Saturday, March 23, 2019

Book Review: The Cold is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale

Title: The Cold is in Her Bones
Author: Peternelle van Arsdale
Publication Date: January 22, 2019
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pages: 288
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One girl must uncover secrets of the past to save her friend from a terrible curse in this dark and mesmerizing story of love, revenge, and redemption inspired by the myth of Medusa.

Milla knows two things to be true: Demons are real, and fear will keep her safe.

Milla's whole world is her family's farm. She is never allowed to travel to the village and her only friend is her beloved older brother, Niklas. When a bright-eyed girl named Iris comes to stay, Milla hopes her loneliness might finally be coming to an end. But Iris has a secret she's forbidden to share: The village is cursed by a demon who possesses girls at random, and the townspeople live in terror of who it will come for next.

Now, it seems, the demon has come for Iris. When Iris is captured and imprisoned with other possessed girls, Milla leaves home to rescue her and break the curse forever. Her only company on the journey is a terrible new secret of her own: Milla is changing, too, and may soon be a demon herself.

The Cold Is in Her Bones is a novel about the dark, reverberating power of pain, the yearning to be seen and understood, and the fragile optimism of love.

Last year I read The Beast is an Animal and found it to be an incredibly unique and refreshing take on YA fantasy retellings. It was a little bit weird and pretty dark and definitely should NOT be on a "romantic Beauty and the Beast retellings" display, although I saw it on far too many. When I saw that this author was writing a new book I knew that I had to get it!

This time around the story retold is Medusa, although I'll admit I didn't realize that until way too late in the book. Although there were snakes in Milla's hair in the book and on the cover, it never occurred to me that this was a retelling - it's just that unique. Milla is a girl who doesn't fit into the life laid out for her. Her family sees her as rebellious and odd and beg her to just fit into the mold to save herself from the curse that has plagued the nearby village, a curse that takes daughters and possesses them.

Milla is such a wonderful character! Although she did try very hard to stay within the boundaries set for her, she just couldn't be kept there and I loved her strength and resilience. Things are pushed over the edge when Iris comes to stay with Milla's neighbors and ends up being taken by the demon. Milla goes after her and the journey and revelations are dark and creepy and amazing.

The relationships in The Cold is in Her Bones were really well written, mostly friendships between girls and girls looking up to girls and girls saving girls! There aren't nearly enough really great female friendships in YA literature, at least not in fantasy, so I really appreciated this aspect. I also really loved the moral of the story! Again, not something super common (or at least not super blatant) in YA fantasy, but I enjoyed the way it was written. The Medusa character, Hulda, was fascinating and complex. Even the characters I hated were wonderful. I loved everything!

It's really hard for me to review this book because a lot of what makes it so great is the atmosphere created by Peternelle van Arsdale. She has a style of writing that makes you feel as if you've been placed right in the middle of a dangerous, dark folktale. I loved the feeling of this book and was eager to jump back into it every night that I was reading it. The story grabbed me from the very first line of the prologue and when it was over I didn't want to leave. I will admit that there were times when things just meandered along, but I felt that it added to the atmosphere so I didn't mind it.

The Cold is in Her Bones is a book for people who don't mind stories that are a little weird and dark (and especially for people who love them). Again, this author has given us a very unique and atmospheric retelling of a classic that I absolutely devoured. She has most definitely found her way onto my favorites shelf!


Friday, March 22, 2019

Books I WANT to read, but don’t want to READ book tag


HURRAY! A book tag! This tag was created by Jami Shelves and perfectly embodies my TBR, which is full of books that I think I would like to read but don't actually want to take the time to read... No one tagged me, but I thought it looked fun so here we are! The rules are simple! Just make sure to link back to the original tag creator and tag some people if you want to, or not.


A BOOK THAT YOU FEEL YOU NEED TO READ BECAUSE EVERYONE TALKS ABOUT IT


I am sure there are people gasping AT THIS VERY MOMENT. I haven't read this book and I haven't seen the movie. I don't enjoy 99.9% of YA contemporary and yet every time I tell people I haven't read this they tell me that I NEED to read it! It's still very tentatively on my list. I've been pressured into reading more than one YA contemporary. We'll see what happens. 


