Review: The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy #3) by Katherine Arden

38391059Verdict: Still in love.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy, Re-Telling

Published by Ebury Publishing, January 10 2019

Find it on Goodreads.

One girl can make a difference…

Moscow has burned nearly to the ground, leaving its people searching for answers – and someone to hold accountable. Vasya finds herself on her own, amid a rabid mob that calls for her death, blaming her witchery for their misfortune.

Then a vengeful demon returns, renewed and stronger than ever, determined to spread chaos in his wake and never be chained again. Enlisting the hateful priest Konstantin as his servant, turmoil plagues the Muscovites and the magical creatures alike, and all find their fates resting on the shoulders of Vasya.

With an uncertain destiny ahead of her, Vasya learns surprising truths of her past as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all…

I adored this beyond measure.

I am a huge fan of this trilogy, have been ever since reading the very first chapter of the first book. I was both super excited and a bit apprehensive before reading this book – but I didn’t have to worry because Katherine Arden absolutely sticks the landing here. This book is both a great conclusion to this brilliant series as well as a great book in its own right.

What Arden does better than most authors I read is building an atmosphere so immersive I become lost in her (impeccably researched) world. I found reading this book a very rewarding experience and I am definitely a life-long fan. Drawing on Russian fairy tales and real world figures to build a world uniquely her own, Arden tells a story of a girl and her choices. Whatever happens in this book is always filtered through Vasya’s lenses and her destiny and I am in love with this. Vasya is a difficult character but someone I could not help root for. I wanted her to find her place and be happy. She is allowed to be prickly and nurturing, she can be rash and caring, and altogether wonderfully rounded. Her relationship to the Winter King just worked for me in this book (I was not fully on board in the book before) and I really liked the overwhelming tenderness between those two.

I adore how the world becomes more complicated as Vasya grows and the scope increases. Things that seemed very black and white to her in the first book become more ambivalent, people grow while staying true to their characterization, and overall the world becomes ever more believable.

Arden has a very distinct and very beautiful writing style that hints at her influences while being very much her own thing and from the very first chapter I was glad to be back in her capable hands. There is a rhythm to her writing that I find very beautiful and this coupled with a story that wraps up strong makes this a strong contender for my favourite book of this year (I just know it’ll make the list).

Other books in the series:
The Bear and the Nightingale: 5 out of 5 stars
The Girl in the Tower: 4 out of 5 stars

I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Ebury Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

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Wrap Up: December 2018 or there goes the year.

I cannot believe the year is over. It feels like it went both super quick and super slow. My reading in December was a bit erratic because the first half I felt mega burned out (mostly due to work) and could not concentrate on anything difficult, then there was Christmas were I did not get any reading done – and then I had a few days to wrap up all the books written by men I was still reading.

Books I read in December:

  1. Vita Nostra by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko: 5 out of 5 stars
  2. Dopesick by Beth Macy: 5 out of 5 stars
  3. Angel’s Blood (Guild Hunter #1) by Nalini Singh: 3 out of 5 stars
  4. Archangel’s Kiss (Guild Hunter #2) by Nalini Singh: 3 out of 5 stars
  5. Archangel’s Consort (Guild Hunter #3) by Nalini Singh: 3 out of 5 stars
  6. Archangel’s Blade (Guild Hunter #4) by Nalini Singh: 3 out of 5 stars
  7. Bad Blood by John Carreyrou: 4,5 out of 5 stars
  8. Magic Triumphs (Kate Daniels #10) by Ilona Andrews: 4 out of 5 stars
  9. The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter (The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club #1) by Theodora Goss: 3 out of 5 stars
  10. Slave to Sensation (Psy-Changeling #1) by Nalini Singh: 3,5 out of 5 stars
  11. New Suns ed. by Nisi Shawl: 2 out of 5 stars
  12. Doggerland by Ben Smith: 3 out of 5 stars
  13. Lies Sleeping (Rivers of London #7) by Ben Aaronovitch: 4 out of 5 stars
  14. Heavy by Kiese Laymon: 4 out of 5 stars

Favourite of the Month:

I adored Vita Nostra – every single second of reading this was a pleasure. Dopesick was another book that I appreciated immensely – it is wonderfully researched and impeccably told. Both books made my best of the year lists.

