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review 2016-10-24 02:14
The Bear and the Nightingale: A Novel - Katherine Arden

As Katherine Arden herself states in her author’s note at the end of The Bear and the Nightingale, she does take some liberties with Russian names, as well as the history in which her story takes place. However, her capable storytelling allows the reader to set aside this knowledge and simply enjoy the story she has created. 

 

Arden’s novel is visually detailed. It is easy to picture the setting and the various set pieces of this story, from Pyotr Vladimirovich’s great house and the Grand Prince’s vast hall adorned with a heavily laden dining table, to the great battle scene that rounds out the story at the novel’s end. The story juxtaposes images that trick the reader’s sensibilities. What initially appears to be a stark, blank canvas, is actually teaming with abundant and colorful detail. Even the shadows that lurk through Konstantin’s bed chamber offer essential insights not only in terms of plot, but in terms of the internal conflict that faces Konstantin as well. 

 

While a reader might think that such attention to detail might hamper their enjoyment of the story, that is not the case here. Arden’s prose flows easily. Her descriptions become part of the action, supporting the characters and their interactions with each other. When characters are talking, it’s fun to also picture on the side a little domovoi, or house elf, sitting by a clay oven with a long, smoking beard, munching on burnt crusts of leftover bread. The folkloric elements complement the realistic aspects of the story well. The characters have real presence. Their various conflicts are very natural and real, despite the supernatural elements that are ever-present. The petty jealousies, fears, fervent devotions, honest love of family and daily toils help ground and balance the novel, maintaining the reader’s interest throughout. 

 

While the story is entertaining, some readers might balk at the novel’s somewhat abrupt ending. Though there is a definite conclusion, Arden leaves some details open-ended, enough to make a potentially satisfying sequel. After reading and conducting some research on Katherine Arden’s website, she states that this book is the first of a trilogy—information I did not know prior to reading. In truth, I’m glad and can’t wait to revisit the feisty Vasya and her folkloric world, and perhaps see further intrigues related to the ever troubled Konstantin.

 

Copy provided by NetGalley

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review 2015-01-29 00:00
Irish Fireside Tales: Myths, Legends, Folktales
Irish Fireside Tales: Myths, Legends, Folktales - Leslie Carola I've been wanting to read some Irish folklore for a while now. Some of my ancestors were Irish and I'm very interested in their culture and history. I suppose that could be where I got my love for mythology, legends, and fairytales. The Irish are sort of known for their story telling.

There were elements to some of these stories that I recognize from other fairytales, but mostly, they had their own Irish stamp to them. I can't decide which one is my favorite. It's interesting, though, to see pictures of the Giant's Causeway after reading the legend that is told about it.

If you enjoy folklore in general, or anything pertaining to Ireland, I would recommend this book to you.
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review 2014-05-12 00:00
Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends
Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends - A.L. Butcher

Review of Tales of Erana

Rating: 5 stars

www.reviewoffantasy.com

Beautifully written short tales of times where magic lived and god's and goddess existed.

The style of writing was easy to read, and had such a gentle flow to it; it really reminded me of tales from when I was a child. Yet each short story held a meaning and each one unique. The world building and the descriptions where so well written I could see everything so clearly.
The stories were not happy ever after, but a lesson to be learnt in all of them.
This is the first book I have read from this author, but now that I can see her style of writing I will definitely read more.

I would highly recommend this to all readers and lovers of paranormal, myths and fantasy. A short yet very enjoyable read.



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review 2013-10-13 00:00
Very Superstitious: Myths, Legends and Tales of Superstition
Very Superstitious: Myths, Legends and Tales of Superstition - Georgia McBride,Shannon Delany,Pab Sungenis,Stephanie Kuehnert,Jennifer Knight,Mari Mancusi,Michelle E. Reed,Jackie Morse Kessler,Dianne K. Salerni My Thoughts - 4 out of 5 unicorns - I really liked it!!
**Received the ebook as part of the tour for an honest review

The cover is beautiful and alludes to usual superstitions with cats, the moon, and the number 13. I think it is a very fitting cover even if the stories do not revolve around those particular superstitions.

I have to say that I find it extremely honorable for the authors taking part to help such a worthy cause. I am an animal lover, and I want to cry when I see animals hurt, abused, or thrown away. All animals deserve our respect and care just as people do. If you are not familiar with SPCA International, here is the website that you can visit for more information: http://www.spcai.org/

Okay there are several stories in this anthology, and they were all enjoyable. My three favorite stories were The Rescue by Shannon Delany, Chupacabra by Jennifer Knight, and The Gift of the Were-Magi by Mari Mancusi, so these are the ones I’m focusing on.

In The Rescue, a man must decide between trusting the legends about red dogs and the fae or his faith in his best friend. Shannon says she deviated from the tale of folklore, and I think it was a great change. The story had me from the beginning, but I do not want to give anything away. Shannon writes beautifully, and you get sucked into the world she writes about.

In Chupacabra, it is a tale of a family curse and a beast who murderers people. This story is another that is very well written that you can see everything taking place like you are right there in the story. I love when this happens because it is how I escape reality. Can love conquer all? I guess you will have to read the story to see ;)

In The Gift of the Were-Magi, Mari creates a fantastic world that I would love to read more about. Okay there are parts of this story that had me screaming at the book because it was going a direction I didn’t want it to, but I loved it all the same. The emotional twists let me know how vested in the story I am. Could you walk away from your own personal happiness to ensure that someone you loved would be happy?

I definitely recommend this story to all because first, it is for a fantastic cause, and second, it is a great collection of stories.
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review 1967-01-01 00:00
Tales of the Norse Gods - Barbara Leonie Picard I loved the Norse myths when I was a kid, though I can't remember which book it was that I read. If you're another fan, I'll give you a gentle warning: the Kenneth Branagh movie Thor may leave you feeling just a tiny bit irritated.

Don't get me wrong. There are many things to appreciate: Branagh has done a good job of directing, the actors all turn in excellent performances, and the CGI artists are on form too. You'll laugh a few times, and you may shed the odd tear - though I do feel obliged to point out that the most moving sequence is a direct steal from a certain Disney picture. Anyway, never mind that. The thing that really annoyed me is that the Æsir have been rather egregiously Americanized. Heimdall is, sigh, black. I'm all for multi-culturalism, but there were no black people in Scandinavia when these myths were being created. Having a black As (singular of Æsir, as any fule kno) makes no sense at all. And yes, I'm the first to admit that Jaimie Alexander out-Xenas Xena in her depiction of Sif, but a) Sif wasn't a warrior, she was a fertility goddess, and b) she can't be a brunette, since Loki tricks her into cutting her golden hair in one of the stories, and this is often read as referring to harvesting wheat.

Okay, okay, it was fun. And you don't need to tell me, I know it's mostly Marvel's fault and Branagh's just following their adaptation. All the same, consider yourself warned.
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PS In case anyone is wondering, I would like to make it clear that I am not a white supremacist, and I'm rather shocked to discover that I agree with them on certain points.

Well, statistically, I guess it's inevitable that white supremacists are right every now and then. Hitler had some good things to say about the health dangers associated with cigarette smoking. You just have to evaluate these things on a case by case basis.
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