Tag Archives: ya historical fiction

Bravely by Maggie Stiefvater Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman responsible for the protection of her kingdom and family must find a way of changing her family’s ways and saving her world from utter destruction in author Maggie Stiefvater’s “Bravely”. 

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The Synopsis

Merida goes on an all-new, life-changing adventure in this original YA novel set several years after the close of Brave!

What if you had one year to save everything you loved?

ONE PRINCESS. Merida of DunBroch needs a change. She loves her family—jovial King Fergus, proper Queen Elinor, the mischievous triplets— and her peaceful kingdom. But she’s frustrated by its sluggishness; each day, the same. Merida longs for adventure, purpose, challenge – maybe even, someday, love.

TWO GODS. But the fiery Princess never expects her disquiet to manifest by way of Feradach, an uncanny supernatural being tasked with rooting out rot and stagnation, who appears in DunBroch on Christmas Eve with the intent to demolish the realm – and everyone within. Only the intervention of the Cailleach, an ancient entity of creation, gives Merida a shred of hope: convince her family to change within the year – or suffer the eternal consequences.

THREE VOYAGES. Under the watchful eyes of the gods, Merida leads a series of epic journeys to kingdoms near and far in an attempt to inspire revolution within her family. But in her efforts to save those she loves from ruin, has Merida lost sight of the Clan member grown most stagnant of all – herself?

FOUR SEASONS TO SAVE DUNBROCH – OR SEE IT DESTROYED, FOREVER. 

The Review

This was a great read. The author excelled at continuously building an atmosphere and tone that reflected both the magic and historic nature of the narrative. The world-building was excellent here, as the author built upon the storied setting of Castle Dunbroch and the kingdom that Disney established in the film Brave and managed to craft enough new narrative to make the world feel even bigger and more alive. 

The mythos, history, and imagery are all that really drove this narrative forward and elevated the characters to the heights that they reached. The way Scottish mythology and mythological figures played into the story, as well as the emotional storyline that was brought to life through Merida and her family, made for a brilliant story overall. Yet despite instances of magical action and adventure featuring ancient gods and mythological figures, the real emphasis on history that this story brought to life allowed for a really well-balanced novel that kept readers invested in this world.

The Verdict

Rich in world-building, heartfelt character growth, and entertaining mythology, author Maggie Stiefvater’s “Bravely” is a must-read YA Historical Fiction and Fantasy novel of 2022. The deep dive into Scottish mythology and history blended so well with the established Disney storylines and characters that Brave introduced, and yet the author’s unique twist on the character’s new story and the atmospheric world that the author brought to life through imagery and tone made this one of the year’s best YA reads. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

New York Times bestselling author of The Shiver Trilogy, The Raven Cycle, and The Scorpio Races. Artist. Driver of things with wheels. Avid reader.

Maggie Stiefvater plays several musical instruments (most infamously, the bagpipes) and makes art in several media (most generally, colored pencils).

She lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband, their two children, many dogs, a bunch of fainting goats, and a mating pair of growly tuner cars.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09D8RJX93/ref=x_gr_w_glide_sin?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F58854953-bravely&tag=x_gr_w_glide_sin-20

Feather and Flame (The Queen’s Council Book 2) by Livia Blackburne Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A renowned war hero who saved Imperial China and became an icon for women warriors everywhere finds herself in new circumstances when she is crowned the heir to the throne of China and must contend with threats within and outside of her new kingdom in author Livia Blackburne’s “Feather and Flame”, the second book in the Queen’s Council series.

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The Synopsis

She brought honor on the battlefield. Now comes a new kind of war…

The war is over. Now a renowned hero, Mulan spends her days in her home village, training a militia of female warriors. The peace is a welcome one, and she knows it must be protected.

When Shang arrives with an invitation to the Imperial City, Mulan’s relatively peaceful life is upended once more. The aging emperor decrees that Mulan will be his heir to the throne. Such unimagined power and responsibility terrifies her, but who can say no to the Emperor?

As Mulan ascends into the halls of power, it becomes clear that not everyone is on her side. Her ministers undermine her, and the Huns sense a weakness in the throne. When hints of treachery appear even amongst those she considers friends, Mulan has no idea whom she can trust.

But the Queen’s Council helps Mulan uncover her true destiny. With renewed strength and the wisdom of those that came before her, Mulan will own her power, save her country, and prove once again that, crown or helmet, she was always meant to lead. This fierce reimagining of the girl who became a warrior blends fairy-tale lore and real history with a Disney twist.

