Book Review: The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden

It took me a record breaking of over a month to finish this book, due to complications such as finals, procrastination, book con, and more procrastination. But without further ado, here’s the book review that I honestly don’t even wanna write cuz I’m always so tired no matter what.


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Name: The Bear and the Nightingale
Author: Katherine Arden
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Release Date: June 27, 2017

Synopsis

Winter lasts most of the year at the edge of the Russian wilderness, and in the long nights, Vasilisa and her siblings love to gather by the fire to listen to their nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, Vasya loves the story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon. Wise Russians fear him, for he claims unwary souls, and they honor the spirits that protect their homes from evil.

Then Vasya’s widowed father brings home a new wife from Moscow. Fiercely devout, Vasya’s stepmother forbids her family from honoring their household spirits, but Vasya fears what this may bring. And indeed, misfortune begins to stalk the village.

But Vasya’s stepmother only grows harsher, determined to remake the village to her liking and to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for marriage or a convent. As the village’s defenses weaken and evil from the forest creeps nearer, Vasilisa must call upon dangerous gifts she has long concealed—to protect her family from a threat sprung to life from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

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Book Review: A Gathering of Shadows – V.E. Schwab

This work is just ABSOLUTELY MAGNIFICO FANTASTICO

I LOVE IT SO MUCH that I’m willing to finish the review at 2:35am (hi dad)

Ok so if you haven’t read book one I suggest you do, or at least read my review/synopsis to get the idea of what is going on. This review is written on the basis that you have an understanding of what went on, and the synopsis and ending of the review is spoilers for book one :)


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Name: A Gathering of Shadows
Author: V.E. Schwab
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: February 23, 2016

Synopsis

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games-an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries-a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again-and so to keep magic’s balance, another London must fall…

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Book Review: Catwoman: Soulstealer – Sarah J. Maas

Honestly long live Queen Sarah J. Maas because this book was so amazing and now I shall continue sipping my DOUTOR cup size drip coffee which is simply amazing.


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Name: Catwoman: Soulstealer
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Release Date: August 7, 2018

Synopsis

Two years after escaping Gotham City’s slums, Selina Kyle returns as the mysterious and wealthy Holly Vanderhees. She quickly discovers that with Batman off on a vital mission, Gotham City looks ripe for the taking.

Meanwhile, Luke Fox wants to prove that as Batwing he has what it takes to help people. He targets a new thief on the prowl who has teamed up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. Together, they are wreaking havoc. This Catwoman is clever—she may be Batwing’s undoing.

Selina is playing a desperate game of cat and mouse, forming unexpected friendships and entangling herself with Batwing by night and her devilishly handsome neighbor Luke Fox by day. But with a dangerous threat from the past on her tail, will she be able to pull off the heist that’s closest to her heart?

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Book Review: Frostblood – Elly Blake

I procrastinated so much on this book and on life, I said I would catch up on Catwoman tonight and ended up not. I’m just, great.


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Name: Frostblood
Author: Elly Blake
Publisher: Little Brown
Release Date: January 10, 2017

Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating – yet irresistible – Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her – and from the icy young man she has come to love.

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Book Review: Wicked Saints – Emily A. Duncan

I have such mixed feelings I really hope I can sort them all out.


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Name: Wicked Saints
Author: Emily A. Duncan
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: April 2, 2019

Synopsis

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings. 

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.

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ARC Review: Imprison the Sky – A.C. Gaughen

This Advanced Readers Copy was kindly given to me at BookExpo 2018, in exchange for an unbiased honest review.

Right. I chose to prioritize reading over studying for my Philosophy exam tomorrow.

My honest answer? eh.


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Name: Imprison the Sky
Author: A.C. Gaughen
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Release Date: January 29, 2019

Synopsis

Stolen from her family as a child, Aspasia has clawed her way up the ranks of Cyrus’s black market empire to captain her own trading vessel–and she risks it all every time she uses her powerful magic to free as many women, children, and Elementae from slavery as she can.

But Cyrus is close to uncovering her secrets–not only that Aspasia is an air Elementa with the ability to sail her ship through the sky, but that she is also searching for her lost family. And if Aspasia can’t find her younger siblings before Cyrus does, she will never be able to break free.

Armed with her loyal crew full of Elementae and a new recruit who controls an intriguing power, Aspasia finds herself in the center of a brewing war that spans every inch of the ocean, and her power alone may not be enough to save her friends, family, and freedom.

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ARC Review: Kingsbane – Claire Legrand

This ARC was given to me for free by the publishing company, in exchange for an unbiased honest review.

Hi! Joanne here! So Ava has absolutely refused to cut down this insane review, so just to let you know, it is TL;DR, and to make your life easier because I had to chop the paragraphs up, I’m using a fleuron (❧) to separate each time Ava changes the subject to talk about a different aspect. Enjoy!

I’m not religious but I thought about taking up church-going just so I could start praying for an early copy of Kingsbane. As it happened, some deity somewhere was smiling upon me and I was sent an ARC by Sourcebooks. But this deity…this deity has a weird sense of humor. I didn’t understand the ride I was in for when I got ahold of Kingsbane. I thought I understood fear, adoration, and shock when I went through the roller-coaster of awesomeness that was Furyborn.

And then. And then. Claire Legrand hits us with Kingsbane. I was recently in the archives of Wikipedia, looking up Aliens information for some reason, and I stumbled upon this quote by David Kehr, who saw Alien in 1979, and then watched Aliens in ’86: “One sequel that surpasses the original.” Now, people loved Alien. But people were SHOOK by Aliens. And, honestly, that’s how I feel about Kingsbane. Sometimes you stumble upon a series that starts strong and stays strong, and you feel lucky. But every so often, you find a series that starts off with a killer book, and somehow just keeps getting better.

