantly endangered. Well, I don’t like that they’re in danger, but you get what I mean 😄 Another great part of the plot is the rivalry between Christianity and Islam, which is, unfortunately, still a thing six centuries later.

The author focuses quite a bit on the life of the soldiers, the Janissaries, which I really liked. She focuses on the details from the way they trained to how they behaved amongst themselves and with other people, which shows that White did her research – or at least she was able to convince me that she had done her research 😄 Still regarding historical accuracy, although the book is written in English, the author points out the fact that not everyone in Edirne spoke the same language, and she mentions the switching between languages – depending on who is talking and whom they are talking to. Little details that I really appreciate 😋

The characters are all so great and HILARIOUS. I laughed so many times, everyone in this world is hysterical and I am so here for it! Most of them were absolutely brilliant, but they still made mistakes. I like badass characters, but it’s important that they’re realistic, otherwise, I can’t even relate to them. There are many strong women in the story who know what they want – and use the little-to-no power they have to get whatever it is that they want. That is rather inspiring, and I think it’s a great representation of women. Huma and Lada are, probably, some of the strongest females I have ever read about, I fucking love them ❤️🙌🏼

“I think of you like a sister,” he said. “Like a brilliant, violent, ocasionally terrifying sister that I would follow to the ends of the earth, in part because I respected her so much and in part because I feared what she would do to me if I refused.”

She nodded. “I would do awful things.”

Nicolae laughed. “The most awful.”

“And then I would steal your horse lover, to spite you.”

“Your cruelty knows no bounds.”

Speaking of representation, there are a few LGBT characters which, as you might guess, it not the best thing when you’re in Ottoman lands – or any land really, the discrimination is still present today so I can only imagine how bad it was 600 years ago 😬 Fortunately, fantasy series have been including more and more LGBT+ characters with time – which we all appreciate, don’t we? 😊🌈

Another thing I thought was very well done was Lada’s struggle as a woman growing up surrounded by men. She eventually gets her period and goes through puberty, but she doesn’t quite understand it all, as no one explains it to her. There’s also some sexual harassment, which pissed me off. It made mad and also very sorry for her – but she handles it like a boss, to be honest.

Lada did not know how much longer she could get away with stealing bedsheets. Radu had complained that his bed was stripped of everything but a single blanket. She had to sit with her back against the door to guard against discovery as she ripped his sheet into manageable pieces to staunch the flow.

Kiersten White was able to create the most genius love-triangle type of thing I have ever read. The romance in this is so freaking good, but so unusual and original. That’s definitely one of my favorite parts of the story! 😍

In conclusion, I need the second book NOW so that I can find out what happens next 😋 Maybe I’ll wait until the third book comes out in July so I can binge read them both 👌🏼

★★★★☆ 4.5/5 stars

Have you read this book? What about the other books in the series? Let me know in the comments! ♡

I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on And I Darken and if you’d like, check out my other book reviews!


Thank you so much for reading,
I’ll see you in my nextpost♡

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1922 by Stephen King | Book & Adaptation Review

1922 by Stephen King (first story in Full Dark, No Stars)

Goodreads rating: 3.84

Pages: 153

Genre: Adult, Horror, Mystery, Thriller, Historical Fiction

Date published: Nov 9th, 2010 (USA)

My rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads // Buy this book: Paperback

Sinopsis

A violence awakens inside a man when his wife proposes selling off the family homestead, setting in motion a grisly train of murder and madness.

My review

Trigger warnings: racism and sexism. Also murder, because it is Stephen King.

1922 was published in a short story collection called Full Dark, No Stars. It is rather long, one of the longest in the book.

The story begins with the narrator, Wilfred, telling us this is his confession. He committed a crime, with the help of his son, Henry, and the whole story consists of him telling us why and how he did it, and all the consequences that came from it. As the title suggests, it mostly takes place in 1922, but we also briefly see what happens from 1922 to 1930.

If there is something I love to see in books, it’s historical accuracy, and we definitely get that with this short story. King did a great job at portraying the 20’s. Firstly, there are old-fashioned words, such as ‘grippe’ (the flu). Secondly, there is racism. Lastly, we have sexism. I mean, it can’t get any more 1920’s than that, can it? 😀 (below are a couple of quotes to illustrate these)
Moreover, it is set in the Midwest (Nebraska), so we see a lot of what the rural life in the years leading up to the Great Depression was like, and how they were already struggling during the 20’s.

