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review 2019-01-08 12:21
The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden
The Winter of the Witch - Katherine Arden
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I absolutely loved this book! Ever since I finished The Girl in the Tower, I have been eager to read the next chapter in Vasya's story. I went into this book with incredibly high expectations and I have to say that this book was even better than I could have hoped for. There is just something magical about this trilogy. This was a book that I found almost impossible to set aside. I just had to know how things would work out for Vasya, her family, and all of Russia. I found that this story was really able to touch me emotionally and I had a fantastic time reading it.

The Winter of the Witch is the final book in the Winternight trilogy which really must be read in order. This book does pick up shortly after the events of the previous book by throwing the reader right back into the action. If I had to find one thing to criticize about this book, it would be that this book does not take the time to refresh the reader's memory of the events from the previous installments. Since it has been over a year since I read the previous book, it did take me a moment or two to really remember the details regarding what had been happening with Vasya. 

Vasya is a wonderful character and I have found it a joy to watch her develop and really find herself over the course of the trilogy. She seems to be ready to take on the world in this book. She is strong and has proven herself worthy of being a leader. She is also compassionate and mourns the ones she has lost and works to protect others often at her own risk. She does expect others with power to also do what needs to be done even if it comes with significant risk and does not hold back her opinion when she thinks that they are not doing enough. 

This book was exciting. I worried about the safety of Vasya and the other characters quite often since there are a lot of dangerous situations in the book. Vasya has really embraced her powers by the end of the book and I had a great time seeing everything she was capable of doing. I also loved all of the magical creatures that were a part of Vasya's world. The Winter King, the Bear, Midnight, and even a mushroom king all played important and sometimes surprising roles in this wonderful story. 

I thought that the writing was beautiful. I felt like I was carried away by the words as I read this book. There was a wonderful flow to the story and I think that the writing added to the overall beauty of the story. This story made me feel a lot of things. I was nervous and worried about the characters at times and smiled in joy when things worked out. I felt pain when things went horribly wrong and had tears of joy when things went oh so right. The story is dark and it is often violent but it was always beautiful.

I would highly recommend this trilogy to others. I was swept away by this dark fairytale of a story and loved every moment of it. I must say that this book brought everything to a fantastic conclusion and the ending was even better than I could have hoped. This is a trilogy that I plan to revisit many times in the future. I can't wait to see what Katherine Arden writes next!

I received a digital review copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine Del Ray via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
This was the kind of story that is easy to lose yourself in. It was a magical fairytale of a story but a rather dark fairytale. From the start, I was completely swept away by this story and the beautiful way that it was told. Vasya has grown into a powerful woman and does what is necessary to protect herself, those she loves, and Russia. The story was epic and the ending was beautiful. 


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text 2019-01-02 01:14
My January TBR (New Releases)
Flights of Fancy - Jen Turano
The Paragon Hotel - Lyndsay Faye
An Orchestra of Minorities - Chigozie John Obioma
The Only Woman in the Room - Marie Benedict
The Winter of the Witch - Katherine Arden
Queen Victoria: Daughter, Wife, Mother and Widow - Lucy Worsley
The last Boat Out of Shanghai: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who fled Mao's Revolution - Helen Zia
The Wartime Sisters - Lynda Cohen Loigman
We Cast a Shadow - Carlos Ruffin
House of Stone - Novuyo Rosa Tshuma

For the last year I've become very picky about what I choose to read. I believe I'm very sure about my likes and dislikes at this point. I'm a Literary Fiction and Historical Gal. I really want to read my own books, but have bitten off more than I can chew, in past years, in requests. 


Going forward, perusing book websites to acquire more books will be in my past. I want to concentrate on reading what I've already obtained. My concentration will be put on the social media sites that are more of my lane and those are Goodreads and Booklikes. I'm a recovering Instagram scroller and Youtube time waster. This year I will have more focus and drive for what inspires me and allows me to thrive.



