Monday, February 6, 2017

December 2016 & January 2017 Reads // A Spazzy Post

I miss reading so much.

I read one book in January.

It was "meh".

But, since we are just settling in and and not moving now (HUZZAH!), I did read two books in early February, and it it was great! I'm still reading Mistborn... but it's in a box somewhere that I have not unpacked yet! :( :( 

I also realized... that my GREAT December reads got super lost in the shuffle... so they're here too! ha

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden*

4.5 Stars - I highly recommend this book if you enjoy historical fiction or fantasy. It is a lovely blend of the two that was just right for me. I especially recommend if you are looking to read about a different culture or time period. This is extremely fascinating and lovely to read.

Vasya is the youngest daughter of Petyor Petrovich and she is wild like her mother was. In the Northern part of Russia Vasya's city is caught between a primal and pagan past and the church. She is a disgrace to most of her city, but is perhaps the only one who can save them from what is coming.

I loved this book because I really didn't know what to expect when I started reading it. I knew there was a fantasy element to it, and that was it. It turns out that this book was a lovely surprise. It reads more like historical fiction, but weaves the folktales the children learn into the narrative. I took a Slavic Folklore course in college, so it was very fun to look back on that and remember things about Russian culture that I had learned. I like how well researched and imagined the setting, culture, religions, and myths are in this book. Arden really did her work. She does give a disclaimer about a bit of the language though, but that didn't bother me (as I know nothing about Russian language..). This is the kind of book where you become completely swept up in the setting and plot, and that will leave you wanting more. I saw someone say there will be more books later, I don't know if that is true. The ending is not quite a cliffhanger, but does leave me guessing. I would highly recommend this, and look forward to reading more books should there be some later. I recommend glancing through the glossary at the end to familiarize yourself with some of the terms, etc. It will help if you don't have a lot of background knowledge on Russian language, myths, etc. - of course you can always reference it on a case-by-case basis as well. :)

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy YA, romantic, and holiday stories. Also if you like short stories, some people really do not! hehe

This short story collection contains 12 works from popular YA writers from diverse backgrounds. It's kind of hard to give a synopsis of this one... :P It's really cute though if you like that kind of thing. If anyone wants to know what I thought of each one, read my #ed section below... if not just move along! :)

  1. I started this book, and ended up reading it for hours. Rainbow Rowell immediately drew me in with her NYE short story. 
  2. The second one by Kelly Link was a bit more out there.... but I ultimately enjoyed it, it gave nice variation to the styles represented. 
  3. The third one by Matt de la Pena made me sob. I don't really know why, it wasn't that sad, but I loved it. It was probably my favorite of the bunch. 
  4. I hadn't read any Jenny Han ahead of her addition to the collection... at first I didn't like it as much as the others... because it was based in such an all encompassing fantasy setting... but the ending really made it for me! 
  5. Stephanie Perkins wowed me as always. :) I want her to turn these characters into a full book now! 
  6. The sixth one was sweet, but I wasn't super attached to it. I did like that it added diversity in LGBTQ+ characters. :)
  7. Krampuslauf was one I wanted to love... but I found it a bit confusing. Was the point one big party...? Not my thing I guess.
  8. Gayle Forman's story was really sweet. It added a nice bit of diversity in characters and holidays as well.
  9. Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus was ok. I wanted a little more from it.. like for her to be more wild than expected.. or something. It was a little predictable.. .but I live in the Midwest and it's not that different from the Tennessee they are describing. So maybe it's just due to my background. :) It was still cute.
  10. I really liked Welcome to Christmas, CA. It's another one I cried through part of. Apparently I have a soft spot for kids struggling to get to and through college. Either which way, it was a sweet story. Reminded me partially of the movie Waitress.
  11. Star of Bethlehem was cute, but more unbelieveable than some. It was kind of an insta-love that didn't make as much since to me as others... but it was cute. :) 
  12. The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer was pretty unexpected, I thought I would be bored... but I really ended up liking it! The end was a little bit abstract, but it was good. It makes me want to read more of Laini Taylor's books.

Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber - Blossom Street Series

3 Stars - I recommend this if you've read the rest of the series and are looking for a feel good fluffy read.

These books are very much a guilty's nice to read something that works out and is fluffy... especially when the news is anything but fluffy.

