Reviews

The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden – Review

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Blurb

THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE  

Author: Katherine Arden

Publisher: Del Rey 

Format: Hardcover, 322 pages

Published: January 10th 2017

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At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

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adri's review

pink4There were a lot of things I enjoyed about this book, but all in all, it just wasn’t for me; I had a difficult time making it to the end. 

What I loved most about The bear and the nightingale was the whimsical, truly fairy-tale like feel it has. The writing is gorgeous and lyrical, the tone and the setting was immersing and the depiction of Russia felt authentic. Arden really did an amazing job with this retelling when it comes to atmosphere. The Russian setting, the winter, coupled with the dark, fantastical elements…just so gorgeous. If you love retellings with an authentic feel of a fairy-tale then I’m sure you’ll enjoy it much more than I did. 

Vasilisa, our main protagonist, is a wild, free spirit and I really enjoyed following along on her magical journey starting from a very young age. The mythical creatures and the magical aspect of the novel were intriguing and dark and a bit creepy, which I love. 

The biggest problem for me was the distanced way the story was told. You don’t get to really connect with the characters; it felt like seeing only the surface of the story and so I had a hard time genuinely caring for the characters or the plot, aside from curiosity as to how things would wrap up. I also felt like the same kind of distance dulled the connections between the characters themselves. There is a large emphasis on family and community, and although it was shown in a subtle, almost nostalgic way, it didn’t feel solid. I didn’t feel the care and the love. I didn’t see the connection between them and I wasn’t able to connect to any of them. That was frustrating for me because characters are usually the key points when it comes to me enjoying a book. 

Aside from that, the pacing was a bit too slow. I had a hard time finishing it because it felt like slugging through somewhere in the middle; nothing was happening. And we get POVs from other people, not just Vasilisa and her family, which I didn’t like. The varrying POVs just made me feel more detached from the story because I didn’t get to spend enough time with the main characters.

The book picks up in the last half of the book. The creepy aspect amps up and I just loved that. I also really enjoyed the way the story wraps up and sets up for a sequel. Makes me want to read the next book even though I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I would’ve liked. Overall, a great read for fairytale lovers, but lacking in some ways for me personally. 


about author

 

Katherine Arden

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Newbie Sunday #1 – Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

 

Nigerian-influenced fantasy #OwnVoices

Dark Magic

Sin-beasts: creatures manifested from sin

Sin-eaters : beast slayers indentured by mages

 

 

Author: Tochi Onyebuchi

Publisher: Razorbill

Format: Hardcover, 336 pages

Published: September 26th 2017

                                                      Pre-order : Amazon logo   Barnes & Noble    bookdepository logo

Packed with dark magic and thrilling action, Beasts Made of a Night is a gritty Nigerian-influenced fantasy perfect for fans of Paolo Bacigalupi and Nnedi Okorafor.

In the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts – lethal creatures spawned from feelings of guilt.

Taj is the most talented of the aki, young sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. But Taj’s livelihood comes at a terrible cost. When he kills a sin-beast, a tattoo of the beast appears on his skin while the guilt of committing the sin appears on his mind. Most aki are driven mad by the process, but 17-year-old Taj is cocky and desperate to provide for his family.

When Taj is called to eat a sin of a royal, he’s suddenly thrust into the center of a dark conspiracy to destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves – and his own life.

Debut author Tochi Onyebuchi delivers an unforgettable fantasy adventure that powerfully explores the true meaning of justice and guilt.


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Tochi Onyebuchi

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Reviews

A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson – Review

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Blurb

A TASTE OF HONEY  

Author: Kai Ashante Wilson

Publisher: Tor.com

Format: Paperback, 159 pages

Published: October 25th 2016

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(Click Picture or underlined title to add on Goodreads)

Long after the Towers left the world but before the dragons came to Daluça, the emperor brought his delegation of gods and diplomats to Olorum. As the royalty negotiates over trade routes and public services, the divinity seeks arcane assistance among the local gods.

Aqib bgm Sadiqi, fourth-cousin to the royal family and son of the Master of Beasts, has more mortal and pressing concerns. His heart has been captured for the first time by a handsome Daluçan soldier named Lucrio. in defiance of Saintly Canon, gossiping servants, and the furious disapproval of his father and brother, Aqib finds himself swept up in a whirlwind romance. But neither Aqib nor Lucrio know whether their love can survive all the hardships the world has to throw at them.Decor 1

adri's review

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I really hoped I would love this book, but in the end I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to. The writing is fabulous- by far my favorite aspect of A taste of honey. I also really liked our main character and his relationship with Lucrio, but I felt like I was seeing everything from the surface. I felt distanced to the characters and the events that take place in the book. Not to mention that I was confused for the better part of the story (that may be a problem from my part so I won’t take it out on the book).

What I liked:

Non-chronological story-telling: I loved how the story was woven together. The narration jumps between different instances in Aqib’s life after he meets Lucrio. Although it  contributed in large to my confusion while reading, I still felt like it payed off in the end just because of how the story unfolded. I thought it was very original and somewhat effective.

