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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 2018-12-14 20:54
[REVIEW] The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air) - Holly Black
Holy hell. I need to pick up my jaw from the floor. This book is full of twist and turns, it zigs when you think it's going to zag and now I'm a jumble of emotions.
 
Reading progress notes
 
pg. 49 - Jeez, this bullying is anxiety-inducing. And also rage inducing for good measure.
  
pg. 97 - I am really tense right now.
 
pg. 148 - Jude is just asking for trouble and upping my anxiety. Also, I don’t trust Locke."
 
pg. 172 - My face throughout the chapter I just read: D:
 
pg. 200 - *jaw drops*
 
pg. 242 - I cannot believe this is happening but I like it...?
 
pg. 244 - THEY ARE KISSING. THEY ARE KISSING OMG. *FLAILS*
 
pg. 275 - OMG I DID NOT EXPECT THIS AND OMG WHAT IS HAPPENING
 
pg. 280 - Oh, Jude. Even I know that he's saving Cardan out of interest.
 
pg. 283 - WHAT IS HAPPENING!?
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review 2018-12-14 20:41
[REVIEW] Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
Cuckoo Song - Frances Hardinge

I didn't know what to think but there is such beautiful melancholy attached to this book. How grief can break up a family, how memories bind them together, how the world falls apart and rebuilds itself. I loved every character, they were a breath of fresh air. They felt human to me. Deeply flawed but it didn't stop you from caring for them, it didn't stop you from understanding that behind their unreasonable behavior, terrible pain accompanied it. 

And the prose? Oh, the prose! It's still amazing to me how an author can wrap a blanket of familiarity around you or destroy your heart using words.

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review 2018-12-14 16:09
12 Days at Bleakley Manor / Michelle Griep
12 Days at Bleakly Manor: Book 1 in Once Upon a Dickens Christmas - Michelle Griep

When CLARA CHAPMAN receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of one thousand pounds. That’s enough money to bring her brother back from America and reinstate their stolen family fortune. But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, BENJAMIN LANE.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar.

Brought together under mysterious circumstances for the Twelve Days of Christmas, Clara and Ben discover that what they've been striving for isn't what ultimately matters. What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

 

A sweet Christmas story, easily read in one evening. It’s a combination of historical fantasy, Gothic romance, and mystery story, set in a big ole English edifice, Bleakly Manor. Me thinks it owes a bit to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, as a number of people are anonymously invited to the Manor for the 12 Days of Christmas with promises of rewards should they stay the full 12 days. Their host is not in evidence and the rules quickly change: only one guest will get the reward, the person who makes it to the 12th day. Things quickly begin to happen, eliminating guests by choice & by happenstance.

The Gothic romance aspect involves the two main characters, Clara Chapman and her former fiancé Benjamin Lane. Clara considers herself abandoned at the altar and left penniless. Ben has to be rescued from prison, where he has been merely surviving, wondering why Clara hasn’t come looking for him. The mystery includes deducing who has done this to them and why. Clara is your classic Gothic heroine, orphaned, poor, and separated from her love by a grave problem.

There are interesting details involving the Victorian celebration of Christmas and a seasonally appropriate message about caring for others and the nature of love.

If you’re looking for a cozy Christmas mystery, you could do much worse that 12 Days at Bleakly Manor.

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review 2018-12-14 15:51
The Last Command / Timothy Zahn
The Last Command - Timothy Zahn

The embattled Republic reels from the attacks of Grand Admiral Thrawn, who has marshaled the remnants of the Imperial forces and driven the Rebels back with an abominable technology recovered from the Emperor's secret fortress: clone soldiers. As Thrawn mounts his final siege, Han and Chewbacca struggle to form a coalition of smugglers for a last-ditch attack against the empire, while Leia holds the Alliance together and prepares for the birth of her Jedi twins. Overwhelmed by the ships and clones at Thrawn's command, the Republic has one last hope--sending a small force, led by Luke Skywalker, into the very stronghold that houses Thrawn's terrible cloning machines. There a final danger awaits, as the Dark Jedi C'baoth directs the battle against the Rebels and builds his strength to finish what he had already started: the destruction of Luke Skywalker.

 

 

 

Well, I am glad to have finished this trilogy. Kudos to Rich Kelly for the wonderful cover art depicting Grand Admiral Thrawn. I wish he’d been on the first book cover of the series, giving me a better image of the master-planning Imperial villain. Is it wrong of me to like Thrawn better than any of the good guys? But I do—he’s smart, he’s cultured, he’s emotionally controlled. And he is by far the most complex character in the trilogy.

As I’ve said in reviews of the previous two books, the writing is about the right level for the 10-13 year old crowd. By all rights, there should have been a romance between Mara Jade and Luke Skywalker, but that opportunity isn’t taken up—another reason that I feel these books are written with much younger people in mind. Those two should be making Jedi babies!

You know, one of these days I’m going to have to watch the Star Wars movies—maybe next time there’s a Star Wars marathon being shown in town.

Book number 308 in my Science Fiction & Fantasy reading project.

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