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

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

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

Review: “The Gilded Wolves” by Roshani Chokshi

The Gilded WolvesTitle: The Gilded Wolves
Series: The Gilded Wolves #1
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: Wednesday Books/Macmillan
Publication Date: January 15, 2019
Rating: ⭐⭐
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

goodreads-badge-add-plus-d700d4d3e3c0b346066731ac07b7fe47

ARC provided by the publisher as part of the PH Blog Tour hosted by The Royal Polar Bear Reads & Wanderer in Neverland.

A group of outcasts, mysterious, powerful relics, and a treasure hunt – Roshani Chokshi’s The Gilded Wolves takes readers on an adventure through the dark and dangerous side of Paris.

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

Have you ever delayed finishing a book? Deliberately read slower, stop after each chapter?

I have with The Gilded Wolves.

It’s so rare for me to intentionally delay finishing a book. Usually, I keep on turning the pages because I can’t wait to find out what happens next. Even for my most loved books, I just keep on turning until I get to the end. But, with The Gilded Wolves, it was different.

Readers will find a lot of things to love about this fresh new series. I will have to warn you, this review may easily turn into me just raving about how wonderful The Gilded Wolves was. So, to rein in my excitement and be as objective as I can I’ll try to list down all things I loved about this book and why, if you haven’t read it yet, you totally should!

  • Strong writing that lures you in.

The writing was so lush, you could almost taste it, feel it – both soft and romantic, sharp and cutting when and where it needed to. Roshani Chokshi created this dark, glamorous albeit dangerous magical world, and I just wanted to jump into the pages and spend some more time within it.

While the first part is loaded with information, it did not weigh down the story. It was necessary world-building, and if it weren’t put there, I think I would have been lost. I admit that it took me some time to fully grasp the rules of Forging, described in the book as a power of creation rivaled only by the work of God. Once I got my head wrapped around it though everything went down smoothly for me and I, once again, got lost inside Roshani’s world.

  • Historical facts that blend well with fiction

You know, I’m a history geek. I mean, how else would I explain the number of historical fiction books on my TBR? But the downside to this is that, like whenever anything medical is included in the story, I get a little bit picky. Creative license could only create so much leeway for you, and it is the author’s job to blend these two contrasting elements – fact and fiction – seamlessly.

Roshani does just that.

Yes, she took liberties here and there with dates and places (La Solidaridad was published in Barcelona & the Ilustrados were also there by 1889) but you know what got me? It was all still believable. Why? The rendering was natural, it just flowed.

I know some of you will say, but history doesn’t play a big role in the story. I’ll give you that, but it is where it was set and that influences the way characters move and act through their world. Also, if you decide to include a bit of history into your story, you might as well do it right.

This was an important element for me, and I’m very happy with what I got from this book. Plus, all those historical tidbits – the Exposition Universelle de 1889, the human zoos (sad and angering, but nevertheless true,) & all the other stuff Enrique throws in the whole length of the book – were simply delectable to this history geek.

  • Explores and challenges some really heavy topics

It’s may not be overtly stated, but, sprinkled throughout the pages of this book are some really important topics – gender identity and sexual orientation, racism, privilege, subjugation and colonialism. All of these were treated with utmost sensitivity and were challenged every time.

  • A diverse, fully-realized cast of characters

Now, I saved this for last because it is, I daresay, the best part of The Gilded Wolves. I fell in love with this band of misfits right from the very first page that by the time the book ended with that cliffhanger (!!!) I’m so into deep I swear I’ll adopt them if they ever come out of the pages.

Roshani Chokshi put together a group of characters from different backgrounds – all well-intentioned and flawed and so utterly human – but still find in themselves a family. It was so easy to love all of them, and good luck with picking favorites because you’ll find a little bit of yourself in each of these wonderful characters.

🍂 Séverin – The obvious leader of the pack. He’s bi-racial – an Algerian mother and French father – and it was implied in that this played a part in him being losing his title as heir of House Vanth. A rich hotelier, he gathered together his crew to help him reclaim his birthright. Sure it may have started like that, but he so obviously care for this little pack he’d made and will keep them safe for as long as he can.

🍂 Laila – Baker, the person behind sought-after L’Énigme – she’s the “mom” friend of the group. She came from India to France in search of a mysterious book that could hold the answers to her existence. With her ability to read objects just by touching them, she’s an invaluable member of the group. There’s also this thing between her and Séverin, though they are both, for reasons you’ll find out once you read the book, holding back.

🍂 Tristan – Séverin’s brother in all but blood. Tristan and Séverin grew up together being bounced from one foster family to another. He’s a softie, loves his pet tarantula Goliath maybe a little too much (we don’t mind) and, with his Forging affinity, is a master botanis. Tristan is also behind some of the group’s weapons, concocting stuff from the plants he cultivates.

