Posted in Book Review

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

Read Dates:March 14, 2019 – March 25, 2019
Publication date: December 5, 2017
Source: Owned copy

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After saving the world from a relentless evil in The Bear and the Nightingale, Vasya is cast out by her own villagers and labeled a witch. With little family left and nothing to keep her in her home village of Lesnaya Zemlya, Vasya disguises herself as a young boy and sets out with her magical stallion, Solovey, with every intention to see the world. For, her only other options are to join a convent or be fixed up with a man to marry. But the world away from her home is even more dangerous than she ever could have imagined. Vasya finds herself in Moscow among her brother Sasha, her sister Olga, and her cousin, The Grand Price of Moscow. Now Sasha and Olga must keep the secret of her gender in order to keep their sister safe while The Grand Prince thinks her a boy and has taken a liking to her. He recruits her to help him and his men track down the bandits that have taken to setting villages across the country ablaze, leaving it’s people in ruins and taking the young girls for their own. But these bandits aren’t at all what they seem, and Vasya is about to find out just how dangerous and evil the bandits really are.

Vasya is BACK, bitches!

I honesty cannot get enough of her character. She is, by far, my favorite female lead of all time. Holy moly, she’s good.

So, first off, let me go back to the first book. The Bear and the Nightingale. I saw a lot of hype over the book and it seemed pretty interesting as I LOVE historical fictions that have a “fairy tale” type twist to them. But I WAS NOT prepared for the places this series has taken me. But I just want to thank the people who hyped it up because I never would have discovered it without you guys.

So! Vasya is on the run. She wants to live a life of adventure. She wants to see the world. And, of course, her noble steed, Solovey, will go wherever she goes. She may be met with some grumbles and protests but wave some porridge in the stallion’s face and he’s game for pretty much anything.
What Vasya didn’t count on was how harsh the world can be, and especially in winter. It seems like a good idea, (even to me, the reader) for her to adventure with Solovey but hardships begin to find their way to Vasya.
She stumbles upon a village that has been burnt to the ground. Survivors are quick to label her a bandit and threaten her life. She finds out that the village was ransacked, burned, and select girl children were taken by the bandits. Vasya decides she will track the girls down and bring them back, no matter the cost.

Vasya, Vasya, Vasya. You brave, bull-headed, strong, wonderful girl. I enjoy reading her SO MUCH. For once we’re given a heroic female character who has a good head on her shoulders and doesn’t let things like magic, love, or lust overtake her rationality. She’s already saved the world once, and yet she still feels it is her duty to continue to safeguard innocent lives from the forces of evil. This girl sees conflict and she rides straight into it atop her magical stallion with her head held high and savage words on her tongue awaiting her enemies.

Solovey. I never thought I could come to love a horse in a book as much as I have. He is witty, he is rational, and he loves Vasya fiercely. He would never let anything happen to her. And she him. I love their conversations and the banter we get from the two of them. I also enjoy the way he’s politely asking for porridge at every turn.

Sasha‘s character has grown on me a lot in this book. I liked him in the first and enjoyed the way he watched his little sister with admiration. But now he’s a well respected monk. He is a man of God who is at the beck and call of his cousin, the Grand Prince of Moscow. His character sacrifices a lot in this book to keep his family safe and it was such a wonderful trait to see in him. He cares deeply for his family and it shows in everything he does throughout this book. He and Vasya are the main source for the sense of “family” that you get while reading this book.
It’s clear that Olga also has a strong sense of family but she definitely has less tolerance for Vasya and her strange dealings. She’s a princess, after all, and she has to watch her every move so as to not be cast from her home and her children.

I saved the best for last… Morozko. The frost demon. The winter king. Ughhhh. My list of fictional crushes keeps getting longer and longer. Morozko is somewhere near the top of that list. He cares for Vasya and he delivers her from dangerous situations. He watches her when she’s out on her own. He shows her a vulnerable side of him that shouldn’t exist. HE IS EVERYTHING. I was so glad he was present throughout the book. My favorite parts of The Bear and the Nightingale were the moments where Morozko was present. Back then I was still trying to figure him out and decide if he was good or bad. But now? Don’t even get me started. I NEED MORE MOROZKO. I definitely wouldn’t mind an entire story of him. Just him. Just saying…

I loved how this book showed the struggle of the every day life of these characters no matter what their status. This book was incredibly enchanting but it was also raw and left you fearing for all the characters lives. This story was a dark fairy tale indeed and that’s why I love it so much. This series has easily become one of my all time favorites and I am dizzy with anticipation to read the final chapter in Vasya’s story. Though, I really, REALLY don’t want it to be over.