I don’t know how Claire Legrand did it. But I’m going to be grateful, always, even as I sit here in a mildly-catatonic state (I finished Kingsbane approximately five minutes ago, and now that I’ve appropriately scream-ranted about the ending at my bewildered roommate, I’m physically capable of writing this review. But don’t mistake me for calm, friends. I’m freaking the fuck out.


Name: Kingsbane
Author: Claire Legrand

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: May 21, 2019

Synopsis

Rielle Dardenne has been anointed Sun Queen, but her trials are far from over. The Gate keeping the angels at bay is falling. To repair it, Rielle must collect the seven hidden castings of the saints. Meanwhile, to help her prince and love Audric protect Celdaria, Rielle must spy on the angel Corien—but his promises of freedom and power may prove too tempting to resist.

Centuries later, Eliana Ferracora grapples with her new reality: She is the Sun Queen, humanity’s long-awaited savior. But fear of corruption—fear of becoming another Rielle—keeps Eliana’s power dangerous and unpredictable. Hunted by all, racing against time to save her dying friend Navi, Eliana must decide how to wear a crown she never wanted—by embracing her mother’s power, or rejecting it forever.

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Book Review: Now I Rise (Ava)

This is Ava’s review posted in 2019. There is another version written by Joanne back in 2018: to check it out, click HERE.

I’m trying to get through all of the reviews I’ve been meaning to do for, like, three months, in one afternoon. We’ll see how that goes.


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Name: Now I Rise
Author: Kiersten White
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: June 27, 2017

Synopsis

Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.

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Book Review: And I Darken (Ava)

This is Ava’s review posted in 2019. There is another version written by Joanne back in 2017: to check it out, click HERE.

I’ve already talked a little bit about Kiersten White’s And I Darken, but this book introduced me to her writing, and so I definitely owe it a full review. I owe all of those books a full review, actually.


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Name: And I Darken
Author: Kiersten White

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: June 28, 2016

Synopsis

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.


Book Cover Comments

This cover is so pretty! I’m obsessed with the knife, and the petals of this flower. It goes along perfectly with the first sentence of the synopsis: Nobody expects a princess to be brutal. Well, nobody expects a flower to be freaking blown to pieces by a badass knife but here we are and it works perfectly. Only critique: MAKE KIERSTEN’S NAME BIGGER SHE DESERVES IT.


The Actual Review

When I picked up And I Darken for the first time, I didn’t really understand what I was going to be reading. I mistakenly assumed it was a YA Fantasy, which it most definitely is not (read the blurb kids, don’t make my mistakes). At the point that I bought this novel, I wasn’t reading much beyond YA Fantasy, so when I discovered it’s historical fiction, I was surprised, but not really turned off. I was definitely cautious, though, because it had been a while since I’d read historical fiction with enough of a twist to keep me interested.

Well.

And I Darken is a gender-bent tale of the life of Vlad the Impaler. If his title “The Impaler” doesn’t give you enough of a clue about the kind of guy ol’ Vlad was, let me leave you with this piece of information: he’s the dude who inspired the blood-sucking myths of Count Dracula.

And Kiersten White makes him a girl.

I was enchanted by this book. It starts off a little bit slow, but you learn to appreciate how much information we’re given in the beginning of And I Darken because there is a lot of history to get through, and given the fact that some of the names of places are different from what we call them today, it sometimes gets a little wonky, trying to remember all of that. Which is why you must pay attention to what’s going on in the beginning. Fortunately, the antics between Lada and Radu are enjoyable enough (and their dad is creepy enough) to offer a really nice buffer for the heaviness of the information.

Later in the book, we met Mehmed, who is the son of the sultan; he’s lonely, moody, and kind of Edgy, but something about him intrigues both Lada and Radu, so they all become friends. What’s really fascinating is that Kiersten is able to create a world that was so heavily drenched in side-windy politics and court functions, and bring it to us through kids’ eyes–but, like, the eyes of smart kids. Radu has a knack for picking up on all these courtly proceedings, Lada despises all of them, and Mehmed is the great mediator between them, so we’re given a really strong balance between the three characters.

When things start to pick up and Choices Must Be Made, I felt as though I was on the edge of my seat. I could’ve literally googled what generally went on during this time in history, but Kiersten keeps And I Darken so fresh (despite it being centuries old content), that you have to recognize this story will not be told anywhere else.

The book ends with something that I don’t consider a cliffhanger, but it definitely leaves you wanting to know more about what’s going on with these characters, and where they’ll end up. That’s Kiersten’s greatest gift with this book: you can’t help but fall in love with all of the characters, even though they’re polar opposites (I’m looking at you, Radu and Lada). Even Mehmed possesses a certain charm that makes me want to hug him and also punch him in the face (but not in an “I hate you” way, just in a “You’re fascinating and you exasperate me” way).

And I Darken quickly became one of my favorite reads of 2018, and the only thing that was negative about my reading experience was that it ended, and that it had taken me so long to find this book! I highly recommend snapping it up if you love political intrigue, girls with knives, lovable boys, and an absolutely incredible, high-stakes plot!

Book Review: Furyborn – Claire Legrand

Somewhere, across the world, someone is going “Can Ava Tusek please shut the hell up about Claire Legrand, all she ever does is scream about Claire Legrand”, and my answer to that person (probably my mom, at this point) is: Abso-hecking-lutely NOT. I will never shut up about Claire Legrand and how much I love her books. So without further ado, Furyborn.


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Name: Furyborn
Author: Claire Legrand

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: May 22, 2018

Synopsis

When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

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