A BOOK THAT'S REALLY LONG


Seriously, what book needs to be over 800 pages? I OWN a copy of this book, but it's so freaking long! How am I supposed to commit to reading one 800 page book knowing that I could read two or three other books instead? But also it seems really interesting. Maybe I should commit to the audiobook?


A BOOK THAT YOU'VE OWNED/HAD ON YOUR TBR FOR TOO LONG


So this book has been on my TBR since the 90s and I've had a physical copy for years. At first I didn't read it because, you know, my mom said it was evil. Then I didn't read it because what if I hate it?? It's a classic and I HAVE to love it! I tried the audiobook, but it was weird. One of these days I'll actually take time to sit down and read this series. Probably.


A BOOK THAT IS REQUIRED READING
(eg, school text, popular classic – something you feel obligated to read)


Thank goodness my days of actual required reading are behind me, but of course EVERYONE and their mother (and grandmother) has read Pride and Prejudice. Everyone loves Mr. Darcy. I feel like I know Mr. Darcy personally based on everything I've been told about him, but I still don't know if I actually WANT to read this! I have such terrible luck with most classics.


A BOOK THAT INTIMIDATES YOU


I'm not sure why I'm so intimidated by this book and series. I definitely WANT to read it. For some reason, certain fantasy series really intimidate me and I talk myself out of starting them. How many books are in this one? Two or three? I should just set a date on my calendar and force myself to do it.


A BOOK THAT YOU THINK MIGHT BE SLOW


I think this because several people have told me. I know this fandom is huge and several of my friends love the series, but I'm so scared to start it! I can't stand slogging through books that drag and this story sounds so good that it seems easier not to risk it!


A BOOK YOU NEED TO BE IN THE RIGHT MOOD FOR


I saw the movie and I really do want to read the book! I just know that it's going to be really, really weird and I need to get into the right mood to dive into it. I desperately want to love the series as much as the film, but if I try to make myself read it without getting into that headspace, it won't end well.


A BOOK YOU'RE UNSURE IF YOU WILL LIKE


I recently read Warrior of the Wild and loved it! I still haven't read Daughter of the Pirate King though, because I'm scared I won't like it nearly as much. I'm not huge on pirate books (like at all), but I probably will read this at some point just based on how many good things I've heard and how much I enjoyed what I have read by her.



Yay, another book tag complete! I love these posts so much, I really wish I found amazing ones more often. I'm tagging NO ONE because you're all amazing independent people who can decide on your own whether you want to participate! Go forth and comment!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

ARC Review: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Title: Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1)
Author: Emily A. Duncan
Publication Date: April 2, 2019
Publisher: Wednesday Books

Pages: 400
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A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy..

Wicked Saints was by far my most anticipated debut of 2019! I was SO excited when I managed to get an early copy that I immediately dived in and was sucked right into the fast paced world. Of course, there wasn't even a synopsis for this book when I started reading it, I just knew that it sounded deliciously dark and a few people said I'd love it since I ship the Darkling and Alina. Well, now that it's over I have a lot of feelings, so buckle up.

Nadya is the MC of this story and she's a cleric and can speak to the gods. Unlike most clerics though, Nadya can speak to ALL of the gods. You might say she's not like other girls... The story begins with Nadya's monastery under attack by Prince Serefin, a blood mage from a neighboring country. She goes on the run and bumps into Malachiasz and his group of rebels. From there it's the Malachiasz show.

Malachiasz is the dark, mysterious monster boy who you've definitely heard about if you follow Emily A. Duncan on Twitter. He has secrets and is super dangerous, but of course Nadya chooses to trust him and he becomes her love interest. Despite what you might think there is no love triangle, at least not in this book. Malachiasz is the true main character of this book, with Nadya being relegated to his love interest. That isn't to say their romance isn't interesting because it is. It just wasn't what I'd hoped for. Instead of being strong and powerful, Nadya becomes pretty useless as long as she's around him. She was fine, he was fine. They just weren't as amazing as I wanted them to be.

