The Girl in the Tower || A Review

Initial Thoughts:

Like its predecessor, this sequel is a slow-burning tale of characters in a fantasy, medieval Russia, where the world is churning out of the old ways and into the new. But there are still winter-kings and firebirds and men who cannot die. And it was so. friggin. GOOD.


THE GIRL IN THE TOWER

by Katherine Arden
Del Rey, December 2017
Historical fantasy
Rated: 4.5 / 5 cookies
provided by Del Rey and NetGalley (thank you!)

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.

I do want to thank Jess Bonet and the wonderful people at Random House for the ARC of The Girl in the Tower and  a super lovely copy of The Bear and the Nightingale! I’ve been a little late with review copies lately, but I really did want to read this next book because I enjoyed TBatN so much and did want to get into what happened next with Vasya and her siblings.

I was definitely not disappointed. When I saw that The Girl in the Tower involved Sasha and Olga (two characters who disappeared near the beginning of TBatN and who I really wanted to get to know), I was so in. The fact that Vasya was dressed as a boy was also a plus, because when would I ever say no to a book with crossdressing women?

In any case, this book played out as a direct continuation of the events in The Bear in the Nightingale. Cast out by her village, Vasya pretty much runs away, finds Morozko, and gets trained by the frost-king to fend for herself. This would have been a problematic scene if not for the fact that not all of the “training” was practical, and some of it ended up being hijinks anyway, which I love, because why wouldn’t I love something like a possible romance between a witch’s daughter and an immortal death god? (Not that much happens, mind, this is going to be a slow-ass burn romance, isn’t it? DAMN YOU, ARDEN.)

It doesn’t start with Vasya, though. In fact, it starts with Olga and then Sasha and what they’ve been up to while the events in Bear took place. At this point, because of the way information traveled in medieval Russia, Olga and Sasha don’t find out about their siblings until they encounter Father Konstantin, who’s not quite done with causing trouble with his crazy-talk. Olga is a political game-player in her own right, a princess of Moscow, and Sasha is the right hand man (and monk) of Rus’ Grand Prince. While Olga is satisfied in her tower, Sasha is dissatisfied with staying in a monastery, and finds himself traveling with the Grand Prince in order to find out what’s been burning nearby villages. This is when Sasha meets up with Vasya, only…she’s dressed as a boy and that’s a scandalous thing. A very scandalous thing!

Like Bear, the book has a fairy tale feel to it, the kind of feel you get when you’re sitting near a fireplace–or, in my case, bundled up in a warm blanket and cozying up in bed–and sipping some hot cocoa. It is not meant to be a fast, action-paced read, and for the most part, Arden spends most of her time building up to the climax. When all the pieces are put in play, though, it becomes awesome and I admit I practically squeed a few times when she paid even more homage to Russian fairy tales by adding even more well-known figures in. (I won’t mention which ones, because SPOILERS.)

The characters were fun to read, even Father Konstantin had a storyline that gets tied into the narrative. I would love to see more of Midnight’s role in the story, and I feel like things are soon going to come to a head with what happens at the end of the story. Winter is waning, and with that said, so are Morozko’s powers. This means the Sleeper is waking, and I. Cannot. Wait.

4.5 out of 5 cookies! I actually liked this a bit more than the first book, mostly because HIJINKS ❤

This counts as Book #1 of my NetGalley and Edelweiss Challenge.


Have you read this book? What did you think?

Advertisements

Wrap Up: December 2017

You know, holidays aren’t really holidays for me. I feel like I get really unproductive when I get super busy on the holidays. But hey, at least there are pictures! Lots and lots of pictures. And it was fun, if not too relaxing…

Books Read

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler || The Richest Woman in America: The Life and Times of Hetty Green by Janet Wallach || The Immortal Nicholas by Glenn Beck

Currently Reading

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch || The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling || Ghost Slayer by Majanka Verstraete || Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

Writing

Well. So a couple of authors and I are actually going to be promoting our stories at a bookstore in Massachusetts. This’ll be happening late January, which is pretty cool. Which reminds me…I probably need to send info down to the bookstore…

Movies and TV

Lots of period dramas in December! I think once I started bingeing the second season of The Crown, I just wanted to watch even more stuff on the British royalty. So that happened.

