Book Reviews

New ARCs and Reviews!

IMG_4563

I got my hands on some incredible ARCs this month and I’ll be reviewing them soon. Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed by how many books I need to read each month from ARCs that I get sent, but this month has been slow. Yet, the few books I’ve gotten seem to be of some incredible quality. I’d rather get just a few books that are worth it, than 27 books that are mediocre. Here are a few I’ll be diving into this month!

 

The 34928122 (1)first one I plan on reviewing is Artemis by Andy Weir! Weir wrote The Martian, which was really an amazing book to read. It had a really science centered take, yet still managed to keep you guessing from one minute to the next. Because of that, I can’t wait to pick this up today and devour it. I’m hoping Weir is able to enchant me a second time around. I am a bit worried that because Weir’s style was so science based in his debut novel, that this book may not have the pull that his first one had. But, that remains to be seen and I will give Artemis a fair shake, at the very least. Artemis is due for release November 14th, 2017.

 

30288282The next book I received an ARC of is The Immortalists by Chloe Bejamin. I’ve never read any of Benjamin’s work, though this one seems promising. It’s about four people who are told the day that they will die and explores what people might do or not do with this knowledge. Set in 1969, it isn’t as mystical as I usually like but has enough magic in it to definitely draw me in. The Immortalists will be released on January 9th, 2018.

 

 

I was sent an ARC of The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden along with these and I’ve The Girl in the Toweralready reviewed it here. I was initially worried that having a sequel wouldn’t pan out well for Arden, but after completely tearing through this book, you’ll see how I really felt about it in the review. The release date for this one is December 5th, 2017.

 

 

 

If you want to hear me rant about books in 140 characters or less follow me here on Twitter. I’m bound to say something slightly ridiculous but probably wildly entertaining.

Advertisements
Book Reviews

Book Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

The Girl in the Tower

ARC was given to me by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Girl in the Tower is Book 2 in The Winternight Trilogy with The Bear and the Nightingale being the first book in the series written by the incredible Katherine Arden.

Vasya, no longer a child but a tall, graceful, wild woman, has fled her forest country home for fear of whispers of those in her village. Whispers turning bolder and more menacing, accusing her of being a witch. The death of her father still looms over her and questions she cannot answer for fear of being called mad, or worse, beg her to leave everything she knows in search of adventure and the wild.

Dressed as a boy, she mounts her steed, Solovey, given to her by Death himself, and heads out into the world to live the life of a Traveler. On the way, she learns that the evil that plagued her village has seeped its way into the far corners of the countryside, burning villages and taking girls at every chance. Vasya, along with the Grand Prince of Moscow and her own brother, Sasha, must try and rid the land of this evil. All the while, the secret of Vasya’s gender, while known to her brother, is kept from everyone else, lest she is sent to a convent, married off, or worse – killed for her lies and immodesty.

This sequel surprised me in the best way. Usually, books in a series don’t get much better than the very first installment, but Arden was able to surprise me with a much better book than it’s predecessor. I wouldn’t necessarily call these books “action-packed”. That’s not a bad thing at all. I was genuinely intrigued and constantly on edge, even without every scene including a sword fight or a brawl. Each line had a pull and a tense edge that kept me turning every single page out of mere necessity. I had to know what would happen. I desperately needed to see this thing through.

I worried for Vasya as much as I admired her. I cursed her along with her family and her elders when she made rash judgments, just as I whooped and cheered for her pushing away the bonds of a role that she never asked for. Yet again, the setting in this novel is another game entirely. The cold world Arden sets is as much a character as Vasya, her brother Sasha, or even Morozko, the frost-demon and Winter King.

I’ve never been one for a romance novel, and The Winternight Trilogy definitely wouldn’t fit into that category at all, but there is a romance that I felt really put a jolt in my heart. It made me care so much more than I imagined I would. And truly, if there ever was a love story in this book, it’s the love story between the cold land of Rus’ and the people that live within it. The domovoi and the people it tries to look after, even when they can do little but fade in the wake of new god and icons.

It’s almost hard to imagine that these two books are Arden’s first novels. They read so wonderfully and every word drips myth and legend. Every page speaks of the old world and sets you so firmly within it that you can feel the rattle of your bones in the frigid country. I cannot wait to see what the third and final book has in store. Although, I am fairly certain that Arden will break my heart, but leave me glad for the tale, nonetheless.

 

Have you guys read anything recently that blew away your expectations?

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale

My rating :5 stars

I started this book off pretty hesitant. Mostly because I’d been told by so many people how great it was, just to turn around and hear from someone that they didn’t like it at all. I’m so glad I finally decided to pick it up and give it the chance it deserved.

I don’t really do reviews that go into the plot of a book, mostly because by the time I get around to reviewing a book plenty of people have done that already. But honestly, trying to describe the plot of this particular book takes away the magic from a first reading. The Bear and the Nightingale is what one can only describe as sort of an ethereal book. Time passes in the blink of an eye on the page and you feel sort of swept away by it all.