January 1


Flights of Fancy by Jen Turano


January 8


The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye


An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozi Obioma


The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benendict


The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden


Queen Victoria: Daughter, Wife, Mother and Widow by Lucy Worsley


January 22


Last Boat Out of Shanghai by Helen Zia


The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman


The Orphan Sisters by Shirley Dickson


January 29


We Cast A Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin


House of Stone by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma

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review 2018-12-24 20:07
Have you ever picked up a book because you kept seeing its cover everywhere?
The Bear and the Nightingale - Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale is the first book in the Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden. This book contains fantasy elements mixed with a Russian folktale influence. The reader follows Vasya, a young Russian girl, who was predestined before her birth for something great and who possesses the old magic. Vasya has the Sight and can see and communicate with the household spirits (chyerti). Her peculiar gifts aren't necessarily seen as a problem (beyond her possible difficulties securing a husband) until her father gets married to the daughter of the Grand Prince of Moscow. Her stepmother is deeply religious and in conjunction with the village's new priest, Konstantin, begins to sway Vasya's father into marrying her off as soon as possible. Konstantin preys on the fears of his congregants and Vasya finds herself a pariah among the very people she wishes to help. [A/N: Konstantin is a creep and anyone who says otherwise is crazy.] There comes a winter which is particularly harsh and the Bear becomes active from the people's fears (which just so happens to be his source of nourishment). It turns out that the tales that Vasya's nurse have told for years upon years seem to be true as she becomes mixed up with the lifelong feud between The Winter King and his brother Morozko (the Bear). The end is rather fuzzily done up but that's to be expected from a book which was created as part of a trilogy. Heavy on religious and mystical elements, this book took me quite a long while to get through even though once I picked it back up I found it deeply interesting. I will most likely read the next in the series (or give it a good attempt) next year. This is a book that would be ideal during the cold winter nights when you have nothing pressing to do and can curl up with a book for hours on end. 6/10


The cover from the Australian edition. [Source: Penguin Books Australia] 


What's Up Next: The Compleet Molesworth by Geoffrey Willans


What I'm Currently Reading: Tales from the Inner City by Shaun Tan

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-12-15 00:58
[REVIEW] The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
The Bear and the Nightingale - Katherine Arden

I loved this book. Hell, I don’t even know what to say about it except I want to gush. I read this in 24 hours and I can tell you that it was completely worth it.

My poor heart is aching.

It is such a beautiful, heartbreaking story that grabs you and never lets you go. There is not a single character I hated (well, Konstantin aka Frollo cause it’s practically impossible to like him). Every character was fleshed out and you felt for them, you knew them, you grew attached and worried about them. 

The prose is lovely and atmospheric. Even if right now the heat is sweltering, through Arden’s words I traveled to a wintry Russia full of mystery and snow. It’s so easy to dive into the world and the story and want to stay there forever, to the point that you will resent anyone that tries to distract you.

I loved the lore, the commentary on women’s lives during this era, the familial bonds that tied the story together... I loved it all.



Reading progress notes


5% - The prose is lovely and the book is so atmospheric. I’m half in love with it already.
17% - I’m intrigued with the stranger. And I’m terrified for Pyotr’s family. I think his marriage won’t be a good one.
22% - Oh, Olga. I feel for you and your wish for a raven-haired prince. And I feel for Vasya.
30% - Hating Konstantin already.
41% - This fucker is in love with her, isn’t he?
81% - "Nothing changed, Vasya. Things are, or they are not. Magic is forgetting that something ever was other than as you willed it.”
84% - "All around them was winter, the shroud of bitter snow, the earth like iron, the river like blue marble."

This prose. Can I marry it?
90% - I'm in tears.
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review 2018-11-29 02:17
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
The Bear and the Nightingale - Katherine Arden

Series: Winternight Trilogy #1


Alright, so it's not that I disliked this book. It's just that I found it to be pretty average. It's basically a mediaeval fantasy based in Russia, so some of the folklore is a bit different (and neat, I'll grant you), but it boils down to tensions between the traditional folklore and Christianity, where the Christians view the household spirits as demons.


The storytelling is also very linear, and the book starts right at the start of Vasya's history, just before her birth. There was a point about a third of the way through (or maybe a bit later but before the halfway mark) where I realized that I was going to have to wade through a lot of text just to get where the book was going, and I almost felt discouraged enough to put it down. Things did ramp up when Vasya was battling the upyry but then the story meandered again in Death's house...


Overall it was just a very traditional fantasy story since it even included the obsession with female virginity and how it relates to the ability to do magic.


I was really looking forward to reading this since it sounded cool, but although I don't regret reading it by any means, I don't think I'll be seeking out the rest of the trilogy either. Maybe I'll check out other things by the author if she continues to write, however. The book is written well, and maybe I'd get drawn into another of her stories better.

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