REVIEW: The Winter of the Witch – Katherine Arden (ARC)

36621586Title: The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy #3)
Author: Katherine Arden
Rating: ★★★★★

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

“Come with me, Snegurochka. I know a house in a winter forest.”

When I read The Girl in the Tower last year, it quickly became one of my favorite books ever, which was a total surprised since The Bear and the Nightingale was enjoyable, but not mind-blowing. The Winter of the Witch was not only a satisfying conclusion to the series, but an absolutely stunning and magical story all on its own. 

“But who could do it other than she? You can be a bridge between men and chyerti, Morozko had said. She thought she understood that, now.”

As with the second, The Winter of the Witch picks up right where the last book left off, making it easy to transition back into the story. Vasya continues to be one of the best written female protagonists I’ve ever read – and one of my very favorite heroines in literature. Her character growth throughout the series is amazing, and her bravery, strength, and compassion are admirable traits that only speak to some her well-roundedness. In addition to Vasya, there were so many other characters whom I loved reading about: Sasha, Olga, Marya (although there wasn’t as much of her in this one), Dmitrii, Ded Grib, and Pozhar to name a few. And of course, there’s Morozko, our morose winter-king. My adoration for that brooding frost-demon only grew in this novel, and I couldn’t get enough of his scenes, especially the angst with Vasya. Chapter 17 very nearly put me in an early grave, you guys. 

She whispered, “You are not alone anymore.”
“I know,” he whispered. “Neither are you.”

I’ve said this before, but the atmospheric setting in these books is one of the best I’ve ever written. Katherine Arden is such a talented author: her lush writing, vivid descriptions,  and carefully crated historical and fairytale elements create such a magical story. And the wintry setting made this a perfect read for winter time. 

He was only half there; the wind seemed to blow through him.
“As I could, I loved you too,” she whispered.
Their eyes met. Then he was gone, gone on the rising wind, blown through the wild air. 

There is so much to love about The Winter of the Witch, and I will never stop recommending this series to people. From the writing to the characters to the storytelling, The Winternight trilogy is an enchanting, whimsical story perfect for those who love a blend of fantasy and folklore. 

BLOG TOUR + GIVEAWAY: Realm of Ruins – ARC Review

Welcome to my stop on the Realm of Ruins book tour! Thank you to Fantastic Flying Book Club for organizing the tour and allowing me to participate as a tour host!


ABOUT THE BOOK

M3SFH_vwTitle: Realm of Ruins (The Nissera Chronicles #2)
Author: Hannah West
Release Date: December 4, 2018
Publisher: Holiday House
Genre: YA Fantasy

Valory’s power is different…it’s dangerous, unruly, and destructive. But can she channel it to crush a cunning enemy and save the realm from chaos? 

Welcome to Nissera, land of three kingdoms and home to spectacular magic.

A century after her legendary ancestors overcame a bloodthirsty tyrant, seventeen-year-old Valory Braiosa attends a training academy for elicromancers, immortal beings with magical gifts. Yet Valory’s immense power seems impossible to tame, and she faces imprisonment by the Nisseran authorities. Then a forbidden resurrection spell awakens a long-dormant evil, and Valory may be the only one who can vanquish this terrifying villain. Together with a band of allies—including an old friend; a haughty princess; and a mysterious, handsome stranger—Valory must learn to harness her power and fight back.

Weaving together her imaginative world of gritty fairytale magic with snippets from Beauty and the Beast and other classic stories, Hannah West’s dark and dangerous adventure is a gripping, immersive companion to her acclaimed debut, Kingdom of Ash and Briars. This richly packaged edition includes an illustrated family tree, detailed map, and embossed jacket with shimmering metallic effects.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | Kobo


REVIEW

ARC provided by the publisher. 

Realm of Ruins is a companion novel to Kingdom of Ash and Briar, and while there are a few references to the previous book, you can definitely enjoy this without reading it and understand everything that is happening! 

One of the things I liked best about Realm of Ruins, was that the action started right away, quickly pulling you into the book. There is so many elements of fantasy (especially YA fantasy) in this that I really love: magic, fairy-tale retellings, quests, hidden powers. Hannah West does a great job introducing the world and magic system in a way that is understandably, and yet without long passages of info dumps. The Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid aspects of the story were intricately woven into the plot, although I do wish those parts of the story had been expanded upon a bit.