Also, The Last Jedi rocked. And now I want a porg, a BB-8, and a Skywalker. Either twin will do.

The Young Victoria || Star Wars: The Last Jedi || Ghostbusters || 8 Mile || The Office || The Crown, Season 2 || The White Princess || Zumbo’s Just Desserts

Video Games

Horizon Zero Dawn – So I started playing this and didn’t get very far, mostly because I got the Nintendo Switch for Christmas. So…

Super Mario Odyssey – This game happened. And ohhhh boy. It’s very addicting, and I actually love it lots. I managed to finish it the week after Christmas. And even then I’m still trying to collect the rest of the moons.

Overcooked – This game requires a shitton of teamwork. But it does get addicting when you have three other people playing with you, and you just want to keep acing all the levels. We must have played a good three or four hours before we realized we needed to stop and do other things.

Mario Kart Racing – The breaker of friendships and the spiking of high blood pressure. And yet it’s still a family favorite.

Fooding

I actually didn’t do much cooking/baking in December. I mean, there were the standard baking goodies and the toffee, but that wasn’t too much to handle. Oh, and I suppose I also made apple cookies, but those were part of an order, which seems to be a hit, because I’ve got another batch to make this week. To be honest, I did more drink-mixing over the month than anything else!

Turon || White wine sangria || Raisin bread || Bioshock “Plasmid” cocktail || Brenner burger || Peppermint bark || Mojito || Churro waffle

I do have plans for book-inspired baking, but it’ll be a while yet! I cannot wait for the summer, really.

I hope you guys had a great holiday too!

Reading Challenges 2018

I’m actually surprised I surpassed any reading challenges in 2017, considering how very little time I’ve had to actually sit down and read through a book. This isn’t to say that I spent all my days working, but a lot of distraction happened, and many of them I welcomed with open arms. Plus, there is also work. Anyway, a few fun stats, and some planned reading challenges to try to get myself back on track as far as reading and blogging goes!

Fun stats first:

For a full run-down of my year, head on over to Goodreads!

I’ve gotten more comfortable with dropping books when I’m not enjoying them. I am a bit of a completionist, and it takes me a while, but there are way too many books on my backlist that I shouldn’t be spending too much time contemplating on whether or not I want to continue with a book. I’ve also done a few more rereads than I usually do, mostly because of the podcast my friend and I run together.

That being said, this post is also my customary sign-up post for a few reading challenges. This is probably not my only post regarding reading challenges, because I’m still contemplating on whether or not I want to sign up for a few more, but I don’t want to overburden myself, considering I’ve completed just the ONE challenge last year, and nothing else besides. (Technically, I may have completed Flights of Fantasy again and the Graphic Novel reading challenge, but I haven’t updated in a while, so who knows.) So, just playing it with a cautionary outlook, for now, I’ve got two challenges in my sights:

 

I really need this challenge in my life, because I really need to polish through books that have been on my TBR list for the longest time. ALSO, they have a Bookstagram challenge that I’m also very keen on participating, because let’s be honest, I’ve been craving some of these since I had a taste of bookstagramming challenges last year. So watch out for those, too!

I’m going for 15 books off my list, which pretty much covers all of the books that have been on my 25 Reads list since forever. That’s just my starting lineup for now. I’ll probably change it later on if I can get through more than the 15.

