ONE GIRL WILL BRING AN EMPIRE TO ITS' KNEES...
Before she can become the greatest empress in history, fifteen-year-old Sophie will have to survive her social-climbing mother’s quest to put her on the throne of Russia—at any cost.
Imperial Court holds dangers like nothing Sophie has ever faced before. In the heart of St. Petersburg, surviving means navigating the political, romantic, and religious demands of the bitter Empress Elizabeth and her handsome, but sadistic nephew, Peter. Determined to save her impoverished family—and herself—Sophie vows to do whatever is necessary to thrive in her new surroundings. But an attempt on her life and an unexpected attraction threatens to derail her plans.
Alone in a new and dangerous world, learning who to trust and who to charm may mean the difference between becoming queen and being sent home in shame to marry her lecherous uncle. With traitors and murderers lurking around every corner, her very life hangs in the balance. Betrothed to one man but falling in love with another, Sophie will need to decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to become the empress she is destined to be.
In a battle for the soul of a nation, will love or destiny reign supreme?
Sherry D. FicklinSherry D. Ficklin is a full time writer from Colorado where she lives with her husband, four kids, two dogs, and a fluctuating number of chickens and house guests. A former military brat, she loves to travel and meet new people. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.
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I know I've discussed this with you guys before, but I am a bit of a history buff. Just a bit. Okay, maybe more than a bit. Aside from literature, history is my deepest passion. In fact, I just graduated this past year with my bachelors in the subject. Seriously, I love history. All kinds, all places, all periods. History is my thing. That being said, it should come as no surprise that I have a thing for Historic Fiction. Or basically any kind of historic anything. I love it all. In addition to loving history. I am obsessed with Russian culture. For my foreign language requirements in school, I took Russian, which included quite a bit about Russian history, culture, and customs. You guys can only image the shock I felt when I found out that a renowned Young Adult author was going to tackle the story of Catherine the Great in a new series. I was elated.
While I was more excited than words here can say, I was nervous. The story of Catherine the Great is not one for the faint of heart. It's not a particularly pretty story and it has a whole lot of "wwwwooooowwwww" moments. I was really anxious to see how an author was going to adapt that story for a young adult audience. Sherry Ficklin, of course, did just that, to perfection.
In true OneGuysGuidetoGoodReads fashion, let me get my criticisms/warnings out of the way first.
First, I will openly admit that this is not the novel for everyone. Glancing through the Goodreads and Amazon reviews, I can tell this really was not the novel for some people. I'll be perfectly blunt, if you can't handle historic stuff, stay away from this novel. Everything about this read has eighteenth century oozing out of it. If that is a turn off for you, don't even think about touching this read. That being said, I would like to give Ficklin the biggest praises that I possibly can for the importance she placed on historical accuracy in this story. Ficklin has openly said that she created some of the characters/storylines in this series, however, the plot line largely draws on actual experiences from Sophie/Catherine's life. Upon reading this novel, I was blown away at just how fitting this novel was for the time period. I honestly thought I was in eighteenth century St. Petersburg, at times.
Next, I have seen a lot of people complain about love triangles in stories. I will be honest, they really don't bother me. So long as the story has a driving plot that isn't the romance, I could care less what shape it's in. That being said, many reviews have commented that this novel wasn't to their liking because of one thing. There isn't just a love triangle, there is a love square. Yes, you read that correctly. One girl, three men. Holy smokes. I would be lying if I said that it wasn't a bit hard to keep track of everything happening at times. Now, those of you familiar with Catherine's life story will not be surprised, but to the casual reader who is looking for a fun Historic Fiction/YA Romance, be prepared. This is unlike anything you've read before. And the crazy part is that there really is love is all corners of the square. Generally I see authors who are bias towards one character or another, but Ficklin does an incredible job of giving each of the three male's their time in the spotlight so that we can really see why the story progresses in the way that it does. I am beyond curious to see where Ficklin goes with Catherine's love story from here!
Not so much a critique as a warning, but I did see a negative rating that pertained to this issue. Obviously if you realize that this novel is based on actual historic events, you know how it will end. A simple Google search can tell you everything you would ever want to know about Catherine the Great. Under Catherine's rule, Russia would emerge as one of the greatest powers in the world, but away from the throne room, Catherine's life was more dramatic than a soap opera. I only advise that if you do choose to research more into Catherine's life, you realize that you may be spoiling this series for yourself. I know this should be common knowledge, but you'd be surprised what I have been reading. *shaking my head*
I will also go ahead and admit that while this is a young adult novel, that doesn't necessarily mean that it is an easy one to read. This novel deals with some extremely mature material and also, in true historic novel fashion, is written in a historical narrative style of narration. It reads like a novel set in the eighteenth century. Just a warning. If you're looking for modern day slang and issues, you wont find them here. Ficklin does an incredible job at keeping with the time period, not only in speech, style, and clothing, but also in terms of culture. Many authors, playwrights, etc are mentioned in this novel that you may have only briefly heard of in the past. I think this novel could be used as a great learning tool to learn more of the artists that have shaped the various forms of entertainment that we enjoy today (art, music, theatre, etc).
Okay, critiques finished, let's rave!