The Review

As a longtime fan of mythology, history, and Disney, I was absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to review another great book from Disney Hyperion. The author did such a beautiful job of bringing ancient China to life in such a vivid and magical way. The balance the author struck between the Disney story we know and the historical accuracy and mythology of the novel’s backstory within this series was superb. The setting of the narrative felt so alive and the author’s style of writing took on a very cinematic tone, allowing readers to read and bring to life this adventure in their mind’s eye. 

The character development was outstanding in this novel. The way the author delved into Mulan as a person when confronted with her new reality was amazing, as was her relationship with Shang. Not only did the narrative do a great job of tackling the issues of equality amongst the women warriors and showing the balance one must find between showing strength and courage in the face of adversity without losing who they are inside, but the author also did an amazing job of showing politics and power struggles within ancient China, giving Mulan’s story more depth and intrigue this time around.

The Verdict

Action-packed, entertaining, and brilliant written, author Livia Blackburne’s “Feather and Flame” is a must-read historical fiction/fantasy book and the next great addition to the Queen’s Council series. A fantastic series of twists and turns in Mulan’s saga and her battle both with another invading Hun army and her own political rivals will keep readers hanging on the author’s every word. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of this amazing read on June 14th, 2022, or preorder your copy today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Livia Blackburne wrote her first novel while researching the neuroscience of reading at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since then, she’s switched to full-time writing, which also involves getting into people’s heads but without the help of a 3 Tesla MRI scanner.

She is also the author of MIDNIGHT THIEF (an Indies Introduce New Voices selection), DAUGHTER OF DUSK, and ROSEMARKED (an Amazon best book of the month and YALSA Teens Top Ten Nominee).

Visit her online at www.liviablackburne.com

Before We Disappear by Shaun David Hutchinson Audiobook Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young man must decide between the woman who has given him a home and the young man who has stolen his heart in turn of the 19th century America in author Shaun David Hutchinson’s “Before We Disappear”. 

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The Synopsis

It’s a new star-crossed romance about the magic of first love from the acclaimed author of We Are the Ants and Brave Face, Shaun David Hutchinson.

Jack Nevin’s clever trickery and moral flexibility make him the perfect assistant to the Enchantress, one of the most well-known stage magicians in turn-of-the-nineteenth-century Europe. Without Jack’s steady supply of stolen tricks, the Enchantress’s fame would have burned out long ago.

But when Jack’s thievery catches up to them, they’re forced to flee to America to find their fortune. Luckily, the Enchantress is able to arrange a set of sold-out shows at Seattle’s Alaska–Yukon–Pacific World’s Fair Exposition. She’s convinced they’re going to rich and famous until a new magician arrives on the scene. Performing tricks that defy the imagination, Laszlo’s show overshadows the Enchantress, leaving Jack no choice but to hunt for the secrets to his otherworldly illusions. But what Jack uncovers isn’t at all what he expected.

Behind Laszlo’s tricks is Wilhelm—a boy that can seemingly perform real magic. Jack and Wilhelm have an instant connection, and as the rivalry between the Enchantress and Laszlo grows, so too does Jack and Wilhelm’s affection. But can Jack choose between the woman who gave him a life and the boy who is offering him everything?

It’s a stirring tale about the magic of love from award-winning author Shaun David Hutchinson.

The Review

This was such a magical read (pun intended)! The author does an incredible job of crafting an alternate history setting with a magical realism story element while still incorporating the hardships and struggles of not only that era but the struggles of the youth in the LGBTQ community. The theme of family and finding one’s place in the world was felt in every chapter of this book, and really captured the heart of the narrative.

The characters were so engaging to read. The alternating perspective of protagonists Jack and Willhelm were so interesting to see unfold, as they came from very different paths in life by the time they found one another, and yet found a sense of belonging and home within one another’s lives. The background of magic, both real and more illusion-based, was fascinating to see unfold, especially considering the era of the narrative.

The Verdict

A brilliant, heartfelt, and engaging YA Magical and LGBTQ Historical Fiction, author Shaun David Hutchinson’s “Before We Disappear” is a must-read (and listen) book of 2021.  The perfect book to grab as we head into the fall season, the balance of history, magic, and LGBTQ-forward romance was amazing to see in this novel, and I look forward to reading more of this amazing author’s work. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Born in West Palm Beach, Florida, Shaun grew up twenty minutes north in the town of Jupiter. He has three brothers (two older, one younger) and a half-sister.

Shaun attended Jupiter High School before going on to Florida Atlantic University, where he studied medieval and renaissance literature. Shaun has also studied emergency medicine, gaining his EMT certification, and firefighting. Ultimately, he ended up working with computers designing databases, building apps, and coding websites before publishing his first book, The Deathday Letter.

