Friday, January 20, 2017

Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden is an enchanting book with its roots in Russian folklore and fairy tales.

Vasilisa Petrovna, with the nickname Vasya, is our heroine. The tale starts out while she is very young and listening to tales at the hearth from her nurse. One of her favorites to hear stories about is Morozko, the Frost.

After a time, as she grows, someone convinces her father it would be a good thing if she had a mother figure in the home other than her nurse. Her father marries a woman from Moscovy who frankly would rather have been a nun.

Her stepmother is adamant that the old guardians of the hearth and other house spirits should no longer be honored and all faith given to the Christian God. Her father, Pyotr, goes along with the stepmother. Vasya feels that this is wrong and that there will be far reaching consequences for their denial. Secretly she continues to honor the house spirits and asks for their protection for the people. As the story progresses, Vasya's stepmother decides that Vasya must either be married off or sent to a convent.

As the winter worsens, Vasya finds herself in a place where she will have to make a choice. She will have to defy the people she loves if she is to save them from something out of one of her nurse's most frightening tales.

The Bear and the Nightingale is well written. If you love fairy tales and folktales, you will love this book. It captures the early days of Christianity in Russia where the people continued to honor the house spirits side by side with the new God, giving each his due. An interview with the author on Unbound Worlds indicates that she drew on both the history and the folklore of old Russia in her writing.

I loved the way I felt pulled into the setting and among the characters. I especially became fond of Vasilisa and her family. The stepmother, not so much, although I did feel kind of sorry for her. Morozko is an interesting character and, according to Katherine Arden, will appear in future books in what is planned to be a trilogy at the moment.

The Bear and the Nightingale was released January 10, 2017 from Del Rey. I gave it 5 stars. It's a great debut by the author. It reads like a fairy tale or folktale. And it's quite entertaining. I really enjoyed it. I can't wait to read the next book.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #172: Dancing with Death by Amy Myers


"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event which has been hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine where we spotlight upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating. I'm also linking up with Can't Wait Wednesday hosted over at Wishful Endings.


Synopsis from the publisher:

Introducing chef-sleuth Nell Drury in the first of a delightful series of 1920’s traditional country house mysteries. 

1925. The fashionable Bright Young Things from London have descended on Wychbourne Court, the Kentish stately home of Lord and Lady Ansley, for an extravagant fancy dress ball followed by a midnight Ghost Hunt – and Chef Nell Drury knows she’s in for a busy weekend. What she doesn’t expect to encounter is sudden, violent death. 

When a body is discovered in the minstrels’ gallery during the Ghost Hunt, Nell finds herself caught up in the police investigation which follows. As the darker side of the Roaring Twenties emerges and it becomes increasingly clear that at least one person present that night has a sinister secret to hide, Nell determines to unmask the killer among them. Could the Wychbourne Ghosts hold the key to the mystery?


 Dancing with Death by Amy Myers is due out May1, 2017 from Severn House.

Why am I waiting on this one? I have a fondness for mysteries that take place in the 1920s. This one sounds a little different from the ones I've been reading. 

What book are you waiting on this week? Share it or a link in the comments so we can check it out and maybe add it to our TBR lists. Thanks for coming by and Happy Reading!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden


Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Ambrosia of The Purplebooker.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
 Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
 BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title and author so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Vasya had been disappearing into the forest ever since she could walk. She would come back in time for dinner, as always bearing a handful of pine-nuts in apology, flushed and repentant, catlike on her small booted feet.
~ 7% on my Kindle

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden was published January 10, 2017 by Del Rey.

What's your teaser this week? Share it or a link in the comments. Are you enjoying your book? Let us know! Happy Reading!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Review: The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian

Parasomnias are a big part of the plot in The Sleepwalker. They are more than just sleepwalking, There are additional sleep problems like sleep sex, night terrors, and nightmares. Typically a person experiencing a parasomnia might be hard to wake and once awake they might not remember at all what happened while they were experiencing the episode.

Lianna's mother is a sleepwalker. One night while everyone is asleep, she leaves the house and disappears. It's presumed she was sleepwalking and something happened to her that prevented her coming home. Lianna experienced episodes of sleepwalking and night terrors when she was younger. Now she is worried a little about what might happen to her and her sister if they experience the same sort of behaviors.

During a massive search for her mother, Lianna meets a detective with the State Police who was also a friend of her mother. Gavin and her mother had formed their own sort of mini support group since they had parasomnias in common. Lianna finds herself drawn to the detective. They begin a covert sort of dating relationship.

