The Winter of the Witch

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden is the conclusion to the Winternight Trilogy.

Moscow has been badly injured through flame, fear and deceit. It’s people are restless, it’s king is enraged, and it’s unseen guardians are withering. Vasya finds herself alone and unmoored after the events of the night before, so when a priest, guided by a wicked daemon, sets a mob on her, there is no one to help her but herself.

Torn between two worlds and determined to save them both, Vasya will embark on a journey that will alter her forever. She will battle nightmares and uncover truths she never would have suspected.

Will Vasya be able to save both the worlds she so cherishes? Or will the knowledge she gains about Morozko, Russia and herself be enough to break her?

I enjoyed this series a lot. Even though it has a lot of fantastical elements it is so steeped in lore and tradition that is has a very folky feel. Although, I still maintain that the first book was completely satisfying on it’s own and any reader could stop their and be perfectly content. I liked the series but I loved the first book.

This book is, in my opinion, all about Vasya’s transformation; her coming into her own. In the first two books, she is just a girl with a drop of magic in her blood. But in this book she becomes a force to be reckoned with. Although, she calls on others for help, she does not depend on them as she did. It’s something I don’t think I even realized until this book, but you can see “story” Vasya will become to the people of Moscow.

We learn more about the unseen world in this book and we interact with their characters more, instead of just the Bear and the Winter King. I loved learning Morozko and the Bear’s backstories and finding out the secrets in Vasya’s blood as well.

Overall, this was a really nice series. This one get’s 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

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Kingdom of Copper

Kingdom of Copper is the second book in The Daevabad Trilogy.

Nahri’s life changed forever when she summoned Dara, a warrior and djinn with a mysterious past. Her return to Daevabad as the last Nahid healer, signaled a period of change for hidden world of djinn, marid’s and magic.

But when Dara is slain by Prince Ali, the city is thrown into turmoil. All Nahir’s knows is that she must protect her people and the home she never knew she had. But her efforts are constantly thwarted by a the violent king of Daevabad and it might just take all of Nahir’s willpower just to keep herself alive.

Meanwhile, Prince Ali has been exiled for defying his king and father. He is thrown out of Daevabad and is forced to deal with the repercussions of his battle with Dara on his own.

Five years later, at the turn of the century, unrest is brewing and the fate of Daevabad sways in the balance.

Phew! This was a monster of a series to get back into after a year. I vaguely remembered what happened and that I really enjoyed the story but there was so much I forgot, which made it really hard to get through the first few chapters. There is quite a lot going on and the politics of the crown and the city could be hard to get straight at first.

One thing I really like about this book though, is that you just don’t know who to root for. Nahri seems like the best choice because she is well meaning but she is also naive in ways. Dara is such a tortured soul but also blinded by loyalty and his feelings. Ali, you want to like but his “blind fanaticism,” in the words of his father, causes him to rush into things. I even rooted for Nahri’s husband/Ali’s father (name?) by the end. All of this really makes me wonder just how this series is going to turn out.

I’m going to give this one a high 3.5 stars. And I almost recommend waiting to read the whole series until all three are out, unless you are a fantastic re-reader–which I am not.

That’s all for now!

-M-

In An Absent Dream

In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire is the fourth book in the Wayward Children series.

Lundy is a very serious girl. She loves rules and keeps to herself. Although, she is quiet and obedient, Lundy is lonely and doesn’t seem to fit. When a doorway opens to a world of logic, reason and most of all wonder, she doesn’t hesitate to enter. And so begins Lundy’s time in the Goblin Market, a place where fair value rules and every bargain has a cost.

I’m not going to lie, I’d totally forgotten Lundy’s part in the first book Every Heart a Doorway. But it didn’t really matter because each of the books that have been published after Every Heart a Doorway, is actually a prequel and only help to build up the series further. In fact, once McGuire decides she is done with these worlds, I’d love to go back and read that first book because now I will know all of the characters back stories.

In an Absent Dream was magical and bittersweet, just like McGuire’s previous books. It is about not fitting in and finding your true home. One of the things the Market values above all else is that everyone gives fair value. This was a really interesting thing to think about, especially when Lundy brings it back to world she was born to.

I also love Christina Rossetti’s poem, Goblin Market, so it was neat to read this book with the poem in mind, even though they are very different.

Even though I am fully satisfied with the story, I do sort of feel like there was something missing between Lundy and Moon. I needed a little more of a transition from Moon needing Lundy’s help to Moon’s finding her place in the market.

This series can literally do no wrong in my eyes. Each book is wonderful. They can be read by themselves or you can read them as a whole. Although, I would at least recommend reading Every Heart a Doorway, not only because it’s awesome, but also because it give a foundation for the doors.

This book gets 5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an adult historical fiction book by Jamie Ford.

It is 1986 and Henry Lee stands amid the crowd as the Panama Hotel finally gives up its secrets. Located near the heart of what was once Seattle’s Japantown, the hotel is finally reopening after being boarded up for decades. Piled high within the hotel’s basement is the belongings of many Japanese families who were sent to internment camps during World War II. As the belongs are displayed, Henry begins to remember the last time he stood in front of the Panama Hotel, forty years earlier.

So begins a narrative, alternating between past and present, that will reveal Henry’s childhood during a time of upheaval as WWII rages. Cultures clash and fear prevails as the reader witnesses history replay itself through the eyes of a thirteen-year-old boy.

