The Friday 56: An Enchantment of Ravens

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“Dazzled by the moon shining directly into my eyes, I found myself marching after him across the yard toward the shoulder-high wheat. My legs moved in fits and jerks, like a marionette’s legs controlled by a puppeteer.

Margaret Rogerson’s An Enchantment of Ravens was a beautiful fantasy that I’m really surprised hasn’t gotten better reception. I ended up falling in love with the setting and Rogerson’s writing and am really looking forward for more projects by her. You can read my mini-review here. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.
      Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.
      Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Have Been On My TBR the Longest and I Still Haven’t Read

Top Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. and is currently being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is “Books That Have Been On My TBR the Longest and I Still Haven’t Read.” I went through my Goodreads To-Read shelf last year and deleted a ton of TBR books because I knew I would probably never get to them. That being said, I still have quite a few books on my TBR from a few years back that I haven’t read yet. A lot of these are books I own, so I really have no excuse for not getting to them. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

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1. The Dark Mirror by Juliet Marillier – I have a goal to read all of Juliet Marillier’s books, but I am kind of failing at said goal. I’ve had this particular book since before I started blogging and haven’t even cracked it open.

2. The Splendor Fall by Rosemary Clement-Moore – Pretty sure I’ve had this one on my October TBR for several years now and haven’t touched it. It actually might be time to accept I won’t read it.

3. Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta – I always meant to finish this series, but kept putting off a reread of the first. I might actually get to that this year.

4. A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron – I have both loved and been disappointed with a book by this author since I read the first book in this duology. Finishing said duology, if I’m honest, will probably not happen.

5. The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen – I really enjoyed the first two books of this one and yet I’ve been sitting on the conclusion for years. I need to just suck it up and dive in.

6. The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas – I think I’ve had this since the movie came out. I have a feeling I’m going to have to be really in a Veronica Mars mindset before I read this…or listen to it. I’ve heard the audio is amazing.

7. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez – I really want to get to this classic this year. I started it years ago, but never finished. Hoping this year’s effort is a success.

8. Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover – I’ve had this one on my tablet for years and have been recommended it over and over again. And still, it sits there waiting.

9. Rebel by Amy Tintera – Why haven’t I read this? A couple of weeks ago we did a TTT list of books we couldn’t remember. I don’t remember much about the first book, which explains why I haven’t picked up this one.

10. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss – So many people love this book, but so many people aren’t so emphatic about it. As a result, I have never felt the pressing need to pick it up. The length isn’t a great selling point either.

Do you recommend any of these? Any books you’ve put off for years that you’re determined to get to this year? Leave me a link to your own TTT post in the comments, so I can visit.

ARC Review: By a Charm and a Curse by Jaime Questell

Title: By a Charm and a Curse
Author: Jaime Questell
Series: N/A
Pages: 300
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Release Date: February 1st 2018
*I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley, which does not influence my review*

      “Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic isn’t like other traveling circuses. It’s bound by a charm, held together by a centuries-old curse, that protects its members from ever growing older or getting hurt. Emmaline King is drawn to the circus like a moth to a flame…and unwittingly recruited into its folds by a mysterious teen boy whose kiss is as cold as ice.
      Forced to travel through Texas as the new Girl in the Box, Emmaline is completely trapped. Breaking the curse seems like her only chance at freedom, but with no curse, there’s no charm, either—dooming everyone who calls the Carnival Fantastic home. Including the boy she’s afraid she’s falling for.
      Everything—including his life—could end with just one kiss.

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One of the most appealing aspects of Jaime Questell’s By a Charm and a Curse is its carnival setting, but I could not help but want more from this backdrop. Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic is supposed to be a place where Emma gets a chance to forget all her problems for one night. No thinking about her mother, who is a world a way on a research project, or the fact that since she moved back with her dad, the easy friendship she had with her childhood best friend Juliet, can sometimes feel forced. When Emma is tricked and forced to bear a curse that links her to the carnival and its troupe, her problems go from bad to worse. The curse alters her entirely. An unshakable coldness settles into her bones, making all previous human sensations a distance memory. In exchange for Emma’s involuntary sacrifice, those who work for the carnival are protected with a charm that prevents injury or illness. But Emma is desperate to reclaim her freedom, but in so doing, she may have to ensnare someone else.

The curse and charm aspect of the novel created an interesting predicament for the protagonist. Not being able to leave the carnival and unable to feel like she can function normally, Emma is trapped in a strange place with no one to turn to. Her only out is to find someone else to take on the curse, but that would require her to condemn an innocent person. This novel had the potential to be darker than it was and it is the possibility of a darker character arc for the protagonist that had me wanting more. Emma is a really naive character in the beginning of the novel and accepts her role as the “Girl in the Box” a little too quickly. I really wanted to explore how this loss of agency over her own life alters her as a person, but the author never delves this deep.

