Romanov by Nadine Brandes {Book Review}

My blood is my crime.

If you look at it, it’s still red. If you touch it, it’s still wet. But if you listen to it, it speaks a single name in a pulsing chant.

Romanov.

Romanov.

Romanov.

Those are the first few lines in the book, and if they don’t immerse you into this wonderful goodness that is Romanov, then I don’t know what will.

There are beautiful quotes scattered throughout the book. I love it.

I have a story I was meant to live. And not even you can unwrite 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 saving herself and her family 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 has only dabbled in magic, but it doesn’t frighten her half as much as her growing attraction to Zash. She likes 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.

First thoughts

I couldn’t put this book down! I read it twice, and both times I was hooked. Nadine has a way of ending each chapter leaving you yearning for more. I absolutely loved this book, but I really think this is one of the books that some people will love and others won’t at all. So it’s really up to you to form your own conclusion! But here are my thoughts.

Characters

The characters are done wonderfully. I loved the dynamic between all the characters especially between Nastya and her family (particularly with Alexei; I loved their relationship!). 

Nastya’s internal conflict was done so well! I felt everything that she felt. Which was a lot. The book had a lot of feels and it was amazing. However I felt as though a few of her thoughts were scattered randomly and didn’t fit in some places, which made it feel slightly repetitive and forced in a few places. But you can really feel her internal struggle which I love, and it also made the book very character driven, which I also love! And I love her personality! It’s strong and impish and cheeky and smart and brave but also vulnerable and she struggles with her morality a lot. 

Zash. Ah Zash. Lovely beautiful broken Zash. I loved him. His internal conflict was such a struggle to read because I could tell how much it broke him. He is so sweet as well. Like deep down in that gorgeous Bolshevik heart of his is just a scared little boy who cares so much it hurts. However, his character arc felt a little flat, especially because of how Nadine chose to tie it up in the resolution. I thought his development could have been explored more as well as his relationship with Nastya especially at the end. And it seemed as though he was constantly going from stoic to gentle and friendly then back to stoic and since it happened quite a bit, it got repetitive. But ahhh he was so lovable. And I loved his relationship with Ivan. One scene, which I won’t spoil because I’m not cruel, really showed Zash’s transparency for me and his absolute brokenness. And it was done. so. well. Anyone who has read this book will most likely know which scene I’m talking about. 😉 

Now the Nastya and Zash romance. It was a bit of a hit, bit of a miss. I wanted more. There was so much room for more. But their relationship felt quite stagnant and never really resolved. I did really like them together though, don’t get me wrong, I just wanted more.

Alexei. Dear sweet brave smart young baby Alexei. I absolutely loved how wise he was, how calm, how brave and yet how cheeky he was, and his relationship with Nastya was so lovely to read. 

Overall, the characters are really well done! Zash is the only one I really wished Nadine went a bit in depth on just because I loved him so incredibly much. I really liked the family bond between the Romanovs. It was written really well. And I enjoyed reading it.

Plot

Ahh the plot twists, my friends! So good. Made me keep turning the pages. The great plot as well as the strong characters kept me wanting to read more.

The second half of the book… I did not expect at all for some reason, which kind of made it feel like 2 books, which was unfortunate because I liked both halves, but it really didn’t feel all that connected. But Nadine has this way of getting the reader’s hopes up while foreshadowing at the same time and then crashing our hopes in a painful but awesome way. XD

The ending was resolved nicely, and the fact that it ended beautifully but not everything became unrealistically good and perfect, which is great. 

Some things were a bit unrealistic, such as injuries and chances of survival. However I won’t spoil it here. 😉

Emotions

Oh my gosh. This book broke me in more ways than one. And the fact that I cared so much about the characters made it hurt even more when they were hurt. Otherwise, I wouldn’t care about anything that happened to them. But I had so many emotions! Like I said above when I was talking about Nastya, I felt like her emotions and thoughts could appear a bit randomly and sometimes felt repetitive, but I loved how I felt everything! I felt happy, happy and sad at the same time, horrified, and terribly sad. I cried, I laughed, and then… well I cried again. I squealed over the relationship between Nastya and Zash and the fact that he actually had the capability of saying something incredibly gorgeous and sweet to the girl he loved but could never say that he loved her. I’m a sucker for hate-to-love romances. 

