Our Violent Ends (These Violent Delights #2) by Chloe Gong #bookreview #YA #historicalfantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

The year is 1927, and Shanghai teeters on the edge of revolution.

After sacrificing her relationship with Roma to protect him from the blood feud, Juliette has been a girl on the warpath. One wrong move, and her cousin will step in to usurp her place as the Scarlet Gang’s heir. The only way to save the boy she loves from the wrath of the Scarlets is to have him want her dead for murdering his best friend in cold blood. If Juliette were actually guilty of the crime Roma believes she committed, his rejection might sting less.

Roma is still reeling from Marshall’s death, and his cousin Benedikt will barely speak to him. Roma knows it’s his fault for letting the ruthless Juliette back into his life, and he’s determined to set things right—even if that means killing the girl he hates and loves with equal measure.

Then a new monstrous danger emerges in the city, and though secrets keep them apart, Juliette must secure Roma’s cooperation if they are to end this threat once and for all. Shanghai is already at a boiling point: The Nationalists are marching in, whispers of civil war brew louder every day, and gangster rule faces complete annihilation. Roma and Juliette must put aside their differences to combat monsters and politics, but they aren’t prepared for the biggest threat of all: protecting their hearts from each other.

It’s not often I can say this, but the second book in this series easily tops the first. I could barely pry my fingers away the Kindle.

In this Romeo and Juliet retelling, the struggle for power is alive and well and continues in Shanghai. With Roma’s White Flowers, Juliette’s Scarlets, the Communists, and Nationalists all battling for control, bloodshed, backstabbing (sometimes literally), and manipulation abound in the streets of the city. The terrorizing monster plot line in the first novel didn’t sit well with me and, although it’s still a part of the story, it’s not as prevalent.

Hot-headed and impulsive, Juliette didn’t win me over in book one, but she’s made progress toward becoming a more strategic player. I also didn’t feel the connection between her and Roma the first time around. Actually, I was more invested in the budding romance between Benedikt and Marshall (who have a beautiful story of their own), but Roma and Juliette’s relationship came across much stronger to me in this sequel. Taking into consideration what’s occuring around them, it’s messy, angry (with the occasional murder attempt), tense, and sometimes volatile, but more believable, and I was anxious to learn their outcome. As with many retellings, don’t assume it aligns with the original version.

With a bigger focus on politics and the men who pull the strings instead of a supernatural monster, more even pacing (it sure didn’t feel like five hundred pages), and phenomenal character development in both MCs and supporting characters, readers will be thrilled with this sequel. Although some may not agree, I thought the ending was perfect and closed the book with a smile on my face.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

The Traitor Prince by C.J. Redwine #bookreview #fairytale #retelling #TuesdayBookBlog

Javan Najafai, crown prince of Akram, has spent the last ten years at an elite boarding school, far away from his kingdom. But his eagerly awaited return home is cut short when a mysterious imposter takes his place—and no one believes Javan is the true prince.

After barely escaping the imposter’s assassins, Javan is thrown into Maqbara, the kingdom’s most dangerous prison. The only way to gain an audience with the king — and reveal Javan’s identity — is to fight in Maqbara’s yearly tournament. But winning is much harder than acing competitions at school, and soon Javan finds himself beset not just by the terrifying creatures in the arena, but also a band of prisoners allied against him, and even the warden herself.

The only person who can help him is Sajda, who has been enslaved by Maqbara’s warden since she was a child, and whose guarded demeanor and powerful right hook keep the prisoners in check. Working with Sajda might be the only way Javan can escape alive — but she has dangerous secrets.

Together, Javan and Sajda have to outwit the vicious warden, outfight the deadly creatures, and outlast the murderous prisoners intent on killing Javan. If they fail, they’ll be trapped in Maqbara for good—and the secret Sajda’s been hiding will bury them both.

The category for my book club this month was to read a re-telling.  I’ve had this book in my TBR pile for two years, so this was a perfect opportunity to bump it to the top.

This is the third book I’ve read in the Ravenspire series.  Each has taken me on exciting adventures, introduced me to both loveable and loathsome characters, and occasionally ripped my heart out.  Redwine is known for killing off some of her more popular characters.  The Traitor Prince is based on an Arabian tale entitled The False Prince.  I’m not familiar with that story, but this one grabbed me from the first page.  I was so angry at the injustice of Javan’s and Sajda’s situations – his at being thrown into prison while someone else takes his place on the throne, and hers at being enslaved from a young age and discriminated against for a reason I won’t reveal (no spoilers).  By the end of the book, I was so anxious for them to have their revenge and set things right.  And speaking of the ending – it was perfect.

Although part of the same series, each of these books can be read as a standalone.  I also have to comment on the stunning maps included in each novel – beautiful!  The Traitor Prince is a story about fighting against inequity even when things look grim, endearing friendships, undying loyalty, and selfless sacrifice.