Book Review

Book Review: What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆.5
Audience: Historical fiction romance
Length: 416 pages
Author: Amy Harmon
Publisher: Imprint
Release Date: February 1st, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In an unforgettable love story, a woman’s impossible journey through the ages could change everything….

Anne Gallagher grew up enchanted by her grandfather’s stories of Ireland. Heartbroken at his death, she travels to his childhood home to spread his ashes. There, overcome with memories of the man she adored and consumed by a history she never knew, she is pulled into another time.

The Ireland of 1921, teetering on the edge of war, is a dangerous place in which to awaken. But there Anne finds herself, hurt, disoriented, and under the care of Dr. Thomas Smith, guardian to a young boy who is oddly familiar. Mistaken for the boy’s long-missing mother, Anne adopts her identity, convinced the woman’s disappearance is connected to her own.

As tensions rise, Thomas joins the struggle for Ireland’s independence and Anne is drawn into the conflict beside him. Caught between history and her heart, she must decide whether she’s willing to let go of the life she knew for a love she never thought she’d find. But in the end, is the choice actually hers to make? 

LYRICALLY BEAUTIFUL.

Once again, I was swept away by the way Amy Harmon writes.

This book is steeped in the magic of studying family history. Harmon draws heavily from her own travels to Europe and the time period from which her great+ grandparents lived. It is so important to know and understand where we come from and WtWK convinced me (and I know that wasn’t the point) to look at my own history.

The romance is yet again so precious. How understanding is Thomas? Because you better believe I would be freaking out a lot more if “Anne” showed back up, 5 years missing from her time period, without a clue as to what happened. Their story flowed at a good pace and I was shipping them forward continually.

I was really caught up in how this book would resolve. It was unclear if everything was going to fall into place, but never fear Harmon brings things full circle leaving me completely happy with how it came together.

My only reasoning for giving it a 4.5* is that there is a lot of history put in there. Discussions about the rebellion, civil war, political meetings, etc. Yes, they helped me understand what was happening, but it was thick with this information. I felt it was taking away from the fact that this is a romance novel at it’s base.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction romance
  • Very little language
  • Romance: some intense make-outs and glossed over love scenes
  • Violence: guns, fire
Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Upcoming Releases I’m On the Fence About

Howdy readers!

Another Top 10 Tuesday coming your way! This one was tough for me. I had to really search out books I have considered to add to my TBR, but am still thinking it through.

The Red Scrolls of Magic (The Eldest Curses #1) by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu

After Queen of Air and Darkness I am at a crossroads. Am I over CC? Am I over the Shadowhunter world? These are the questions that plague my book life.

Summary: From #1 New York Times bestseller Cassandra Clare and award-winner Wesley Chu comes the first book in a new series that follows High Warlock Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood as they tour the world after the Mortal War. The Red Scrolls of Magic is a Shadowhunters novel.

All Magnus Bane wanted was a vacation—a lavish trip across Europe with Alec Lightwood, the Shadowhunter who against all odds is finally his boyfriend. But as soon as the pair settles in Paris, an old friend arrives with news about a demon-worshipping cult called the Crimson Hand that is bent on causing chaos around the world. A cult that was apparently founded by Magnus himself. Years ago. As a joke.

Now Magnus and Alec must race across Europe to track down the Crimson Hand and its elusive new leader before the cult can cause any more damage. As if it wasn’t bad enough that their romantic getaway has been sidetracked, demons are now dogging their every step, and it is becoming harder to tell friend from foe. As their quest for answers becomes increasingly dire, Magnus and Alec will have to trust each other more than ever—even if it means revealing the secrets they’ve both been keeping.

Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

I actually haven’t read any of the Truthwitch book series, but there seems to be a lot of hype around this one. So now I’m trying to decide if I should add the series to my TBR.

Summary: Fans of Susan Dennard’s New York Times bestselling Witchlands series have fallen in love with the Bloodwitch Aeduan. And now, finally, comes his story.

High in a snowy mountain range, a monastery that holds more than just faith clings to the side of a cliff. Below, thwarted by a lake, a bloodthirsty horde of raiders await the coming of winter and the frozen path to destroy the sanctuary and its secrets.

The Bloodwitch Aeduan has teamed up with the Threadwitch Iseult and the magical girl Owl to stop the destruction. But to do so, he must confront his own father, and his past.

Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers

This is about to come out, but I’ve never read anything by this author. Her previous series (and this one) have a summary that seems up my alley, but is it worth it? Because I think I’ll have to read the others first…

Summary: Death wasn’t the end, it was only the beginning…

Sybella has always been the darkest of Death’s daughters, trained at the convent of Saint Mortain to serve as his justice. But she has a new mission now. In a desperate bid to keep her two youngest sisters safe from the family that nearly destroyed them all, she agrees to accompany the duchess to France, where they quickly find themselves surrounded by enemies. Their one ray of hope is Sybella’s fellow novitiates, disguised and hidden deep in the French court years ago by the convent—provided Sybella can find them.

Genevieve has been undercover for so many years, she struggles to remember who she is or what she’s supposed to be fighting for. Her only solace is a hidden prisoner who appears all but forgotten by his guards. When tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to take matters into her own hands—even if it means ignoring the long awaited orders from the convent.

As Sybella and Gen’s paths draw ever closer, the fate of everything they hold sacred rests on a knife’s edge. Will they find each other in time, or will their worlds collide, destroying everything they care about? 


Enchantée by Gita Trelease

LOVE historical fiction, but also really picky about historical fiction.

Summary: Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries—and magicians…

When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist—who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.

But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she’s playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic—before Paris burns…

The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson

Bookstagram has made me want this, but am I just in it for the gorgeous cover? Maybe.

Summary: Eragon meets And I Darken in this thrilling new fantasy debut that follows a fallen princess as she ignites a rebellion to bring back the magical elemental crows that were taken from her people.

In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life…until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything.

That terrible night has thrown Princess Anthia into a deep depression. Her sister Caliza is busy running the kingdom after their mother’s death, but all Thia can do is think of all she has lost.

But when Caliza is forced to agree to a marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia, Thia is finally spurred into action. And after stumbling upon a hidden Crow egg in the rubble of a rookery, she and her sister devise a dangerous plan to hatch the egg in secret and get back what was taken from them.

TW: Depression

Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye

I liked her first series The Crown’s Game, but have heard mixed things about this book. It might make its way to my TBR eventually. We’ll see.

Summary: A thrilling new fantasy series full of magic and betrayal—from Evelyn Skye, New York Times bestselling author of the Crown’s Game series.

Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied around his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.

As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging in the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark.

So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group. Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.

Love, spies, and adventure abound as Sora and Daemon unravel a complex web of magic and secrets that might tear them—and the entire kingdom—apart forever.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Thrillers for me can go either way. I have a handful I loved and a handful that were just eh. This cover is super creepy though. Tell me, will I be freaked out!?

Summary: Promising to be the debut novel of the season The Silent Patientis a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband—and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive…

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him…. 

Rebel (Legend #4) by Marie Lu

Do I want more!? I’m so nervous about continuation of series when they were originally finished!

Update: I literally added this to my TBR this morning. The author’s Insta post convinced me. I want a real, solid happy ending with my loves Day and June.

Summary: Eden Wing is a brilliant student. He’s about to graduate a year early from Ross University of the Sciences, with honors, and already has an internship lined up back in the Republic. But most people don’t introduce Eden this way. Instead, they say, “This is Eden, Daniel Wing’s younger brother.”

Ten years ago, Eden’s brother Daniel was known as Day, the boy from the streets who led a revolution that saved the Republic of America. His name was spray-painted on walls, his profile splashed on both rebel pamphlets and wanted posters. He went from being a hunted criminal to a national hero in less than a year.

Day has spent the past decade piecing together his memory of his time in the Republic, pretending to enjoy life in Antarctica’s capital, Ross City , and quietly hiding out from the world—even if it’s meant giving up June, the great love of his life. As long as he can keep his little brother safe, that’s all that matters . . .

But Eden isn’t safe. As the two brothers struggle to accept who they’ve each become, they grow more distant from one another than they’ve ever been. Eden finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into Ross City’s dark side, until even his legendary brother can’t save him. At least not on his own.

When June suddenly steps back into Day’s life, rekindling the flames of their romance, the pair team up to do whatever it takes to rescue Eden. But like the rest of the world, they may have underestimated Eden—what he’s capable of, where his loyalties lie, and how hard he’s willing to fight for what he believes.

With unmatched suspense and her signature cinematic storytelling, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu plunges readers back into the unforgettable world of Legend—for the most thrilling adventure yet. A truly grand finale.

Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle #1) by Jay Kristoff

Will this compete with the glorious Illuminae series I LOVED? Will this instead be a DNF like Nevernight? Only time will tell.

Summary: From the internationally bestselling authors of THE ILLUMINAE FILES comes an epic new science fiction adventure.