The characters were interesting, but Vasya, or Vailisa, shone brightly among each one. Katherine Arden has a way of writing a specific setting so well that you truly feel like you’re there. You can feel the cold and the wet. You can feel the desperation.

I will say the first 25% of the book takes a little while to get through. It isn’t that the book is unenjoyable, but you wonder what the plot is and where everything is headed. This book is unlike anything I’ve really read before, so I have a hard time classifying it or stacking it up against things I’ve loved in the past. All I can say is that I really adored it, and I’m really excited that I got my hands on an ARC copy of the next book in the series The Girl in the Tower: A Novel.

 

Have you read The Bear and the Nightingale yet? Planning to? Let me know in the comments!

Book Reviews

Mystery Blogger Award

mysteryblogger

I was nominated for The Mystery Blogger Award by Lexie from Reading in the Wings. I’m pretty new to blogging but she shares my love of Harry Potter so you can’t go wrong with that! This award was created by Okoto.

The Rules:

  • Put the award logo/image on your blog.
  • List the rules.
  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  • You have to nominate 10 – 20 people.
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
  • Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify).
  • Share a link to your best post(s).

Three Things About Me:

  1. I have two black and tan miniature Dachshunds. One is long haired and the other is short haired. They are my world, along with my girlfriend.
  2. I have a weird addiction to bags. Not purses, I don’t own a single purse. But bags. Like bookbags. I am in LOVE with them and own way too many.
  3. The local library in my town is my favorite place to completely unwind and just chill out. Way better than a coffee shop, in my opinion.

Questions From Reading in the Wings:

Who is your favorite author?

Hmmm.. I would normally go with J.K. Rowling or some of my childhood favorites, but I’m going to have to go with James S. A. Corey for now. He writes the incredible Expanse series that’s some of the best Science Fiction I’ve read in a decade.

Who would play you in the movie about your life?

Most likely Ellen Page. We have a very similar sense of humor, both queer, and I think she’s absolutely adorable.

If you could be any animal for a day, which would you choose?

Probably a cat. I would love to know what it’s like to have that kind of balance and speed. I can’t imagine anything cooler since I have no desire to fly.

Which character would you like to bring to life?

Probably Mia from Nevernight by Jay Kristoff. She’s such a genuine character. Very dark, very lethal, and I would love to hang out and learn from her.

What was the last book you read?

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

 

My Questions for Nominees: 

  1. What is a book that you can read over and over again?
  2. What is your least favorite book you’ve read?
  3. Where is your favorite place to relax and de-stress?
  4. What is your favorite thing to buy other than books?
  5. Coffee or tea?

My Best Posts:

Book Review: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Book Review: Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance

I nominate Captains Quarters, Marianna Reads, Novelladdict, Tiana the Book Raventheorangutanlibrarian, Bookstooge, Amanda @ Literary Weaponry, MiRakelBooksshihtzusandbookreviews, and Howlin Books!

Book Reviews

Book Review – Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance 

I thought about not reviewing Hillbilly Elegy on my book blog, because I felt it didn’t warrant the effort. That’s not to say I didn’t like this memoir/political book, but more to say that I have some deep seated attachment to it in a way that would be hard for me to explain.

See, J. D. Vance and I shared similar upbringings and similar situations. I, thankfully, had a rock solid father figure and was constantly in church (which, like Vance, I later fled from as fast as I could), but all these things set me up for some sense of stability that was juxtaposed by my addicted mother, my devout Christian family that drug me across the coals, and the poverty that we mucked around in for most of my life.

 
Vance tells a powerful story of growing up poor and white in the Rust Belt, which is eerily similar to growing up poor and white in the Bible Belt. What is most interesting is that the few times Vance mentions black people, he admits that poor white people were very much like poor black people. And he noted that the Welfare Queen made you think of an overweight black woman leeching the system, when in reality, all the people leeching from the welfare system that he personally knew were all white.

 
But that was it. He barely mentions race after that fact. Which shouldn’t be surprising, this book is about poor white Appalachia. Not poor black. I think his intent was noble, but his execution was sloppy. He comes off as a nice guy, but the nice guy who shows that he picked himself up by his bootstraps and did what he had to in order to leave his poverty stricken life.

 
Don’t get me wrong, there is a ton to gain from this read. Vance makes many valid points about growing up poor and white. The disparity between the upper class and the lower class. Violence in a southern home that is never seen up close unless you’ve truly been in it. He talks about drug use and how addiction tears families into pieces, but much more subtly than you could imagine.

 
He spoke at length that the racism in his family stemmed from proud people who looked at a poor black family and saw themselves staring right back, and it hurt.