The Ahlberg family doesn't want to give up hope on finding Annalee, but the longer she is gone, the less likely it is they will recover her alive. This kind of tension in the family is hard on them all, but particularly it would seem on Paige, Lianna's younger sister.

The mystery continues for the rest of the book. There are red herrings and suppositions. As the book progresses, the speed of the action increases. By the time I reached the end I was reading as fast as I could. It was a real page turner.

Structurally, each chapter is introduced by what could be a journal entry by another voice. The rest of the book is pretty much written from Lianna's point of view. You wonder who it is that is saying the things in the beginning of the chapter about their experiences with parasomnias. As the mystery goes on, the things seem to take on more and more potential for revelation, but without an identity.

The writing is beautiful. The sentence structure is varied and words are well chosen.

Overall, I give t his book 5 out of 5 possible stars. It's a good mystery/thriller written beautifully. Lianna makes a great narrator. I liked the structure of the different voice at the beginning of each section. And I stayed up half the night to finish it risking a book hangover, but I had to know what was going to happen next. This is the first book I've read by this author. I will have to read more of his works,

If you enjoy books where you might learn a little (in this case about parasomnias)  and a  mystery that becomes a bit of a thriller then you should find this book enjoyable.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #171: Masked to Death by Christina Freeburn


"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event which has been hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine where we spotlight upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating.


Synopsis from Goodreads:

A Caribbean cruise is the perfect setting for a Roget wedding, and Faith meeting Ted’s family. She also hopes the vacation gets their stalled romance moving, but it doesn’t take long for that dream to capsize. Ted’s daughter hates her. The ex-wife is adored. Odessa Roget is surly. And the banned father of a groom, John Roget, requests Faith’s assistance in bringing down a jewel theft ring masterminded by his ex-wife. 

Having had a man she loved accuse her of a crime, Faith won’t let Odessa travel down the same path and agrees to help. Faith sets her course on uncovering the true criminals—which might be a groom’s best friend. The romantic week turns disastrous as a wedding is interrupted, suspicious deaths point to murders, and Ted’s daughter schemes to reunite her parents. Instead of diamonds being a girl’s best friend, Faith finds they’re cruising toward Davy Jones’ Locker. 


Why am I waiting on this one? It's a humorous cozy. It's put out by Henery Press - part of their "if you like one, you'll probably like them all" humorous mystery series. Even though I haven't read this author before, I look forward to the enjoyable, light reading of a good cozy. It's due out on January 24, 2017. This is number 5 in the Faith Hunter Scrap This mystery series.

What book are you waiting on this week? Share it or a link in the comments so we can check it out and maybe add it to our TBR lists. Thanks for coming by and Happy Reading!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian


Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Ambrosia of The Purplebooker.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
 Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
 BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title and author so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
And so when the state police from the New Haven barracks were interviewing Paige and me later that morning while they waited for my father to fly home from Iowa City, they probed the possibility that our mother had run off or was having an affair. (location 409)
.........................................................................
It was infuriating and I felt my family was being violated. I understood why they had to ask, but that did not make this line of investigation seem any less absurd or, on some level I could not quite parse at the time degrading. (location 413)
Lianna and Paige are speaking to the state police because their mother has gone missing presumably during a bout of sleepwalking.
I'm not that far into the book yet, but I'm enjoying it. While these two sentences are very long, in general, the sentence length is varied.
The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian is due out January 10, 2017 from Doubleday Books.
What's your teaser this week? Share it or a link in the comments. Are you enjoying your book? Let us know! Happy Reading!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Review: I Hate Everyone, Except You by Clinton Kelly

I Hate Everyone, Except You by Clinton Kelly is a book of autobiographical essays. I didn't know much about him before reading the book. I enjoyed getting to know more about him through the essays.

One of the things we learn about Clinton through his writing is that he isn't afraid to use profanity. And it seems no topic is off limits. This is a book for adults.

The book opens with an essay about his strong desire to go to a water park at 13 and ends with one where he is giving the commencement address for a high school graduation.  So, he sort of seems to come full circle. The path to getting there is circuitous and includes essays from many different events and time periods in his life.

I love the confidence he shows in his writing and hope it truly carries over into his life. It was interesting reading how he got into fashion writing, and about how he got his job on What Not to Wear, and how he met his husband among other things. Besides being informative, most of the essays are humorous. There were several times I laughed out loud.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It's an entertaining batch of autobiographical essays definitely written for an adult audience. I Hate Everyone, Except You is due out January 10, 2017 from Gallery Books.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.