The novel features a dual perspective; the second of which belongs to Benjamin. As a roustabout, Benjamin is not a performer himself, but someone who works behind the scenes. He often feels like an outsider himself. His mother is a really strong influence in his life, though not always in a good way. She’s determined to protect him, but her need to shield him from life’s woes is stifling. Ben longs to leave the carnival, to stay in one place for once and make himself a home. As a character, Ben felt more developed than Emma and a lot of this had to do with his relationship to the carnival folk. We never get to see Emma with her family and only briefly see her interacting with her best friend. With Ben, we get to know him through his interactions with his mother especially. There’s a power struggle between the two that ends up revealing a really interesting backstory for his mother. As much as Ben feels like the carnival isn’t his home, there are many members of the troupe that he has a close relationship with. I enjoyed a lot of scenes with sisters Whiskey and Gin especially.

By a Charm and a Curse lacks the kind of magic I was hoping for in a carnival setting, left something to be desired when it came to darker elements, but showed promise when it came to its characters.

3/5

★★★

The Friday 56: Daughter of the Pirate King

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“Even a man who’s spent his whole life at sea has reason to fear her when she’s angry.

But not I. I sleep soundly. Listening to her music. The sea watches over me.”

Tricia Levenseller’s Daughter of the Pirate King is perfect for those looking for a lighter fantasy with plenty of romantic tension. This one definitely has its flaws, but it was still a treat to read. You can read my review here. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.
      More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

Monthly Wrap-Up: January ’18

MonthlyWrap-UPJanuary went by so quick. I felt so sluggish at the beginning of the month, but finally feel like I’ve gotten back into the swing of things. I actually found time to blog hop before the month was out. Can you believe it? This month I read five books. My goal this year is to actually spend more time reading books and as a result, I will be reading less. I’m still working on those DIY bookmarks I promised I’d have a giveaway for. I’m almost done, so look for a giveaway to come your way late February, early March. Ish.

(Book covers below are linked to my reviews, unless otherwise specified.) 

Favorite Book This Month:

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s The Beautiful Ones was my favorite read in January. It was my first five-star read of the year and I fell in love immediately with it. Cover is linked to Goodreads. Gushing review coming soon.

Least Favorite Book This Month:

No read this month received less than three stars from me.

Reviews Posted This Month:

Read, Review Coming Soon:

(covers linked to Goodreads)

Notable Blog Posts This Month:

2017 Fourth Quarter Book Haul: No Self-Control – I bought far too many books toward the end of the year and as a result, I’m going to try really hard not buy too many books this year. Yeah, I’m laughing at me too.

Kernels of Nonsense: Why I’m Reading Less in 2018 – A more in depth look at why I’m planning to read less this year.

Reading Challenges:

Aside from the Goodreads challenge, I’m only participating in one reading challenge.

1. The 2018 Debut Author Challenge is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This month I read one debut book: By a Charm and a Curse by Jaime Questell.

  • Challenge Goal: 12 books; Current Count: 1 book

February Releases I’m Excited For:

Month in Review

How is your 2018 going so far? Have you read a five-star read yet? Let me know in the comments and feel free to leave me a link to your own wrap-up post and I’ll be sure to visit.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Title: The Bear and the Nightingale
Author: Katherine Arden
Series: Winternight Trilogy, #1
Pages: 346
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Release Date: January 10th 2017

      “At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind–she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
      After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.
      And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
      As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed–this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

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“The moon was little thicker than a crescent, the light a glitter of blue. Vasya ran, with a panic she could not understand. The life she had led made her strong. She bolted and let the cool wind wash the taste of fear from her mouth.”

Katherine Arden captivates with her storytelling in her debut fantasy The Bear and the Nightingale. Vasya grows up in a family that belongs to two worlds. In a time where devotion to the old gods is dying, Vasya must hide her ability to see the old ones, but her gift may be what saves her as a darkness slowly descends upon the land. Her new stepmother and a recently arrived priest believe these creatures to be demons and are determined to rid the people of their devotion to said gods, but in so doing, they will put everyone in danger. As Vasya grows older, it becomes clear that her journey will bring her closer to Morozko, a demon of winter, but whether he offers help or death is uncertain.

Arden’s novel may be slow-paced for some, but for those who enjoy the journey of a tale and love an intricately woven story, The Bear and the Nighingale unfolds delicately and rewardingly. The novels opens before Vasya is even born where characters like her mother, whom she never gets to know, remain important players in a larger story. With eloquent descriptions that bring the bitter cold of Vasya’s world to life, allow the magic of old to seep through its pages, and takes the reader on an epic journey, Arden’s writing is an utter delight.

I loved how we as readers get to see Vasya grow up. As the world around her is concerned with more dire matters, Vasya grows up wanting to be a part of her older siblings’ lives but is always being told she is too young. Even as a child, she is willful and astute, her eagerness and unabashed openness is sometimes regarded with offense. Her stepmother regards her with barely contained scorn. Her potential beaus are shaken by her audacity and strength. The pious priest Konstantin, takes every opportunity to remind Vasya that she must turn to God and forsake old beliefs. Vasya, despite the disapproval of those around her, remains a strong and able heroine. Brave and selfless, Vasya is a character who is hard to forget and one worthy of admiration.

The Bear and the Nightingale is a wondrous tale of one girl’s strength in the midst of a cruel world and the power of sacrifice. Vasya is a protagonist who is easy to love and with every step she takes, you as a reader feel like you are taking it with her. Characters like the enigmatic Morozko are both dangerous and magnetic, making you want more. With this debut, Arden has secured herself as an author to pay attention to.

4/5

★★★★