“You might find yourself going to high school with black niggers”

“Such a bitch!”

“‘Because most women are,’ I said. ‘It’s an ineradicable part of their natures'”

This was the first “book” I read by Stephen King, and I must say I am impressed with the story he created, as well as his [incredibly descriptive] writing. The things this man comes up with… I literally had nightmares because of this story last night, that’s how much it impacted me!

“I thought of tying the wrist off with elastics – of killing my left hand in an effort to save the rest of me – and even of amputating it with the hatchet we used to chop up kindling and behead the occasional chicken.”

Quite the image, huh? There is waaaay worse, but I didn’t want to include it because it would spoil the story for you.

The narrative in 1922 is very gripping – or at least it was for me. To give you an example, the narrator keeps mentioning things, but doesn’t explain them right away, and proceeds to say something like “I will tell you about that soon”. That definitely kept me interested, and wanting to finish the story so I could find out what the hell happened.
You might, however, find it a bit slow at first, but once it picks up, you’ll be hooked!


THE MOVIE

Warning: watching the trailer will spoil the short story, although you’d probably find out what happens within 2 or 3 pages of the story – he tells you right away.

IMDB page – 6.4/10 stars

Director: Zak Hilditch

Writers: Stephen King (novel), Zak Hilditch (screenplay)

Stars: Thomas Jane, Molly Parker, Dylan Schmid, and others

//

I have just finished watching the Netflix adaptation of 1922, and I must say I really liked it! I was a bit skeptical because of the format of the story. I was having trouble imagining a way for this to work and make sense as a movie, but they totally nailed it!

The main character was ON POINT, he was just like the Wilf from the original story, and had the strongest accent you could imagine 😀 The one character that wasn’t exactly like in the book was Henry. In the book, he seems much more shy and awkward, but in the movie he’s more outgoing.

Stephen King’s vivid and morbid descriptions were amazingly done, although some of them weren’t included in the movie (thank god, otherwise I probably wouldn’t be able to sleep, yet again).

Just as with the story, we also get the amazing historical setting in the movie. Best part? The cars and the clothes, for sure! 😀

Overall, I thought the movie was very faithful to the story and, therefore, a great adaptation. Original story aside, it’s an amazing thriller/horror movie, with quite a few jump scares and dramatically scary background music – just the way I like them!

Note: if dying or suffering animals are something that really upsets you, you might want to skip this one.

My rating: 7/10 stars


So that’s all for this special post dedicated to 1922! I really hope you enjoyed reading it. This is my first time reviewing a movie though, so if it’s utter crap, I deeply apologize 😀 I should figure out a structure for future movie reviews!

Have you read or seen 1922? What are your thoughts on it? Tell me in the comments below!!

Thank you so much for reading,
I’ll see you in my next post ♡

Review: Atonement by Ian McEwan

atonementAtonement by Ian McEwan

Goodreads rating: 3.88

Pages: 351

Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance

Date published: Feb 25th, 2003 (USA)

My rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads // Buy this book: Paperback & Hardback

Synopsis

On a hot summer day in 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives—together with her precocious literary gifts—brings about a crime that will change all their lives. As it follows that crime’s repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century, Atonement engages the reader on every conceivable level, with an ease and authority that mark it as a genuine masterpiece.

My review

Atonement is a required read for my Academic Writing class, and I am to write an essay on it. I expected it to just be another book I read for college and felt rather “meh” about. However, that is totally not the case – I really got wrapped up in the story, and it affected me in a way I was not expecting.

I’d like to start by saying that this review will be a mess, because I finished the book just about 15 minutes ago, and have been crying until now. As you can imagine, I have a lot of feelings.

As you can probably tell by the synopsis, this book focuses, at first, on misinterpretation. I think Atonement showed me – or reinforced the notion – that it is extremely important to have knowledge of every point of view, and that assuming is the worst thing you can do – especially in a situation like the one we see in Atonement. After Briony’s misinterpretation, she attempts to find atonement. Whether she reaches atonement or not could be a whole (long) essay in itself, so I won’t go into that.

