Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Monday, January 16, 2017
Title: The Bear and the Nightingale
Author: Katherine Arden
Genre: retelling, historical fiction
Series: The Bear and the Nightingale #1
Pages: 336
Published: January 10 2017
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

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.

Rich in atmosphere, mixing both the fantastical and the historical elements of old Russia, Katherine Arden's The Bear and the Nightingale makes for a strong and memorable debut novel. As the first in a series, the narrative spends quality amounts of time crafting this book's main character of Vasilisa, and also building the recognizable but magical world she inhabits with her large and mixed family. Drawing both on real world history and the beloved folklore of Vasilisa's home country, The Bear and the Nightingale is a well-crafted and enchanting mix of genres.

The fantastical elements of Vasya's life in the wilderness -- the rusalkas, domovoi, evil spirits and much more -- are balanced by the always harsh and realistic life eked out of Russia's unforgiving climate. Her family has known struggle and strife all her life but Vasya remains undaunted in her chosen role and place; a wild, free, uncompromising, and untameable girl. Her chief antagonist is the eponymous Bear of the title, but her secondary opponent arrives in the all-too-familiar form of religion, and religious, men. Vasya's struggle to save her family and home is complicated by the priest Konstantin's need to humble the proud young woman. It's a familiar story but Vasya fights -- for herself, for her home, and for so much more. 
 
The magical and the mundane aspects of The Bear and the Nightingale come together neatly under Arden's adept plotting and turns of phrase -- and at just the right time before the closing denouement. Her clever writing, strong and defined characters, and the enveloping atmosphere coalesce into a finely-tuned historical fantasy that won't quickly be forgotten. Only a few pacing and clarity issues kept it from a five-star read. This story is one that is rich and detailed; the characters, from its heroines to the human villains, are vibrant and dimensional people. It's remarkably easy to sink into (and enjoy) the story that Katherine Arden is unwinding with her series-opener.



A Year in Reading

Sunday, January 15, 2017

I happen to love looking back at the numbers side of what I read each year. I like to break it down in a number of ways -- this is the only time I have ever found math to be fun. So, here is where we are going to break down our stats and challenges for 2016.





Dani's Numbers

Goal: 120
Books Read: 140 (117% of goal)
Rereads: 6 (4.3% of total)

Total Pages Read: 40,455
Average Page Per Book: 289
Average Amount of Pages Per Day: 110.5
Pages Per Month: 3,372

5-Star Reads: 40 (29.4%)
4-Star Reads: 62 (45.6%)
3-Star Reads: 22 (16.2%)
2-Star Reads: 8 (5.9%)
1-Star Reads: 4 (2.9%)

Average Rating: 3.34

Hardcover: 2
Paperback: 21
eBook: 105
Audiobook: 12


Number of Different Authors: 83
Female Authors: 88
Male Authors: 12
Most Read Author: Brandon Sanderson (Also)


Most Read Genres:  
Fantasy:
35 books (25% of total)

UF: 
24 (17.1%)

Science Fiction:
22 (15.7%)

Age Groups by Number:
MG: 9 (6.4%)
YA: 39 (27.9%)
NA: 3 (2.1%)
 Adult: 89 (63.6%)

Backlist: 105
New Release: 35

I'm not posting my reading challenges because they are a MESS. I'll, uh, work on that in 2017.


Jessie's Numbers:

Goal: 285
Books Read: 325 (130% of goal)
Rereads: 26 (8% of total)

Total Pages Read: 129,095
Average Page Per Book: 397
Average Amount of Pages Per Day: 354
Pages Per Month: 10,710

5-Star Reads: 27
4-Star Reads: 103
3-Star Reads: 110
2-Star Reads: 65
1-Star Reads: 20

Average Rating: 3.09

Hardcover: 93
Paperback: 143
eBook: 89


Number of Different Authors: 245
Female Authors: 267 (82.2%)
Male Authors: 58
Most Read Author: Brandon Sanderson


Most Read Genres:  
Fantasy
110 books (33.9% of all books read)
Historical Fiction
58 (17.9%)
Contemporary
55 (17%)


