Review: “Romanov” by Nadine Brandes

Romanov (Nadine Brandes)

Title: Romanov
Author: Nadine Brandes
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Imprint: Thomas Nelson
Publisher: HarperCollins Christian Publishing
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Get it: PublisherIndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion.

A YA historical fiction with a magical spin, Nadine Brandes’ new work re-imagines the story of the youngest daughter of the family Romanov.

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 survival 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’s never dabbled in magic before, but it doesn’t frighten her as much as her growing attraction for Zash. She liks 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.

I didn’t know what to expect when I started on this book. Growing up on Disney’s Anastasia, I’ve long been fascinated with the unfortunate young Grand Duchess’ story. The thought of her escaping and surviving her family’s fate was a wishful thought, and I guess that was what I was hoping to read about.

Nadine Brandes, however, had other plans.

Romanov puts a magical spin to Anastasia’s re-imagined story. With spell masters hunted by Bolsheviks keenly intent on bringing down the Russian monarchy, this book was an interesting one that mixes fact with fiction. Brandes did an excellent job balancing history and finding just the right parts of it that she could stretch to fit the story she wanted to tell.

Research, of course, was key.Romanov quote #1Brandes did a lot of reading and digging to set a steady base for this story to stand on. This was most prominent in the first half of the story where details of the Romanov family’s lives were detailed and narrated. Some of the facts included in the story I already knew about from reading books and documentaries, but others were new to me. I didn’t know that Anastasia, or just Nastya to her family, was a mischievous girl. She loved pulling pranks on just about everyone and was even called shvibzik or imp in Russian. It was definitely a nice bonus learning more about the family and the way the author dropped the historical gems she found in her research brought them to life for me, made them feel more human than the history books could and would ever do. If you’re a history geek like me, you should definitely read Nadine’s author’s note at the end of the book. In it, she talks about what’s true and what parts of the story she played with to make this book.Romanov quote #2I loved Nastya and Alexei. Maria, too. Zash, meanwhile, grew on me as I continued reading. For me, their characters were the most formed and the most entertaining. They made me laugh and giggle with their shenanigans, made my heart ache for them as they slowly lost hope and, definitely, made me go “Tsk, don’t do that. Stop” a number of times.
Nastya, however, has a special place in my heart. She was a bright and curious girl. She loves her family and would do anything for them. I felt for her. Having been betrayed by the person you were starting to fall in love with and watching your whole family and the most loyal of your staff murdered is enough to crush anyone. But Nastya, though weighed with pain and grief, had to do what she can to help herself and Alexei escape and survive. It was her determination, not the powerful spells, that made her beat the odds set against her in the end.Romanov quote #3I loved most of Nadine Brandes’ additions and changes as they lent Nastya’s story more color. However, there were still a few things that, while I didn’t outright hated, felt unnecessary to me. Zash was an interesting character by himself with his own motives and different background and personality that sets him apart from the Romanovs. However, his and Nastya’s romance felt forced. In all honesty, these two were more pushed together rather than having chosen each other on their own accord. In all honesty, I would have been happy enough with them being friends. Their relationship felt unnatural to me.

Overall, Romanov was a wonderful re-imagining of history. Magical and intriguing, this story has family at its core. Fans of Nadine Brandes’ other YA historical fantasy Fawkes will definitely go heart eyes for this book. YA historical fiction lovers will find a lot to love in this one as well.Author Q&A (2)


Nadine BrandesNADINE BRANDES once spent four days as a sea cook in the name of book research. She’s the author of Fawkes and of the award-winning The Out of Time series. Her inner fangirl perks up at the mention of soul-talk, Quidditch, bookstagram, and Oreos. When she’s not busy writing novels about bold living, she’s adventuring through Middle Earth or taste-testing a new chai. Nadine and her Auror husband are building a  Tiny House on wheels. Current mission: paint the world in shalom

Website | Twitter | FacebookFacebook | Instagram | Goodreads

First Line Fridays: “The Warrior Maiden” by Melanie Dickerson

First Line Fridays (feature photo)

First Line Fridays is a weekly feature hosted by Hording Books.

Happy Friday! I hope all of you are doing well. Today I’m going to be featuring the first couple of lines from a book I recently finished.

The Warrior Maiden - Melanie Dickerson

Galloping her horse past the big oak tree, Mulan pulled the bowstring with one eye closed and sent the arrow flying toward the target. It struck the tree but missed the knothole.

“Don’t shoot behind you!” Andrei flailed his skinny arms. “Keep the target in front of you.” Shooting from a moving horse was much more difficult than when standing still, but she was improving. At least she’d escaped, for the moment, the cooking and cleaning chores. And practicing war skills kept her from facing the uncertain future – and her mother’s grief. Her stomach churned.


I enjoyed this Mulan re-telling and how the author incorporated it into her Hagenheim series. This is my first Melanie Dickerson book and I must admit it piqued my interest, makes me want to check out the rest of the books from this series.

The Warrior Maiden releases on February 5. I’m part of The Fantastic Flying Book Club‘s blog tour for this lovely book. Check out the blog schedule below and check out the rest of the participating book bloggers.

The Warrior Maiden blog tour banner

January 30th

January 31st

A Backwards Story – Review
Book Briefs – Review

February 1st

Nay’s Pink Bookshelf – Review + Favourite Quotes
Mythical Books – Review
Susan Heim on Writing – Promotional Post

February 2nd

Curiouser & Curiouser – Interview
Life at 17 – Review + Favourite Quotes
The Reading Corner for All – Review + Dream Cast + Playlist
808bookdr – Review + Favourite Quotes

February 3rd

The Book Raven – Review + Dream Cast + Favourite Quotes
Heidi Reads… – Review
Savings in Seconds – Review + Favourite Quotes
Confessions of a YA Reader – Promotional Post

February 4th

Fyrekatz Blog – Review
Hauntedbybook – Review + Favourite Quotes
100 Pages A Day – Review

February 5th

Oh Hey! Books. – Guest Post
In Between Book Pages – Review + Favourite Quotes
the Bibliophagist – Review + Favourite Quotes
🍂 🍂 🍂 🍂 🍂
Stay safe and keep yourselves healthy!



