What I’m Reading: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Book Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

I had this book on my shelf for about a year before my mother told me that she had read it and that she liked it. As a library technician, my mother knows books. So I knew I should pick it up and read it soon, and I’m glad I did.

The Bear and the Nightingale takes place in historic Russia and is full of folk and fairy tales. It consumes you, bringing you into the past and a deeply detailed life of a family struggling to survive the winter. Before reading this book, I vaguely remembered the tale of the Bear and the Nightingale from my childhood love of fairy tales, and I think I thought that this book would be as simple and straightforward as a five-page fairy tale, but it was much more intricate than that.

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I love the characters, especially Vasya, the strong heroine. But the book was slow to start and took me a good fifty to seventy pages to get immersed in, but once I was over that hump, the book flew by. I can’t wait to read the next one (I just have to wait for my mom to finish with it first!)

Have you read The Bear and the Nightingale?

5/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Young Adult Book Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo hasn’t let me down yet. Crooked Kingdom, the sequel to Six of Crows, was just as good as the first book. I love the rich cast of characters, and how she delved deeper into their psyche’s in this book.

Crooked Kingdom is again set in the Grishaverse. Technically, it’s the fifth book, but Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom can be read without having read the original Grisha Trilogy. For a more mature reader of YA, I might recommend skipping the original trilogy. Crooked Kingdom is darker than the original trilogy. It’s gritty and real and describes in breathtaking detail life on the streets of Ketterdam.

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This book, like Six of Crows, is a heist book. A gang of criminals, a job that needs to be done, will they be able to do it? This kind of dazzling plot keeps me reading and enjoying the book the whole way through. However, it did feel a tad bit longer than I like, but that may be because I’m favoring a slightly shorter read at the moment. But for fans of YA fantasy, this is a must-read.

And while I was reading it, I also made myself this sweet double-sided book cover to keep my cats from eating books.

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Have you read Crooked Kingdom?

4.5/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Young Adult Book Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Last year I reviewed Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse Trilogy, which I really enjoyed. I borrowed Six of Crows from a friend, and finished reading it at the tail end of last year (it has taken me forever to post this review but that’s another story of a busy writer’s life). I have to say that I was hesitant to read another book in Grishverse, but in the end I preferred Six of Crows over the initial Grishaverse Trilogy, mainly because Six of Crows was more adult than Shadow and Bone.

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I’ve written before about my preference for mature young adult fiction, books along the lines of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, The Raven Boys trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater, and anything written by Holly Black. These authors don’t treat their characters like sheltered teens with perfect, non-dangerous lives. Their characters are constantly being forced to make tough choices, and they do. Life is about tough choices, and I love seeing this in young adult novels.

Six of Crows is about a rag-tag team of thieves brought together for a singular purpose, but everyone has their own agenda (of course!). It is a fast-paced heist novel, set in the Grisha world, which is a near steampunk, somewhat Gothic, almost Victorian but kind of Russian fantasy world. It is so unique and fun that Six of Crows was hard to put down.

I guess I’ll have to read Crooked Kingdom, the sequel to Six of Crows, because I know it will be just as fun.

JEH

 

What I’m Listening to: Legendary by Stephanie Garber

Young Adult Book Review: Legendary by Stephanie Garber

It’s been a while since I’ve published a book review. But lately, I’ve been spending a bit more time on the road and have gotten back into audiobooks. And the other week Legendary by Stephanie Garber was available from my local library, so I decided to check it out.

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I read Caraval a while back, and you can find the review here. I liked Caraval, but I didn’t love it. There were a few things I found confusing, and the story seemed a bit one dimensional, so when I finished Caraval, I didn’t plan on reading the rest of the trilogy. But then I started Legendary.

I LOVED legendary. I loved Tella’s character, but I also loved how the story went deeper, how the world’s mythology grew large and full of dimensions. There was so much more to Legendary than there was to Caraval. And the audiobook was very well done. All of the voices felt natural but weren’t too much (With the exception of one, maybe). I found the speed perfect (Note: I listen to my audiobooks at 1.25 times, otherwise I feel they move too slowly)

This is a case where the sequel is better than the first book, which I find rarely happens. But this trilogy does it. So if you read Caraval but were less than thrilled, give Legendary a chance anyway, it might just surprise you. It sure surprised me, and I can’t wait to listen to Finale.

