Review: The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden

49132572_570238783424831_8695217748097105920_nThe Bear and the Nightingale really has so many aesthetics within it–it is magical, whimsical, spiritual, family-oriented, and just plain beautiful. The story is about Vasya, the youngest child of Pyotor and Marina Vladimirovic. Marina dies in childbirth, and Vasya grows up to be a fiercely independent and strong-willed young woman who cares not only for her family members, but for the spirits of her house and of the woods. But these are the “old gods,” pushed out when Christianity comes to the villiage.

To me, the story unfolded incredibly slowly. I was very tempted to walk away in the beginning. But then, the Russian folklore begins to weave into the story–snowdrops in midwinter, Father Frost, the Sea-King’s Daughter, and Vasilisa the Beautiful (feel free to use Google for any of these stories!). How they were written and their seamlessness in the story was so great. What I did not like, however, was how confusing a few of the characters were, as well as the passing of time. Katherine Arden’s writing can be so beautiful and descriptive about certain things, but then I feel like I’m completely missing out on details regarding certain other things.

lily-seika-jones-vasilisa-the-beautiful-2017Now, here is my final comment: I realize that so many people loved this book. Maybe I took the wrong path by listening to the audiobook. I really did not enjoy this book, so I am going to give this one some time and try to pick up a hard copy later down the line and see if reading it with my own eyes gives me a different experience. Or maybe I should just move on and read book two in hard copy format. I’ll think about it. Either way, I am interested in the plot and the folklore aspect so I’m not ready to give up on Vasilisa yet.

Soundtrack: “Monsters” by Seafret

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Its Wednesday! WWW, that is!

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Today’s (and all) Waiting on Wednesday is brought to you by Taking on a World of Words, who revived this weekly meme for us book bloggers to use at our will. As always, the three W’s are:

What did you recently finish reading?
What are you currently reading?
What will you be reading next?

If you participate in this on your blog, drop me a link in the comments below! Or just answer any or all of the questions and let me know what book your nose is in because I always like to know what people are reading. As for me….

What did I recently finish reading?
41818282Within the last week I have finished two books: an audiobook of The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker, which I gave 1 star (not at all what I was expecting–very unique 3rd person writing style), and an ARC from NetGalley called And Then You Were Gone by R.J. Jacobs. This one it a mystery/thriller that releases on March 13th and I gave it 3 stars. I will be posting my review closer to the release date, but in the mean time just in case you seek it out in NG, here is a big trigger warning for mental health/bipolar for that book for you, just FYI.

What am I currently reading?
30223025I have two main reads at the moment (and about two more books that I have started and am not really focusing on, but they’re there on the sidelines): The Dire King by William Ritter (this is the 4th and final book in the Jackaby series) and Dread Nation by Justina Ireland. I’m trying to keep up with New Years resolutions here – finish up series and improve my Goodreads rating so I’m actually working towards that! Pat on the back!

What will I be reading next?
36987007I never commit to this. Right now I am in a Goodreads challenge group and I am on a “VILLAINS” team and this is the last week for the paranormal/sci-fi theme. I have an ARC to get started on called The Stranger Diaries and I really want to get to Colleen Hoover’s Verity. The buzz about this book is just incredible! If you have read it, you must tell me what you thought about it. So we’ll see where I get on to!

Now its your turn. Don’t forget to drop your links or let me know what you’re reading. OR…have you read any of these books? Are they on your TBR? Let me know!

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February 2019 Readathons

We’re almost through the week and I hope that you all are having a good one. Happy Valentines Day if you’re into that. 🙂 I hope that your reading for the month is going better than mine is. I’m actually a bit behind. I would have thought that with the snow and ice we’ve had I would be farther along with my goals but nope! Oh well. Here are some readathons I have found to catch me (and maybe you) up for the rest of the month:

42-65375859InLoveAthon – Sunday 2/10 thru Saturday 2/16 … Reading books about love. Books and sprints and watch-alongs, oh my!

Fierce Females Readathon – Friday 2/15 thru Thursday 2/28 … Group Read = Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

VaLITines Readathon – Friday 2/1 thru Thursday 2/28 … BINGO and Challenges all month long!

