The Bronze Horseman by Paulina Simons

The Bronze Horseman

The Bronze Horseman #1

author : paulina simons

pages : [hardcover] 637

summary :

From the author of the international bestseller Tully comes an epic tale of passion, betrayal, and survival in World War II Russia. Leningrad, 1941: The European war seems far away in this city of fallen grandeur, where splendid palaces and stately boulevards speak of a different age, when the city was known as St. Petersburg. Now two sisters, Tatiana and Dasha Metanov, live in a cramped apartment, sharing one room with their brother and parents. Such are the harsh realities of Stalin’s Russia, but when Hitler invades the country, the siege of its cities makes the previous severe conditions seem luxurious.

Against this backdrop of danger and uncertainty, Tatiana meets Alexander, an officer in the Red Army whose self-confidence sets him apart from most Russian men and helps to conceal a mysterious and troubled past.

Once the relentless winter and the German army’s blockade take hold of the city, the Metanovs are forced into ever more desperate measures to survive. With bombs falling and food becoming scarce, Tatiana and Alexander are drawn to each other in an impossible love that threatens to tear her family apart and reveal his dangerous secret — a secret as destructive as the war itself. Caught between two deadly forces, the lovers find themselves swept up in a tide of history at a turning point in the century that made the modern world.

Mesmerizing from the very first page to the final, breathtaking end, The Bronze Horseman brings alive the story of two indomitable, heroic spirits and their great love that triumphs over the devastation of a country at war.

review :

The Bronze Horseman is something I was definitely hyped up about. The reviews on Goodreads are amazing; people kept telling me that it was their favorite book ever. And knowing how seriously I take my decisions about my own favorite books I knew I had to get my hands on this one. I was eventually able to get a used copy for a really great price and was amazed by how gigantic this book is. Over 600 pages! For something pitched as romance, that’s a lot to work with. Because I love reading about the WWII time period and there’s rarely anything I get that’s set in Russia, this seemed perfect. And then . . .

I never fell in love with this book. Probably because I never really came to like the love story. Dasha is Tatiana’s sister. Honestly, Tatiana’s entire family was terrible about her, and I loved that Alexander called them out on it, but family is family. It breaks a sacred girl code to not only date someone your relative (friend, whoever) has dated . . . But to fall in love with them while they’re still going out with your sister (and then some)? Nope. I just wasn’t feeling that. Setting that aside, the brief encounters that Tatiana and Alexander had managed to be so boring and not passionate. No, about a dozen times they went through the same conversation of fighting over what they should do with their relationship. At least sometimes it switched between who would suddenly decide (after an illicit comment or kiss) that this was all wrong and would shout/call/run after the other when they were offended by the thought that the relationship should be over. It was so predictable.

In these 600 pages, there were only a few hundred in the middle that went fast for me and were captivating–honestly, they probably had the least amount of the romance in them. I loved hearing about how the war was changing society–I loved reading about Russian society in general, though I’d never, ever want to live there. Even though the war made things utterly unlivable, I couldn’t look away as Tatiana fought to survive, as bombs fell around the city, as rations fell shorter. If war had been the forefront of the novel, not the romance, I’d have loved it. I can’t deny that Paulina Simons can write. I just didn’t enjoy her romance.

To top it all off, I finish this book and find out that there’s more. It’s a trilogy. I’m  happy enough to sit and pretend that it really all ended in this book because it all wraps up well enough at the end, though I suppose there is some plot twist that explains how there can be two more books after how this one ended. I don’t know, because I’ll never read them–but if someone wants to tell me what happens, that would be fine.

I honestly don’t understand the hype about this book or the love portrayed. These are the favored characters of so many people and I can’t get behind them at all. It just isn’t the book for me, unfortunately.

1/5 stars

The Deadliest Echo by Reese Hogan

The Deadliest Echo

author : reese hogan

pages : [paperback] 242

favorite character : echo

summary :

The year is 1928, and American mercenary Echo Maebius is seized while fleeing Russia after the disappearance of Joseph Stalin. Just when things can’t get any worse, Echo’s doppelganger walks into the room, offering him a way out—but with a terrible catch. Now, broken, damaged, and alone, Echo must find out why his closest comrade Jez has disappeared from his life—and why the failure of their mission in Moscow is responsible.

