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: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Young Adult Book Review: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte is a young adult fantasy (with a little bit of tech), about a girl who ends up embroiled in a plot to kill the four queens of the land.

From the start, this book was a bit different than the other young adult fantasy books out there because of the little bit of tech thrown in, which I found interesting. But for me, this book was an up and down read, I really liked the beginning, which was promising, felt a bit lost in the middle, and liked the near ending, and wasn’t sure quite what to think about the ending.

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Four Dead Queens certainly kept me on my toes. I’m pretty good at guessing plot twists, but I didn’t quite guess these ones correct, which is always a nice surprise. This is also a stand alone fantasy, which can be hard to find (and sometimes it’s so nice to read just one book, don’t you think?).

I loved the maps in the book, but wish that the main characters would have traveled a bit further a field. I mean why have elaborate maps in a fantasy book if the characters aren’t going to journey to these far off lands? Still, it was a worthwhile read for me, as it’s nice to find a fantasy with a bit of mystery.

3.5/5 stars.

JEH

A Reader’s 2019 Goals

On the way into my day job this morning, I was listening to the radio. One of the DJ’s was talking about some research that said we shouldn’t make New Year’s Resolutions, but make a reverse bucket list, in other words, we should write down all the things we’ve already done that we’re most proud of, and this will help us see where our interests lie, and maybe also give us confidence to tackle new, or future, bucket list items (at least that is what I think the point was anyway). I usually set my new goals in September, since this feels more natural after twenty some years of school. But one goal I do set in January is my reading goal (thanks to GoodReads and their fabulous tracking app).

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First Book to Read in 2019, will be followed by 59 more!

When I wrote my reverse bucket list, I was surprised to feel disappointment that I couldn’t add any big reads to my list. In 2018 I started Don Quixote with the goal of finishing it, but I didn’t get it done. I also, year ago, started War and Peace and read half of it before falling off the train. I really do want to read these books (and finish them!), and writing my reverse bucket list helped me find what was missing. So, in 2019, my goal is to finish Don Quixote as part of my reading goal.

In 2018, I managed to finish 62 books, so I set my 2019 goal at 60. In 2018, my goal was only 50 books because I wanted to get more writing done, but I couldn’t stop reading, so this year I increased my goal back up to 60 books. As I’m over half done Don Quixote, I don’t think having such a large book on my list will slow me down much, and a lot of the other books I want to read this year are rather slender.

So, here’s to another happy year of reading. Did you set a goal? How many books do you want to read in 2019?

JEH

What I’m Reading: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Young Adult Book Review: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

I finished this book a long time ago, but am terribly behind on book reviews, so you’ll actually see what I thought of the entire Raven Cycle series in very short order (hint: I loved it).

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The Dream Thieves, picked up right where The Raven Boys left off. If you haven’t read the first book of this series, you should do so right now. You can find my write-up on the first book here. Don’t worry, my reviews are never long because I absolutely detest spoilers (I’m the kind of person who sticks fingers in my ears and hums so that I don’t hear anything I don’t want to know). What I will say is that The Dream Thieves is just as good as The Raven Boys, and expands more deeply into the main characters (the book is shared among many), and the magic of the world. It’s beautiful.

I actually listened to The Dream Thieves as an audiobook, and it was fabulously read by Will Paton, who does the entire series. This is great for continuity. Paton is great at voices without over doing it, and I can listen to the book without feeling dozy (Although that might also because of the fast-paced adventure).

5/5 Stars.

JEH

What I’m Reading: Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder

I picked up Storm Glass, by Maria V. Snyder, from my local library after my daughter grabbed it off the shelf and suggested it to me (she’s three, so it was pretty cute). The blurb sounded okay so I dove in, and overall I enjoyed the books.

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There were a couple of weak spots in the writing, but overall, I enjoyed following Opal, the only glass magician, on her journey or self-exploration, romance, and adventure. The most enjoyable part of this book was the world-the world-building, the magic rules-but mostly the world of glass. How glass is made, what is it used for, what can it be used for, how can it be sabotaged. It actually made me want to go a glass factor and learn how to make glass myself!

This is the first book of three, and unfortunately the library does not have the second book, only the first and the third. I would like to continue reading this series, so I’ll have to figure out how to request a book from my library. I have a friend that does this a lot, so I’m hoping she can help me.

