Review: Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross

A Kindle rests on a white marble table. A white pumpkin is to its left. A package of pumpkin chai tea sits to its right. A lit Sweater Weather candle sits above it.

Alexis:

I adored Divine Rivals...and yes, it did emotionally destroy me.

Divine Rivals is an upper YA/NA historical fantasy novel that follows two main characters. Iris Winnow is a new journalist at a newspaper called the Oath Gazette. Roman Kitt is her rival—a fellow journalist who is competing against her for a promotion as a columnist. 

But after centuries of sleep, the gods are warring again, and Iris’ own brother, Forest, has joined the armed forces of one of the gods. Iris, who is worried sick about him, writes him letters. But Iris doesn’t know where her brother is. All she knows is that her letters magically disappear when she slips them underneath her wardrobe door. 

What she also doesn’t know is that Roman is the one receiving them, and then he begins anonymously answering her letters. 

THIS BOOK. I’ve always loved Ross’ writing style. I’ve read both A River Enchanted and Dreams Lie Beneath and enjoyed both of them, but Divine Rivals hits differently; I connected with the characters on another level. 

This book is a masterpiece. I love Ross’ lyrical, beautiful, and emotional writing. The book is so atmospheric, and layered with tension that you can feel on every page.

I adore both Iris and Roman. They have so much chemistry, and I love their banter and rivalry. 

Divine Rivals reads like a fantasy version of a World War I/World War II story. Ross writes about the horrors of war in such an effective way. The story is about grief, both Iris’ and Roman’s. It’s about being trapped in a life where you can’t make your own decisions. It’s about loneliness and connection. It’s about finding love, but also about the messiness of loving your flawed family. It’s about the power of writing and letters. Throw some mythology about the world’s gods in the mix and you have this perfect book.

VERDICT: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Divine Rivals comes out on April 4, 2023.

Of course that means I have to wait even longer for the sequel. Please pray for my impatient reading brain. (Cliffhangers should be illegal.)

Thanks so much to Netgalley and Wednesday Books for the e-ARC!

Review: Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

Alexis:

Since I’m unfortunately recovering from lung surgery, I decided that continuing with my rom com binge and sticking to more lighthearted reads might be a good idea. 

I read The Love Hypothesis earlier this year and was pleasantly surprised. The writing was easy and accessible and the story was funny and heartwarming. 

Needless to say, I picked up Love on the Brain. And I have to admit…I’m a little baffled.

Was this fun to read? Yes. Like its predecessor, Love on the Brain contains so much interesting science talk (as well as a focus on neuroscience) and you can tell Hazelwood knows what she’s talking about. 

That being said, I got major déjà vu when reading this book. I kept thinking, “Have I read this before?” There were so, so many scenes, moments, and plot points that were almost the exact same as The Love Hypothesis. 

Now: yes, I am aware that both books started out as Reylo fanfic (but I like to keep an open mind!). So I knew there would be some similarities. However, both of the main characters, Bee and Levi, were nearly carbon copies of the main characters in The Love Hypothesis, except Bee somehow managed to be a more unhinged version of Olive. 

At least I liked Levi’s character. But there was also a plot point at the end that was honestly so ridiculous that it made the story unredeemable for me. 

Final thoughts: It started off as a fun read, but I wasn’t able to enjoy or get sucked into the story because it was just a worse version of The Love Hypothesis.

Book Review: The Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes

A mug of green tea sits in front of a pink paperback copy of The Last Letter From Your Lover. A dilute calico cat sits behind it.

Alexis:

Sort of ironic, isn’t it, since Anna just mentioned Me Before You, Moyes’ trauma porn story? 😬

I needed another beach read, so I grabbed this one from a used bookstore. And though it’s not my usual kind of read, I saw a trailer for a Netflix adaptation, and thought I would pick it up. 

After Jennifer gets into a car accident in 1960, she has amnesia. She doesn’t remember her husband; she doesn’t remember who she is. And when she stumbles upon a letter from a lover, she realizes that her marriage was unhappy, and that she was in love with someone else. The problem is: she can’t remember who he is or where to find him.

Despite not being gothic, this book almost immediately gave me Rebecca vibes. There’s no ex-wife, but Jennifer feels and sees her lover, “B,” everywhere she looks, and it gives a similar sort of mysterious vibe. Plus, Jennifer is the wife of a rich man with a huge estate.

It took me a little while to get into this one. Part of the beginning seems a little unnecessary; Jennifer spends a lot of time getting to re-know her high society friends, only for them to become unimportant characters later on. 

What I did like was Moyes’ engaging, flowing writing style. I liked how the story is non-linear. However, the story switches to the POV of Ellie, a journalist in 2003, and while I enjoyed her perspective, it didn’t come until page 231. I would’ve liked her POV to be more woven into Jennifer’s POV. 

Overall, this was an enjoyable read. I think if you’re looking for a historical fiction story that focuses on love, memory, and sacrifice with light Rebecca vibes, then you’ll enjoy this. 

VERDICT: ⭐⭐⭐/5

Review: A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas

A Kindle version of A Court of Silver Flames is being held up in front of a money tree, which is in a gray cat planter.

Alexis:

I was finally able to read this book after getting it from the library on my Kindle! And good timing too; unfortunately, I’ve been fighting a sinus infection, so I barely moved from the couch while I read this book.

A Court of Silver Flames is the fourth installment in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. This book is from Feyre’s sister’s, Nesta, point-of-view, and follows her as she hits rock bottom and tries to come to terms with her new life, and come to terms with her feelings for Cassian.

I loved parts of this book and wasn’t a fan of other parts. The actual plot that makes brief appearances? Great! Nesta’s hard, uphill battle to heal and come to peace with herself and her family and those around her? Also great! Nesta forming strong, supportive friendships with other women? Amazing! Nesta learning how to fight with Cassian as her teacher? Awesome!

And I might be in the minority in this, but there was just too much sex in this book. I knew that was going to be the case going into it (as the word had been going around the Bookstagram grapevine) but I found myself just flipping through the sex scenes. They just kept happening, in abundance and a wild amount of detail! I’m not a prude by any means, but it absolutely could’ve been pared down and the point still gotten across; it got very repetitive.  

It probably doesn’t help that Nesta was never my favorite character. However, this book did make me feel for her and understand her journey and her trauma. Maas always excels at that. But Nesta’s POV made Feyre and Rhysand not look great, honestly, and it was sometimes weird to read about this cast of characters from Nesta’s negative POV. 

While I enjoyed the book overall, even after skipping through the sex scenes, I still can’t help but compare it to Crescent City: A House of Earth and Blood. It deals with similar themes, but it’s Maas’ best work, in my opinion, and it’s significantly less racey, and A Court of Silver Flames almost felt like a shadow copy of that story.

Like I said, I still enjoyed the book overall, and I think it’s worth a read if you’ve been closely following ACOTAR. But just be aware of what you’re going into if you read it!

VERDICT: ⭐⭐⭐.5