Continue reading “Wrap Up: December 2018 or there goes the year.”

Have I read my most anticipated releases of 2018?

I have written about my most anticipated releases twice this year, for the first and for the second half of the year. Let’s see how many of those I have actually read (and which I have enjoyed).

In my first post, I named 13 books that I was super excited to get to.

  1. Brave by Rose McGowan. I have neither read nor bought this book because before I could, she started showing TERFy tendencies, which I just cannot support. I have since seen some reviews that make me think not reading this was the right decision.
  2. Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot. I loved this book so very much.
  3. Folk by Zoe Gilbert. I read this before it came out and it was ok. And now I cannot really remember much of it, to be perfectly honest.
  4. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi. Again, I loved this book. I knew from the very first chapter that I was in for something extraordinary.
  5. The Sea Beast Takes A Lover by Michael Andreasen. This collection of short stories did not quite work for me, but I did enjoy some stories.
  6. Not That Bad ed. by Roxane Gay. Of course I loved this.
  7. The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh. This has possibly my favourite cover of the year and I really enjoyed this interesting book.
  8. Florida by Lauren Groff. She is becoming one of my favourite authors and this collections was no exception.
  9. Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch. I have not yet read it but will definitely do so before the end of the year. I have waited too long for this book to not pick it up soon.
  10. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. I loved this just as much as I thought I would. Slow-paced, wintery fairy-tales are my jam.
  11. Sick by Porochista Khakpour. Biggest disappointment of my reading year.
  12. The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden. The release date was moved to January but I have an ARC and want to get lost in this wonderful world, possibly during my (short) winter break.
  13. Vengeful by V. E. Schwab. I had so much fun reading this and it made me excited again for Schwab’s writing in a way I hadn’t been in a while.

I actually did okay here. There are only three books I haven’t read yet (and one of those is no longer on my TBR), I also enjoyed the majority of the books on my list, with four of them getting five stars.

Let’s take a look at my second list, with only eight titles on it.

  1. Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennet. I enjoyed this a lot but it did not reach the heights of his Divine Cities trilogy yet. Still, I am excited to see where he takes the story next.
  2. Heavy by Kiese Laymon. I am embarrassingly enough still reading this. I started it at a really bad moment and while I think it is brilliant, it also deeply sad and I cannot quite get myself to pick it up.
  3. All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung. I am still super excited about this but the book is only out in hardback and still very expensive. It will be one of the next books I buy though.
  4. Small Spaces by Katherine Arden. Another book that isn’t out in paperback yet and a bit too expensive.
  5. Rosewater by Tade Thompson. I really enjoyed this even if it confused me.
  6. Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss. I did not love this and I am unsure whether Moss’ writing is quite for me.
  7. Trail of Lightening by Rebecca Roanhorse. I loved this and it started my binge-reading of Urban Fantasy. I cannot wait for the next one!
  8. Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri. I got an ARC of this the day it released and I am super excited still. But I am also drowning in arcs at the moment. Hopefully I’ll get to it before the end of the year though.

Again, around three books I have not got to which isn’t too bad considering how absolutely abysmal I am at setting myself TBRs.

How did you do with your most anticipated releases of this year? Did you manage to get to them?

TBR: ARCs on my shelves part V (2018)

I have not talked about the ARCs I added to my virtual shelves in three months and while I did not request as many ARCs as I have done in the past, I have acquired a few and want to talk about them.

Still to be read:

38633526Vita Nostra by Sergey & Marina Dyachenko

Publication Date: November 1st, 2018

Publisher: HarperVoyager

Blurb (from Goodreads): The definitive English language translation of the internationally bestselling Ukrainian novel—a brilliant dark fantasy with “the potential to be a modern classic” (Lev Grossman), combining psychological suspense, enchantment, and terror that makes us consider human existence in a fresh and provocative way.

Our life is brief . . .

While vacationing at the beach with her mother, Sasha Samokhina meets the mysterious Farit Kozhennikov under the most peculiar circumstances. The teenage girl is powerless to refuse when this strange and unusual man with an air of the sinister directs her to perform a task with potentially scandalous consequences. He rewards her effort with a strange golden coin.