I love it. I love it I LOVE IT… I love it.

Keri

Posted in Just For Fun

Television Tag

TAG: THE TELEVISION TAG

I wasn’t tagged but I saw this on Sara’s Blog and it seemed super fun. Since I’m still sort of new here, I thought this might be a good way to get to know me better! Here we go!

FAVORITE SHOWS?
Futurama
Archer
The Office
Parks and Recreation
The Good Place
Bob’s Burgers
Riverdale (my guilty pleasure)
New Girl
Friends
Community
Game of Thrones
IT Crowd
SNL

FAVORITE GENRE?
I’m mostly into sitcoms… clearly. HAHA

LEAST FAVORITE SHOW?
Anything that falls under reality TV. I’m not into that at all.

MOST RE-WATCHED SHOW/FAVORITE SHOW TO BINGE WATCH?
Futurama or New Girl. Not sure which one I’ve watched more. Friends would be a close second.

DO YOU PREFER WATCHING THINGS WEEK-BY-WEEK OR BINGE-WATCHING?
Binge watching for sure. It’s probably better for my health to watch things week by week but I would much prefer to forget I have a life and responsibilities and drown myself in the entirety of a good show.

FAVORITE TELEVISION CHARACTERS?
Bender, Fry, and Leela from Futurama
Literally anyone from New Girl
Anyone from Bob’s Burgers
Archer from, you guessed it, Archer
Troy and Abed from Community
Jughead from Riverdale
Chandler and Joey from Friends
Jon Snow and Daenerys from GoT
Roy, Maurice, and Richmond from the IT Crowd
Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec

FAVORITE TELEVISION SHIPS?
Betty and Jughead from Riverdale
Bob and Linda Belcher from Bob’s Burgers
Nick and Jess from New Girl
Winston and Aly from New Girl
Monica and Chandler from Friends
Andy and April from Parks and Rec
Ben and Leslie from Parks and Rec

SHOW YOU COULD NEVER GET INTO?
The Vampire Diaries is a big one that people seem to be into. Also, Pretty Little Liars. Never could get into either.

SHOW YOU FELL OUT OF LOVE WITH?
Wayward Pines
Jessica Jones
Punisher
Mindhunter… I need to give that one another chance I think.
Black Mirror

GUILTY PLEASURE SHOW?
Riverdale. Only because I always said it was dumb and I would never watch it and then I got hooked. But I’m definitely not sorry. #jugheadfalife

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY WATCHING?
The Umbrella Academy… and it’s SO GOOD.

What do you guys think? Are there shows you think I would enjoy that I don’t have listed here? Are there shows I’ve “fallen out of love with” that you think I should revisit? What are YOUR favorites? Talk to me!

Keri

Posted in Book Review

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Read Dates: March 11, 2019 – March 13, 2019
Publication date: January 11, 2011
Source: Owned copy

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Amy is 17 years old. She’s giving up everything… her life, her friends, and her boyfriend… to be frozen along with her parents and sent to a new planet where they will land, be thawed, and begin their colonization plans. 300 years. That’s all it will take. 300 years of being frozen and then they will all wake up and live on as if they never missed a single day of their lives. Except that Amy is woken up almost 50 years too early. But by whom?

There are almost 3,000 people living on the ship who aren’t frozen. They live on the ship to work. Farmers, scientists, doctors and nurses… everyone has a job to do.

