Book Review

Review: The Girl in the Tower (Winternight Trilogy #2) by Katherine Arden

Girl in the Tower

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult historical fiction fantasy, a little language, some violence, some kisses and lewd commentary
Length: 363 pages
Author: Katherine Arden
Publisher: Del Ray
Release Date: December 5th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

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OH THE ADVENTURE.

I read the first book in this series over a year ago and remembered enjoying it, but thinking, WHOA that was a lot of story. The Girl in the Tower exceeded my expectations for a middle novel. I was able to be even more immersed in the story because I understood the characters and plot much better after The Bear and the Nightingale.

Vasya is a strong heroine. Not letting her life be put into a box of marriage or a convent, she rides out for her own adventure. And what wanderlust she found! The prose and descriptions of vast Russia are beautiful. Arden interweaves world building and commentary so well you get swept away.

One of the few things I didn’t love was how much everything was Vasya’s fault. This death, that destruction, etc. She could’ve used a break, bless her heart. Vasilii the Brave is a heroine and deserved more praise under her guise.

The love tale woven throughout makes me giddy too. I look forward to more of Morozko and Vasya in the next book. This book isn’t heavy on the love either, and for a reader, I think that can sway them on way or another. I really appreciated the way it was set up. It stands apart from some novels too focused on the love. Vasya has so much loyalty and love for her family. It’s what makes the love with Morozko all the more sincere and tender.

Multiple POV helps you gain an understanding from many different characters. Vasya, Olya, and Sasha are a few on the group who get a momentary narrative. I always love when an author can handle so many characters at once because it enhances the story from all sides.

Can I almost mention MY LOVE FOR SOLOVEY? I want a magical horse that speaks to me. His fierce protection over Vasya gives me all the heart eyes.

I love the historical fiction aspect. Arden has degrees in Russian and tells the history and uses the aspects of names, times, and places to create a magic filled fantasy.

Overall audience notes:

  • A young adult fantasy book that could easily be enjoyed be an older audience
  • Sparse language, did not detract from the story
  • No love scenes, some kissing scenes (all safe for work)
  • Some lewd commentary about rape, and wanting to sleep with others
  • Some violence with minor gore
Book Review

Review: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

Crimson Bound

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy, no language, some love/kiss things, some violence
Length: 448 pages
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Publisher: Balzer + Bay
Release Date: May 5th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

Inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Crimson Bound is an exhilarating tale of darkness, love, and redemption.

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LOVE TRIANGLE ALERT.

*sigh*

I climbed up real high on my soap box tonight to say that I truly can’t stand love triangles. They’re very few situations where I thought it worked out enough that it didn’t bother me, but most of the time I’m too distracted by the wishy-washy heroine who can make up her mind on dying for her country, but not about what boy she likes.

With that in place the rest of the story remained a struggle for me. I didn’t quite understand where the Little Red Riding Hood tale fell into place either. Rachelle wearing a red cloak and prancing through the forest were about as LRRH as it got.

The world-building was neat. I did like that and felt the time spent there was well done. There was enough to understand the politics of the game, but not so much I began skimming.

The two love interests are fine. I actually liked Eric a lot more. He was cruel, deadly, and twisted. Which always makes for a good, dark book. Armand was lack-luster and was horrible at putting any of his own plans together. He was dragged from one scenario to the next without stopping to ask if it was the best idea.

The layout changed from her first book. The extra story was put at the end of chapters so you actually noticed it, and actually understood where it was supposed to be in regards to the current plot line. This is definitely an upgrade.

Everything fell flat in the end for me. It was dark, but eroded as the book went on. At least she finally chose someone, I guess.

Overall audience notes:

A young adult fantasy book with no language. The one love “scene” is super glossed over that you barely notice it. No descriptions or anything of that nature. Some violence, lightly gory.

Book Review

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty

 

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy, kiss & love scenes, minor violence, no language
Length: 352 pages
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: January 28th, 2014
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle—a shifting maze of magical rooms—enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

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A RETELLING FOR THE WIN.

I’ve heard for awhile now about this book, but didn’t know if I would like it so it sat on my TBR for a loooong time…

I wish I would have read this sooner!! It is definitely Beauty and the Beast-esque. And this was my favorite part.

While the vibe is definitely there, the story played out a long a much different line. The Kindly Ones (somewhere between Fae and Demon), Hermetic language, and Romana-Graecia period were all unique. There is a lot of talk about gods and their dynamic. This confused me a bit because most of it was superfluous. The stories that were necessary I glossed over and wished I had spent more time understanding them to fully unearth the story. But it was too heavy in the folk-lore for me.

“I knew better: there was no power I could buy or steal that would save me from my own heart.”

I adored Ignifex. SO MUCH. I’m a sucker for sass. Especially sass filled evil with a heart. He reminded me of the Darkling (Leigh Bardugo fans out there?). Nyx also held her own. Corrupt hearts was a big theme and the soul of the book. The acknowledgement and appreciation from the main characters for the malice that lies within everyone made for a dark tale. I loved the idea that there’s two pieces to each of us.

Some of the side characters are easy to push off a cliff. Not very remarkable and stand there convincing you to hate them more. Astraia is the most worthy of a good side, but she still annoyed me a lot too.

Without being a spoil-sport this book is not a love triangle. Even if you’re convinced it is. If I had known that beforehand it would have helped me a lot because I almost put the book down. There are also instances of insta-love. While not great, I get it. The book is a standalone. You don’t have the time to make a little more angst of it all. It still played off well and I was able to enjoy a good love story.

A Young Adult book filled with fantasy. No language and the very seldom love scenes are completely glossed over, keeping it appropriate for younger teens. Minor violence, nothing with gore.