4/5 Stars

JEH

 

My Summer Reading List 2018

So, I actually started writing this post back in June, but then got swamped by travel and life and never got around to finishing it. So, here’s my best attempt at coming up with a list of planned reading for the remainder of summer (which is thankfully still a bit more than a month long).

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As I get ready to head off on my first fourth lakeside vacation of the summer, I’m going through my books to pick out the novels I want to read next. Lately, I’ve been into a mix of literary fiction, science fiction, and fantasy (which the science fiction and fantasy being either Young Adult or Adult—I’m not choosey). I’m hoping to get through eight books this summer, some of which have been on my bookshelf for a long time, and a few that are more or less new arrivals.

As it stands, my To Be Read shelf is over a hundred books deep (possibly even closer to 150), so I really want to get cracking on it, but there are also a couple books that I have on my reader that I would like to read as well, and let’s not forget, I still have Don Quixote to finish! *Note: some of these books I’ve already finished, since I’m late with this post, lol

  1. The Girl From Everywhere
  2. The Ship Beyond Time
  3. The Thousandth Floor
  4. Blue Lily, Lily Blue (finished)
  5. The Raven King
  6. Authority (Southern Reach #2) (finished last night)
  7. Champion (Lengend #3)
  8. Don Quixote (I’m still only halfway through this one)

So there it is, the list. Maybe I’ll even be able to read a few bonus books (I have a feeling Don Quixote might get brushed aside for A Shadow Bright and Burning, or Strange the Dreamer, which I’ve wanted to read forever).

I’ll let you know how I do. And I should have some book reviews up later this week. How is your summer reading going?

JEH

 

Upcoming Reading!

Next Wednesday, on August 1st, I’ll be reading at Readings on the River, a summer session of Saskatchewan Writer’s reading their work at the Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan tent on the Saskatchewan river in Saskatoon (how many times can I say Saskatchewan in one sentence?

It starts at 615pm and goes until around 715pm, ending just before the play at the main tent starts. Next week, August 1st, it will be the Merry Wives of Windsor. Why not come out and double up on entertainment? I’m not quite sure what I’m going to read yet, but I think I’m going to pick something more funny than serious. Hopefully the weather’s nice! The event poster is below.

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What I’m Reading: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Young Adult Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.

This is one of those books that you hear about forever, and that you know a lot of people love, but you just put it off because something about it doesn’t appeal to you. To me, I didn’t like the cover or the blurb, so I never picked it up. But then one day it was one of the best books available at my library for ebook lending, so I checked it out.

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I loved it! I have to say that I became obsessed. I don’t think, looking back, that the cover or the blurb do the actual book justice. The blurb is really long and doesn’t at all bring up the books mystical elements (just that bit about her mother being clairvoyant really). What drew me into the book was the lay lines and tarot, two things I’ve always been interested in. Also, the blurb makes it sound like the book is all told from Blue’s point of view, but a lot of the book, (I’d say more than half), is told from the boys points of view.

If you like magical mysteries, Raven Boys is definitely a book I’d recommend. And if you like Audiobooks, this one is very well done.

JEH

What I’m Reading: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Young Adult Book Review: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Every so often I take a break from Young Adult Fantasy books and read something along contemporary lines. Most of the time I love these books, but for some reason it’s one genre I just can’t read back to back. Maybe because it gives you so much to think about.

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The Sun is Also a Star follows two immigrant teens in New York, one who is a legal immigrant and one who is not. Their narrative is interwoven with little bits and insights about other side characters, and all together this makes for a magical book. I loved it. The  characters are so real and deep that you just can’t forget them. And all the questions they ask resound with, “hey, I’ve wondered that too”.

And then there’s that fantastically bright cover!

If you’re looking for a contemporary YA read, I would highly recommend this one.

5/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

You might be saying, what? Poetry? Because that’s right, I never read poetry, let alone blog about it. But a few months ago I was feeling like something different so I picked up The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur and I loved it.

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If you haven’t heard of her, Rupi Kaur is a young Canadian poet who poetry speaks a truth that is very relateable, especially for women, young women and teens in particular. And not only did Rupi write the poems, she also did all of the artwork inside of the book, so that it feels more like an experience than just reading.

Do you read poetry?

5/5 Stars

JEH