Rating: 4.5 STARS
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Series/Standalone: Winternight Trilogy #1
How I got this book: Bought
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn't mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse's fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
After Vasilisa's mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa's new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.
And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa's stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse's most frightening tales.
TW: Death, rape, child-marriage, paedophilia, mental health, religion
I finished reading this last night and couldn't wait to write my review.
Unlike the last book I read and reviewed, I had absolutely no trouble rating this one; it was fantastic!
"Sleep is a cousin to death, Vasya. And both are mine."
The Bear and the Nightingale was so much better than I expected it to be, partially because the synopsis hadn't actually won me over and so I wasn't sure whether I'd like it.
Think of this book like a really dark Russian fairytale. It centres around the household of Pyotr Vladimirovich; his three sons and three daughters. The landscape is wintery Russia, and the story begins on a dark, freezing night in mid-winter as four of the six children gather around the fire, listening to an old fairytale about the winter demon, as told by Dunya, their nurse.
I struggled a little at first with the different names for each character, trying to stay wrapped up in the story while getting my head to understand that Sasha, Sashka and Aleksandr were all the same person. But it didn't take long for me to figure it out and fall back under the author's spell.
The writing in this book is beautiful and gripping, and the author paints a gorgeous picture of the wintery Russian landscape, made even more immersive given that I read this while watching the snowfall outside my window.
The masterful storytelling and dark plot held me under its spell from start to finish, and I never wanted to stop reading. But I honestly hadn't expected the book to be so dark. It reminded me a little of The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo, which was equally gripping.
In terms of the historical accuracy of the book, i.e. the prejudice, the expectations and superstitions rife at that time, I felt the author captured the period perfectly.
Not long into the book, we meet Vasya, our heroine. Vasya is a headstrong character who I grew to love immediately. Her fire and stubbornness created a character who was instantly compelling, and I truly enjoyed the growth and strength of her character.
This book is filled with characters to love and hate, and the author does another trick that I love in books, where she changes how you feel about certain characters from one point to the next. When we first meet Anna, Vasya's soon-to-be stepmother, we pity and sympathise with her, hoping she'll triumph in the story, but as time passes, she becomes a character almost to despise.
The opposite can almost (but not quite, as he's quite a repulsive character) be said about the priest who comes to live in Vasya's home. When we first meet him, he's a dark, untrustworthy character, but as things befall him, there's a point where he's quite pitiable.
Then we have all the mythical creatures in the book. They're so varied, each having their own purposes and personalities that I could picture them clearly and there were so many times when I just wanted to step between the pages and explore this dark and magical land.
From what felt like an almost subdued beginning, this book grew in intensity until everything came to a crashing climax.
I flew through pages, and after finishing the book, I'm completely ready to continue the story and dive into the second instalment.
"Now here me. Before the end, you will pluck snowdrops at midwinter, die by your own choosing, and weep for a nightingale."
Overall, The Bear and the Nightingale was one of the best debut novels I've ever read, and I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to read this book. I'd recommend it to absolutely everyone who enjoys dark, twisted fairytales and monsters, and heroines who defy all expectations.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
How I got this book: Bought - Fairyloot
Sinister sorcery. Gallows humor. A queer romance so glorious it could be right out of fae legend itself. Master of One is a fantasy unlike any other.
Rags is a thief—an excellent one. He's stolen into noble's coffers, picked soldier's pockets, and even liberated a ring or two off the fingers of passersby. Until he's caught by the Queensguard and forced to find an ancient fae relic for a sadistic royal sorcerer.
But Rags could never have guessed this "relic" would actually be a fae himself—a distractingly handsome, annoyingly perfect, ancient fae prince called Shining Talon. Good thing Rags can think on his toes, because things just get stranger from there...
With the heist and intrigue of Six of Crows and the dark fairy tale feel of The Cruel Prince, this young adult fantasy debut will have readers rooting for a pair of reluctant heroes as they take on a world-ending fae prophecy, a malicious royal plot, and, most dangerously of all, their feelings for each other.
I have so many mixed feelings about this book, and I've been torn over how to rate it. So, I'm going to start at the beginning.
I've been excited to read this book ever since I first heard of it, and so I jumped at FairyLoot's December box once I knew it was inside. I imagined The Cruel Prince meets Six of Crows, which just sounded fantastic.