Shaun currently lives in Seattle, WA and works full time as an author. In his free time, he enjoys baking, running, designing 3D environments for virtual reality, and reading.

http://shaundavidhutchinson.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Before-We-Disappear/dp/B08TSPMKS2/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1632448823&sr=8-1

Curse of the Specter Queen by Jenny Elder Moke Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman living a quiet life in a bookshop after the loss of her father finds her world turned upside down after receiving a mysterious diary that leads her in a race to stop an ancient order hellbent on bringing a war unlike anyone has ever seen in author Jenny Elder Moke’s “Curse of the Specter Queen”. 

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The Synopsis

MAY THE HAZEL BRING YOU WISDOM AND THE ASPEN GUIDE AND PROTECT YOU…

Samantha Knox put away her childish fantasies of archaeological adventure the day her father didn’t return home from the Great War, retreating to the safety of the antique bookshop where she works. But when a mysterious package arrives with a damaged diary inside, Sam’s peaceful life is obliterated. Ruthless men intent on reclaiming the diary are after Sam, setting her and her best friend, along with her childhood crush, on a high-stakes adventure that lands them in the green hills outside Dublin, Ireland. Here they discover an ancient order with a dark purpose – to perform an occult ritual that will raise the Specter Queen, the Celtic goddess of vengeance and death, to bring about a war unlike any the world has ever seen. To stop them, Sam must solve a deviously complex cipher – one that will lead her on a treasure hunt to discover the ancient relic at the heart of the ritual: a bowl carved from the tree of life. Will she find the bowl and stop the curse of the Specter Queen, or will the ancient order bring about the end of the world?

Indiana Jones gets a refresh with this female-driven mystery adventure, set in the 1920s, full of ciphers, ancient relics, and heart-stopping action – the first in a brand-new series!

The Review

A thrilling adventure that blends the action and historical aspects of Indiana Jones with the emotional storytelling of the YA genre, this book excels at highlighting the historical fiction aspect that has made archeology the perfect pairing with action and adventure. As a longtime fan of history and culture, I loved the exploration of Ireland, namely things like the Druids and Morrigan. The blend of history with fantasy and sci-fi elements made this story feel both classic and fresh all at once.

The character development in this book is the heart of this story. From protagonist, Sam and her evolution from an emotionally scarred bookkeeper into a strong and resilient hero was fantastic to see unfold. While her relationships with her allies and against her enemies were powerful in so many ways, it was her friendship with Joana that really stood out to me. The contrast in these characters and their personalities and the evolution they undergo both emotionally and physically solidified the stakes of the novel and the hope their friendship brought Sam in order to face these threats head-on.

The Verdict

An adventurous, entertaining, and hauntingly-good action and historical fiction YA read, author Jenny Elder Moke’s “Curse of the Specter Queen” is a must-read book of 2021. The perfect blend of action, history, and fantasy, the story itself instantly draws readers in, and the characters are both relatable and inspiring to see tackle this narrative, making this the perfect summer YA read. Be sure to pick up your own copies today!

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About the Author

Jenny Elder Moke writes young adult fiction in an attempt to recapture the shining infinity of youth. When she is not writing, she’s gathering story ideas from her daily adventures with her two irredeemable rapscallions and honing her ninja skills as a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

Her debut novel, HOOD, about the daughter of Robin Hood and Maid Marien, will release from Disney/Hyperion in Spring 2020.

https://jennyeldermoke.com/

https://www.bookbub.com/books/curse-of-the-specter-queen-volume-1-novel-by-jenny-elder-moke

Best Books Of 2019

Hello everyone! This is Author Anthony Avina, and today I am here to share with you all the top reads of 2019 on my website. I’ve reviewed over 160 books this year, and as we close out not only 2019 but the decade, I thought it appropriate as we head into 2020 to look back on 2019 and see what were the top books of the year. So without further adieu, here are my top picks of 2019! 


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Best YA Romance: Again, but Better by Christine Riccio 

A beautiful story from emerging author Christine Riccio about the choices we make in life, and what we would do if we could go back and change things. A story of following your dreams, living the life you want and finding love, and how hard a person is willing to fight to hold onto that dream and that love. 


Best YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy: Nexus (The Androma Sage #2) by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings

This exciting concluding chapter to the Androma Saga duology was a whirlwind sci-fi adventure in the YA genre. Authors Lindsay Cummings and Sasha Alsberg did a wonderful job closing this story out, creating a universe under the forced rule of a pair of siblings that seek control, but as a young outlaw turned hero seeks to save her makeshift family and stop this threat, the siblings find they are more pawns than true rulers in this quest, and an even greater threat is set to emerge on the galaxy. A must read sci-fi adventure! 