Age Groups by Number:
MG: 9 (2.8%)
YA: 177 (54.4%)
NA: 10 (3.1%)
 Adult: 129 (39.7%)


Backlist:122
New Release: 203


Books Purchased: 70
Backlist: 40
New Release: 30







Goal: 75


  1. The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas (The Elemental Trilogy #3) 1/1/16
  2.  The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine (Untitled #1) 1/3/16
  3. The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson 1/2/16 - 1/4/16
  4. The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke (The Assassin's Curse #1) (reread) 1/5/16
  5. The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke (The Assassin's Curse #2) 1/6/15
  6. The Young Elites by Marie Lu (The Young Elites #1) 1/10/16 - 1/11/16
  7. The Rose Society by Marie Lu (The Young Elites #2) 1/12/16 - 1/13/16
  8. Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers (Assassin's Heart #1) 1/7/16 - 1/14/16
  9. Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan (Reign of Shadows #1) 1/25/16 - 1/26/16
  10. Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes (Falling Kingdoms #2) 1/26/16 - 1/27/16
  11. Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes (Falling Kingdoms #3) 1/27/16 - 1/30/16
  12. Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson (Stormlight Archive #2) 1/25/16 - 1/31/16
  13. The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine (Ravenspire #1) 1/30/16 - 1/31/16 
  14. The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn #4) 2/1/16 - 2/2/16 
  15. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson (Elantris #1) 2/5/16 - 2/7/16 
  16. Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie (Burning Glass #1) 2/13/16 - 2/15/16 
  17. Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn #5) 2/16/16 - 2/17/16 
  18. Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn #6) 2/20/16 - 2/22/16 
  19. Mistborn: The Secret History by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn #3.5) 2/23/16
  20. Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr 2/19/16 - 2/23/16 
  21. Odalisque by Fiona McIntosh (Odalisque #1) 2/22/16 - 2/26/16 
  22. Emissary by Fiona McIntosh (Odalisque #2) 2/26 - 2/28/16 
  23. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Shades of Magic #1) 2/27/16 - 2/29/16 
  24. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (Shades of Magic #2) 3/1/16 - 3/2/16 
  25. The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins (The Great Hunt #1) 3/3/16 - 3/7/16 
  26. The Belgariad: Volume One by David Eddings (The Belgariad #1 - #3) 3/16/16 - 3/18/18 
  27. The Belgariad: Volume Two by David Eddings (The Belgariad #4 - #5) 3/18/16 - 3/19/16
  28. The Spider's War by Daniel Abraham (The Dagger and the Coin #5) 3/19/16 - 3/20/16
  29. The Spirit Lens by Carol Berg (Collegia Magica #1) 3/23/16 - 3/25/16 
  30. The Soul Mirror by Carol Berg (Collegia Magica #2) 3/25/16 - 3/26/16
  31. Calamity by Brandon Sanderson (The Reckoners #3) 3/24/16 - 3/26/16
  32. The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley (Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne #1) 4/1/16 - 4/2/16 
  33. The Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley (Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne #2) 4/2/16 - 4/3/16
  34. Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima (Shattered Realms #1) 4/2/16 - 4/4/16 
  35. The Last Mortal Bond by Brian Staveley (Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne #3) 4/7/16 - 4/9/16 
  36. The Last Abbot of Ashk'lan by Brian Staveley (Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne #1.5) 4/10/16 
  37. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Choksi 4/10/16 - 4/12/16 
  38. The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski (The Winner's Trilogy #1) 4/15/16 - 4/16/16 
  39. The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski (The Winner's Trilogy #2) 4/17/16 - 4/19/16 
  40. The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski (The Winner's Trilogy #3) 4/19/16 - 4/20/16 
  41. Malice by John Gwynne (The Faithful and the Fallen #1) 4/21/16 - 4/23/16
  42. Valour by John Gwynne (The Faithful and the Fallen #2) 4/23/16 - 4/24/16
  43. Ruined by Amy Tintera (Ruined #1) 4/24/16 - 4/26/16 
  44. Traitor's Blade by Sebastien de Castell (Greatcoats #1) 5/3/16 - 5/5/16 
  45. Knight's Shadow by Sebastien de Castell (Greatcoats #2) 5/5/16 - 5/6/16
  46. Saint's Blood by Sebastien de Castell (Greatcoats #3) 5/8/16 - 5/9/16
  47. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (A Court of Thorns and Roses  #1) 5/11/16 - 5/13/16
  48. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (A Court of Thorns and Roses#2) 5/18/16 - 5/21/16
  49. This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (Monsters of Verity #1) 5/25/16 - 5/26/15 
  50. Royal Exile by Fiona McIntosh (Valisar #1) 5/24/16 - 5/27/16 
  51. The Edge of the World by Kevin J. Anderson (Terra Incognita #1) 5/27/16 - 5/29/2016