As the days progress, Sasha carries out other acts for which she receives more coins from Kozhennikov. As summer ends, her domineering mentor directs her to move to a remote village and use her gold to enter the Institute of Special Technologies. Though she does not want to go to this unknown town or school, she also feels it’s the only place she should be. Against her mother’s wishes, Sasha leaves behind all that is familiar and begins her education.

As she quickly discovers, the institute’s “special technologies” are unlike anything she has ever encountered. The books are impossible to read, the lessons obscure to the point of maddening, and the work refuses memorization. Using terror and coercion to keep the students in line, the school does not punish them for their transgressions and failures; instead, their families pay a terrible price. Yet despite her fear, Sasha undergoes changes that defy the dictates of matter and time; experiences which are nothing she has ever dreamed of . . . and suddenly all she could ever want.

A complex blend of adventure, magic, science, and philosophy that probes the mysteries of existence, filtered through a distinct Russian sensibility, this astonishing work of speculative fiction—brilliantly translated by Julia Meitov Hersey—is reminiscent of modern classics such as Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, Max Barry’s Lexicon, and Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale, but will transport them to a place far beyond those fantastical worlds.

Why I requested it: I love Russian literature and this one sounded right up my alley. And then my slump hit. Continue reading “TBR: ARCs on my shelves part V (2018)”

Thoughts: Authors whose next work I am eagerly anticipating

I follow very few authors religiously. Even if I adore a book by an author, I am not always all that great at picking up other books the author has written. That said, there are a few authors whose next work I am eagerly anticipating. (My inspiration for this post was a similar post done by Zuky, whose blog you should definitely check out if you aren’t following her already)

13922215Katherine Arden

I adored the first two books in her Winternight trilogy and cannot wait for the last book in the series. I am just a huge fan of her writing style and the wonderful sense of place she invokes. That I am a sucker for stories set in the north of Russia certainly didn’t hurt.

Megan Stielstra

Her essay collection The Wrong Way to Save Your Life was one of my favourite books of last year. I have since read and adored her first essay collection and cannot wait to see what she does next. I also own her short story collection but am kind of too scared to pick that up and not have any of her books left to read.

Amber Sparks

She has written one of my all-time favourite short story collections and another one that was similarly great. I follow her on twitter and everything she posts about the collection she is working on sounds absolutely brilliant.

8446300Scott Hawkins

The Library at Mount Char was just so very brilliant and different and just SO much my cup of tea that I have been waiting for a new book by the author ever since. I am starting to give up on that hope because there have not been any news for ages now. That would be such a shame though!

3192838Melissa Broder

I know that I am probably already boring you all with how much of a Melissa Broder fan I am – but there is just somethin so very brilliant about her writing. Having now read both her memoir and her debut novel, I can confidently say that I will be reading everything she writes next.

What are some of the authors whose next work you are eagerly anticipating?

 

This Is My Genre Tag

I was tagged by Rachel for this wonderful tag and even though her favourite genre is one I struggle with (historical fiction), her reviews are always my favourite, so you should all go and check her blog out.

What is your favourite genre?

This is not quite as easy for me to answer as it used to be but it’s definitely fantasy in all its subgenres. I used to read A LOT more fantasy than I do now but it is the one genre I could not live without.

Runner-ups were memoirs and short stories (which, you know, is not really a genre), and I also read a lot of general fiction and literary fiction.

Who is your favourite author from that genre?

This is such a difficult question… But I think I am going with N. K. Jemisin because her writing excites me to no end. I have not quite read all her backlist (I have not yet read her Dreamblood duology) but that is only because I am pacing myself. N. K. Jemisin is on top of her game and for me the most exciting writer today (not just in fantasy but in general actually). I cannot wait for her collection of shorter works coming out later this year and then for everything else she might ever decide to write.

What is it about the genre that keeps pulling you back?

Fantasy, when done right, can be escapist fun while also being so much more. It is super varied, so depending on my mood I can read something slow and whimsical or something fast-paced and heart pounding.

Fantasy can be hard-hitting in a way that is still fun to read – sometimes I need a little escapism in my reading while still being mentally stimulated and fantasy does that for me.

What is the book that started your love for that genre?