When Amy awakes, she meets Elder. He’s a boy her age who is training to become the next Eldest. The Eldest is the leader of everyone aboard the ship. It’s his job to make sure things go smoothly. Only, Elder is having trouble learning from the current Eldest, who seems to be keeping secrets from Elder. Soon, someone else is found unfrozen, except, unlike Amy, they have died. Someone on the ship is sabotaging the cryo-tubes. But who? And why? Elder and Amy are determined to find out who is behind it and put an end to the attempted murders. But first, they’ll have to learn secrets that have been hidden on the ship long before they were born.

Yesterday, when I finished this book, my husband asked me how it was. Usually I go into a full speel about the book I’m reading or have just read. I go over all the goods and the bads and I talk it all out to him and that helps me to write these reviews based on how I really felt. I regret to inform you that my answer to him yesterday was simply, “I have no idea.”

So what do we have here? We have space. We have a ship carrying thousands of people to another planet where they will colonize. We also have 100 frozen bodies on the ship. People that have certain skills necessary to fix any unforeseen issues once they land on this new planet. Then there’s the people on the ship who are there to run things. They work, they mate, they have babies and then those babies are raised to learn their roles on the ship. The cycle continues over and over. I found the entire concept of the book to be fascinating. I loved the idea of what was going on. What I didn’t care for: the characters.

This book is labeled as a YA romance. We’re led to believe it’s about star crossed lovers. But let me go ahead and burst your bubble here. It’s not. They kiss once in the entire book and the rest of the time it’s just Elder fantasizing about kissing her more.

For me, this was just a bit predictable. That’s not to say this wasn’t a good book. I did enjoy reading it if only to find out the secrets each character was hiding. Apart from that, the only parts of the book I liked were the scenes with Elder’s best friend, Harley. Harley was so genuine. He protected Amy through the entire book and I thought that was the sweetest thing. Harley is what gave this book a 3.5 instead of a 3. LOVED HIM!

Anyway, if you’re going into this thinking it’s going to be a star crossed romance with lots of kissing and stuff… think again. If you like your regular run of the mill YA science fiction novels, then this is for you.

Keri

Posted in Book Review

Summerfall (A Winterspell Novella) by Claire Legrand

Read Dates: March 7, 2019 – March 8, 2019
Publication date: August 26, 2014
Source: Purchased ebook from Amazon

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In this prequel to Legrand’s Winterspell series, we’re told the story of two souls that would come together and change the course of their world as they know it.

Rinka is a faery and she hates the way her people think ill of humans. When the human King, Alban, calls for 7 representatives from the Faery land to come and discuss peace between their people, Rinka thinks it is her chance to prove that she is educated and brave enough to sit on the council once her dad steps down. She also believes this is her chance to prove her people wrong about human intentions. However, when she arrives at Erastadt and finally meets the King, she is distracted by the electricity bouncing between them. Rinka has studied the humans tirelessly and knows all there is to know about their way of living, their customs, and their habits… but she was never prepared for what was to come.

I have to admit, this book was enjoyable. While it’s not really my cup of tea, I also didn’t have trouble sitting and reading it without putting it down. I read 20 pages out of curiosity the night I decided I was going to start it and the rest of it in one sitting the next day. While the romance in the book was a little over the top, I was able to enjoy the book for the other aspects it brought to the table.

There is evil everywhere. It goes without saying that in all races, there are always those who hope for war just as there were in this novella. I liked that this wasn’t soap opera drama but real issues that happen no matter where you go. The treacherous politics at work. You can study a people and learn all there is to know about them but you’ll never be able to learn the reasons why some of them lie, cheat, betray, and stab others in the back. It’s not a learned thing, it’s an experience. And, boy, does the main character sure experience it! The evil in this book was not romanticized. It was brutal. It was unwavering. It tended to sneak into play when you least expected it. I appreciated that.

Actions bear consequences. This wasn’t one of those books where actions are done and by the end of the book, those characters who performed those actions have found some impossible solution that allows them to go on with their lives in ecstasy. No. The characters made mistakes. Those characters had to pay the price. The author showed no mercy in this aspect of the novella.

Sometimes things don’t go the way you want them to. I bet a lot of people who didn’t like this book didn’t like it for the ending. I find it refreshing, however, to find a book like this where characters can do what is necessary for the greater good. I wish I could say more about this as there’s so much I want to say, but I’ll almost certainly spoil it.
It’s, like, 130 pages. Just go read it.