The writing: Like I mentioned before, the writing is gorgeous. It was very bold and unique; the language the characters use and the dialects were masterfully done.

The romance: I really liked the romance. It might’ve been kinda insta-love but that moment they meet was adorable. Just every scene with them both was lovely. I wanted so much more of them though. 

The ending: It kinda took me by surprise to be honest. I should’ve seen it coming but the fact that I din’t made it more enjoyable; it packed more of a punch that way. 

What I didn’t like:

I went into this expecting lush world-building and an atmospheric setting, but there was none of that; we don’t get much insight into the world. I feel like this book is a sort of introduction to another fantasy book because it does feel like there is a complex a fantasy world at the tip of your fingers but it’s not fleshed out yet so you feel the potential but don’t actually get to see it.

Overall, I enjoyed A taste of honey. I wanted a bit more of the characters, their relationships and the world but I still felt like the story is enjoyable.


about author

Kai Ashate Wilson

Kai Ashante Wilson’s stories ‘Super Bass’ and the Nebula-nominated ‘The Devil in America’ can be read online gratis at Tor.com.

His story «Légendaire.» can be read in the anthology Stories for Chip, which celebrates the legacy of science fiction grandmaster Samuel Delany.

His debut short novel The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps won the 2016 Crawford Award. Kai Ashante Wilson lives in New York City.

 

Reviews

Caraval by Stephanie Garber – Review

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Blurb

caraval

CARAVAL  

Author: Stephanie Garber

Publisher: Flatiron Books

 Format: Hardcover, 407 pages

Published: January 31st 2017

Buy At:  Amazon logo   Barnes & Noble    bookdepository logo

(Click Picture or underlined title to add on Goodreads)

 

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

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adri's review

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Trigger Warning: Domestic Abuse

Considering the major hype surrounding this book, I was quite surprised how average it was. I did enjoy it very much. I thought it was fun and I wanted to get through to the end, but it was just average. Enjoyable. I didn’t find it as amazing and enthralling as many others did. What surprised me the most is how some people praise the writing, gushing about how gorgeous it is. Personally, I felt it was unnecessarily flowery- like it’s trying too hard to be something it isn’t. It was quite obvious that there were flowery metaphors sprinkled through in a way that didn’t flow well with the otherwise plain writing. 

Something else that disappointed me was the circus aspect of it. I went into this expecting a circus-like vibe, but I didn’t really get that while reading Caraval. It was more like a town with several shops that somehow related to the game. I loved that it had a bit of creepiness and magic and a lot mystery, but somethings aren’t explained. I didn’t understand how magic works in this world; in fact, I didn’t understand anything about the world aside from the fact that there are two islands- one where Scarlett and her sister live and one where the game takes place. There’s not much depth.

I liked the characters but they annoyed the hell out of me, especially Scarlett. She keeps getting distracted and keeps making some of the stupidest mistakes when she’s supposed to save her sister and it infuriated me to no end. Also, I kinda wanted to smack her whenever she initiates unnecessary disputes with Julian. You’re supposed to find your sister and he can help you! But nooo, you just have to be a brat to him and complicate things further for the dumbest reasons. (Okay, so maybe I don’t like Scarlett at all)

are-you-serious

The romance…it was meh. I didn’t care for it much. I admit I liked the tension between the two characters. That was my favorite thing about it. And I might’ve enjoyed their relationship much more towards the end, but for the most part, I was just indifferent towards it. 

The mystery was my favorite thing about Caraval. There are twists and turns that you will not see coming. I was left guessing and ending up wrong several times throughout the whole book. There are so many things left unanswered at first and you can’t help but start scrambling for answers and explanations. And when it all comes together, it’s kinda mind-blowing! Especially towards the end, I was flying through the pages like crazy. 

I also liked the emphasis on sisterhood, although we don’t see much of Tella. It was clear how much they cared for each other and how deep their bond was. 


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I usually end up enjoying hyped books but this one just didn’t do it for me. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way but still…I’m very much in the minority. Have you guys read Caraval? What did you think about it, do you really believe it lives up to its hype? Also, what are some overhyped books that you ended up not enjoying as much? Let me know down below! 😀


about author

stephanie-garber

Stephanie Garber

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March 2017 TBR

      This month, I plan to read a total of 16 books. Yeah, I know…not likely. But I still want to try! This way I can make up for the horrible reading month that was February. Two of the books I’ll be reading are reference books for my writing. I’m excited to get into them but I’m so bad at making myself read non-fiction. I have never finished a single non-fiction book. That’s how bad it is…

(Click on the covers to add on Goodreads)

a-conjuring-of-light  the-hate-u-give  long-way-to-a-small  goodbye-days  frostblood

11  5  12  daughter-of-a-pirate-king  the-edge-of-everything

gilded-cage  hunted  city-of-saints-thieves  wintersong  elements-of-style