One of the things I disliked about the book was how McEwan takes FOREVER to tell the story. It honestly felt like the book would never end. The first part especially was soooo slow. His writing is great, but it is so incredibly descriptive, and he literally describes EVERYTHING you could possibly describe in each scenario. It’s exhausting at times, but it is very good if you’re into good imagery. Speaking of imagery, I will have to give a trigger warning for rape (barely described at all, but it’s there) and, mostly, war, as the author focuses on it for a while. He also describes all sorts of injuries in British and French soldiers, so it’s definitely not a pleasant thing to read.

The three main characters in the story were pretty well-developed, but, as in many many other books, the other characters were just vaguely explored. It’s a shame, as I would have loved to read from the others’ perspectives for longer than just one chapter. Speaking of perspectives and characters, the main character, Briony, was terrible. I hate her with a passion, but since the whole book is about her actions and their repercussions, you have no other choice but to read from her perspective for a big percentage of the book – which was excruciating for me, as you can imagine.

To finish off, I don’t want to get too spoilery, so I will just say this: this ending absolutely WRECKED me. I can’t stop thinking about it, can’t stop crying about it, and I think I might hate my teacher a little for putting me through this pain. My heart can’t handle this!

★★★★☆ 4/5 stars


Have you read Atonement? What did you think about that ending? Let me know in the comments! ♡

In conclusion, I definitely recommend that you pick up Atonement, even if you’re not a big fan of historical fiction (which I am not myself). It is a story that is worth reading, and will definitely engage you! I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on Atonement and if you’d like, check out my other book reviews!


Thank you so much for reading,
I’ll see you in my next post ♡

Blog Tour: The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence by Alyssa Palombo

florence frame.png

The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence by Alyssa PalomboAlyssa Palombo_Credit Elizabeth Snyder Photography, LLC

Goodreads rating: 4.07

Pages: 309

Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance

Date published: April 25th, 2017 (USA)

Goodreads // Buy this book: Paperback

Synopsis

A girl as beautiful as Simonetta Cattaneo never wants for marriage proposals in 15th Century Italy, but she jumps at the chance to marry Marco Vespucci. Marco is young, handsome and well-educated. Not to mention he is one of the powerful Medici family’s favored circle.

Even before her marriage with Marco is set, Simonetta is swept up into Lorenzo and Giuliano de’ Medici’s glittering circle of politicians, poets, artists, and philosophers. The men of Florence―most notably the rakish Giuliano de’ Medici―become enthralled with her beauty. That she is educated and an ardent reader of poetry makes her more desirable and fashionable still. But it is her acquaintance with a young painter, Sandro Botticelli, which strikes her heart most. Botticelli immediately invites Simonetta, newly proclaimed the most beautiful woman in Florence, to pose for him. As Simonetta learns to navigate her marriage, her place in Florentine society, and the politics of beauty and desire, she and Botticelli develop a passionate intimacy, one that leads to her immortalization in his masterpiece, The Birth of Venus.

My Review

Very big thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! 

Firstly, I have to say I really liked this story, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t usually enjoy Historical Fiction!

I thought Alyssa Palombo did a great job of making you feel as if you were actually in Italy, living all of it through Simonetta’s eyes, who, by the way, is an amazing female protagonist. I would describe her as a very intelligent 15th-century feminist who was, unfortunately, only praised for her looks.

I loved the way she intertwined Botticelli and Simonetta’s lives together. We know it is fictional, but it still feels very real and plausible.

Her writing is quite gripping, so once I started, I had to keep going and know what would happen next! The historical aspects were pretty spot on as well, so I recommend this book to anyone who is into Italian history, culture, and art – namely Renaissance.

I also recommend observing The Birth of Venus before and after reading this book. You will have a different perspective on it and it is quite interesting to see the differences!

Overall this story has great, intricate characters, and is a very well-thought-out “retelling” of historical figures’ lives. An excellent Spring read, focused on art, friendship and love, featuring a female character way ahead of her time!

Rating

★★★☆☆ · 3/5 stars

Thank you so much for reading this review!

If you’re interested in more reviews, here is a list

See you in my next post ♡

vanessa