Writing Style

I really enjoyed Nadine’s writing style!! It was super simple to understand, but it was also so intricate and beautiful and invoked all the feels. It was lovely. Some parts felt a bit like an info dump, unfortunately.

Imagery 

The imagery was great, but it was more internal than external which made it sometimes hard to picture things, mostly in the second half after they left the Ipatiev House. The worldbuilding was unfortunately quite lost on me. It was hard to imagine where they were, which made it difficult to focus on what was going on while trying to imagine where they were at the same time.

Flow

I felt that it flowed very very well. It was natural. However I feel as though the second half (my brain splits the book into two parts for some reason) wasn’t as smoothly moved onto as I had hoped. Maybe it was because of the sudden change of scenery/mood/pretty much everything that made it feel like a slightly different book. For some, while they are in exile it might seem dull or boring to some readers, but I didn’t find myself bored at all, surprisingly. I think it was because of the internal events, despite nothing happening for a while in exile.

Content

The romance wasn’t very in depth so no content warnings on that. It’s quite violent though. But it isn’t overly described so it’s violent but not very gruesome. 

Overall

Overall, I give this beautiful book 4 stars! I highly recommend it. It’s definitely worth checking out. And… the cover is gorgeous!!!!! Let me know if you end up reading this book! 

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it? Do you agree or disagree with some things I said about the book?

‘Welcome to the real world’ they say

Why is it that as soon as we hit a certain age, we are suddenly old enough to be exposed to the ‘world’? ‘You’re already sixteen,’ they say, ‘Just watch it!’ or, ‘Just say it.’ or, ‘Just do it.’ But why is it that age defines what we can and can’t be exposed to? Why does it become so easy? Why does it suddenly become normal to purposefully expose ourselves to bad language or inappropriate movies or books, just because ‘we’re old enough’? Is this something we’ve been waiting for? Does it make us feel more mature?

They say, ‘Welcome to the real world.’ I have always been in the ‘real world’. But what I don’t want to welcome myself to is purposeful exposure to the things that aren’t pure in the eyes of God. The ‘real world’ is not what God had intended. His idea of the ‘real world’ was perfect, pure, and sinless. The fall of man brought sin and darkness into the world and along with it came impurity and peer pressure.

It’s so easy to just follow along because we’re afraid we might get teased or we might be laughed at for ‘acting younger than we are’. But there is a difference between immaturity and being wise. Maturity in general and spiritual maturity is knowing what to stay away from, being discerning and including God in our decisions. What we look at and what we do is between ourselves as individuals and with God. It’s not between us and the world; at least, it shouldn’t be.

But don’t be discouraged; staying away from these things is not immature, and it’s not us being afraid of encountering impurity. There is impurity all around us; always has been and always will be until we are in the presence of God. What I’m talking about is exposing ourselves to it on purpose just because we’re ‘old enough’ in the eyes of men. But in the eyes of God? His perfect idea of good and bad is different to the world’s idea of good and bad. No matter what age we are, he commands us to fill our hearts and our minds with kind, gentle, loving and pure things. (Philippians 4:8) Things that are positive and things that bring glory to God. He commands us to guard our hearts, because what is in our hearts, shows through in our actions and lives. (Proverbs 4:23) 

But what can we do? It’s scary and it’s hard to stay away from it. It’s scary to think that we’re not strong enough to fight it off. Purity requires power. It’s impossible to do it in our own power. But all we have to do is to ask God for his guidance. We only have to abide in him and he will abide in us. All we have to do is lean on him and put our trust and faith in him. He is willing, able and powerful to carry us through; and he can make us strong even when we feel like we’re not strong enough. God isn’t going to abandon us. The times that we are need of his guidance and when we are being tempted are the times that God is the most present and he is working great things for our good.

Thank you for reading!

Disclaimer: Backround featured image photo by Ben White on Unsplash