I started reading with high expectations. I loved the idea of a heist-style plot and the unexpected LGBT romance, and that a queer couple wrote it was really exciting.
In the beginning, I was not at all disappointed. The prologue was unexpectedly brutal, but it was incredibly gripping and had me hooked immediately.
Then, in chapter one, we meet Rags. He's a cocky, sarcastic thief from the slums who's found himself on the end of a job gone wrong, bruised and battered in the royal dungeon, trying to plot his escape.
I love Rags. He's the perfect incarnation of the loveable rogue. A sweet-heart with a rough, sardonic exterior and I instantly wanted the best for him.
"Daring a ravens, rich as magpies."
As Rags sets off on his journey, I flew through the pages. The pace was brilliant, the deception and trickery gripping, and that puzzles and challenges that Rags has to face are really interesting.
I was convinced that this book was going to be a 5* read for me.
The next character we meet is Tal, affectionately referred to by Rags as Shiny and, even though something between them felt a little 'off' for a while, I grew to enjoy their connection and the scenes they shared.
However, shortly after this point, the narrative completely changed and split into multiple POV's. After 20 chapters of focusing solely on Rag's perspective, it felt really jarring to suddenly have POV chapters from completely new characters.
The pacing also took a bit of a nosedive from here and I sped through to find Rag's chapters, which were easily the ones I enjoyed the most.
A couple of the characters, to me, felt a little stiff and lacking depth and it took a while for me to settle back into the story.
Saying that though, as I neared the end of the story, the pace, the danger and the intrigue picked up again to where, upon finishing the book, I'm back to feeling how I did at the beginning and really wanting to read the next book (although it hasn't been confirmed yet) to find out what happens next and how it all plays out. (Read: I really want Rags to get the happily ever after he deserves.)
Can you see what I meant now about not knowing how to rate this one?
So, I've decided to go for 3.5 stars because I loved Rags and enjoyed the plot itself but just felt that the pace took a nosedive once the additional POV's were introduced.
What do you think? Agree or disagree? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
It's time for my January 2021 Book Box Club unboxing. This box was a lovely birthday gift from my partner and it sounds fantastic!
Before we get started, here's a quick reminder of this month's theme reveal:
Grab your glad-rags! 💃🎊🎉🎭You are cordially invited to join us for our AT THE MASQUERADE themed January box! We'll be celebrating some of the greatest fictional masked balls, prepare for glitz, glamour and decadent disguises galore!😃⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Our January book is one of the most engrossing (and huge!) fantasy novels that we've read in YEARS📖. It follows a mistress of disguise as she takes on the biggest con of her life; to infiltrate one of the city's most ancient families and claim their fortune as her own. In a world where dark curses plague the impoverished streets and a notorious masked stranger stalks the shadows, has this plan gone one step too far? Will our heroine let her facade slip in order to save her life?🤔⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
With morally grey characters🎭, psychic card readings🔮 and dazzling parties🍾, this intricately woven novel is the perfect escape from the cold winter months. Fans of Nevernight, Six of Crows and Name of the Wind will adore this paperback, which is the first book in a stunning new trilogy.👍⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Our featured read will arrive beautifully gift-wrapped and will be accompanied by a bookplate, signed by the authors.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Our January box will be crammed with exclusive goodies created by small businesses and inspired by some of fiction's most dazzling parties! Standby for a supplier reveal soon and in the mean-time, get ready to start 2021 with a bookish bang! 😊👍⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
January members will be invited to join us in our online Clubhouse (AKA where the REAL party's at!) for book group. Here, you'll get the chance to chat with the author duo who co-wrote our featured read and ask your questions.📖⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Okay, this book sounds incredible and who doesn't love a good masquerade?!
Who's ready to jump in?
Obviously, there will be spoilers for this box beyond this point, so stop reading now if you don't want to know what's in this one.
Enemies To Lovers: Series Starters Set
Rating: 4 STARS
Genre: Historical Romance
Series/Standalone: The Penwich School for Virtuous Girls #1
How I got this book: Bought
She works to live...
One would think the last place a beauty like Fallon O'Rourke could keep her virtue was in the Mayfair mansion of London's most licentious duke, the notorious Dominic Hale. Yet Fallon—who's endured nothing but lecherous advances since her father's tragic death—is perfectly safe there...disguised as a footman! Beneath the notice of the dark-haired devil with his smoldering blue eyes and sinful smile, Fallon never imagines her secret will be discovered. But how long can her deception last when she begins to wish she is one of the many women traipsing in and out of the sinful rogue's bedchamber?
