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! 

#ARCstravaganza: The Wolf in the Whale – Jordanna Max Brodsky

Happy Monday! #ARCstravaganza is a weekly meme now hosted by Flavia the Bibliophile where readers can show off their wonderful ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) and spread the word about upcoming releases. For more information about this meme and its origins check out this post


ABOUT THE BOOK

39603796Title: The Wolf in the Whale
Author: Jordanna Max Brodsky
Release: January 29, 2019

A young Inuit shaman’s epic quest for survival in the frozen lands of North America in 1000 AD.

Born with the soul of a hunter and the language of the gods, Omat is destined to become a shaman like her grandfather. To protect her people, she invokes the spirits of the sky, the sea, and the air.

But the gods have stopped listening, the seals won’t come, and Omat’s family is starving.

Desperate to save them, Omat journeys through the icy wastes, fighting for survival with every step. When she meets a Viking warrior and his strange new gods, together they set in motion a conflict that could shatter her world…or save it.

The Wolf in the Whale is a powerful tale of magic, discovery and adventure, featuring an unforgettable narrator ready to confront the gods themselves.

Monthly Wrap-Up: November 2018

The end of the year is approaching fast, and if you’re like me, there are still a whole lot of books left on the TBR from this year that haven’t been read yet! November was a bit of slower month for me, reading-wise, due mostly to the fact that I was on vacation for two weeks. I had anticipated catching up on my TBR while I was gone, but I’m not one to sit around do nothing, so vacations usually aren’t as relaxing as they sound, as I’m always finding things to do! I also went to YALLFest a couple of weeks ago, and I had so much fun!! I met so many great people, made some new friends, and got a ton of books and ARCs, including a couple highly-anticipated upcoming releases that I was desperate for!


36739553FURY: I loved this conclusion to the Menagerie series! For the most part, I thought it wrapped things up well. There were a few things, however, that I wish would have been different for the final book. A lot of questions were left unanswered and I think certain plot points needed to be fleshed out a bit more. Although I didn’t mind the bittersweet ending, it was almost a little too bitter, and since I’m a hopeless romantic, I truly wish there has been more of the romance and felt a little cheated. I’m also still unsure how I feel about the epilogue, and it has bothered me ever since. ★★★★½

25883848THE HATING GAME: If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m complete trash for a love-to-hate relationship and witty banter. This was everything I never knew I needed in my life, and I wish I could go back in time and slap myself every time I saw this book on my TBR but skipped over it to read something else. The highlight of the book were the characters themselves; I thoroughly enjoyed reading about both Josh and Lucy and really enjoyed the evolution of their relationship. I now understand all the high praises I’ve seen about this book, because it deserves all it.  [review]  ★★★★★

39863498THE GILDED WOLVES: I figured I would enjoy this because it’s Roshani Chokshi but I didn’t realize just how amazing it would be! 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. The characters are truly the heart of this story and I can’t wait for everyone to meet them!  [review]  ★★★★½

29939390WINDWITCH: My first attempt at reading this when it was released nearly two years ago, I had to stop at about 15% of the way in. The pacing was so tedious and I was disappointed when I learned that some of the beloved characters weren’t going to be reunited during the course of the story. I’m proud of myself that I picked it up again and was able to finish it this time! There was a lot about this book that I didn’t enjoy: the slower pacing, the fact that Safi and Iseult don’t reunite and the absence of their sisterhood, the fact that Safi and Merik don’t reunite or interact, and the lack of action. I also hated that the story kind of hints towards a love triangle, because I am not here for it. The pacing and action does start to pick up towards the end, and the last part of the book begins to resemble everything I had loved about Truthwitch.  ★★★½

9780451477538_RebelOfTheSands_JK.inddREBEL OF THE SANDS: This was my second reading of the book, in anticipation of finally read the entire trilogy. I’m so glad I reread it, because I hardly remembered anything about it and because I enjoyed it so much better the second time around. I loved the world-building done in this book: Miraji is a Middle-Eastern inspired setting with Old-West aspects + magic. There is so much action and fun stuff happening here. We have amazing characters, a slow-burn romance, treks across the desserts, an abundance of princes, and a kick-butt heroine that I adore. This fast-paced book is full of plot twists and plenty of action.  [review]  ★★★★

31574408TRAITOR TO THE THRONE: I’m thankful I was able to read this right after finishing Rebel of the Sands, because otherwise I think my experience would have been a lot different. This book focuses more on Amani and is a lot slower paced than the previous book. Instead of a plot filled with action and adventure, we get introduced to political intrigue and court machinations. Beloved characters from the first book – including Jin and their romance – are sadly missing for a good portion of this book, but there was so much happening that it never bothered me. A few new key characters are introduced and there were two that I absolutely loved getting to know: Rahim and Sam! The action starts to really build towards the last few chapters, and by the end we’re left with a big cliffhanger!  [review]  ★★★★

35406534HERO AT THE FALL: This was such a thrilling and wonderful conclusion to the series! The fast-paced and action-filled plot returned, and now the stakes are raised. I was happy that Jin and Amani were together again in this one, because I love the way their relationship changed and grew over the course of these books. I also loved the relationships Amani had with all of the other characters, but especially her friendships with with Shazad, Amed and Sam. More of the book’s mythology was included, and I really enjoyed reading those bits of stories and their creativity. As much as I loved everything that went on, we also said goodbye to some characters, including one of my favorites. And while I liked the ending/epilogue, I do wish that a couple of the characters were given more a more satisfying conclusion to their stories.  [review]  ★★★★

30518319A DANGEROUS COLLABORATION: This wasn’t my favorite in the series, but I really loved the setting! 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. 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. And after years of waiting, we finally get a nudge in the right direction towards romance between Veronica and Stoker – and it was totally worth the wait!  [review]  ★★★★

32796839KINGDOM OF ASH AND BRIARS: I thought I would love this a lot more than what I actually did. I really liked the story, the writing, and the world-building. The fairytale retelling aspects were enjoyable and I thought they were creative and intriguing. However, even thought the story is told through first-person POV, I had trouble connecting with Bristal and felt disconnected from the story. And while I really liked the romance, there was an aspect of it that just felt kind of strange. ★★★½

26061583THE DARK DAYS DECEIT: This was the conclusion to the Lady Helen series – a series that I absolutely love – and yet I was so disappointed while reading this. I’m going to attribute my lack of enthusiasm towards this book to my high expectations and longer than usually wait. The release date was pushed back nearly a year, so I had forgotten a lot of things that had happened in the previous book. The book felt like parts of it were drawn out too long, while other parts were rushed and didn’t make any sense. The three books build up towards a romance between Helen and Lord Carlston, and yet what we’re given at the end was such a letdown. The conclusion of both the plot and the romance were honestly really anti-climatic and I finished this book feeling saddened and unsatisfied. ★★★½

35298956THE OTHER MISS BRIDGERTON: I haven’t enjoyed a Julia Quinn book this much since I first read The Viscount Who Loved Me. I had such a fun time reading this! There was so much that I loved about it, but I’m not ashamed to admit that the hate-to-love romance is what did me in. I have been disappointed that I haven’t really liked any of Quinn’s books other than The Viscount Who Loved Me, so I’m glad to find another favorite! ★★★★

OTHER

WWW Wednesday #16 | Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Fanart | Top Ten Tuesday: Backlist Books | #ARCstravaganza: Crown of Feathers | Blog Tour + Giveaway: West |