🍂 Zofia – The engineer, Zofia’s Forging affinity allows her to bend any kind of metal to her will. She came to France from Poland, leaving her sister there, to study, but she was kicked out of university because of an accident. She’s hoping that, with this big mission Séverin sets them on, she’ll get enough money to get her sister to France and fund her education so she could study Medicine.

🍂 Hypnos – Patriarch of House Nyx, he was a friend of Séverin’s when they were younger, but drifted of when the latter’s claim to his own House was forfeited. He’s unashamedly queer, flirtatious, and has this big personality that just fills whatever room he is in. I was suspicious of him at the start of the book, but as I read more I felt that he sincerely wanted to have Séverin assert his claim so he could also be in the Council with him because, even if Hypnos is already a patriarch, he is still an outsider because of his heritage.

🍂 Enrique – As the resident historian, Enrique guides and helps solve puzzles for the group. I may sound biased, but Enrique has a special place in my heart. He’s funny, making jokes especially when the group is in a tensed situation, but, while he does try to lighten things for everyone, he also hides behind humor and sarcasm. But deep inside he’s just trying to look for his place in the world.

Filipino and Spanish, Enrique straddles the line between two race and culture. He has joined the Ilustrados, a group of Euro-educated Filipinos lobbying for reform for their Spanish-controlled motherland. He also submits articles to La Solidaridad. Still, he can’t break into the group’s inner circle.

“It wasn’t his intellect that made him unwanted.
It was his face.”

I’m a full-blooded Filipino, but this still hits home. It’s hard to see printed within the pages of a book, but we have to admit that even within our group there are divisions. We may or may not be aware, but we judge each other and consider one person superior over another just by the way they look, and that only creates even more discord and harm.

🍂 🍂 🍂 🍂 🍂

There, I’ve listed down the things I loved most about The Gilded Wolves. I’m sure I could find more things to love about this book once I finish reading again. Captivating writing, diverse and nuanced characters, thrilling adventures, this book has everything I want and more. Thinking that this is only the beginning of what promises to be an amazing series only excites me more to get my hands on TGW#2. I cannot recommend it enough (I’ll probably be pushing this book to people the whole of 2019.) Doesn’t matter if you like Fantasy or not, I think there’s something in this book for everyone.

🍂 🍂 🍂🍂 🍂

About the Author:

SIC_0760-719x1024ROSHANI CHOKSHI is the New York Times bestselling author of Aru Shah and the End of TimeThe Star-Touched QueenA Crown of Wishes, and The Gilded Wolves. Her work has been nominated for the Locus and Nebula awards, and her books have appeared on Barnes and Nobles Best New Books of the Year and Buzzfeed Best Books of the Year lists. Chokshi lives in Georgia, but doesn’t have much of a Southern accent. Alas.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

 

🍂 🍂 🍂 🍂 🍂

Also, check out the other stops of The Gilded Wolves PH Blog Tour hosted by Wanderer in Neverland and The Royal Polar Bear Reads.

The Gilded Wolves Blog Tour Banner

Tour Schedule

January 14, 2019

January 15, 2019

January 16, 2019

January 17, 2019

January 18, 2019

January 19, 2019

 

First Line Fridays: “The Gilded Wolves” by Roshani Chokshi

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


Happy Friday! I hope you are all doing well. My week has been busy at work, but life at home has been good. We have three new puppies! All of them plus mama dog are doing fine, and we couldn’t be any happier. It’ll be another two to three weeks before their eyelids start to open, but I’m really excited to have them start seeing their new world, start to run and play around the house.

Book-wise it’s been slow. I was able to finish Emma Rous’ The Au Pair but haven’t yet started a new read. So, this week I’ll be sharing the first few lines of a recent read that’s coming out soon.

The Gilded Wolves

Fléctere si néqueo súperos Acheronta movebo.
If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell.
– Virgil

Once, there were four Houses of France.
Like all the other Houses within the Order of Babel, the French faction swore to safeguard the location of their Babel Fragment, the source of all Forging power.
Forging was a power of creation rivaled only by the work of God.
But one House fell.
And another House’s line died without an heir. PNow all that is left is a secret.

 

I know I’ve said it before, but I am sooooo in love with The Gilded WolvesThis beauty’s coming out next week and I couldn’t be more excited. I already got the notification from Book Depository that my pre-order has been dispatched from their UK warehouse. I waited almost a year for this book and I’ll finally have this lovely next week.

The Gilded Wolves comes out January 15 published by Wednesday Books. You can still pre-order it. Trust me on this, you need this book!

Pre-order links:

IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

Another thing…

The Gilded Wolves Blog Tour Banner

The Gilded Wolves PH Blog Tour, hosted by Wanderer in Neverland and The Royal Polar Bear Reads, starts on January 14. My blog tour stop is on the 18th, but you can check out the other blog stops and read the raves of other awesome book bloggers for this book. You can see the blog tour schedule here.

💗💗💗

Rachel

let's chat

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