He talked about the strange parallels of a tough group of hillbillies that just couldn’t get it right. How they would help a stranger without thinking, but never could help themselves.

 
It wouldn’t be fair to say Vance’s book wasn’t nuanced, because it was. But what irritated me the most was that for all his memoir spoke of the myriad of problems that poor white people face, he never did have a single answer for how to pull them out of that poverty. Never struck home on the fact that many poor people didn’t have the opportunities that he did. And the few times he hinted at that fact, he just as quickly glanced away.
He talked about a boy at the end who was just a hungry kid, and that the kid would never have a chance if it wasn’t for people like Vance in his life. It just never jived with the “tough it out and work hard for the American dream” thing that he put out. He contradicted himself at almost every single turn.

 
It DID help me understand more of Donald Trump’s rise to power, although he never mentions Trump at all. And he more than once said that he didn’t understand Republicans nature to blame their woes on Obama who, in his own words, was an intelligent man, a wonderful father and successful. He pointed out that all these things made Obama seem like the foreigner that rumors made him out to be. Obama may not have been from the Middle East, but he certainly wasn’t anything like these poor white people. And while Obama faced his own adversities, that was long before the American people saw him on TV every night.

 
I would suggest picking this up and giving it a read. I highlighted much of it because a lot of it did resonate with me personally, even if I disagreed with some of Vance’s conclusions.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

nevernight-book-cover-battle-uk-vs-us.png

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic — the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Rating:

5 stars.jpg

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff is yet another book that I’ve had my eye on for quite some time, and yet I always seemed drowned by too many others to justify picking it up. I had been going through the worst book slump ever when I saw it, and I wasn’t very optimistic that my luck in reading would change.

Holy hell, was it worth every dime I paid. A grim fantasy. A heroine I’ve been waiting ages for. A plot that kept me on my toes. This book had it all.

Mr. Kristoff’s setting is one of the more interesting ones I’ve come across recently. A land that has three suns, which of course means that it’s hardly ever night time. Once every 2.5 years there is “truedark”, where the night comes in totality. Every other 24-hour cycle is filled to the brim with a relentless light that comes with its own issues. The city that is the center of most of the goings-on is decadently described and evokes Italian structure at every turn.

This book’s setting and world building go uniquely hand in hand mostly because there are three suns. This brings about certain phrases and terms that are specific to this world. I never felt overwhelmed while learning the world I was reading about, and Kristoff managed to never info-dump. Every bit of the description was subtle. I felt like I was learning by subtext and not having specifics bashed over my head with every other page.

To top it off, Kristoff employed footnotes in many of the pages and I loved it. Some reviewers felt that it pulled them out of the story, but I never felt this way. The narrator in the footnotes shifts from 3rd person to 1st person and gave me incredible insights into Itreya and the world around it while managing to be witty, clever, and humorous. This helped with the world building immensely and never felt like cheating. Even without the footnotes, Kristoff created a place that was easy to understand and even more fun to learn about along the way.

Mia Corvere is the protagonist in Nevernight and I have never loved a female character as much as I love her. She’s a badass and I believed it. Plenty of authors try so hard to make their character the epitome of lethality, but none made me truly believe it like Kristoff did with Mia. She never got on my nerves and she seemed competent in most aspects even if she didn’t quite excel. She had her flaws, but they weren’t annoying ‘not”-flaws. We all know the ones.

Mia is sixteen years old, but this is NOT a YA novel by any means. Blood and gore abound so fantastically in this novel, along with some heavy sex. Both of which were written very well. I picked this book up in the Fantasy section, which is exactly what I was looking for.

The best thing about this story is the pacing and plot. Honestly, this book never lets up. Every single turn there was conflict, and when there wasn’t conflict, there was tension. This is so hard to accomplish and very few authors get it right.

Another thing I loved was that Kristoff understands how to get me to go “Oh my god, I should not be surprised but HOLY SHIT”. He is a master of foreshadowing. I would go a while, being tugged this way and that by a plot that never let up, and then just when I’d forgotten something that was mentioned 150 pages back, BAM, he hit me with a revelation that made my jaw drop and had me backpedaling through pages to see what I missed. There were no cheap tricks, and I was constantly surprised by how well he was able to plant and then pay off surprises much later in the story.

I have very few qualms with this book, as it’s quickly become a top 20 favorite of mine, but I will say that the fight scenes toward the end got to be a little much. For most of the book, the fights were incredibly written and never got dull. I was constantly on my toes and the stakes made me feel the tension that Kristoff wanted from me. But at the end, I was far too invested in what would happen and ended up getting frustrated with what seemed like pages upon pages of push, pull, feint, dash, and all that came with it.

It has been a long time since I’ve given 5 stars, but for pulling me out of a book slump, Nevernight has earned every single one of them. I definitely recommend picking this up and giving it a go.

Until next time,

Kelly