  52. Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley (Alternative Detective #1) 6/5/16 - 6/7/2016  
  53. A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire #4) 6/16/16 - 6/19/16 
  54. Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres (Night Creatures #1) 6/22/16 - 6/23/16 
  55. Angel Arias by Marianne de Pierres (Night Creatures #2) 6/23/16 - 6/623/16
  56. A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire #5) 6/23/16 - 6/26/16 
  57. Shine Light by Marianne de Pierres (Night Creatures #3) 6/26/16 - 6/28/16 
  58. Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn 7/1/16 - 7/2/16
  59. The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan (Draconis Memoriae #1) 7/3/16 - 7/7/16 
  60. The Iron Ghost by Jen Williams (The Copper Cat #2) 7/11/16 - 7/13/16 
  61. Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi 7/14/16 - 7/16/16
  62. The Silver Tide by Jen Williams (The Copper Cat #3) 7/20/16 - 7/22/16
  63. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (An Ember in the Ashes #1) 7/24/16 - 7/26/16 
  64. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (An Ember in the Ashes #2) 7/28/16 - 7/30/16 
  65. Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes (Aeon's Gate #1) 8/1/16 - 8/2/16 
  66. Black Halo by Sam Sykes (Aeon's Gate #2) 8/2/16 - 8/3/16 
  67. The Skybound Sea by Sam Sykes (Aeon's Gate #3) 8/4/16 - 8/6/16 
  68. The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes (Bring Down Heaven #1) 8/6/16 - 8/7/16
  69. The Mortal Tally by Sam Sykes (Bring Down Heaven #2) 8/8/16 - 8/10/16
  70. In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan (Lady Trent #4) 8/11/16 - 8/12/16
  71. Court of Fives by Kate Elliott (Court of Fives #1) 8/11/16 - 8/12/16
  72. Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott (Court of Fives #2) 8/12/16 - 8/13/16
  73. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (Nevernight Chronicle #1) 8/19/16 - 8/21/16 
  74. Mystic and Rider by Sharon Shinn (Twelve Houses #1) 8/28/16 - 8/30/16
  75. The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst (Queens of Renthia #1) 8/29/16 - 8/30/16 - Challenge Completed!
  76. The Thirteenth House by Sharon Shinn (Twelve Houses #2) 9/4/16 - 9/6/16
  77. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake (Three Dark Crowns #1) 9/6/16 - 9/7/16 
  78. A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet (Kingmaker Chronicles #1) 9/8/16 - 9/9/16
  79. A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess (Kingdom on Fire #1) 9/9/16 - 9/11/16
  80. Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass #5) 9/11/16 - 9/13/16  
  81. Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas 9/13/16 - 9/14/16 
  82. City of a Thousand Dolls  by Miriam Forster (Bhinian Empire #1) 9/16/16 - 9/17/16 
  83. Empire of Shadows by Miriam Forster (Bhinian Empire #2) 9/20/16 - 9/21/16
  84. Nemesis by Anna Banks (Nemesis #1) 9/22/16 - 9/23/16 
  85. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows #2) 10/1/16 - 10/2/16 
  86. Heartless by Marissa Meyer 10/3/16 - 10/5/16 
  87. The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson (Remnant Chronicles #3) 10/15/16-10/17/16 
  88. Kingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas (A Wicked Thing #2) 10/19/16
  89. Of Fire and Stars by Audrey  Coulthurst 10/20/16 - 10/21/16 
  90. The Midnight Star by Marie Lu (The Young Elites #3) 10/22/16 - 10/23/16
  91. Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge (Untitled #1) 10/24/16 - 10/26/16
  92. The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (The Bone Witch #1) 10/25/16 - 10/27/16 
  93. Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill (Clash of Kingdoms #1) 10/28/16  
  94. The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter (Noctis Magicae #1) 10/29/16 -10/31/16 
  95. Lady of Magick by Sylvia Izzo Hunter (Noctis Magicae #2) 11/1/2016 - 11/1/2016 
  96. Forge of Darkness by Steven Erikson (Kharkanas #1) 11/8/16 - 11/9/16 
  97. A Season of Spells by Sylvia Izzo Hunter (Noctis Magicae #3) 11/10/16 - 11/11/16 
  98. The Reader by Traci Chee (Sea of Ink and Gold #1) 11/12/16 - 11/13/16
  99. Blackbringer by Laini Taylor (Dreamdark #1) 11/13/16 - 11/15/16 
  100. Silksinger by Laini Taylor (Dreamdark #2) 11/17/16 - 11/19/16 
  101. Passion Play by Beth Bernovich (River of Sous #1) 11/21/16 - 11/22/16 
  102. Heartstone by Elle Katharine White 11/25/16 - 11/25/16 
  103. Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson (Cosmere Universe) 12/9/16 - 12/12/16
  104. Foundling by D.M. Cornish (Monster Blood Tattoo #1) 12/11/16 
  105. The Jewel and her Lapidary by Fran Wilde 12/12/16
  106. Rogue Wave by Jennifer Donnelly (Waterfire Saga #2) 12/12/16 - 12/13/16
  107. Dark Tide by Jennifer Donnelly (Waterfire Saga #3) 12/15/16 - 12/16/16
  108. Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (Witchlands #1) 12/20/16 - 12/22/2016
  109. Caraval by Stephanie Garber (12/23/2016) 
  110. Windwitch by Susan Denard (12/24/2016 - 12/26/2016)