Characters. Guys, I will be honest. I don't think I have fell this hard for a book girlfriend in some time. Holy hell. Sophie is everything I was looking for in a heroine/future queen and then some. She's smart, honest, kind, brave beyond measure, etc. Sherry seriously has a soft spot for this character because out of all the Ficklin characters I have been introduced to, Sophie is my favorite, by far. Other than Sophie, Peter, Alexander, Sergei, and the Empress were all written to perfection. This story has a rather large cast of characters and it can get confusing at times, but I can assure you that once you get your mind wrapped around who they all are, you will be amazed. The way that Ficklin has taken actual humans that have been dead for over 200 years and brings them back to life for an entirely new generation speaks volumes towards her writing style. The character development that we see in this story is among the best I have ever read. Sophie starts the story as a naive young girl traveling to a new kingdom, fearful for her future. By the time the novel ends we see a strong, proud woman who is ready to rule Russia with grace and power. Sophie does so much more than age in this novel. She perseveres and evolves. It's truly a beautiful thing. The other characters also evolve and change throughout the novel, but their evolution comes from the eyes of Sophie through her own evolution, which really is an interesting way to learn about the character development. Huge kudos to Ficklin for this aspect of her story as well.
Plot. Spoiler alert, anybody with Google knows how this one will end, but that doesn't stop Ficklin from throwing some massive curveballs into the mix. New characters and gripping emotions make this story leap from the pages of history and into your heart, granting it a well earned spot on your bookshelf!
Theme. Ficklin really hits home with a plethora of themes in this novel. Coming of age, love, honesty, and familial ties are all really big ones. I believe that Ficklin hits a particularly strong note with her themes on family present in Queen of Someday. Sophie and her mother have some issues, and in the end Sophie has to make some very mature decisions pertaining to her family. Sophie really lives her life to please others for a long time and is always trying to make the most selfless decision. Her dedication to her family really has no limits, but at some point, we all reach our breaking point, right? Maturity is a big one here as well, not just in the emotional and mental sense, but in more than one instance here, the physical sense. Sophie is evolving into a woman and when you are royalty that means a great deal more than it does in today's world. From marriage physicals to the constant strains of being free of disease and healthy, your physical age can play a big role in shaping your life story. Fortunately Sophie learns this lesson and plays it to her advantage more than once. Of course, the themes of maturity also greatly apply to the excruciatingly difficult decisions that Sophie must make in her young life. I would be completely lying if at times I had to stop reading just to reflect on everything going on in this poor young lady's life. I don't know many who could withstand all she had to withstand. I believe Sophie could act as an incredible role model to young woman everywhere. Ficklin is usually spot on with the themes in her novel and did not disappoint me in any capacity!
Setting. Tsarist Russia in the eighteenth century? What's not to love. The vast palaces, the sprawling Russian countrysides? Yeah. I loved every second of this one. Ficklin put so much emphasis into the detail of this novel that I merely had to close my eyes and was transported to the halls of the palace of St. Petersburg. I could see the sights of the city and hear the sound of the grand balls. It was truly an incredible experience. Anyone who is looking for an authentic feel to their historical novels will not be disappointed.
So I've raved and raved until I don't know what else I can say. While I did have a few small critiques, I am proud to say that this was one of the greatest historical novels that I have ever read. Seriously. I don't know exactly what I expected to feel after finishing this read, but I can tell you that I wasn't anticipating the feelings that I felt. Ficklin broke me. If I wasn't completely in love with Russian history and culture before, I definitely am now. Sophie/Catherine has one of the most intriguing stories of any leader in history. I am so glad that her story has been adapted by an author as capable and mind-blowing as Sherry Ficklin. Intermingling history and a bit of her own brand of unique fictitious storytelling, Ficklin has granted us with what I would label one of the most near-perfect Young Adult Historic (romance) novels ever written. I'm serious people. If this read even somewhat strikes you as interesting, you will MOST definitely want to check out out. This read is worth so much more than the mere rubles they are selling it for online. It's a steal folks, get your copy now!
It should be of absolutely no surprise to anyone that I am granting Queen of Someday by Sherry Ficklin a hands down, no questions asked, well-deserved 5+ star review. If I gave out any higher numbered reviews, this book would get it. It's only February and I can already tell you guys now that this one will be going on my "best of" list at the end of the year. In the meantime, I will be anxiously awaiting the release of book two, Queen of Tomorrow, set to release this summer. I can only hope it gives me the amazing feelings that this first novel did!
*note* I listened to the Audiobook that was narrated by Elan O'Connor. This was the first audiobook I have listened to by O'Conner and I can say without hesitation that she is my new favorite narrator. Wow. She was absolutely incredible! HUGE kudos to your narration ma'am, seriously!
Alright guys, I've raved so much I don't have much else to say. I am sure that more will hit me and I may have to come back and add to this review at a later date, but I know my overall thoughts will not change. I absolutely loved every second of this read and would love to have some of you guys read it as well! If you have had a chance to check out this incredible novel, let me know your thoughts in the comments below! Special thanks to our author, Sherry Ficklin for gifting me with an audiobook copy of this novel for review.
Until next time, Happy Reading!