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Come and join in the fun. Visit Hoarding Books to see what other FLF bloggers has to share.

Review: “White as Silence, Red as Song” by Alessandro D’Avenia

36911793Title: White a Silence, Red as Song

Author: Alessandro D’Avenia

Translated by: Tabitha Sowden

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Publication Date: September 4, 2018

Rating: ⭐⭐

Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Books-a-Million | Powells

(ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley)

A teen-aged boy’s self-discovery amidst illness and death is the focus of this translated coming-of-age novel by Alessandro D’Avenia.

Leo is an ordinary sixteen-year-old: he loves hanging out with his friends, playing soccer, and zipping around on his motorbike. The time he has to spend at school is a drag, and his teachers are “a protected species that you hope will become extinct,” so when a new history and philosophy teacher arrives, Leo greets him with his usual antipathy. But this young man turns out to be different. His eyes sparkle when he talks, and he encourages his students to live passionately, and follow their dreams.

Leo now feels like a lion, as his name suggests, but there is still one thing that terrifies him: the color white. White is absence; everything related to deprivation and loss in his life is white. Red, on the other hand, is the color of love, passion and blood; red is the color of Beatrice’s hair. Leo’s dream is a girl named Beatrice, the prettiest in school. Beatrice is irresistible – one look from her is enough to make Leo forget about everything else.

There is, however, a female presence much closer to Leo, which he finds harder to see because she’s right under his nose: the ever-dependable and serene Silvia. When he discovers that Beatrice has leukemia and that her disease is related to the white that scares him so much, Leo is forced to search within himself, to bleed and to be reborn. In the process, he comes to understand that dreams must never die, and he finds the strength to believe in something bigger than himself.

I cannot tell you how eager I was for this book. It was dubbed as The Fault of Our Stars of Italy, and that alone got my attention. Add to that a very enticing blurb, and it won me over, so I requested it.

Sadly, White as Silence, Red as Song didn’t quite measure up to its potential.

The story follows and is told by 16-year old Leo. He’s witty and sarcastic: a typical teen-aged boy who, by all means, does typical teen-aged boy stuff – school, soccer, dare contests with his friend Niko, music. Reading from his perspective was a quart amusing, and annoying and just plain tiring for the rest of the way. Leo is really immature though he pretends to be all-knowing. He throws around these big words like “love” a lot when he doesn’t even understand what they mean. Given, he does grow a bit by the end of the book, but not by much.

Another thing that bothered me was Leo’s obsession with Beatrice. He claims to be in love with her, but the most interaction the two has shared were just smiles as they pass each other in school hallways. He talks about her all the time, and not to discount how strong his feelings were, but Leo’s obsession with Beatrice was strange bordering on creepy. There was this one scene that really made me stop reading for a while. Leo, who was also confined at the same hospital as Beatrice after a scooter accident, goes to visit the girl. He just stayed in Beatrice’s room even if the girl was sleeping, and, more, he caresses her face, then proceeds to tell the nurse who sees him in the girl’s room that he is Beatrice’s boyfriend.

I’m not sure if, somewhere along the way, things were lost in translation but the writing felt patchy and disjointed. It actually made this short book seem longer. I almost put it down a number of times.

I just have to make it clear that I haven’t read the original, which was in Italian, so my review only applies to the English translation. I really wanted to like this book. It had potential, but that’s just it, potential.


First Line Fridays: “White as Silence, Red as Song” by Alessandro D’ Avenia

First Line Fridays (feature photo)

First Line Fridays is a weekly feature hosted by Hording Books.

Hello! Happy Friday! Welcome to another edition of First Line Fridays. 

This week’s post is a translated book. Originally published in Italian, this book is being touted as Italy’s The Fault in Our Stars. That’s something! I loved TFiOS so when I saw this book in NetGalley I knew I just got to have it.

cover - White as Silence 9780785217060.jpg_1



Everything is a color. Every emotion is a color.

Silence is white – and I can’t stand white. It has no boundaries: a white elephant, a white flag, a white lie… In fact, white isn’t even a color. It is nothing like silence. A kind of nothing without words or music, Silent, alone.



I will be posting more about this book in the coming days. But for now, check out the other blog tour hosts reviews, features and other fun stuff. Here’s the is the blog tour schedule.


September 10th
Vicky Who Reads– Review
The Reading Corner for All– Review & Favorite Quotes

September 11th
Malanie Loves Fiction– Review

September 12th
Heidi Reads…– Spotlight
Wanderer in Neverland– Spotlight

September 13th
Sinfully Wicked Book Reviews– Review
Never Too Many To Read– Review

September 14th
booksonthebookshelf– Review
A Lovely Book Affair– Review
Rhythmicbooktrovert– Review

September 15th
Rambling of a Book Nerd– Review
Here’s to Happy Endings– Review

September 16th
Amy’s Booket List– Review
Comfort Books– Review
Confessions of a YA Reader– Spotlight

Thank you so much to Thomas Nelson for giving me a chance to read this book in advance, and to The Fantastic Flying Book Club for letting me be a part of this blog tour.

Addendum: (because I forgot to include it when I first posted this. I’m sorry! Totally my bad.)

I already have a winner for my Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen Giveaway

Congratulations to Michelle Stagg! I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did. It’s a really wonderful read.



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Come and join in the fun. Visit Hoarding Books to see what other FLF bloggers has to share.