Told in alternating chapters between Echo’s past and present, The Deadliest Echo is a science fiction thriller about assassination, alternate paths, and the dangers of being a foreigner in a country newly raised from revolution. It is a powerful tale about the thin line between loneliness and friendship, and the intricate web of secrets that forces Echo to confront the one truth he most wants to escape…

Unless he can finish the mission he never completed in Moscow, the whole world will pay the price for his failure.

review :

I’ve been trying to get into reading more books involving history lately so when I had the chance to read The Deadliest Echo I jumped on it. It’s an interesting combination of historical fiction with a dash of sci-fi, a whole lot of action, and complex characters.

Echo was most interesting to me because at first I’d assumed he’d be . . . not exactly boring, but there’s a certain stereotype that comes with mercenary characters. But Echo is younger than expected and although he is certainly clever and calculating, he’s also lonely. Wiling to do a lot to keep others from realizing this, of course, but when he finally gets himself a friend he’s willing to lose everything to keep that friend safe. And that’s something that I can understand, that makes him human.

Action is all over this book, literally from page one. Told with each chapter giving a piece of Echo’s timeline, before and after a major event happens for him, there’s something intense happening in each portion of his life that’ll have you wanted to learn about the past when you’re reading the future and wanting the future when you have the past. This book was so intense that, yes, one night after finishing a chapter, I actually dreamed that Russian assassins were coming after me. If that doesn’t say something about how entranced and entrenched you’ll be in The Deadliest Echo then I don’t know what would.

I feel like this is a novel that can appeal to people who read a plethora of different genres, especially if you’re wanting to get a peek into a different genre to see if you’d enjoy reading it as well. Sci-fi, historical, action, thriller, and even fans of spy novels will all find something unique, captivating, and thought-provoking in The Deadliest Echo.

5/5 stars

Ancient Civilizations Brought to You Today

 I’m very interested in history and the different civilizations that thrived long before I was born. I know I’m not the only one fascinated by the idea of these people and places, yearning to know more about what a day in the life of a person living in ancient Greece, The Middle Ages, the Viking Age, or ancient Egypt was like.

I personally was most interested in ancient Greece, partly because I’ve read so much about the mythology there that I wanted to know how it applied to these people and their lives. Unfortunately in most history classes I’ve taken, there hasn’t been much time to focus on other parts of the world, let alone their ancient civilizations. I was also very, very excited to read about vikings. Who doesn’t want to know what it’d be like to live as one of them? Sure, they seem kind of rough and tough (and probably very, very cold) but what made them that way?

Fortunately, the series of “Everyday Life” books by Sterling Publishing don’t simply skim over dates and facts. The great thing about having one book focused on something I’m completely interested in is that I know I’m going to get a thorough understanding of these people.

In Ancient Greece: Everyday Life in the Birthplace of Western Civilization, not only are their sections about their gods and heroes but there are portions that talk about what the people typically ate, how their educational system worked, how their criminal trials proceeded, what happened with weddings . . I could go on and on about all of the separate detailed sections that addressed different aspects of Greek life that I never even thought to ask about!

Viking Age: Everyday Life During the Extraordinary Era of the Norsemen is set up similarly but of course has a plethora of unique information for you to learn so you can surprise your friends with fun facts about Vikings. Of course I enjoyed reading about the different types of ships they had, one of the things these people were most known for, but I also liked reading about what clothing they wore, how they fought battles, how their names were constructed, and what medicine they used.

Both texts are split into several chapters that are further split into sections that pertain to the subject of the chapter. The reading is anything but dense; I could read these books on my own time, for my own enjoyment, and I loved every minute of it.

I highly recommend the “Everyday Life” books and hope that you’ll check out at least one of them! What’s your favorite ancient civilization to learn about?