He lives to sin...
Most men envy the duke, never suspecting his pleasure-loving ways are a desperate attempt to escape, however briefly, the pain of a past that's left him with a heart of stone. Only one woman can break down his defenses. Only one woman can win his love...if she reveals her secret and succumbs to the sins of the wicked duke.
TW: Child-abuse (beating).
My first book of the year was very much a comfort read.
After binge-watching Bridgerton over the holidays, I desperately wanted to read something set in the same period and with the same level of upstairs/downstairs gossip and drama.
So, not having Julia Quinn's, The Duke and I, in my collection, I turned to an old favourite!
“I wish for adventure. I wish to matter. I wish for a home.”
Sins of a Wicked Duke is one of my favourite romance novels. Sophie Jordan does a brilliant job of creating Fallon, a strong heroine who, as a reader, I completely empathise with as she struggles to deal with life as a woman in the service of men.
Since leaving the orphanage where she was raised and abused by the headmaster, she goes into work without a reference befitting her education and can only find work as a maid. But life as a woman in service is hard; with the unwanted attention from the men who employ her driving her out of every steady position.
Faced with no choice, and with the help of her two best friends, Fallon decides that the only way for her to get the money she needs to escape this life is to pretend to be a man and take the job of footman at the house of the most notorious Duke in the ton.
I absolutely love Fallon. She's fierce, tough, and compassionate. Damien is, at first, the polar opposite. He's a complete rake with no manners and no respect for women. Until his layers are revealed, and we see his true nature, hidden beneath the trauma of his childhood, not so dissimilar to Fallon's in the abuse he received as a child.
With a guaranteed HEA and a Mulan-style gender-swapping twist, Sins of a Wicked Duke is the perfect read for lovers of Bridgerton and Downton Abbey who're looking for a little heat!
How's your weekend going?
I've decided to take a little break from the usual Sunday book tag this week to do a post on some of my most anticipated reads of 2021!
I honestly cannot wait until these books are released and I hope they give you a little TBR inspiration as well.
This month, our book club chat was all about The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith.
The Turn The Page Book Chat usually takes place on the Friday after the podcast goes live at 7pm (UK). To join, just follow #TTPBookChat on Twitter.
You can catch our review of the book here and listen to our podcast chat here.
Next month, we'll be chatting about The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. If you'd like to join us, read the book and tune in on January 19th for our podcast and on January 22nd at 7pm (UK) for the next Twitter chat!
Please note: This chat may contain spoilers!
Happy New Year!!
How's 2021 going for you so far? What are you reading right now?
I took a bit of time off from the blog over the last week to get my head back into work mode but I've been reading like crazy, and LOVING everything I've read so far!
More on that to follow, but for now, I wanted to jump back in with a new Sunday Book Tag!
The theme for this one is a little late, but I guess we're still in the window of the New Year so it still counts!
Have you finished any books already this year?
I'm not doing too badly at the moment despite being back at work and homeschooling full time.
I've read one and started another so I'm on track for my reading goal and I'm loving the books so far!
I don't usually set myself a TBR because I'm a mood reader by nature, but there are some really awesome books I'm hoping to read in January/February this year and I wanted to quickly share them with you.
Just click on an image to add the book to your Goodreads TBR:
Rating: 5 STARS!!
Series/Standalone: Hells Library #1
How I got this book: Bought
Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing—a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.
But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil's Bible. The text of the Devil's Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell ... and Earth.
The Archive of the Forgotten, book two of the Hell's Library series is due to be released on 9th February 2021.
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About Kayleigh (She/Her)
Book addict, film mad, music lover, business owner, writer and mum (not necessarily in that order), living in the UK.
About Sophie (She/Her)
Sophie loves books (obviously). She has a passion for photography and spotting wildlife, and is interested in anything made with passion and creativity.
THIS BLOG IS SPOILER FREE!
5 Stars - AMAZING!!
4.5 Stars - Almost perfect!
4 Stars - I really loved it
3.5 Stars - I liked it alot
3 Stars - I liked it
(I don't typically review books that I rate below 3 stars)
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