There’s a badass in every woman alive. I LOVE a good female lead and this one only disappointed a couple of times. (But I understood her struggle.) Rinka is strong, smart, capable, and she doesn’t take ANYONE’S shit. I loved her. She was so amazing. She knew her true feelings and she followed them. She never once followed any of her uncertainties. She never once convinced herself that she may want something that she really didn’t want. She knew herself. She held her head high. She spoke her truths. She was a true warrior.

Again, the romance wasn’t my favorite but I definitely understood the premise of it. Not a bad book at all. This was a nice break from the mystery/thriller spree I’ve been on lately.

Thanks for reading!!

Keri

Posted in Book Review

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

Read Dates: March 4, 2019 – March 7, 2019
Publication date: March 5, 2019
Source: Netgalley ARC via the publisher

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The Stranger Diaries

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‘”If you’ll permit me,” said the Stranger, “I’d like to tell you a story.”’

Clare Cassidy is a creative writing teacher at Talgarth High, a school that was once the Victorian home of horror author R. M. Holland and his wife. The stories say that Holland’s wife died one night after taking a nasty fall down the stairs of the home. Legend has it that when you see her ghost, it means someone has been slated for death and their death is coming soon.
Clare loves Holland’s stories and is obsessed with one story in particular,
The Stranger. It’s the story of a stranger on a train who tells a young boy the story of his friends and school colleagues… and how they all died. Clare’s favorite work of fiction is brought to life when her best friend turns up dead, killed in the same manner as the first victim in The Stranger. With the body count rising, Clare scrambles to keep her daughter, Georgia, safe and to try and understand why her colleagues and friends are being murdered. It isn’t until the killer writes a line in her diary that she realizes she may be the link to all the murders.

BOOKCEPTION!!

If you’ve never read a “bookception” book, it’s a book within a book. I LOVED this aspect of the book. I loved reading the snippets of Clare’s favorite short horror story, The Stranger. So much so that I was thinking, “Is this book real? If so, I need to find it and read it. But guess what, guys!? The entire story is at the end of the book! Bless you, Elly, bless you.

I will admit, the first few chapters were a bit slow for me as we get to know our characters but those first few chapters were SO worth the wait. This book managed to excite me and send a horrible feeling of dread through me simultaneously. AND I LOVED IT.

The story is told from three different character perspectives and then we get those snippets of the short story, The Stranger, as I mentioned before, in between.
The first perspective we’re given is Clare. A divorcee creative writing teacher who cares deeply for her daughter and her dog. Yes, her dog. Her dog is also named after the dog from the book, The Stranger. That doesn’t really add anything to the mystery of the story, I just thought it was really cool. What DOES add to the mystery of the story is the fact that Clare keeps a diary…

Next up is DS Harbinder, (my favorite) the detective heading up the investigation of the murders. She’s a hard-ass, gay woman who lives at home with her mom and dad. She’s smart, witty, and she doesn’t take crap from anybody. Throughout the book she’s always willing to go the extra mile for the case. Though she has the hard outer shell… deep down… I think she really does have feelings.

Lastly, we have Clare’s 15 year old daughter, Georgia (Georgie “for short”). Georgia is one of my favorite characters in the book. She’s mature for her age. She’s intelligent and has a good head on her shoulders. She also has a small group of friends with whom she tells everything and has a sort of “pact” if you will…

All of these narrations had me reeling. I was going back and forth with who I suspected was behind the killings. Each time we switched to a different narrator, I was given bits of information that swayed me into suspecting someone else. I can’t even tell you how many times I was sitting and reading this book and had to stop for a second to collect myself because I HAD BEEN SHOOK. Right when I thought I had everything figured out, I was thrown a curve ball and had to rethink my entire interpretation of what was really going on.

This book was a joy to read. It was all the things I love in a book. It was dark. It was twisty. It was creepy. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and every aspect of it. Between Griffith’s writing style and the way she builds tension throughout this book and the fact that this book gave me actual chills, I would highly recommend reading this one. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

A final thank you to this book as it left me with my new favorite quote taken from Shakespeare’s The Tempest:

Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.

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