Goal: 100

  1.  Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga (I Hunt Killers #1)
  2. The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas (The Elemental Trilogy #3)
  3. The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
  4. The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke (The Assassin's Curse #2)
  5. The Young Elites by Marie Lu  (The Young Elites #1) 
  6. The Rose Society by Marie Lu (The Young Elites #2) 
  7. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore 
  8. Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes (Falling Kingdoms #2)  
  9. Gathering Darkness  by Morgan Rhodes (Falling Kingdoms #3) 
  10. Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn #5) 
  11. Bands of Morning by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn #6)
  12. Mistborn: The Secret History by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn #3.5) 
  13. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles)  
  14. Quintessence by David Walton 
  15. Odalisque by Fiona McIntosh (Odalisque #1)
  16. Emissary by Fiona McIntosh (Odalisque #2) 
  17. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (Shades of Magic #2) 
  18. The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell 
  19. The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman (Lady Helen #1)
  20. The Deal by Elle Kennedy (Off Campus #1) 
  21. The Forest Laird by Jack Whyte (Braveheart Chronicles #1) 
  22. Sex With Kings: Five Hundred Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge by Eleanor Herman 
  23. Robert the Bruce by Jack Whyte (Braveheart Chronicles #2) 
  24. Liar by Justine Larbalestier 
  25. Maid of Deception by Jennifer McGowan (Maids of Honor #2) 
  26. The Spider's War by Daniel Abraham (The Dagger and the Coin #5) 
  27. Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson 
  28. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (Thomas Cromwell #1) 
  29. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (Thomas Crowmell  #2)
  30. The Spirit Lens by Carol Berg (Collegia Magica #1) 
  31. The Soul Mirror by Carol Berg (Collegia Magica #2)
  32. The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke 
  33. The Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley (Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne #2) 
  34. Malice by John Gwynne (The Faithful and the Fallen #1)
  35. The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie (The Abyss Surround Us #1) 
  36. Valour by John Gwynne (The Faithful and the Fallen #2) 
  37. A Tyranny of Petticoats edited by Jessica Spotswood 
  38. Knight's Shadow by Sebastien de Castell (Greatcoats #2) 
  39. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2)
  40. Perdition by Ann Aguirre (Dred Chronicles #1) 
  41. Havoc by Ann Aguirre (Dred Chronicles #2) 
  42. Breakout by Ann Aguirre (Dred Chronicles #3) 
  43. Royal Exile by Fiona McIntosh (Valisar #1) 
  44. The Edge of the World by Kevin J. Anderson (Terra Incognita #1)
  45. By Helen's Hand by Amalia Carosella (Helen of Sparta #2)
  46. Penelope's Daughter by Laurel Corona 
  47. Daughter of Sand and Stone by Libbie Hawker 
  48. Empress by Shan Sa 
  49. A Million Suns by Beth Revis (Across the Universe #2) 
  50. Shades of Earth by Beth Revis (Across the Universe #3) 
  51. Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres (Night Creatures #1) 
  52. Angel Arias by Marianne de Pierres (Night Creatures #2) 
  53. Shine Light by Marianne de Pierres (Night Creatures #3) 
  54. None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio 
  55. Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine (The Great Library #2) 