How has the past shaped the man Henry is today? And what part can a young Japanese American girl have to play in it?

It took me about a quarter of the book to really get into this story. I found the beginning to be quite slow and I wasn’t really sure where the story was heading–a note: I never read the synopsis’ for my book club books; I just dive in. But I’m glad I stuck with it because this was really such a wonderful read.

This book talks about a period of time in American history that many people don’t know about, don’t know much about or don’t want to talk about. When first and second generation Japanese American families were forced to leave their homes and relocate to internment camps, where they were forced to live throughout WWII. And in the case of this book, we see a whole city’s worth of Japanese American’s having to give up their homes.

A few years ago, I read the juvenile fiction book Paper Wishes, which followed a Japanese family who was sent to one of these internment camps and The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet just brought me back to that book and even though it was a middle grade read, it was great remembering a book that took place inside of the internment camps.

The relationship between Henry and Keiko was so pure and to see what they went through was heartbreaking. I also loved how we got a glimpse of the 1940’s Jazz scene through Sheldon and the long lost Oscar Holden record.

This book gets 4.5 stars from me. Starts out slow, but worth sticking with.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Mortal Word

The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman is the fifth book in The Invisible Library series.

An unprecedented event is about to occur and as usual, everything could come down to Irene. The Library has been chosen as mediators between the Dragons and the Fae, in the hopes of starting a path toward peace. But when one of the dragons from the peace party is murdered, what looked like peace could actually end up in war.

Now Irene, Val and Kai must locate the murderer all while navigating dangerous egos and tricky politics. Can Irene muster her wit to save these peace talks and keep the library neutral?

I just love this series. The first three books were definitely my favorites but these past two have still been great. I think it is this world Cogman has created. It is full of magic and action, competing personalities and literally anything can happen. Irene is full of ingenuity and has just enough snark and realistic reactions, that she just makes for a fun character.

I do wish we got a little more of Val and Kai in The Mortal Word. For a “mission” that would totally be up Val’s ally, I thought Irene really did all the heavy lifting. But we did get a very long awaited for moment that was perfect in its hinted simplicity behind the scenes and some teasing of whats to come.

This is a series that I think could go on and on. There’s enough side plots that could be explored and the politics between the three factions of power will always be around for the added drama.

This one get 4 stars from me! Keep ’em coming Cogman, I’m a fan!

That’s all for now!

-M-

Christmas on the Island

Christmas on the Island by Jenny Colgan is the third book in the Summer Seaside Kitchen series.

In Scotland, on the remote Island of Mure, Christmas is a festive, cozy time of year. It’s a time for family and friends and for reflecting on the good things in life. Well… that is if you hadn’t gotten accidentally pregnant by your skittish boyfriend who has some serious emotional issues. Will Flora get up the nerve to tell Joel? And what will his reaction be?

Also on Mure, Saif, a doctor and refugee from Syria is trying to enjoy his first Christmas with his boys after their reunion earlier in the year. But things have been even harder for Saif ever since he and Lorena ruined their friendship with their emotional confessions. Saif’s wife is still missing and the whole family is struggling to adapt to life on the island.

Will Christmas on Mure be a disaster or will this little community come together to enjoy the holiday?

Oh Mure. Oh Jenny Colgan. I tend to read Colgan’s books when I am looking for something light and in general, I like my light reads to tie up in nice neat little bows. But these books almost always leave me just a smidgen wanting. And Christmas on the Island was pretty much the same. A lovely, light little read that takes us back to the characters we fell in love with in the first two books, but with new and old problems rearing their heads.

All I have to say is poor everyone in this book! I felt so bad for ALL the characters. We really need the next one to give everyone perfectly happy endings. Please. Now that I think about it, this wasn’t really a light happy read… don’t let the “Christmas” in the title fool you. It was actually quite depressing even if there were sunny moments and it ended on a fairly happy-ish note.

The more I think back on this book the more I am reconsidering my four star rating. I think I am actually going to go with a 3.5 because I just needed a little bit more from it. But I do hope we get at least one more

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

Once Upon A River

Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield is an adult fiction novel with an almost magical feel.

One dark and gloomy night, in an old inn on the edge of the river Thames, a drowned girl came back to life.

And so begins a year long mystery. Who is this little girl, so infatuated with the river? She doesn’t speak and sadness seems etched in her bones. How is it she survived after lying frozen and seemingly dead for hours?

Is it a miracle? Science? Fate?

When the girl is claimed by three different parties, these questions will be more important than ever.

I went into this book knowing that the pace would be slow. This is very important. Do not expect a quick read with lots of action. No. This is a book that builds slowly, it pulls you in and wraps you up in it’s mystery and wonder. Once Upon A River felt like someone was telling me a story on a cold winters night, with the lights dimmed and a fire keeping things warm and cozy. And I really enjoyed it.

I loved how the foundation of this book was built with story. The Swan is known for it’s storytellers and the story of the little girl passes from ear to ear, changing with each telling. The Swan itself felt like a small town, where everyone knows everyone business and gossip is ones bread and butter.

As with most folktales, and this book definitely had a folk feel, you are never quite sure whether or not there is a magical element to the story. It feels that way and yet, one could explain away much of the “magic.” I loved this about the story. Is Quietly a real person or just an idea? Some swear he is, some swear he isn’t. But by the end of the tale you are left wondering.

This was just a lovely read. Everything tied up nicely and you really felt that the story had come full circle by the end. This one gets 4.5-5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-