I don’t actually remember as I have been reading fantasy since I was a child. And yes, I loved Harry Potter when I was younger but those books occupy a different space than other fantasy books in my mind. I think the first “proper” fantasy book I read and remember was Märchenmond by Wolfgang & Heike Hohlbein (Magic Moon in English apparently). I also needed to read Lord of the Rings after watching the first movie because I could not wait a whole year before knowing what’ll happen next. So, those two probably.

PS: I got the Folio Society edition of Lord of the Rings for Christmas last year and that is THE most beautiful thing I own.

If you had to recommend at least one book from your favourite genre to a non-reader/someone looking to start reading that genre, what book would you choose and why?

I am stealing Rachel’s idea and recommending books based on other genres. Because I could not narrow it down to one book.

25452717If you like mystery novels, you should read Robert Jackson Bennett’s The Divine Cities trilogy. The first book in particular is a murder mystery set in a fantasy world and it was just a wonder to read and more people should pick it up.

If you like fairy tales or historical fiction I would wholeheartedly 33797941recommend Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale. Set in the north of Russia with its seemingly never-ending winter, this book is evocative and creative, the spins she puts on familiar fairy tales while adding something original is just something I really adore in fantasy. The fantasy elements are also not too much in your face, which might help people who are not the biggest fans of super technical worldbuilding.

If you are into classics, then Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke might 14201be right up your alley – the book is written in a snarky Austen style, complete with footnotes and non-sequitors, and I found it so very brilliant and clever.

27313170If you like more experimental fiction you should pick up All The Birds In The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders which combines the best of Sci-Fi and Fantasy to something wholly original.

If you are looking for something political and sociological you really should pick up N. K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy – to be fair, I do think you should pick those up anyways, because Jemisin is a genius and her work is the best there is (for me at least).

Why do you read?

Because I don’t know how not to.

I am tagging KaleenaNadine and Ashleigh and everybody else who wants to do this! (Please let me know if you decide to do this tag because I want to read everyone’s answers!).

 

Most anticipated releases 2018 – mid-year edition

There are way too many brilliant books coming out this year. I keep buying books faster than I can read them and then I keep looking at other books that I want to read. But, just look how brilliant these books all sound! Below is a (probably) incomplete list of books I am excited about, in no particular order.

Foundryside by Robert Bennett Jackson (Published by Crown Publishing, August 21st)

Foundryside RD4 clean flat

I adored Robert Bennett Jackson’s The Divine Cities trilogy so very much when I read it last year and I cannot wait what he comes up with next. (This might be the one I am most excited about)

Find it on Goodreads.

 

Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon (Published by Scribner, October 16th)

29430746This just sounds absolutely brilliant. I do love memoirs that blend the personal and the political, so this sounds right up my alley. That is has been blurbed by Roxane Gay obviously did not hurt my excitement.

Find it on Goodreads.

 

All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir by Nicole Chung (Published by Catapult, Oktober 2nd)

30297153It is no mystery how much I enjoy memoirs written by women and this one focussing on adoption and identity sounds absolutely like my type of book.

Find it on Goodreads.

 

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden (Published by G. P. Putnam’s Group, September 25th)

Small Spaces coverI would read Katherine Arden’s shopping list if she decided to publish it. As The Winter  of the Witch has been delayed until early 2019, this will be my yearly fix of her wonderful writing. I don’t usually read Middle Grade but again, it’s Katherine Arden.

Find it on Goodreads.

Rosewater by Tade Thompson (Published by Orbit, September 18th)

38362809I adored Tade Thompson’s The Murders of Molly Southbourne and cannot wait for this one. I am lucky to have an E-ARC and trying very much to not read this already.

Find it on Goodreads.

 

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss (Published by Granta, September 20th)

38922230I have an ARC for this and I am very excited to get to this. Sarah Moss seems like an author I would adore and I really need to get to her books.

Find it on Goodreads.

 

 

Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse (Published by Saga Press, June 26th)

36373298This just sounds brilliant and kickass and like something that I could love.

Find it on Goodreads.

 

 

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri (Published by Orbit, November 13th)

39714124I don’t know what it is about this book but i just sounds absolutely wonderful. I really have not been reading enough fantasy. Also, yay for adult fantasy written by women.

Find it on Goodreads.

 

Which books are you excited about for the rest of the year? Do tell me!