The world of Wicked Saints has great potential and it's definitely heavy on the atmosphere, but I just wanted more. Even after reading the entire book I never felt like I was in a magic filled Russian-inspired world. I honestly couldn't tell you anything about this world other than there are some gods, some crumbling cathedrals, and snow. The magic system also had the potential to be amazing. I definitely found the blood magic to be an interesting take and I really liked the exploration between the ties between religion and Nadya's magic. I just wish it had all been a bit better explained.

The story, while fascinating, was very oddly paced. The beginning jumped right into the action, which I loved, and the ending was really fast-paced (to the point of being confusing), but the bulk of this book dragged. There were some twists and turns, but much of the plot is sacrificed to make way for the romantic subplot. One thing I did love about Wicked Saints were the darker elements of the story. Although Malachiasz is clearly modeled after a certain other popular dark character, I did enjoy the uniqueness the author brought to the story with his particular dark secret. Honestly, if I continue the series it will be for this alone.

But now let's dive into my real issue with this book. It has been described again and again as being similar to the Grisha Trilogy, but I would go a step further and call it Grisha-inspired. It almost reads like fanfiction by someone who wanted Alina and the Darkling to end up together and decided to write their own book to make it happen. But this is not the Darkling and Nadya is definitely not Alina (although there is a sun saint named Alena in Wicked Saints). It is so blatant that it was honestly difficult to read this without comparing the two.

I wanted to love this book SO MUCH! Going in I expected dark fantasy and it was, but there just wasn't enough there. Wicked Saints does have some unique elements that interested me, but I didn't like the way so much of the plot was pushed aside in favor of the forbidden romance. I might continue with book two just to see what happens with Malachiasz, but I really don't know at this point.


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #231: Spring TBR


Today's Topic: 
Books On My Spring 2019 TBR

Hi everyone! I guess it's that time of year again. These topics are always my favorite because they're SO easy! There are always a million books on my TBR, so it's not too terribly difficult to google the dates of Spring this year and pick out ten. Honestly, I probably won't get to all of these (I hardly ever actually stick to lists), but I'm definitely going to be reading at least a few. 



The Beholder by Anna Bright
Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen
The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman
Finale by Stephanie Garber
Romanov by Nadine Brandes



Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
Storm and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Teeth in the Mist by Dawn Kurtagich
We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Monday, March 18, 2019

A very spoilery King of Scars discussion


Happy Monday, book nerds! Today I want to do something a little different and discuss a book I've already reviewed. Why, you ask? Well, because the initial shock of the ending has worn off a bit and I've been thinking more and more about this book and whether I love it as much as I thought I did.

I can say straight away that the ending of King of Scars took it up at least one full star. Before that I was thinking it would possibly be a solid four star read, then THAT ENDING happened and I was so excited about it that I immediately changed it to five. If you've already read this book or don't mind spoilers, keep reading. Otherwise, turn back now! There will be spoilers for the Grisha Trilogy, the Six of Crows Duology, and King of Scars!


You are very welcome for Tom Hiddleston's lovely face.

Okay, so. Let's talk. I have a lot of feelings that I didn't mention in my initial review because, like I said, the hype was so real over the ending. Here goes nothing.



THE NINA CHAPTERS

First thing's first. It seems like EVERYONE has an opinion on Nina being included in this book. In my review I said that I would've been happy without them, but they were fine. Now that I'm thinking about it more, I'm really not sure what the point of including them was other than to bring in the Six of Crows audience. There does seem to be something of a tie to Nikolai because she's working for him somehow, but it seemed like such a convoluted way to bring her into Nikolai's story. The more I've thought on this, the more I'm convinced that Nikolai, Sturmhond, our favorite privateer prince deserved better than to split his book with another character from another series and I am no longer okay with it. I don't hate Nina, but I wish she'd been given her own book or maybe been mentioned briefly instead of taking up half the book.