  56. Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn 
  57. Please Remain Calm by Courtney Summers (This is Not a Test #1.5) 
  58. The Iron Ghost by Jen Williams (The Copper Cat #2) 
  59. The Silver Tide by Jen Williams (The Copper Cat #3) 
  60. The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer 
  61. The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick (Eleanor of Aquitaine #1) 
  62. Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes (Aeon's Gate #1) 
  63. Black Halo by Sam Sykes (Aeon's Gate #2)  
  64. The Skybound Sea by Sam Sykes (Aeon's Gate #3) 
  65. The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes (Bring Down Heaven #1) 
  66. The Mortal Tally by Sam Sykes (Bring Down Heaven #2) 
  67. Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard (Strange and Ever After #3) 
  68. Mystic and Rider by Sharon Shinn (The Twelve Houses #1) 
  69. The Thirteenth House by Sharon Shinn (Twelve Houses #2) 
  70. Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass #5) 
  71. The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno 
  72. Un Lun Dun by China Mieville 
  73. City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster (Bhinian Empire #1) 
  74. Empire of Shadows by Miriam Forster (Bhinian Empire #2) 
  75. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows #2) 
  76. The Treasure Map of Boys by E. Lockhart (Ruby Oliver #3)
  77. Real Live Boyfriends by E. Lockhart (Ruby Oliver #4) 
  78. Inglorious Royal Marriages by Leslie Carroll 
  79. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli 
  80. The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson (Remnant Chronicles #3) 
  81. A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers 
  82. Kingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas (A Wicked Thing #2) 
  83. Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst  
  84. Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas 
  85. The Midnight Star by Marie Lu (The Young Elites #3) 
  86. Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge (Untitled #1) 
  87. The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (The Bone Witch #1) 
  88. The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter (Noctis Magicae #1) 
  89. Lady of Magick by Sylvia Izzo Hunter (Noctis Magicae #2)  
  90. The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey (The Girl at Midnight #2) 
  91. Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier (Precious Stone Trilogy #1)
  92. Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier (Precious Stone Trilogy #2)
  93. Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier (Precious Stone Trilogy #3) 
  94. Forge of Darkness by Steven Erikson (Kharkanas #1) 
  95. Blackbringer by Laini Taylor (Dreamdark #1) 
  96. Falling Under by Gwen Hayes 
  97. Perdido Street Station by China Mieville (Bas-Lag #1) 
  98. Silksinger by Laini Taylor (Dreamdark #2) 
  99. Passion Play by Beth Bernovich (River of Souls #1) 
  100. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier (Sevenwaters #1) CHALLENGE COMPLETED 11/25/16
  101. Son of the Shadows by Juliet Mariller (Sevenwaters #2) 
  102. Resonance by Erica O'Rourke (Dissonance #1) 
  103. Child of the Prophecy by Juliet Marillier (Sevenwaters #3)
  104. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (Firebird #1) 
  105. Time and Chance by Sharon Kat Penman (Plantagenets #2) 
  106. Foundling by D.M. Cornish 
  107. Rogue Wave by Jennifer Donnelly (Waterfire Saga #2) 
  108. Dark Tide by Jennifer Donnelly (Waterfire Saga #3) 
  109. Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (Witchlands #1) 