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.

Shadow Me (Shatter Me #4.5) by Tahereh Mafi

I really really….really don’t like reading novellas unless they are necessary to the story and not some fluff piece or background story that I’m cool not knowing.

Is this necessary? Do I need to read this before Defy Me? I DON’T KNOW.

Summary: Fan favorite character Kenji Kishimoto narrates t his gripping companion novella to Tahereh Mafi’s New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series, set during the explosive events in Restore Me!

Juliette is still reeling from Warner’s betrayal, and Kenji is trying to balance his friendship with her with his responsibilities as a leader of the resistance against the Reestablishment. Things get even more interesting when an unexpected person from Omega Point’s past surfaces.

The ending of Restore Me left readers gasping, and this novella full of Kenji’s signature sass and big heart is the perfect story to tide fans over until Defy Me, the shocking fifth book in the Shatter Me series, hits shelves in April 2019.

Which ones should I add to my TBR? Because really, I need some help. Lets talk in the comments!

Book Review

Review: The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1) by Alison Goodman

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Regency period paranormal/fantasy, young adult, no language, little romance, violence
Length: 544 pages
Author: Alison Goodman
Publisher: Speak
Release Date: December 14th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Eon and Eona; a Regency adventure series starring a stylish and intrepid Buffy-esque demon-hunter

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

REGENCY PERIOD FOR THE WIN.

This was so fun. There was a lot of work that went into this by the author. Goodman did so much research to make sure that her world depicted London in 1812. It was fantastic. Regency books are some of my favorite and this was very well done. YAY!

Y’all I love Lord Carlston. Because I am a total sucker for brooding men with some dark secrets that are [hopefully] marshmallows. I have high hopes for him. He better not disappoint. I am however, completely on the fence about the Duke. I don’t know where I stand, but I’m not really shipping him at all right now. And we all know, my series love can fall apart if who I ship first off doesn’t end up happening. THE SUSPENSE WILL END ME.

I liked Helen overall. Since she unfortunately had no idea about her powers she is a bit naive in this book. Having to learn everything, and understand the world of the Dark Days Club takes over half the book. I’m looking forward to her character growing as the series does. I want an awesome, sword fighting, Jane Austen-esque heroine.

The magic system in this book is complicated. And that’s probably my biggest reason for 4 stars. It sounded awful to actually be a Reclaimer. The 101 things that have to be done just to see the Deceiver, destroy them, their progeny and the like blew my mind. It was too intricate for me to see the fun in being a part of the Club. I will give points for everything being explained even if I didn’t fully grasp it.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical-fiction, Regency period, paranormal [demons]
  • No explicit language: use of the word whore and others like it for the time period
  • Violence: demons with whip-like extensions, knives, physical, gory-detailed scenes
  • Romance: a passionate kiss, discussion of some sexual things
Book Review, Book Talk

My Favorite Books of 2018!

This was a great year for reads and I fell in love a million times over with too many books. So this is not a top 10 because I have no ability to choose only that many. In no particular order these were the books I enjoyed most:

Thanks to Goodreads I wanted to add some pieces of my Year in Review:

  • Longest book I read: Grant by Ron Chernow — 1,074 pages (first 1,000 page read!)
  • I will finish 176 books (out of the 100 I was aiming for.
  • A total of 55,416 pages were consumed. Wowza.
Book Review

ARC Review: Romanov by Nadine Brandes

Romanov

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Audience: Young adult historical fiction/fantasy, no language, a lot of violence, a kiss or two
Expected Length: 352 pages
Author: Nadine Brandes
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Expected Release Date: May 17th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From the author of Fawkes comes a magical take on the story of Anastasia Romanov.

The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them . . . and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of survival are to either release the spell, and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya’s never dabbled in magic before, but it doesn’t frighten her as much as her growing attraction for Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her . . .

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.

*Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through Netgalley. Opinions expressed in the review are completely my own. Thank you for the opportunity to read Romanov! Publication date, length, etc. subject to change.

HISTORICALLY MAGICAL.

Second note: some of this may seem like a spoiler, but Brandes does a wonderful job of intertwining history WITH the magical pieces. Anything I bring up historically, really did happen and shouldn’t be a surprise at all. 

I think [know] I let myself get too hyped about this and was a little disappointed overall. It was still a good standalone that had the historic story as the basis with magic woven in so well that I was intrigued from the start! Some kinks left me wanting more.