The action and the characters are the main driving force of the story. The book is non-stop action and adventuring from the beginning, so the story was able to hold my attention throughout the novel. I also really enjoyed the characters and their contributions to the story, which also helped keep me engaged and interested. I absolutely loved how the story ended. To me, the last chapter seemed a bit ambiguous – especially in regards to Valory – and I was totally digging it. I almost wish the book had ended there, instead of with the epilogue, because I think it would have been a stronger finish. The epilogue didn’t focus as much as closer for the characters as I would have liked and I really feel like there were a few loose ends that needed wrapping up. I’m not sure if it was the author’s intention or not, but it almost feels like another book is possible in the future? If so, I look forward to it!   

★ ★ ★ ★


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

-QDTbixgHannah West is the author of Kingdom of Ash and Briars and its companion, Realm of Ruins. She’s always loved writing about magic and fairytales, but her time studying abroad in Orléans, France inspired her to finally write and publish a fantasy novel. She’s a freelance writer and vegetarian living in Texas with her husband and their rambunctious blue heeler.

 

Follow Hannah:
Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram


GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Win one (1) of five Nissera Chronicles bundles. Bundle includes one copy of Kingdom of Ash and Briar and one finished copy of Realm of Ruins.

 ✨ ENTER HERE ✨


FOLLOW THE TOUR

Week One:
December 4 | The Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Club

December 5 | The Reading Corner For All
December 5 | Wishful Endings
December 5 | Utopia State of Mind

December 6 | Paws and Paperbacks
December 6 | Jrsbookreviews
December 6 | Bri’s Book Nook
December 6 | Mythical Books

December 7 | Rhythmicbooktrovert
December 7 | Moonlight Rendezvous
December 7 | Adventures and Readings

December 8 | Nay’s Pink Bookshelf
December 8 | 808bookdr
December 8 | Library of a Book Witch
December 8 | Confessions of a YA Reader

Week Two:
December 9 | A New Look on Books Blog
December 9 | The Critic Uncritical Bookworm
December 9 | Kait Plus Books

December 10 | My Fangirl Chronicles
December 10 | Fyrekatz Blog
December 10 | Belle’s Book Blog
December 10 | Oh Hey! Books

REVIEW: Fire and Heist – Sarah Beth Durst (ARC)

23510085Title: Fire and Heist
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Rating: ★★★ 

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

I never would have thought to combine Ocean’s Eleven with were-dragons, and yet here this novel stands. Fire and Heist not only has a well-written and super interesting premised, but it was really fun to read!

I’m not sure what I was expecting going into this as far as the setting, but when I read that it was set in an alternative-modern day, I found myself pleasantly surprised. The beginning of the book was a bit confusing, however. The story and the protagonist, Sky, continuously mention the “family business” and heists, but it was never actually explained what exactly the family business was and why they needed to go on heists. You kind of learn and make assumptions as the book goes on, but I think it needed to be expounded upon a little more.

The writing was great! This is my first novel by Sarah Beth Durst and I found her writing to be light, witty, and quirky – which fit this book perfectly. I also really enjoyed the heists and the way they were written: it was easy to follow along with the action and thrilling to read about! Another aspect of the book that I give huge props to the author for was the romance. Fire and Heist is a standalone, and one of the issues with standalones is balancing a love interest with good pacing in a short period of time without it turning into insta-love. The love interest in this book is an ex-boyfriend, and so the feelings were not only already established, but it added a new and unique kind of angst to the story.

Fire and Heist is a standalone that can most accurately be described as Ocean’s Eleven + were-dragons. If you enjoy quick, light-hearted, thrilling stories full of were-dragons, gold, and fun heists, than I suggest checking this out! 

REVIEW: A Dangerous Collaboration – Deanna Raybourn (ARC)

30518319Title: A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell #4)
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Rating: ★★★★

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Upon receiving the email that I was approved for this, I immediately put aside all other plans for reading because that’s how much I love these books. 

A Dangerous Collaboration is the fourth installment of the Veronica Speedwell series, and while I wouldn’t count it as my favorite, it was just as enjoyable as all the others. One of the things I loved best about this one was the setting. In A Dangerous Collaboration, Veronica and Stoker find themselves in a remote island off the coast of Cornwall, in a possibly haunted castle, as the guests of Lord Malcolm. The entire plot/setting is very reminiscent of a murder mystery dinner and it was so very fun to read! Other than our beloved protagonist and her partner-in-solving crime, there is a full cast of interesting characters, including Tiberius, Stoker’s eldest brother.