Goal: 50

  1. Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga (pubbed 9/9/14, read 1/2/16 )
  2. In A Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis (pubbed 9/23/14, read 1/3/16) 
  3. The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke (pubbed 9/2/12, read 1/5/16)
  4. The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke (pubbed 6/18/13, read 1/6/16) 
  5. The Young Elites by Marie Lu (pubbed 10/7/14, read 1/11/16) 
  6. Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes (pubbed December 2013, read January 2016) 
  7. Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes (pubbed December 2014, read read January 2016) 
  8. Quintessence by David Walton (pubbed March 2013, read February 2016) 
  9. Odalisque by Fiona McIntosh (pubbed March 2007, read February 2016)
  10. Emissary by Fiona McIntosh (pubbed October 2007, read February 2016) 
  11. The Forest Laird by Jack Whyte (pubbed December 2012, read March 2016) 
  12. Sex With Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge (pubbed June 2004, read March 2016) 
  13. Robert the Bruce by Jack Whyte (pubbed October 2012, read March 2016) 
  14. Liar by Justine Larbalestier (pubbed September 2009, read March 2016) 
  15. The Belgariad: Volume One by David Eddings (pubbed August 2002, read March 2016) 
  16. The Belgariad: Volume Two by David Eddings (pubbed August 2002, read March 2016) 
  17. Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson (pubbed December 2013, read March 2016) 
  18. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (pubbed April 2009, read March 2016) 
  19. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (pubbed May 2012, read March 2016) 
  20. The Spirit Lens by Carol Berg (pubbed December 2009, read March 2016) 
  21. The Soul Mirror by Carol Berg (pubbed January 2011, read March 2016) 
  22. The Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley (pubbed January 2015, read April 2016)
  23. Malice by John Gwynne (pubbed Decembe 2012, read April 2016) 
  24. Valour by John Gwynne (pubbed September 2014, read April 2016) 
  25. Knight's Shadow by Sebastien de Castell (pubbed March 2015, read May 2016) 
  26. Perdition by Ann Aguirre (pubbed August 2013, read May 2016) 
  27. Havoc by Ann Aguirre (pubbed August 2014, read May 2016) 
  28. Royal Exile by Fiona McIntosh (pubbed January 2008, read May 2016) 
  29. The Edge of the World by Kevin J. Anderson (pubbed June 2009, read May 2016)
  30. Penelope's Daughter by Laurel Corona (pubbed October 2010, read June 2016) 
  31. Empress by Shan Sa (pubbed May 2006, read June 2016) 
  32. A Million Suns by Beth Revis (pubbed January 2012, read June 2016)
  33. Shades of Earth by Beth Revis (pubbed January 2013, read June 2016)
  34. Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres (pubbed March 2011, read June 2016) 
  35. Angel Arias by Marianne de Pierres (pubbed October 2011, read June 2016) 
  36. Shine Light by Marianne de Pierres (pubbed November 2012, read June 2016) 
  37. None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio (pubbed April 2015, read July 2016) 
  38. Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn (pubbed April 2001, read July 2016)
  39. Please Remain Calm by Courtney Summers (pubbed January 2015, read July 2016) 
  40. The Iron Ghost by Jen Williams (pubbed February 2015, read July 2016) 
  41. The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer (pubbed May 2014, read July 2016) 
  42. The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick (pubbed June 2013, read July 2016)
  43. Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes (pubbed January 2010, read August 2016) 
  44. Black Halo by Sam Sykes (pubbed January 2011, read August 2016) 
  45. The Skybound Sea by Sam Sykes (pubbed January 2012, read August 2016) 
  46. The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes (pubbed January 2015, read August 2016) 
  47. Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard (pubbed July 2014, read August 2016) 
  48. Mystic and Rider  by Sharon Shinn (pubbed March 2005, read August 2016) 
  49. The Thirteenth House by Sharon Shinn (pubbed May 2006, read September 2016) 
  50. The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno (pubbed July 2014, read September 2016) Challenge Completed! 9/16/2016
  51. Un Lun Dun by China Mieville (pubbed January 2007, read September 2016) 
  52. City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster (pubbed February 2013, read September 2016) 
  53. Empire of Shadows by Miriam Forster (pubbed November 2014, read September 2016) 
  54. The Treasure Map of Boys by E. Lockhart (pubbed January 2009, read October 2016) 
  55. Real Live Boyfriends by E. Lockhart (pubbed December 2010, read October 2016) 
  56. Inglorious Royal Marriages by Leslie Carroll (pubbed September 2014, read October 2016) 
  57. Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas (pubbed June 2015, read October 2016) 
  58. The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter (pubbed September 2014, read October 2016) 
  59. Lady of Magick by Sylvia Izzo Hunter (pubbed September 2015, read November 2016) 
  60. Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier (pubbed May 2011, read November 2016) 
  61. Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier (pubbed October 2012, read November 2016) 
  62. Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier (pubbed October 2014, read November 2016) 
  63. Forge of Darkness by Steven Erikson (pubbed July 2012, read November 2016) 
  64. Blackbringer by Laini Taylor (pubbed June 2007, read November 2016) 
  65. Falling Under by Gwen Hayes (pubbed March 2011, read November 2016) 
  66. Perdido Street Station by China Mieville (pubbed August 2003, read November 2016) 
  67. Silksinger by Laini Taylor (pubbed January 2009, read November 2016) 
  68. Passion Play by Beth Bernovich (pubbed October 2010, read November 2016)
  69. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier (pubbed August 1999, read November 2016) 
  70. Son of the Shadows by Juliet Mariller (pubbed August 2000, read November 2016) 
  71. Resonance by Erica O'Rourke (pubbed July 2015, read November 2016) 
  72. Child of the Prophecy by Juliet Marillier (pubbed August 2001, read November 2016)
  73. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (pubbed November 2014, read November 2016) 
  74. Time and Chance by Sharon Kay Penman (pubbed March 2002, read December 2016) 
  75. The Drowned by Laini Taylor (pubbed May 2004, read December 2016)
  76. Foundling by D.M. Cornish (pubbed May 2006, read December 2016) 
  77. Rogue Wave by Jennifer Donnelly (pubbed January 2015, read December 2016) 
  78. Dark Tide by Jennifer Donnelly (pubbed October 2015, read December 2016)
  79. Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (pubbed January 2015, read December 2016)  