THE ROMANCE (?) 

Where even was it? I've seen people talking about Nikolai and Zoya and what a great couple they are, but like. What? We've made it through a 528 page book and we have to wait even LONGER for our dear, beloved Nikolai to get a romantic arc? It's obvious that's where it's heading, but I really wish there'd been a bit more of it here. To be completely honest, though, I would have preferred a romantic storyline with a completely new character instead of Zoya. It's nothing personal against Zoya, I just feel like something new might have been more exciting.


DARKLING PSA

This and the last point are what really sparked this post. I'm starting to feel like half the point of this book was to drive home that the Darkling was Bad with a capital B. In Shadow and Bone Leigh Bardugo wrote a wonderfully complex character who was sympathetic and mysterious and easy to love in the way one loves a tortured villain. People shipped him and Alina HARD and a lot of us were pretty upset about how her romance ended up. Of course we all know that the Darkling was a villain. Obviously. But we love him and, I don't know, maybe she wasn't expecting that? It's really confusing to me that after spending the original trilogy making so many people love him, she spent this entire book driving home that we should hate him. I don't like it. :/


THE TIMELINE 

Maybe it's because these books were written so far apart, but I had a HARD time figuring out where exactly we were this story happened on the timeline. I had the same issue with Six of Crows. It feels like a completely different world than the Grisha Trilogy and I had a really difficult time believing it was supposed to take place very shortly after. Then we start this book and Matthias has only JUST died? But Alina is basically a fairytale and everyone acts like she never existed. But it was just a few years ago that she saved everyone?? I'm so confused. After some digging I think this story happens maybe three years after the trilogy, but honestly, I don't know.


THE JOURNEY

Hm. So the other half of King of Scars, apart from Nina and her adventures, consists of Nikolai and Zoya on a journey with a Darkling cult member to rid Nikolai of his monster, which has been gaining strength. It is an interesting enough plot, for sure, but it gets a little weird. Saints exist in the trilogy, but here they end up in an in between world and do a Karate Kid training montage with some saints so that Nikolai can summon the monster and kill it. Like I said, it was interesting, but bizarre, and also seemed to take quite a long time but also not realistically long enough. Am I making sense?? Like, in pages I wish it hadn't taken so long, but in book time it seemed kind of off in the timeline (again).


THE ENDING

Okay, this ties into the Darkling PSA throughout the book and I have a lot of feelings. On the one hand, I was SO EXCITED that the Darkling was back! YES! This is what I was hoping would happen when the book was announced! But. BUT. What is the point of his return? It's very, very unlikely that my sweet Darkling is going to get a redemption arc and Leigh just spent 500+ pages reminding us what a terrible, awful, despicable villain he is, just to bring him back. Is the entire point of this series for the Darkling to come back, be even more evil to remind us how EVIL he is, then die again? Like? Why though?


In conclusion, I don't know how to feel about this book now that I've thought about it at length. What was the whole point of it in the end? I'm just... a little sad to realize that this really wasn't a five star read for me. I'd love to hear your thoughts on all of this! Please share what you think in the comments!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Weekly Recap: 3/10 - 3/16


HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi everyone! This week has been incredibly busy and has made for a slow blogging week. My baby puppy is still doing well (hurray!) but my old girl has been sick for the past couple days, so I have been very occupied with her. She may or may not be making a trip to the vet on Monday. In bookish news, I read House of Salt and Sorrows. Guys. READ IT if you have a copy and preorder if you don't! I'm also taking a break from Crossroads of Twilight to read Ash Princess because, well, the former is MASSIVE and well known to be the worst in the series. If I can just make it through, I know the rest of the series will be worth it! I am currently very into weird, dark fantasy and retellings so please, PLEASE drop your recs in the comments!


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

Nothing new this week!


THIS WEEK I READ



IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

The topic was standalones that need sequels for Top Ten Tuesday
On Wednesday I talked about my Caraval/Legendary reread
Friday audiobook review of Fangirl


UPCOMING REVIEWS

 


I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!