The pace of this book was a bit slower than the others, and it took a while for it to really pick up. However as with all the other, it was full of thrilling adventures, witty conversations, sexual tension, and of course – murder and mayhem. I’m always equal parts frustrated by my inability to discover the true killer before the reveal and yet impressed by Raybourn’s writing that she is able to keep me in the dark for so long. 

And I cannot write a review without again touching on the relationship between Veronica and Stoker. Things were a little different this time around, because it has become apparent – not just to the readers, but also to Veronica – that there is definitely something between the two of them. Veronica and Stoker spend a majority of this book fighting their attraction/feelings for one another, but the ending makes it so worth all the waiting!

If you haven’t had a chance to read this series yet and you’re a fan of murder mysteries, historical fiction, and slow-burn romances, then please do yourself a favor and pick up the first book! A Dangerous Collaboration is the fourth book of this wonderful, thrilling series and I’m highly anticipating the next (and I believe last) installment! 

REVIEW: The Gilded Wolves – Roshani Chokshi (ARC)

39863498Title: The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves #1)
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Rating: ★★★★½

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Roshani Chokshi continues to impress me with her effortless skill and crafting marvelous stories and endearing characters. A lot of young adult fantasy/heist books have been lauded as the next Six of Crows, and so far I’ve been disappointment by the ones I’ve read. And while I’m hesitant to compare The Gilded Wolves to it – they are each their own completely unique story – I truly believe that fans of Six of Crows are going to be as enamored by The Gilded Wolves as I was. 

“I work alone,” said Zofia.
Enrique rolled his eyes. “Most women kill to be alone with me.”
“I have learned that something does not have to be animate in order to use the word ‘kill,'” said Zofia. “Perhaps these women you are referencing are killing their expectations?”

The world created here can only be described as opulent and magical. Roshani has written such a unique story full of dark magic, thrilling adventures, and a diverse cast of compelling characters. From the mysteries and secrets, to the heists and plot twists, there is a lot of good stuff going on in this book. One of my favorite aspects was the interactions between the characters. There are a lot of different dynamics to love and each was written so beautifully and believably. 

Séverin – French-Algerian leader of the group, wants nothing more than to protect and care for his friends. He thrives off the idea of revenge and high-key pines after Laila.

“Neither of them could afford to lose sight of their prize, and so one night in each other’s arms stayed as one mistake, and the memory of it was shoved into the dark.”

Hypnos – Heir of a French aristocrat and descendant of a slave on his mother’s side. Definitely grows on you as the story evolves. He has some of the funniest lines in the book and honestly, he just wants friends. 

“You’ll like working with me, I promise! I’m fabulous at parties, have excellent taste in menswear etcetera etcetera,” said Hypnos, waving his hand. “And if you don’t agree to this, I’ll break every bone in their bodies, and etch your name onto the splinters.”

Zofia – Socially awkward cinnamon roll with a few OCD tendencies. Really loves sugar cookies and mathematical equations. 

Séverin rolled his eyes. “Zofia, tell him he’s pretty.”
Zofia didn’t look up from her tea. “I am personally undecided, but if we’re assessing based on objectivity then according to the principles of the Golden Ratio, also known as phi, which is approximately 1.618, your facial beauty is mathematically pleasing.”

Enrique – Spanish-Filipino, bisexual. Obsessed with history and sarcasm (like me) and full of fun facts that people get tired of listening to (also like me). 

Tristan – Like a brother to Séverin, a bit of a recluse with a large pet spider and an affinity for botanical properties.

Laila – Indian made-up girl with a tragic backstory and the epitome of a mom friend. She’s fierce and loyal and likes to bake and basically has earned the role of My Favorite Character. Give her all the happiness.

Hypnos laughed. “I adore you already! So imperious! I bet Séverin likes to be bossed around a little, doesn’t he?”

And speaking of character dynamics, I love everything going on with the romances. We have one romance which is essentially mutual pining and angst, and it’s like Roshani has read all of my previous reviews of books and wrote this specifically for me. I’m also totally on board for the love triangle Enrique has going on, and although I’m already trash for one of the possibilities, I’m also a big fan of the other possibility as well. 

“What on earth are you doing?”
“I am imitating patterns of flirtation.”
“Wait. You’re flirting. With…me?

Basically, this book is amazing and should totally be on your TBR if it isn’t already. I highly recommend this for fans of Roshani Chokshi’s other works or those who love Six of CrowsThe Gilded Wolves is a thrilling book full of heists, loyal friends, and magic. The ending crushed my soul and I have no idea what I’m going to do while I wait for the next book in the series.