I read this digitally, so let’s see…it took til 54% through the book to FINALLY GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. I know we’re in exile, but I was dying to see something else in my mind. There wasn’t a lot of world building. I felt that I was expected to know what Russia and these other places looked like already so I missed out on the detailing of it all.

What I found really interesting was how Brandes gave the Romanov’s such humanity. History dictates that this 300+ year old royal line was all kinds of crazy cruel (and that’s putting it lightly). Now, I only know so much, this last group with Nicholas II as tsar could have been a more decent family than I’m aware of. It made me stop and think that all in all, this was a family. And this family was brutally murdered without trial.

This gave the whole family a lot more depth as “characters”. They prayed together, were sincere to their captors, and were only wanting to be released somewhere together. Anastasia was fiercely loyal and protective of her brood. There was a huge emphasis on forgiveness from her character. This ideal repeatedly comes up as she struggles (rightly so) accepting her new fate. 

My biggest loss was the magic system. I have no idea how it works. Very little was ever explained. There’s spell masters, spell ink, some can use it, some can’t, how is it made, can anyone be a spell master, how does this spell work, SOMEONE HELP ME. I am so confused. Since this was the fantasy portion of the book I was looking for a more detailed story-line of why magic was the target of the Red Army in the first place. 

I am frazzled with one piece of the ending and booed at my book when it happened, but besides that this was the best ending for this book. And I mean that in a good way! Since it follows history, there’s an assumption of what could’ve happened. I thought it was sweet and hopeful that fates cards were dealt differently for the Romanov’s than what history served them.

One of my favorite parts of books are the Notes from the author (yes, I totally read those). When fully explained, they can really enhance the book! There was a wonderful explanation of what was true, what wasn’t, and why she made certain creative decisions. It honestly made me like the book even more. I was totally surprised about some pieces actually being true! It helped me better understand the plot and the addition of some characters. 

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction/fantasy
  • No language
  • A little love story that leads to a kiss or two
  • Violence: y’all there is a lot so everyone is aware, it is the Russian Revolution and historically on point; plenty of blood and fairly detailed
  • Trigger warnings: contemplation of suicide, gun violence
Book Review

Review: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Craw

 

Rating: ☆☆☆☆.5
Audience: Adult fiction/historical, language, explicit content, trigger warnings
Length: 384 pages
Author: Delia Owens
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: August 14th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Fans of Barbara Kingsolver will love this stunning debut novel from a New York Times bestselling nature writer, about an unforgettable young woman determined to make her way in the wilds of North Carolina, and the two men that will break her isolation open.

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She’s barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark.

But Kya is not what they say. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life lessons from the land, learning from the false signals of fireflies the real way of this world. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world–until the unthinkable happens.

In Where the Crawdads Sing, Owens juxtaposes an exquisite ode to the natural world against a heartbreaking coming of age story and a surprising murder investigation. Thought-provoking, wise, and deeply moving, Owens’s debut novel reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

ODE TO MARSH GIRL.

I follow Reese Witherspoon’s book club (Hello Sunshine) and occasionally I’ll read whatever she’s picked for the month if it sounds appealing, and I’m so happy I did!

Kya was such a strong, independent, and tough. Because WHO ABANDONS A 10 YEAR OLD? My heart was crumbling watching her youth be shattered by callous individuals. In her entire life, Jumpin’ remained her only steadfast friend. Family and “friends” flowed in and out like the marsh, as was convenient for them. She spends most of the book reverting back to this childlike state thinking her Ma is eventually coming home. The shame and anguish she feels forces a lot of anxiety and anger to bubble up. Even when she says she’s perfectly fine being alone.

This coming of age story really resounded when she met her first love, Tate. He’s such a sweetheart and their first official meeting with the feathers was precious. And while he made some mistakes with Kya (I may have said “what a jerk” a time or two), his sould always knew where home was.

Chase on the other hand could have been dropped from that fire tower and it still wouldn’t be enough. It was hard, hard to get through this section. Kya is naive in thoughts of love and intimacy and is taken advantage of in the worst ways.

The chapters with the Sheriff and Doctor as the POV were a bit silly. The dialogue wasn’t strong enough. They just flitted in and out til the official trial.

There’s a lot of poetry in here that strongly pertains to the story. The final poem especially had me. This mystery is finally solved. It was a twist for me and hopefully it’ll be for you!

Overall audience notes:
– Adult historical fiction, mystery and romance
– Language
– Detailed sexual scenes
– Trigger warning: abuse, sexual assault/attempted rape
– Some violence

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.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

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