Lost-A-Thon – Friday 2/1 thru Thursday 2/28 … A wide variety of genres to read from any time in the month.

So there we have it. I know I am going to jump in on Fierce Females and VaLITines, and maybe the others….I’ll see. I’m also in a couple group challenges on Goodreads as well. Are you active with groups on Goodreads? Are you doing any other monthly challenges or readathons? Tell me which ones–I’d love to know!

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Pardon my absence…

I’ve always said that I don’t really believe in apologizing for absences from social media, and I really don’t. So this isn’t an apology as much as it is a reason, as well as an excuse to share with you my BABIES!! Okay, not really babies but even better….PUPPIES

Today I am straying away from the bookish to share with you what has been a big part of my life since the holidays: my family’s puppy endeavor! The last three dogs we have had, my parents have talked about trying to have a litter of puppies. A golden retriever, a miniature schnauzer, and now with the second golden retriever, we’ve finally stepped up and taken the jump. Our baby has had babies!

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Of course she isn’t a baby any more, but your dog will always be your baby. Ellie has been such a champ going through this whole process. We did a lot of research going into this event and from what we read, some mamas can be very territorial of their pups, not letting their humans near in the beginning and not wanting to leave the area much. Ellie, however, is a perfect mix of taking care of the littles when she needs to and letting them get their rest and having her own (and her owner’s) self-care. She needs her own space and cool off period (the room where the puppies are has to be a consistent 82-degrees F! It gets pretty warm!).

Right now, the puppies are 3 weeks old. There are 6 adorable, purebred golden retriever pups–5 boys and 1 little girl.

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This little guy we’ve been calling ‘Rizzo’ after our favorite Chicago Cub

At 3 weeks, they are just starting to open their eyes and their hearing is just developing. They are also just starting to walk, which is honestly the funniest thing. I never really thought about dogs figuring out how to walk, but some of them use their two front legs and drag their back legs–kind of salamander-ish. A couple of them can get up on all fours for about 5 or 6 steps and then just flop down in a little puppy pile. Mostly they just sort of climb all over each other to get from point A to point B and its just adorable. And of course, I can’t forget to mention (as you can see from this picture) that right now, their tiny nails and tiny teeth are incredibly sharp!

image4Obviously, I am loving these little cherubs grow and change, and as my dad keeps saying “Its amazing, the instincts that Mother Nature has instilled in them.” And he’s not just talking about the babies, but mama pup too. She had her litter and pretty much knew what to do! Life is so messy (and smelly and gross) but so sweet and so beautiful. I hope you can all take some time to enjoy it today.

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*BLOG TOUR* Dream Keeper by Amber R Duell

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~About the Book~
Title: DREAM KEEPER
Author: Amber R. Duell
Pub. Date: January 29, 2019
Publisher: The Parliament House
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 288
Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, B&N, Kobo

The Sandman is seventeen-year-old Nora’s closest friend and best-kept secret. He has to be, if she doesn’t want a one-way ticket back to the psychiatrist. It took her too long to learn not to mention the hooded figure in her dreams to her mother, who still watches Nora as if she’ll crack. So when Nora’s friends start mysteriously dying gruesome deaths in their sleep, she isn’t altogether surprised when the police direct their suspicion at her. The Sandman is the only one she can turn to for answers. But the truth might be more than she bargained for…

For the last five years, the Sandman has spent every night protecting Nora. When he hid the secret to the Nightmare Lord’s escape inside her dreams, he never expected to fall in love with her. Neither did he think his nemesis would find her so quickly, but there’s no mistaking his cruel handiwork. The Nightmare Lord is tired of playing by the rules and will do anything to release his deadly nightmares into the world, even if that means tormenting Nora until she breaks.

When the Nightmare Lord kidnaps Nora’s sister, Nora must enter enemy territory to save her. The Sandman is determined to help, but if Nora isn’t careful, she could lose even more than her family to the darkness.