Best Fantasy: The Second Life of Eddie Coyne by Louis K Lowy

A brilliant fantasy driven narrative from author Louis K Lowy, which showcases the downfall of a father and husband and the journey he takes to find the true meaning of life and a life well lived. Finding what matters most in life and holding onto it as the protagonist struggles to find their way back home again, this is a fantastic read for 2019. 


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Best Mystery/Crime: A Shattered Lens: A Detective Preach Everson Novel by Layton Green

If you are looking for a great murder/mystery series to sink your teeth into, then the Detective Preach Everson series is for you. Author Layton Green’s second novel is a masterpiece of the genre, expertly crafting a murder mystery that pushes the protagonist to their limit both professionally and personally. This book serves as both the perfect continuation of the series and a great book for newcomers to enjoy as well.


Best Comic Book/Graphic Novel: Spider-Geddon by Christos Gage

While there were many great comic books in 2019, and many that I still need to read, out of all the comics I read that were published this year, my all time favorite had to be Spider-Geddon. A great sequel to the epic Spider-Verse storyline, the return of the Inheritors and the imminent threat they pose to the Spider-heroes of the Marvel Multiverse make this a thrilling read. Spider-Man is an essential hero to the larger Marvel Universe, and the comic book industry as a whole, and so exploring not only his story but the story of several other spider heroes in the multiverse is always a thrill. Add the terrifying and powerful threat of the Inheritors to the mix, and this storyline makes for a wonderful read. 


Best Contemporary Romance/Fiction: If Only by Melanie Murphy 

One of my all time favorite reads of 2019, Melanie Murphy’s debut fiction novel was a brilliant novel. The characters were engaging, the fantasy element of seeing various lives if the protagonist had made different choices was a great addition to the plot and yet it didn’t overpower the overall theme and romance of the story whatsoever. Its a story many people our age can identify with and the author’s voice and tone in the novel is entertaining, engaging and refreshing to read, making this a must read of 2019. 


Best Dystopian Thriller: A Single Light (The Line Between #2) by Tosca Lee

A great ending to another brilliant duology, author Tosca Lee has created a wonderful dystopian thriller that showcases the continued struggle for survival in the face of a massive breakout. Months after surviving the events of book one, the protagonists must fight for survival in a crumbling society, and as secrets threaten to tear them apart, they must find that which makes life worth living in the face of great danger once more. A must read novel of 2019!


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Best Science Fiction: Hybrid by Rebecca Henry

My all time favorite sci-fi read of 2019, my good friend author Rebecca Henry has created a fantastic story that delves into the best aspects of the sci-fi genre. Secret government operations, powerful aliens who have influenced society, time and space travel and so much more. It’s a sci-fi fans dream read and I highly recommend reading my full review to get a sense of this amazing novel. 


Best YA Historical Fiction: The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young

If you are a fan of History’s Vikings or the legends of Norse Mythology mixed with historical settings then you will absolutely love Adrienne Young’s “The Girl The Sea Gave Back”. The novel is a sequel of sorts to “Sky in the Deep”, and expertly crafts a story of a young girl considered an outcast her entire life and burdened by knowledge of fate, and a young man striving to make a better life for his people years after the end of a decades long war. Its a great way of continuing the story of the original novel while focusing on new characters and a new period of time in this wonderful world the author has created. 


Best Mystery Crime Thriller: The Sixth Wicked Child (4MK Thriller #3) by J.D. Barker

The exciting final chapter in one of the best crime thrillers of the decade, author J.D. Barker’s “The Sixth Wicked Child” is the brilliant concluding story in the 4MK Trilogy. The shocking game of cat and mouse between the protagonist and 4MK is taken to new heights in this novel, as readers are forced to examine whether or not the series protagonist is the hero they’ve been led to believe, or will he turn out to be the villain all along? A twisted tale that pushes everyone to their limit, this was a phenomenal read and one of the top books of 2019 for me personally.


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Best Nonfiction: Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley by Carol Es

Last but certainly not least is author Carol Es’s book “Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley”. A heartbreaking and emotional journey, this non-fiction read was one of the best of 2019, and took readers through the author’s life as well as through the harrowing journey of being caught in the midst of a cult. It’s a gritty and realistic novel that will catch the reader off guard at times, but is well worth the read. Highly recommend!