1. Snow White, Blood Red, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
2. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
3. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
4. The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities edited by Ann VanderMeer
5. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
6. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
7. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time by Yasutaka Tsutsui
8. Kings and Assassins by Lane Robins
9. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
10. Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara
11. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard, Henry Popkin
12. Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
13. Warcross by Marie Lu
14. City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster
15. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Note: I’m also now a Novel Knight, which suits me just fine, because the logo is PURPLE! 😀

I have been seriously neglecting my NetGalley requests, and it’s making me feel bad. SO. I’m going to try to do better. I’ve got quite a number of really good requests in and I want to get through a number of them this year. That said, I don’t want to go crazy, so I’ll start at the Bronze Level with 10 books first.

TTT: New-To-Me Authors of 2017

For more information on Top Ten Tuesday, click here.

Happy New Year! Last year I experimented a lot on different authors, especially because of the amount of audiobooks I borrowed and listened to. I also didn’t stray too far from my favorites, and ended up reading a fair share of familiar authors as well. What I did like is that regardless of what I’d read earlier on in the year, a number of authors wrote their stories so lovely that I wanted more. Here are just a lovely few!

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2017

Sabaa Tahir (An Ember in the Ashes) – Admittedly, I was very dry on high fantasies in 2017, which is sad, because some really epic stories are going on in the high fantasy/epic fantasy genre that I really need to pick up more on that front. I may have yelled at Sabaa a bit in my mind (and maybe once or twice on Twitter…), but AEitA was SO GOOD.

Samantha Shannon (The Bone Season) – Not sure why I enjoyed her debut book so much, because strip the worldbuilding away and it’s almost a typical YA story. That said, clairvoyant magic system. Yaaaaspls.

Katherine Arden (The Bear and the Nightingale) – Arden has certainly built up my kind of historical fairy-tale setting! Arden’s TBatN and its sequel The Girl in the Tower remind me of something Juliet Marillier would write about if Marillier wrote about Russian fairy tales. All the same, I love both authors now, so yay!

Raina Telgemeier (Sisters) – Telgemeier is my new Satrapi, except I actually related more to Sisters, which is, as its moniker would have it, a story that is exactly about sisters. I’m pretty keen on reading the rest of Telgemeier’s graphic novel series, because she really did make me laugh.

Carrie Fisher (Wishful Drinking) – HERE COMES THE GENERAL (RISE UP!). Been meaning to read through her work, and her passing early in 2017 propelled me into getting a copy of at least one of her biographies. Loved the voice, loved her humor.

Kieron Gillen (The Wicked + The Divine) – I was mostly on the fence for some of the volumes of this series, but I will admit that the writing is absolute crack and altogether ingenious. Loved the illustration as well in his TW+TD series, but when it came down to writing in so many different voices, Gillen has many beat.

Vikas Swarup (Q&A) – Loved the perspective in this book. I read this as an audiobook, so it was easier to imagine the setting (though to be honest, imagining the setting wasn’t hard when most of your head was ingrained in Slumdog Millionaire…). I really liked the story, though.

Anthony Doerr (All the Light We Cannot See) – All the Light We Cannot See is Doerr’s highest-rated book on Goodreads, but I might have to try his other books. That said, I had a love-hate relationship with his ending in AtLWCS, so if his other books end in a similar manner, I might just nope out of it. He writes beautifully, in any case.

Vic James (Gilded Cage) – This was one of the NetGalley ARCs that I thoroughly enjoyed reading in 2017. I will definitely be interested in reading more from this author, and I really should get myself a copy of the second book somehow!

Margaret C. Sullivan (The Jane Austen Handbook) – Enjoyed this book! I also realized I actually did read another book of hers, so she’s technically not new to me, but we won’t really count the other Jane Austen book, since it was mainly one about covers! So there.

How about you? Which authors would you like to read more of that you read in 2017?

2017 End of Year Book Survey

Hah, I had mentioned to my friend that I’d try to binge-read over my break, but that clearly didn’t happen! All the same, I at least got through a decent amount of books this year, and had a great run at the beginning of 2017 as far as five-star reads went. I’m still very determined to read a lot more, and while I don’t do many resolutions, at least setting and making my GoodReads goal has been a steady consistency!