~My Review~

Honest to goodness, I was sucked into this book from the very beginning. All of the elements that I want in my paranormal fantasy stories were present: subtle details, a plot that is relatively quick but with characters that don’t develop too fast and grow boring, and of course, a unique story. I have never read a book about the Sandman legend. Of course, I’ve heard songs about the Sandman and I know he’s the sleep/dream guy but anything more than that and its out of my league. Here though, he’s the love interest with tattoos and purple eyes and….well, I don’t want to spoil too much of him.

As for the story itself, Nora is a teenager who has been visited by the Sandman every night for years, although she has been in therapy all the while telling herself she hasn’t. Meanwhile, the Sandman has hidden a dream inside of Nora to hide from the Nightmare Lord. From here on, things get dark. Nora and the Sandman explore their relationship, while the Nightmare Lord hunts down the dream which Nora holds and goes through her friends (via some pretty gruesome murders) to do it. Just a warning: don’t read this one before going to bed, my friends. This is a daytime read!

~About Amber~

AmberAmber R. Duell was born and raised in a small town in Central New York. While it will always be home, she’s constantly moving with her husband and two sons as a military wife. Before becoming published, she had a wide range of occupations including banking, bartending (though she’s never tried alcohol), and phlebotomy (though she faints with needles). She also volunteered as a re-enactor at the local Revolutionary War fort and worked near shelter cats which led to her previous crazy cat lady status.

She does her best writing in the middle of the night, surviving the daylight hours with massive amounts of caffeine. Her favorite stories are dark with a touch of romance and a villain you either love to hate or hate to love.

When not reading or writing, she enjoys snowboarding, embroidering, snuggling with her cat, and staying up way too late to research genealogy. She loves to travel and has visited more countries than states. Kissing the Blarney Stone and hand-feeding monkeys in the mountains of France will be hard to beat, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to find the next real-life adventure.

Website  | Twitter  | Instagram | Facebook | Tumblr | Pinterest |  Goodreads

~Giveaway Details~

1 winner will win a $10 Amazon Gift Card! This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL, so don’t be shy! Click this Rafflecopter link to enter!

~Tour Schedule~

Week One:
2/4/2019- Graced with Books– Review
2/4/2019- A Dream Within A Dream– Excerpt
2/5/2019- Popthebutterfly Reads– Review
2/5/2019- BookHounds– Excerpt
2/6/2019- Singer of Stories– Review
2/6/2019- Kelly P’s Blog– Excerpt
2/7/2019- Oh Hey Books– Spotlight
2/7/2019- Two Chicks on Books– Excerpt
2/8/2019- Reese’s Reviews– Review
2/8/2019- The Reading Life– Spotlight

Book Soundtrack: Dream On – Glee Cast Version Feat. NPH (Originally by Aerosmith)

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Tag Tuesday: The Goodreads Tag

Hi everyone! We’re back to another Tuesday! So my new goal is to alternate Tag Tuesdays and WWW Wednesdays every other week so as to not burn out myself or you as readers with tags (even though I love them) or repetitive memes. However, I have a blog tour to post tomorrow so I’ll kick off my rotation with a tag today! So here we go!

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1. What is the last book you marked as read?
The last book that I finished and marked as ‘read’ was Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine. I added this to my lists overall on March 28, 2018, started reading on January 20, 2019 and finished reading on January 27th. I rated it four stars.

2. What is the last book you marked as “TBR”?
The other day I realized it had been a little while since I “synced” my Goodreads shelf with my TBR shelf so I took the time to make sure that I had all the books that I own are logged. I hate being at the bookstore (and this is truly a bookworm problem) and I can’t remember if I own a certain book or not. This is why I need to keep my lists up-to-date! So to answer this question, the last book I added was Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows.

3. What book do you plan to read next?
Its not so much ‘reading next’ as shifting my focus. I’m going to move on to/back to Six of Crows for my hard copy book and The Dreamers for my audiobook. Not sure what my ebook will be.

4. Do you use the star rating system?
Its a requirement these days! I do wish we could use half stars. I sort of figure that if they let us use stars they might as well let us use half stars as well!