This book was again not my favorite. I think I might  need to stop reading her books... because I feel like they are all falling a little flat for me. I don't know if it's a ghost writer... or what's going on. But they haven't been great lately for me. Maybe I'm just outgrowing them. You never know! Anyhow, I loved parts of this. There's kind of a tough guy who doesn't think he's great and I just had a soft spot for him! His name was Rooster.. I can you go wrong? hehe

Soulless by Gail Carriger

4.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy humorous fantasy, steampunk, and strong/confident female characters. This reminded me a bit of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (the movie), spunky, silly, and fun.

This book follows Alexia Tarabotti, a high born lady (but half-Italian spinster) in Victorian England. She's eccentric and confident, always has an appetite, and happens to be without a soul. Her soulless ability allows her to negate supernatural powers.... so when she touches a vampire, his fangs disappear. After she accidentally kills a vampire, and is accosted by grumpy Lord Maccon (Scottish, werewolf, grumpy...), and vampires start disappearing.... Alexia must find out what's going on in London.

Overall this book was hilarious and incredibly fun to read. I hadn't read any steampunk (or anything like it before), so it was a bit of an adventure. I appreciated how light it was (despite heavy supernatural plot), I laughed a lot, and quite a bit of it was steamy. It reads a bit like a romance novel... but then about half way through you get more plot. Overall, I felt that the steampunk elements were small and it read like normal urban fantasy (aside from the Victorian setting). I really didn't know that there were vampires or werewolves in this book before I started it. The  most enjoyable part of this book for me was definitely Alexia's character, she's ridiculous but owns it, and is very confident and modern for the setting. Reading her observations about the world around her (ugly hats, lack of food at parties, etc.) is hilarious. I also particularly enjoyed her interactions with Lord Maccon, it's like Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett but with a lot less brooding. I will be interested to see where the rest of the books go, but I'm not in a huge hurry to get to them.

Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill*

3.5 - 4 Stars - I recommend this if you enjoy YA fantasy. It reminded me a lot of The Hunger Games + AC Gaughan's Scarlet series + Three Dark Crowns. 

This book follows Britta who recently lost her father (bounty hunter to the king), and her period of mourning is ending. She expects the king's men to show up and seize her land any day now. Her only hope of surviving winter is a good kill that she can trade at the market for lodging this winter. When she is caught with the meat she is taken on poaching charges by the king's men. She is given a bargain: either she will hang, or she will track down her best friend and bring him in for his crimes. She chooses to track her friend, and from there many things are not what they seem. (I don't want to spoil anything!)

This book started out pretty quickly, but I wanted more from the setting. I didn't quite get the world right away. After just a bit more reading I was hooked. It reminded me a bit of The Hunger Games meets that great Scarlet (Robin Hood re-telling) that I read last year! I didn't think I would continue to be interested in it.. but I couldn't stop reading! I liked that it was almost what would have happened with Katniss and Gale had there been no Peeta. About 60% - 65% through the book you find out more about the world, as well as some of the magic - which I really enjoyed. It added a lot of depth to the story. Toward the end of the book there are a decent number of twists and turns. Some of which I saw coming, but not the one on the last page! OMG has anyone read this?! I want to find out what happens next, so I'll definitely read the next one once it comes out! :) 

Currently Reading:

A Fork in the Road edited by James Oseland
Be Your Own Fairytale: Working with Storytelling for Positive Life Chaneg by Alison Davies*
The Final Empire (Mistborn 1) by Brandon Sanderson

Books on Deck:

Here are some of the books I'm hoping to start/finish/re-read soon, and obviously working on Erin's 6.0 challenge too! So far I'm 3/10 or 55 points with the two above + Throne of Glass.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (re-read)
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Mistborn 1 by Brandon Sanderson (and the other two!) (about half way through the first one!)
The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco* - HOW GORGEOUS IS THIS COVER?!
The Dry by Jane Harper 

Have you guys seen the cover for A Court of Wings and Ruin??!??! Gorgeous! (maybe I should delay my re-read/first read of ACOMAF until closer to May...?!)

Linking up with Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books next week. :) 

Life According to Steph

Glad to have read something, but hoping for much more in the coming months! :) 

What have you been reading? What do you hope to read this year?!

Let's be friends on Goodreads!



* Asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Netgalley!

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