2019 Book #20 – Kingdom Cold by Brittni Chenelle

411E7gzFfZLTitle: Kingdom Cold
Author: Brittni Chenelle
Date finished: 3/17/19
Genre: Young adult, romance, fantasy
Publication Date: February 14, 2019
Pages in book: 278
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Kingdom Cold series
Where I got the book from: Author/Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Attempted murder, that’s how sixteen-year-old Princess Charlotte’s engagement starts. It seems like the only thing she has in common with Prince Young of Vires is their mutual discontent.

When her kingdom’s attacked, Charlotte’s parents renegotiate her hand in marriage to a handsome stranger with a sinister plan. With the people Charlotte loves dying around her, and her kingdom’s future at stake, the only person she can turn to is the prince she betrayed. But, should she save her kingdom or her heart? One must fall.

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I liked this book more than I expected to. Charlotte started out pretty whiny and petulant (not to mention impulsive) and I was worried those traits were going to stay with her throughout the book. Fortunately her character evolved some over time and I even ended up liking her. I didn’t feel that I really got to know her full character though, there were parts of the story that moved too quickly for me and it felt almost like there were large gaps in the story and the development of the relationships. Charlotte obviously evolved into a strong and fierce princess and I wish I had seen that transition more fully. The author’s writing style could use some smoothing out where I thought there might be rough edges, but I really enjoyed the plot and the potential of the characters. There was emotion, action, adventure, romance, and danger – everything you could want in a novel. I didn’t want to put it down and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. The ending was so overwhelmingly sad but was also something different and made it a little more unpredictable. I’m not sure how the author managed to transition the story into a second book but I’d be pretty interested to find out.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

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2019 Book # 2 – The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

51qqjkvcdqlTitle: The Winter of the Witch
Author: Katherine Arden
Date finished: 1/10/19
Genre: Fiction, fantasy, magical realism, fairy tale
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: #3 in the Winternight Trilogy
Where I got the book from: Publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Following their adventures in The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, Vasya and Morozko return in this stunning conclusion to the bestselling Winternight Trilogy, battling enemies mortal and magical to save both Russias, the seen and the unseen.

“A tale both intimate and epic, featuring a heroine whose harrowing and wondrous journey culminates in an emotionally resonant finale.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Reviewers called Katherine Arden’s novels The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower “lyrical,” “emotionally stirring,” and “utterly bewitching.” The Winternight Trilogy introduced an unforgettable heroine, Vasilisa Petrovna, a girl determined to forge her own path in a world that would rather lock her away. Her gifts and her courage have drawn the attention of Morozko, the winter-king, but it is too soon to know if this connection will prove a blessing or a curse.

Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.

My rating: 5.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have read the first two books in this series and loved them. For me, this series has been so interesting, different and refreshing, and I have thoroughly enjoyed each book. Also, I don’t know who designed the covers for this trilogy, but they have been GORGEOUS. They really draw the reader to the book and represent each book’s story so well.  I found this book a bit easier to jump back into than the last, though it does still take a good amount of additional concentration compared to some of the other novels I’ve read recently. There are just so many characters to keep track of and they’re all called multiple names/nicknames throughout the book. It can be daunting to keep track of at times, but it’s definitely do-able. This book could possibly be classified as “wordy” – to be honest if it were any other book I would probably say it is – but with this book I found each word to be so necessary to the magic of the story, and I found myself going back over the pages because I didn’t want to miss a single word. The author uses intense descriptions to draw the reader into the story and trap them in this Russian world of magic and wonder. And the narratives surrounding the fight scenes were so good that I felt like I was there, watching the sweat drip from the warriors’ faces.

This book really made the reader question the idea of right vs wrong and good vs evil. I love when books make us reevaluate our ideas of morality, and I thought this was a very interesting sub-layer to the story. One of my favorite quotes in the book was “monsters were for children,” as Vasya learns that the truth is more complicated than simply being able to pick a side and call it the “right” side or the “good” side. All of us have the potential for goodness inside of us and all of us have the ability to make a difference in the world, even in unorthodox ways. I just loved delving into this concept within the story line amidst all of the action and magic that the book brought to life for me. I highly recommend reading this series and I can’t wait to see what this author comes up with next!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2018 Book #84 – Ogre Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

51-gjuXCcXLTitle: Ogre Enchanted
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Date finished: 10/18/18
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: October 16, 2018
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Related to Ella Enchanted (same land and fairies involved)
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Evie is happiest when she is healing people, diagnosing symptoms and prescribing medications, with the help of her devoted friend (and test subject) Wormy. So when Wormy unexpectedly proposes to her, she kindly turns him down; she has far too much to do to be marrying anyone. And besides, she simply isn’t in love with him.

But a certain meddling fairy named Lucinda has been listening in, and she doesn’t approve of Evie’s rejection. Suddenly, Evie finds herself transformed from a girl into a hideous, hungry ogre!