&


Review: The Fortress At the End of Time by Joe M. McDermott

Saturday, January 14, 2017
Title: The Fortress At the End of Time
Author: Joe M. McDermott
Genre: science fiction
Series: N/A
Pages: 305
Published: expected January 17 2017
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 2.5/5

Captain Ronaldo Aldo has committed an unforgivable crime. He will ask for forgiveness all the same: from you, from God, even from himself.

Connected by ansible, humanity has spread across galaxies and fought a war against an enemy that remains a mystery. At the edge of human space sits the Citadel—a relic of the war and a listening station for the enemy's return. For a young Ensign Aldo, fresh from the academy and newly cloned across the ansible line, it's a prison from which he may never escape.

Deplorable work conditions and deafening silence from the blackness of space have left morale on the station low and tensions high. Aldo's only hope of transcending his station, and cloning a piece of his soul somewhere new is both his triumph and his terrible crime.

There's a pretty even split on reaction to finishing this rather short science fiction story; I really liked the technology/inventive side to this novel, but I disliked or didn't care about the people/clones/[alien thought experiments, according to one solder] concerned. So it's a sturdy 2.5 out of 5 with a note that what didn't work for me may be a better fit for less character-driven readers.

The ideas used here, for travel, for terraforming, etc. are cool, creative, and above all, smart. In veteran author Joe M. McDermott's universe humanity has fought a war against an alien enemy, won, and now uses ansible and clone tech to guard and wait the possible return of enemy forces. For all that it's established on the effects of a former intergalactic and interspecies spacewar, The Fortress at the End of Time is more introspective than action-packed. The author has a clear ideas on how that high stress and high boredom scenario would affect the people and explores it though his characters.