5. Are you using the 2019 reading challenge?
Duh–who on Goodreads doesn’t?! My goal is 75 for this year.

6. Do you have a wishlist?
I do but I keep track on Amazon more than on Goodreads. You better believe I keep track of the books I want/need!

7. Which book do you plan on buying next?
Well, I get a little spontaneous. To be honest, it will probably be a pre-order. Jay Kristoff has been hinting good things about his pre-order goodies today I saw…..

8. Do you have any favorite quotes? Share a few!
I don’t have any memorized that aren’t cliche. I could take hours looking them up based on books that I like and go from there…but maybe next time.

9. Who are your favorite authors? Share a few!
Honestly, I base “favorite authors” on authors on those who have written more than one (or two, three, etc) books that I really like. Or maybe I have met them or follow them on social media or all of the above, etc. So to answer the question, favorite authors include Jay Kristoff, VE Schwab, Angie Thomas.

10. Have you joined any groups?
Oh yes. I belong to several groups, especially ones for reading challenges. Its really how I started reading so many different types of books. I actually was active and spending hours on Goodreads before I discovered Bookstagram!

So there you have it, folks! That’s the tag. I apologize that I do not know the origins of this one. If you haven’t done this tag and would like to, consider yourself tagged! Feel free to link me in your page if you do it because I would love to read your answers, or leave me a comment with your link!

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January Wrap-up

One month down, eleven months to go! I am pretty happy with my reading progress thus far this year. Its been a little different because I have been accomplishing more via audiobook due to just being busy! However, reading is reading and I’m fine with that. I’m planning a post with a little more thought on this later. But for now, how did I do in January?

Screen Shot 2019-02-03 at 12.12.29 AM  January Reads Screen Shot 2019-02-03 at 12.12.29 AM

Audiobooks (4)
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson … 1/4/19 … ★★★
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden … 1/9/19 … ★★★
Slayer by Kiersten White … 1/16/19 … ★★★★★
Honor Among Thieves … 1/27/19 …. ★★★★
Graphic Novels (2)
Nimona … 1/12/19 … ★★★★★
The Daughters of Salem: How We Sent Our Children to Their Deaths, Pt. 1 … 1/19/19 … ★★★
Hard Copies (1)
Miraculum … 1/23/19 … ★★★

Screen Shot 2019-02-03 at 12.12.29 AM  January Haul Screen Shot 2019-02-03 at 12.12.29 AM

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Five Feet Apart 
by Rachael Lippincott
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
The Cold is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale
Analiese Rising by Brenda Drake
The Nirvana Thread by Rachel Tremblay
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

– Beacon Book Box (late arrival)
– Unplugged Book Box

So how much did you read in January? Haul anything super awesome? Tell me about it or share a link to your post with me! I’d love to see it!

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24in48 Readathon Wrap-Up

fc2So this weekend was the return of the 24 in 48 hour read-a-thon. The goal of this RAT is to dedicate 24 hours to reading out of a 48 hour period of time. This is my third time participating I think? Give or take. I know I’ve been in on the fun before. The hosts introduced some awesome new swag for this time around and they were able to gather up a ton of prizes for entrants. Speaking of entrants, they are saying we hit over 2,500 readers for this round. Isn’t that incredible?

34213319-Sigh- So how did I do. Well, I exceeded my reading time….which was awesome! I actually hit 48 hours of reading time overall! WOO!! I finished a sneak peak of Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte, which I was reading for a NetGalley review. I think it will be a pretty good book. While I felt that the title and cover are rather cliche (a perfect blend of Red Queen and Three Dark Crowns), the book has potential to have a few of its own ideas and a fast-paced story. The book releases on February 26th and you can check out the Goodreads page with synopsis and all here.

30129657Next up, I finished the audiobook of Honor Among Thieves by Rachael Caine and Ann Aguirre. This is a YA sci-fi novel about two teenagers chosen to be elite “Honors” and enter space with a race of aliens called Leviathan. The Leviathan keep many secrets, as do the Earthens regarding the relationships between the two races and soon enough, Zara and Beatriz find themselves amid a war they never thought could even be possible. This is a book with a second installment coming out on February 9th, and I will have a full review up on this first book soon.