Stuck in this new and confusing form, Evie now has only sixty-two days to accept another proposal—or else be stuck as an ogre forever.

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I read Ella Enchanted when I was younger and loved it, and I also loved the movie they made out of it starring Anne Hathaway. So this book appealed to my inner nostalgia and I really wanted to read it!

There was a lot that I liked about this book – the story line was definitely different and pretty interesting. Evie as a character was a bit emotionally disconnected, but she made a great ogre. It freaked me out that she kept talking about not eating people and how yummy they smelled but she couldn’t eat them. It fit with her being an ogre obviously but it was still just a little odd for me. And there were some pretty gruesome parts too. I was trying to eat my lunch during one part where the band of ogres are eating a giant and it was just super gross. And the ending fit into the story well but I can’t say I loved it. Evie went through a lot during the story and (based on the ending) it wasn’t fully required and it made me feel so sad for her. And I really wished something worse would have happened to the bad guy in the book too, seemed like he got off pretty easy to me. Other than those things though, the book was very interesting and definitely entertaining. I would recommend reading it, it was a good fantasy young adult book.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

Paperback release – The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

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Hi All!

One of my favorite reads from earlier this year, The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden, is now out in paperback!

This was a great continuation of the Winternight Trilogy, and I’ve been loving the magical and dark feel to this fairy tale. I can’t wait for the third book in the trilogy to come out later this year!

If you haven’t started this series yet I would recommend checking it out!

 

2018 Book #2 – The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

51wY6en8tdL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Girl in the Tower
Author: Katherine Arden
Date finished: 1/8/18
Genre: Fiction, fantasy, magical realism, fairy tale
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: December 5, 2017
Pages in book: 342
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Winternight Trilogy
Where I got the book from: Publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A remarkable young woman blazes her own trail, from the backwoods of Russia to the court of Moscow, in the exhilarating sequel to Katherine Arden’s bestselling debut novel, The Bear and the Nightingale.

Katherine Arden’s enchanting first novel introduced readers to an irresistible heroine. Vasilisa has grown up at the edge of a Russian wilderness, where snowdrifts reach the eaves of her family’s wooden house and there is truth in the fairy tales told around the fire. Vasilisa’s gift for seeing what others do not won her the attention of Morozko—Frost, the winter demon from the stories—and together they saved her people from destruction. But Frost’s aid comes at a cost, and her people have condemned her as a witch.

Now Vasilisa faces an impossible choice. Driven from her home by frightened villagers, the only options left for her are marriage or the convent. She cannot bring herself to accept either fate and instead chooses adventure, dressing herself as a boy and setting off astride her magnificent stallion Solovey.

But after Vasilisa prevails in a skirmish with bandits, everything changes. The Grand Prince of Moscow anoints her a hero for her exploits, and she is reunited with her beloved sister and brother, who are now part of the Grand Prince’s inner circle. She dares not reveal to the court that she is a girl, for if her deception were discovered it would have terrible consequences for herself and her family. Before she can untangle herself from Moscow’s intrigues—and as Frost provides counsel that may or may not be trustworthy—she will also confront an even graver threat lying in wait for all of Moscow itself.

My rating:  4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

This action-packed fairy tale was an intriguing, and at some points dark, story of a young woman coming into her full potential. Vasilisa (Vasya for short) sets off on a journey and ends up involved in another other-world plot of doom. Along the way she finds her feelings for Morozko, the frost demon, growing unexpectedly. The beginning of this book I found a little hard to delve into. Even after I enjoyed the first book in the trilogy so much, the beginning of this book jumped right back into the story and it took me a minute to remember where we had left off. After I was able to get back with the story though, I couldn’t put this down. Once you’re able to push past the first approx. 50 pages of the book, it just drags you right into this other world of magic and snow and danger. The narratives in this novel are amazingly descriptive without being overly wordy (in my opinion) and, while at times the story is quite dense, the text includes a wealth of details that really enrich the story line and the world created to transport the reader. The author really brings the magic alive in this book  and creates some heart-pounding action scenes as well.

I just have to say too, I think this series would move SUCH an AMAZING movie series if it was done correctly. Vasya’s vibrancy contrasting with the stark, snowy wilderness and also the bustling metropolis of Moscow would be an amazing picture to see on the big screen.

I thought this was an amazing book and a great continuation of the story line. I can’t wait to see where the author takes us in the conclusion of the trilogy, The Winter of the Witch, coming in August 2018.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #96 – Deja New by MaryJanice Davidson

517ZtT8pyKLTitle: Deja New
Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Date finished: 11/29/17
Genre: Fiction, fantasy
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: November 7, 2017
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Insighters series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Leah Nazir lives in a world where the past can and will come back to bite you in the ass. No, not teething ghosts—reincarnation! As an Insighter, it’s Leah’s job to delve into the murky and (often) deadly former lives of her patients. And she knows a thing or two about danger after killing her mother’s murderer with the help of new beau, Archer Drake.

Isn’t he the best?