Deck Z by Chris Pauls

Deck Z

author : chris pauls

pages : [paperback] 222

summary :

Imagine being trapped aboard the doomed Titanic on an icy Atlantic. . . with the walking dead. This fast-paced thriller reimagines the historical events of the fateful Titanic voyage through the lens of zombie mayhem. Captain Edward Smith and his inner circle desperately try to contain a weaponized zombie virus smuggled on board with the 2,200 passengers sailing to New York. Faced with an exploding population of lumbering, flesh-hungry undead, Smith’s team is forced into bloody hand-to-hand combat down the narrow halls of the huge steamer. In its few short days at sea, the majestic Titanic turns into a Victorian bloodbath, steaming at top speed toward a cold, blue iceberg. A creepy, tense page-turner, Deck Z will thrill zombie fans and Titanic buffs alike.

review :

I have to admit that I didn’t have the highest expectations for this book. I was just looking for something a little out of the ordinary and less serious to read during the summer. Unfortunately even those expectations weren’t met in this book. I love reading about the Titanic, I love reading about zombies, and I figured combining the two would at least make a basically decent and enjoyable novel. Hopefully I won’t be making that mistake again.

I will say that it was interesting reading the beginning of the book, set in Germany before the launch of the Titanic. It involves the whole explanation of why zombies and why the Titanic, though I think some of the suspense lost its steam before the ship even sailed away. This was mostly due to the fact that the characters felt very flat and faraway, making me unable to connect with them.

There were a few good, interesting scenes in the book but I think that they could have benefitted from a better writing style. I didn’t really like the way that the book was written, making it very dry when there were great action scenes going on. The characters were very clever in how they kept stopping the zombies and attempting to contain the outbreak. I like how while they were dealing with that problem they were also needing to worry about sinking, as the part where the ill-fated ship hits the iceberg is still included in this adaptation.

I wouldn’t really recommend this book unless you need something quick to read.

2/5 stars

You might want to read Warm Bodies or This is Not a Test instead.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Author: Ransom Riggs

Pages [hardcover]: 352

memorable quote: We cling to our fairy tales until the price for believing in them becomes too high.

favorite characters: Olive & Jacob


A mysterious island.

An abandoned orphanage.

A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.


As soon as I saw that cover, I knew I was going to read the book. Is that a bad way to pick what you’re going to read next? Probably. Was it worth it? Yes, because there were plenty more wonderful pictures where that came from, all scattered throughout the book. I was tempted to sneak a peek at all of them before I began reading, but I decided not to. I think that was a good decision, because the pictures directly relate to what’s happening in the plot, usually when Jacob finds or thinks of a photo. That adds so much to the story!

Besides that, the characters are fantastic. I had no idea where Miss Peregrine’s was going to take me, and I loved every step of the ride. The beginning, I admit, I rushed over a bit, wanting to get into the more ‘peculiar’ part of the book. It was interesting in its own right-detailing how everyone and their mother thought Jacob was insane-but once the peculiar parts started, I couldn’t put the book down, and finished the rest that day.

Although there were a few parts of it that I didn’t like, and can’t really talk about without adding a few spoilers-which I’m not going to do-the book, overall, was great. I loved it. It’s something I’ll re-read, and those pictures…some of them were downright creepy. Some oddly beautiful. Some, I wouldn’t like to see if I was home alone, late at night . . .

And, finally-ugh! I didn’t know that there was going to be a sequel. Or, at least, it seems like there’s build-up for one. Not that I mind reading more about this, but I hate going into a novel, thinking it will be completely tied up at the end . . . and be left with as many questions as I started with. Oh, well.


Check out the book trailer! I remembered that I saw it months ago. It’s probably the best trailer I’ve ever seen. And..ugh. More creepiness.

Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell


Song of the Sparrow

Author: Lisa Ann Sandell

Pages [hardcover]: 416

Memorable Quote: Still, I look down, and the grass is so green, I cannot understand how it does not wither and die with sorrow.