Normally I do two reflection posts, so this one would be the first. Jamie @ Perpetual Page Turner has been hosting this End of Year Book Survey for a few years now, and it’d be my fourth time getting into the groove. This is basically where I highlight some fun bookish facts about what I’ve read in 2017.

2017 READING STATS

Number Of Books You Read: 68
Number of Re-Reads: 6
Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy

BEST IN BOOKS

1. Best Book You Read In 2017?

Stand Alone:

Series:

Mid-Series:

Graphic Novel:

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

The extra 300 pages of absolutely new plot threw me off, really. I’d still recommend the trilogy, though!

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

I did enjoy the book, even amidst my giggling critique of its new adulty-ness. All the same, it was entertaining overall.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

Because women in power. Yaaaaaas.

5. Best series you started in 2017? Best Sequel of 2017? Best Series Ender of 2017?

Best Series Started in 2017:

Best Sequel Started in 2017:

Best Series Ender in 2017:

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017?

SABAA TAHIR

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

9. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Read this pretty early on, so would need to reacquaint myself again when I pick up the second book.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?

Shoutout to Dan De Los Santos for illustrating two of the three favorite covers on my list!

11. Most memorable character of 2017?

HELENE AQUILLA

It was going to a girl who was badass. As the only female trainee and one of the top four competitors in the Black Mask training academy, she gets my vote.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017?

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2017?

It wasn’t life-changing, but it definitely was thought-provoking. And highly disturbing.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read?

Finishing the entire series was an “About Time” moment, really.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017?

Shortest:

(11 pages)

Longest:

(1,049 pages)

17. Book That Shocked You The Most
(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

Words cannot describe my reaction to the end of this book. I cannot.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

Lila Bard and Kell Maresh (A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab)

Ohhhh yes. I think those who’ve read and ship these characters are totally thinking about a literal ship in which the ship…ships? Teehee. Teach me your Antari ways, Kell.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Bran and Mercy (Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs)

Bran is Mercy’s adoptive father, and also the scariest werewolf alpha in the western hemisphere. That said, their relationship is a tricky one, and I always love the moments where Bran shows just how much he’d go to protect his surrogate coyote daughter.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?

Elias Veturius (An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir)

Just what is it about cold-trained killers that makes me crush on them in literature? Seriously, though, other than a hard body, Elias has a good heart and a moral compass. It kind of makes him the antithesis of an assassin, but there ya go.

23. Best 2017 debut you read?

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017?

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Nothing like soul-crushing goodness to put your life in perspective.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2017?

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Don’t get me started again.

Blogging/Bookish Life

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017?

Well, not biased or anything…but Fableulous Retellings Podcast is lovely…

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2017?

My blubbering about A Conjuring of Light was pretty much the culmination of the entire year.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

Haven’t been getting into much discussion lately, but I’ve been pretty bad with blogging and following other blogs. I really need to change that this year.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

While I didn’t get it completely done, I did adore The Reading Quest activity that Aentee created.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017?

Gosh. Honestly, when I heard that I got another short story in Dreaming Robot Press.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Work really picked up this year, especially when I had to transition out of a not-so-stressful little-voldie environment to full-on stress mode by February. Honestly, most of my blogging ended up in the summer, during my breaks.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Interestingly enough, it’s a toss-up between my review for A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab and The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Maybe the Fableulous Retellings reposts, though I won’t say not to love anywhere else.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Storiarts doesn’t have as many book selections as Lithographs, but it’s worth pointing out because their fingerless gloves are adorbs!

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

My Goodreads goal got done! I would have missed it by 3 books, but thankfully, the audiobook spree was going strong.

Can’t say anything else about any of my other reading challenges. I really need to commit to those someday…

Looking Ahead

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2017 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2018?

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2018 (non-debut)?

3. 2018 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2018?

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2018?

Read more. Yep.

6. A 2018 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):

Snort. I’ve been really bad at reading my ARCs right now I can’t bring myself to answer this.

How did your bookish year go?