Volkov Bratva Series Review

Hi ya’ll,

I’m going to review this series as a trilogy instead of as individual books, because I kinda read them all in one weekend…. whoops! Makes it hard to distinguish where one book leaves off and another begins when you do that.

The Volkov Bratva books are a Russian Mafia romance set in New York, where pre-med student Lauren meets NYC’s Mafia Prince, Mishca.

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Book One

Blurb:

Twenty-year-old Lauren Thompson left her small town in Michigan to begin a new life in the Big Apple where no one knows her name or the tragedy that had rocked her family fifteen years prior. With new friends and an intriguing new love interest, starting over is easier than she expected…but Mishca Volkov isn’t what he seems. As the son of a Russian Mob boss, he thrives in a world of chaos and fear, earning the title of Bratva Captain through blood and pain.

When the two cross paths, lines blur and passions ignite, bringing them closer than they could ever imagine. Until secrets from the past threaten to tear them apart. Can they fight past their demons…or were they doomed by fate before they ever met.

Something that I really like about this series is that it unfolds over several years without taking multiple time jumps by the author lazily writing “nine months later”. As fantastical as fiction can be, I still want it to be believable and a whirlwind happily ever-after-romance, that has a “solid foundation” of 4 days is as believable as the sun rising in the west and  setting in the east. Sure it is fun once in a while, but it gets old fast with the amount of romance that I read.

Mishca and Lauren’s tale is continued in the second and third books in the series.

Mishca and Lauren have time to grow as individuals and as a couple. The weight of their problems feels legitimate because they are not overcome in a weekend, but through weeks and months of effort. They continually choose each other, at times over things and people that use to have real meaning to them. Love is hard work. It requires that continual effort, dedication, and sacrifice,  and choosing each other again and again. It might become more familiar or comfortable, but it doesn’t get easier.

These books are awesome because it takes a fantastical experience (falling in love with a Mafia Prince) and humanizes it. The author takes you through the experiences of disapproving parents and conflicting morals merging into one unified sense of direction for a couple.

One of my favourite scenes is when Lauren allows Mishca  to tattoo his (thieves-in-law) stars on her shoulders, denoting his possession of her in his world. For Lauren, this is as serious – or more so – than a wedding band and something that she was reluctant to do for ages. This step symbolizes her acceptance of him, not just as a lover or friend, but in his entirety, and declares her dedication to him in a pretty public way.

There series end felt natural, although I was reluctant to let the characters go. Luckily, there is also a “post-script” novella written after The Final Hour.

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The fourth, and final, full novel in the Bratva series is about Aleksandra, Mishca ‘s sister, who is introduced early on in the series. I think of her novel as a bit of side-quel, because you see her developing through the first three books, but Aleksandra and her beau only have their moment in Hidden Monsters. As such, I will review it in a separate post in a few days.

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xx

The Lucky One – a film review

The Lucky One is a romantic-drama, based on the book of the same name, written by Nicolas Sparks. Released in 2012, it stars Zac Efron (“Logan”), Taylor Schilling (“Beth”), and Blythe Danner (“Ellie”).

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Trailer (via Youtube)

While I don’t think that any “Sparks” movie could ever come close to topping the masterpiece that is The Notebook, The Lucky One is another favourite of mine, and one that I have watched numerous times. Especially this time of year (I live in cold, snowy Canada), it is relaxing to watch a movie based in the South, and I do love me some southern accents. The Carolinian scenery is breath-taking. I think I need to take a trip down that was sometime.

Efron plays an American Marine recently returned from Iraq where most of his buddies died. He escaped a fatal blast by stepping out of range just seconds before, to pick up a picture he noticed fluttering in the wind.

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Upon his return to the States, he decides to track down the girl in the photo and return it to her, and thank her for saving his life. He doesn’t expect to fall for her, and her son, before he can figure out how to explain.

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The Lucky One is a sweet movie. I love how Efron depicts his character. Although Logan seems to suffer from PTSD, it isn’t the focal point of the film. He isn’t depicted as being a danger to himself or anyone else, and is certainly more stable than Beth’s ex-husband, a local cop.

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You wouldn’t want to me alone with this guy

It is amazing to see how naturally Logan takes to being a father-figure to Beth’s son and just what a good man and hard worker he is. He inspired me to work hard in my own life, and to look for a man with many of the qualities that he depicts. Beth and her son will never need to wonder about their security in the future, because Logan will make sure they don’t want for anything, and that they are safe and happy together.

The Lucky One

I loved how he was there for Beth as a friend, before they became romantically involved. She is initially an unpleasant character, filled with pain, and verbally lashes out at him multiple times, but is more than redeemed shortly on. Her brother, the one who lost the photo in Iraq, didn’t make it back alive, and Logan can certainly relate to her grief and anger. Together, they help each other through and grow.

** Minor spoiler, as to whether the movie ends happily or not:

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The Lucky One is a great romantic comedy. It has drama, and tears, but ultimately, the film ends positively, with Logan and Beth’s relationship in-tact. I have watched this movie multiple times and definitely recommend it to you.

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xx

Movie Review – We Are Marshall

We Are Marshall (2006) is an amazing movie.

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It is based on a true story.

In 1970, a plane carrying the university’s football team, athletic staff and assorted other members of the community crashed just outside of town, on a return trip from an out-of-state game. All 75 people on board died. I think this remains the deadliest sports tragedy in American history.

We Are Marshall is about the community grieving this loss and coming together to form a new team. Even though it’s a “football movie”, it is so much more.

The film was so well done. I’ve seen it at least a half a dozen times, and I still get goosebumps every time that plane goes down. And teary-eyed throughout. The loss the entire Marshall/Huntington community must have been feeling is unimaginable but you get a sense of it. This movie is endearing and uplifting, something I can watch over and over. You can feel the power and emotion behind the story. I certainly believe that the actor and producers creating it really cared about the people involved.

It stars Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Fox and Kate Mara (who is my favourite actress). Here is the trailer.

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