Thursday, May 25, 2017

Review: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Title: The Alice Network
Author: Kate Quinn
Publication: June 6th 2017 by William Morrow Paperbacks

Genre: Historical Fiction
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Google Play | Kobo

Rating: 5/5

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie's parents banish her to Europe to have her "little problem" taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she's recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she's trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the "Queen of Spies", who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy's nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn't heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the matter where it leads.

“Both funny and heartbreaking, this epic journey of two courageous women is an unforgettable tale of little-known wartime glory and sacrifice. Quinn knocks it out of the park with this spectacular book!”—Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of America's First Daughter

I've only read the author's books set in ancient Rome so I was a tiny bit sceptical about her newest book that alternates between World War I and 1947. I haven't actually read a lot of books that are set in these times. But then I started the book and ended up being hooked from page one and now it's my favorite book of 2017. Kate Quinn just never disappoints.

In 1915 Eve Gardiner enters the Crown's service during World War I as a spy and is send to France. And in 1947, Charlie St. Clair who's pregnant and unmarried is determinded to find out what happened to her cousin who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France. When circumstances throws them together, along with Finn Kilgore and his Lagonda LG6, they're going on one hell of a roadtrip to discover the truth that Eve and Charlie desperately are looking for.

I absolutely loved reading about Eve, Charlie and Finn. These three made quite the trio. I also loved the chapters set in 1915 because I was very much intrigued by Eve as she started spying with the help of "Queen of Spies" Lili, who was also a really outstanding character, which I can only applaud the author for. 

As a Belgian this book resonated pretty deeply with me, obviously. I even shed a few tears at some parts. But I thought the book was quite witty at times as well. The humor versus the parts that were pretty terrible to read about at times were very well balanced, in my opinion. And also, so many emotions went through me with the story. It was really amazing!

Overall, The Alice Network by Kate Quinn was simply phenomenal. It just touched me to the core. I cried and laughed and devoured the story page by page. I would highly recommend to more than any other book I've read this year so far. I absolutely loved it! 

Kate Quinn is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance detailing the early years of the infamous Borgia clan. All have been translated into multiple languages.

Kate has succumbed to the blogging bug, and keeps a blog filled with trivia, pet peeves, and interesting facts about historical fiction. She and her husband now live in Maryland with two black dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia, and her interests include opera, action movies, cooking, and the Boston Red Sox.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and talk about the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. It's based on Waiting On Wednesday hosted at Breaking the Spine.

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo
Expected publication: September 26th 2017 by Macmillan/Imprint

Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid's voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy's bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

I'll definitely be buying a hardcover of this book. I just know it'll be so very gorgeous. I really can't wait for this book to be released. <3

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Stacking The Shelves: May 20, 2017

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted @ Tynga's Reviews & Reading Reality.

The Medici Curse by Matt Chamings
Mill Girl by Sue Reid
The Chimes by Anna Smaill
Snakehead by Ann Halam
The Sultan's Seal by Jenny White
Sins of the House Borgia by Sarah Bower
The Maid by Kimberly Cutter
The Poet's Wives by David Park

I bought these books at a bookfair called boekenfestijn and ended up only having to pay 1.40€ for them all because I had won a coupon on Instagram a few weeks ago for it. Pretty awesome! <3

For Review: 
Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George
Pretty excited about this one!

For Review:
Luca by Sarah Castille
I absolutely loved the first book (Nico) so of course I couldn't say no to Luca. ;)

Have a great weekend, everyone! ♥

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Review: The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence: A Story of Botticelli by Alyssa Palombo

Title: The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence: A Story of Botticelli 
Author: Alyssa Palombo
Publication: April 25th 2017 by St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: Historical Fiction
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo
Rating: 4/5

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.

Wow! This story was something very special. Botticelli is one of my favorite artists so I just had to read this. It really reawakened my love for books set in the Renaissance and Italy. Both have always been favorite topics of mine to read about, especially Florence. I devoured this book in less than two days, which I didn't think I'd be able to but I just couldn't put the book down. 

This book tells the story about Simonetta Cattaneo who was declared the most beautiful woman in Florence. After getting married to Marco Vespucci and moving away from her parents' home in Genoa, she fully embraced her new life in the midsts of Florence's most acclaimed politicians like Lorenzo de' Medici, artists like Sandro Botticelli and many others. When Botticilli asks Simonetta to pose for him, they grow very close and eventually she becomes his muse for his masterpiece, The Birth of Venus.

The story is very character driven. I didn't always like most of the characters all the time but I felt really invested in them. Especially when it came to Simonetta and Botticelli. I knew this book would probably end in tragedy but I still wasn't prepared for that rather sad ending. Still, I think it was written in a rather remarkable way. And the writing was just so stunning. I absolutely loved it. 

The book features obviously a lot of historical figures who have actually excisted. Those are my favorite kind of historical fiction novels. Simonetta was unknown to me before I read this book so I'm glad the author wrote about her and Botticelli even though we won't know for sure how and if they truly had some sort of relationship. But it seems very likely to me. Also, I would highly recommend for any readers of this book to read the author's note. It was really interesting to me. 

ALYSSA PALOMBO is the author of The Violinist of Venice and The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence. She has published short fiction pieces in Black Lantern Magazine and The Great Lakes Review. She is a recent graduate of Canisius College with degrees in English and creative writing, respectively. A passionate music lover, she is a classically trained musician as well as a big fan of heavy metal. The Violinist of Venice is her first novel. She lives in Buffalo, New York.
Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and talk about the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. It's based on Waiting On Wednesday hosted at Breaking the Spine.

Invictus by Ryan Graudin 
Expected publication: September 26th 2017 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Time flies when you're plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far's birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he's ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.
But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far's very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

In this heart-stopping adventure, Ryan Graudin has created a fast-paced world that defies time and space.

Invictus just sounds SO amazing! It's like the description of the book has been written to appeal to me especially. That's how much I love the sound of it. I honestly wish the release date wasn't so far away because I want to read it right now! But I guess I can be patient... If I have to. 😉

♥ Holly's Boys ♥

Highly recommended story to check out!