Now, it’s time to take their relationship to the next level, but not in any way Leah could have predicted. She and Archer head to Chicago to meet his parents—and try to figure out why Archer’s dad killed his brother decades ago. When someone tries to sabotage their investigation, Leah must decide if the Drake family past is a deal breaker…

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book continues the story of Leah Nazir and Archer Drake, whose relationship began in the last book in the series, Deja Who. It’s hard to pin down exactly but it sounds like this book picks up a few months to a year after the last book left off. Leah and Archer are visiting Archer’s family, hoping that Leah’s Insighter ability will be  what makes the difference in solving a years old mystery: why Archer’s father (Dennis) killed his brother (Donald – Archer’s uncle). Angela Drake is Archer’s cousin and is thrilled that he’s bringing Leah home to meet the family. An Insighter herself (but with far less strength to her abilities than Leah’s) Angela is having a bit of celebrity shock over meeting one of her heroes. It’s this and the new detective on the case, Jason Chambers, that Angela hopes will finally help settle the family’s questions once and for all. But Dennis does not want to cooperate. He’s serving what he feels is a just sentence and has no interest in being freed. The family is quite convinced that he didn’t kill his brother though, so why is he so determined to stay in jail? And why is Angela’s mom been a ghost ever since that fateful day so many years ago?

Overall I liked this book a good amount. Similar to the last book in the series this book has a really creative plot, and this book has a great twist ending! Also similar to the last book, the conversations can get a bit confusing since they’re so fast paced and there’s usually multiple people involved. But that’s part of the charm of the book, I think, is that there is so much going on in it. And the characters are all really funny too, and the situations they all get into are pretty comical as well. I liked that we got to hear more about Leah and Archer, while also seeing a relationship develop between Angela and Jason in this book. I thought this was a great continuation of the story line and I love meeting the different members of the Drake family. I would be interested to see what happens with Leah and Archer’s situation in the future or to hear more about one of the brothers/cousins, I hope for the possibility of more books in the series! I’d recommend giving this one too try, it’s fun and light and I think very interesting.

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot, it was funny and fast-paced and has a very interesting plot. I would recommend giving this one a try!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #95 – Deja Who by MaryJanice Davidson

51bXz8Oea-L._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Deja Who
Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Date finished: 11/24/17
Genre: Fiction, fantasy
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Pages in book: 285
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Insighters series
Where I got the book from: I bought this book, I’m a huge fan of this author

Blurb from the cover:

You couldn’t arrest for murder someone who had killed in his last life. You couldn’t bring a civil suit against such people, either. They could only be legally penalized for what they did this time around—and what a dark circus the legal system had been before that legislation passed! (It was still a dark circus, but perhaps not as dark.)  But you could spot them, and watch them. You could set traps for them.
 
Leah Nazir is an Insighter. Reincarnation is her business. But while her clients’ pasts are a mess, Leah’s is nothing short of tragedy. She’s been murdered. A lot. If left to that bitch, destiny, it’ll happen again. Leah wants to know who’s been following her through time, and who’s been stalking her in the present…

P.I. Archer Drake has been hired by Leah’s mother to keep an eye on her. But the more time he spends watching, the more he finds himself infatuated. Before long, he even finds himself agreeing to help find the person who wants her dead. Over and over again.

Now going full-on “rewind,” Leah hopes it can stave off the inevitable. After all, she’s grown fond of this life—and even fonder of nerdy Archer. But changing her pattern means finding out who her killer is today. And as Leah fears, that could be anyone she has come to know and trust. Anyone.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was approved to read the second book in this series on NetGalley and I had (coincidentally since I really enjoy this author’s previous books) purchased the first book when it was released so I decided to read this so I’d know what was going on going into the second book. And I’m sure glad I did because the plot line in this book is so creative and different that I think I might have had a little more trouble just jumping into the second book, though I’m sure there is enough background info in the second book to get readers up to speed. This book is about Leah Nazir, an Insighter who is trying not to get murdered during this lifetime. An Insighter is a certified person, almost like a therapist but in this world they can also help the person discover who they were in past lives (using a specific medication) and hopefully help them figure out how to break the cycle of their wrongdoings in this lifetime. I thought this was a really creative and interesting plot.

Overall I liked this book. As I’ve said I thought it was a creative and interesting plot. The characters tended to babble a little though, which I didn’t love all the time. And the way their conversations jump around can sometimes be confusing and hard to keep up with. For the most part I stayed engaged throughout the whole story, although in a couple points it did get a little dry. One of the parts that I found particularly interesting was that the author used a lot of real historical references for people’s past lives, including Westley Allan Dodd and Gilles de Rais. I always like when a book can tie in a historical aspect. This was a pretty good book, though dark at times. I would recommend it though, it was very interesting.

The bottom line: I really liked this book, the story line was creative and interesting. I always love seeing an author’s out of the box idea about life and how they can create a whole new reality. There were a few drawbacks but overall it was in interesting read and I would recommend!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page