 The story is told from the view of a newly-transmitted clone sent to an isolated and troubled station at the edge of a universe. Everything about The Fortress at the End of Time's narration through Ronald II is rendered in his remote, removed POV. It makes the story dry and emotionless in tone no matter the events being described. It's hard to really care about either Ronalds I and II or the majority of his acquaintances on the station. The choices Ronald makes, the guilt he constantly mentions... well, those don't exactly help, either. It's often a dour book, for all its imagination.

The rather slow plot hinges on the narrator revealing, piece by piece, story by story, some past major indiscretion that has lead to his subsequent imprisonment and the telling of events that lead here to The Fortress At the End of Time. It's an oft-used concept and McDermott reveals the rules of Citadel life to fully illustrate and show how Ronaldo has come to his current situation, both through his own actions and the machinations of others. The plot is interesting but takes a long time to develop and a lot of patience to watch build. The high concept nature of the plot can only carry the book so far and the ending lacks impact.

Short version: cool concepts, lots of detail and creatives idea, but unfortunately falls entirely short on personality and characterization.




 

Link Up and Giveaway: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Thursday, January 12, 2017


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is unquestionably a five star book. But as a white woman, you don't need to hear that from me.

I wanted to link you to some #ownvoices reviews in this space, but publishing is racist. I couldn't find a single black writer with an advance review. (If you have one and want to link up, please give me a comment.) Getting diverse reads into diverse reviewers' hands is important as hell and I'm disappointed Harper chose to give Jess and me copies that could have gone to someone who shares Starr's life. So instead of a full review, go boost the stats of some of my favorite black reviewers. They would have written this so much better than me.

Octavia at Read. Sleep. Repeat.

Joyce at Completely Booked 

Nikki at Take Me Away

Camryn at Half Monster Girls  (and the HuffPo and MTV and TIME Kids and)

And now that you've done that, you can enter for a chance to read THUG yourself, because it is the best book you will read in 2017. Two finished copies, open anywhere The Book Depository ships. And hell, double points for teens. You're the ones this community is for and you're going to be the voices we need.

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Two Minute Review: The Book Jumper by Mechthild Gläser

Monday, January 9, 2017
Title: The Book Jumper
Author: Mechthild Gläser
Genre: supernatural
Series: N/A
Pages: 384
Published: January 3 2017
Source: ARC via publishers
Rating: 2/5


Amy Lennox doesn't know quite what to expect when she and her mother pick up and leave Germany for Scotland, heading to her mother's childhood home of Lennox House on the island of Stormsay.

Amy's grandmother, Lady Mairead, insists that Amy must read while she resides at Lennox House—but not in the usual way. It turns out that Amy is a book jumper, able to leap into a story and interact with the world inside. As thrilling as Amy's new power is, it also brings danger—someone is stealing from the books she visits, and that person may be after her life. Teaming up with fellow book jumper Will, Amy vows to get to the bottom of the thefts—at whatever the cost.


The Book Jumper has a gorgeous cover, a great synopsis, and an interesting premise -- but even with all of that, it's not enough to raise this young adult novel to more than a two out of five star rating. The basic elements of the story -- both character-wise and narrative-wise -- are familiar and have been done before so many times in the young adult age group. The Book Jumper feels more like a retread of other stories rather than a new novel possessing its own plot or arc.

Despite the less than original attempts at characterization and plotting, I did enjoy the gothic atmosphere that The Book Jumper carried. Amy's fights and struggles, both in print and not, make good use of the moody atmosphere that envelops her story. Towards the end of the narrative Gläser finds a rhythm for Amy and Will's race to uncover the mystery and the plotline grows more unique and far less easily predicted. It's a little too late to salvage the tropes and stereotypes that take up the bulk of the writing, but the ending is a strong and solid one.

Not as good as it could have been, but also not as bad as it would seem, The Book Jumper is a flawed, forgettable but mostly fun-in-the-moment read.






 
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