Have you read Caraval or Legendary?

JEH

Best Edgy, Completed Young Adult Paranormal and Fantasy Fiction Series

Sometimes it sucks waiting for the end of a story. Other times, it only serves to build tension. But if you’re looking for an edgy, completed young adult series (a series you don’t have to wait years to read the ending to), then look no further than this list of completed series of young adult (arguably New Adult, in some cases) paranormal and fantasy fiction series.

  1. The Raven Cycle Series by Maggie Stiefvater – This series follows a group of high school students as they navigate the ley lines around their hometown. I enjoyed this series because it doesn’t just focus on the teens, but the adults too, including one very interesting hitman. IMG-1660
  2. The Smoke and Bone Trilogy by Laini Taylor – This series follows a young girl, whom, it turns out, isn’t so young, and her discovery that the world she thinks she’s from might not be the worlds she’s actually from after all. A young adult series with very few characters who aren’t actually really old, this books has plenty of mature themes.IMG_1024
  3. The Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas – To be honest, I haven’t totally finished this series since the conclusion, Kingdom of Ash, was just released in September of last year, but I plan on finishing the series soon. This series is set in a rich fantasy world created by Sarah J. Maas, whose rutting is dark and cutting and is definitely on the upper end of Young Adult.img_1871
  4. The Girl At Midnight by Melissa Grey – This series is set in the human world, and revolves around a secret battle between two races unknown to humankind, except for one girl who was adopted into this world as a child. Full of hidden secrets and surprises around corners, Melissa Grey is a great writer who gets deep into character. 63fd4-photo-26
  5. The Dark Caravan Cycle by Heather Demetrios- If you want edgy, this is it. This series is arguably pretty darn adult. There are very adult themes in these books (abuse, imprisonment, slavery), but also lots of sexual tension and magical adventure. If you love the idea of a gypsy trying to break free of her bottle, this might be the series for you. IMG_5116

What’s your favorite series?

JEH

What I’m Reading: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Young Adult Book Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

The final book in the Grisaverse Trilogy, Ruin and Rising, was everything I expected it to be—almost. Same great writing, same lovable characters, broken hearts and action and adventure. But there was on thing I didn’t get, and from what I’ve read of other reviews, other people seem to feel much the same way. If you want to know more, scroll past the picture, but if you don’t stop reading now.

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The one thing I felt this book didn’t deliver to me on was the ending. I was expecting much of what happened. But I was expecting/hoping for all of it to end much more tragically than it did. Maybe I’m just all dark and twisty inside, but sometimes a happy ending seems to me to be too happy, almost forced, and almost not realistic. But also, I was just hoping for a different pairing at the end than what I got.

Still, I love this magical world and all of the unique elements to Grishaverse. I’ll probably read the other Grishaverse books. I hear that the other books are even better. Maybe I’ll even start one this weekend.

4/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Young Adult Book Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Book Two of the GrishaVerse trilogy starts off pretty much where the first book ends. Now, this book begins with one of my pet peeves. If you haven’t read the book yet, or even finished the first book of the GrishaVerse, you may not want to read the rest of this review below, as I’m going to share this particular pet peeve of mine. But don’t worry, after the beginning, the book did get better.

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This book began with a pet peeve of mine. It’s a particularly common trope in fantasy: end book one with the hero/heroine breaking free, and begin book 2 with them instantly being recaptured. I find this a complete waste of plot, as often, absolutely nothing happens when the hero is free. Instead, it’s used a device to end book one in a ‘happy ever after’, just in case the publisher never releases book two. I really dislike this plot device. However, as I said above, the book does get better after the beginning.

Alina grows more as a character in this one, and the story moves from Alina having choices made for her (ie. capture and release), to her making choices. But the best part about this book was Nikolai. I love Nikolai. He is by far my favorite character in this series. I wish there could have been more of him. That’s all I’m going to say. Read this book for Nikolai. End of.

4.5/5 Stars

JEH