I also read quite a bit in Six of Crows, and started into The Seven Husband of Evelyn Hardcastle. I was cruising around Booktube the other day and I saw several 2018 wrap-ups and reader after reader kept saying “You have to read this book” over and over so I went ahead and requested it from my library. So now I have about four different buddy reads going all at the same time and I’m trying to keep up!

Did you participate in 24in48 this weekend? How did you do? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear about it!

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First Line Friday: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

First line: “Joost had two problems: the moon and his moustache.”

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Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price–and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

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Photo cred: Instagram @everlasting.charm

If you read and follow the YA book world at all, you know that Leigh Bardugo is releasing the first book about our foxy hero, Nikolai, in just four days. Fans of the Grishaverse have been counting down for months, years even, for King of Scars release day to arrive. Queen Bardugo has been giving us little Twitter hints that this book will take place after the events of both the Grisha trilogy and the Six of Crows duolgy so here I am, scrambling to read them in just a couple of days. But I’m not mad….rather, I am so excited! I am here for this! Bring it on, Bardugo!

ARC Review: Miraculum by Steph Post

41037463From Goodreads: The year is 1922. The carnival is Pontilliar’s Spectactular Star Light Miraculum, set up on the Texas-Louisiana border. One blazing summer night, a mysterious stranger steps out onto the midway, lights a cigarette and forever changes the world around him. Tattooed snake charmer Ruby has traveled with her father’s carnival for most of her life and, jaded though she is, can’t help but be drawn to the tall man in the immaculate black suit who has joined the carnival as a geek, a man who bites the heads off live chickens. Mercurial and charismatic, Daniel charms everyone he encounters but his manipulation of Ruby becomes complicated when it no longer becomes clear who is holding all the cards. For all of Daniel’s secrets, Ruby has a few of her own. When one tragedy after another strikes the carnival, and it becomes clear that Daniel is somehow at the center of calamity, Ruby takes it upon herself to discover the mystery of the shadowy man pulling all the strings. Joined by Hayden, a roughneck-turned-mural-painter who has recently reentered her life, Ruby enters into a dangerous, eye-opening game with Daniel in which nothing and no one is as it seems and yet everything is at stake.

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Miraculum was quite the magical ride! Really, it was more than that. There was magic, mythology, mysticism, and so much mystery! The setting of the carnival isn’t quite as central to the book as I expected. Our main character, Ruby, is a snake charmer. Basically a second-rate tattoo’d lady/snake charmer act who is cast aside for the most part. From the time Daniel, a stranger in upscale black suits, joins the cast, strange and terrible things begin happening. There really wasn’t much splendor or marvel to the Star Light Miraculum to begin with, however. I found it to be a little disappointing unfortunately. A little bit more American Horror Story than The Greatest Show. Moving on though….

american-horror-story-freak-show-circoWhat I did like, was the ancient history and mythology woven into the story. Samuel’s books and the hoodoo magic of the bayou held an immense amount of intrigue. I loved those story lines. Plus the interjections from throughout time every few chapters. These I found so fascinating, I looked forward to reading them every time they came around. They fueled the story in a vital way I felt. I wish that the characters were as fiery. I felt no connection to them, unfortunately. Not a one.

My final thoughts on this book: it was certainly a slow burn. The book is only 320 pages long but it felt like 500. I didn’t mind in the beginning because I thought things were interesting and I wanted to know where the story would go. Then the fiery interjections would come in a move things along a bit. I was so determined to do my duties as an ARC reader so I stuck with the slow reading. The ending was very good I thought. It wasn’t quite the battle I expected it to be, but of course, good pretty much won out so I was ultimately satisfied. If you like settings in the 1920’s, carnivals, magic, mythology, mystery, and don’t mind a slow burn read, then this book will be good for you. Miraculum releases on February 1st so keep an eye out!

I was provided with a free copy of this book from the publisher, but all opinions are my own.

Book soundtrack: Devil’s Hands by Truth

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