Favorite Characters: Tristan & Elaine


The year is 490 AD. Fiery 16-year-old Elaine of Ascolat, the daughter of one of King Arthur’s supporters, lives with her father on Arthur’s base camp, the sole girl in a militaristic world of men. Elaine’s only girl companion is the mysterious Morgan, Arthur’s older sister, but Elaine cannot tell Morgan her deepest secret: She is in love with Lancelot, Arthur’s second-in-command. However, when yet another girl — the lovely Gwynivere– joins their world, Elaine is confronted with startling emotions of jealousy and rivalry. But can her love for Lancelot survive the birth of an empire?


 I was assigned to read this book as part of the YA Best Overlooked Book Battle 2011, hosted by Alyssa over at The Shady Glade. At first I wasn’t sure what to think; I’m just starting to get into historical fiction, and this didn’t sound like something I’d ache to pick up on my own. But by giving it a chance, I was pleasantly surprised.

Song of the Sparrow follows Elaine, the only girl in an army camp full of men. She’s grown up there, away from the limitations that were enforced upon women at that time, free to roam as she pleased, though still not allowed to fight for her country. As a result, she’s often left behind, alone, as everyone she knows and loves marches off into battle.

I loved that this novel was written in verse. I didn’t know that until I began reading, and verse books are something of a guilty pleasure for me. The smooth way the lines flowed, the way each thing that came up was so beautifully described through Elaine’s perspective, kept me coming back for more, wanting to read on and on. I couldn’t get enough of it.

The characters in this book, though the minor ones dimmed in comparison to Elaine, were great. Each held true to their own purpose, and won me over, whether they were good or evil. I liked reading about how Arthur and the other knights were brotherly toward Elaine, working for her best interests and trying to protect her. And I loved how she in turn wanted to protect them, though sometimes this meant disobeying them and doing dangerous things.

The legend of King Arthur is one that I know well, though never before have I read something like this. It was a refreshing take, told from a female perspective, and actually made the women heroic, for once, instead of having the knights take all of the glory. That little ‘girl power’ addition fit in nicely.

All in all, this book was practically perfect to me. I read through it very quickly, loved every moment of it, and wish there was more. The ending was brilliant, the characters witty and captivating. I highly recommend Song of the Sparrow, even to those that do not normally read historical fiction. I don’t, and this only encourages me to read more. Though I may be disappointed; I don’t know what can live up to the standards this has set. I give it 5/5 stars.

Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

Uncommon Criminals

Author: Ally Carter [also wrote: Only the Good Spy Young]

Pages [hardcover]: 298

Heist Society #2
Book 1: Heist Society

Memorable Quote: “I for one like chaos. Chaos looks good on me.”

Favorite Characters: Kat & Hale


Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life: Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.

There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long — and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous, and that is . . . the emerald is cursed.

Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all, she has her best friend — the gorgeous Hale — and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses and realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.

Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.


 I’ve always had a thing for thieves, and a great love of all things-books, movies, shows-centered around heists. As a result, this series is the ultimate addiction for me. I couldn’t put this book down; not only because I wanted to see how the plan would fall into place, but because there was another plot twist around every corner that kept me flipping the pages and holding my breath with anticipation.

I love how Kat is forced to deal with her own problems in this sequel. She’s been trying to do a more heroic form of stealing, taking only what was wrongfully taken from an owner in the first place. She’s been going on more and more dangerous jobs, all on her own, with no backup. While she’s a strong, independent teen who won’t listen to anyone’s advice and attempts to struggle through things on her own, she also has a group of great friends that try to give him some perspective.

Speaking of her friends, I like how each of them is characterized perfectly and given their own personality and set of flaws. They stay true to themselves, even if it nearly botches an operation or makes everyone else hate them momentarily.

I could also picture everything perfectly as it was happening, which was awesome. I could see Kat trying to work out how to get the emerald. I could see her moving through every step of the plan, trying to get everything to work perfectly.

I give Uncommon Criminals 5/5 stars. It is a great book that I will reread over and over again. I can’t wait for the next installment of this series! I just hope it will be as fantastic as the first two.