2017 Book #37 – The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

515qNGaUTcLTitle: The Bear and the Nightingale
Author: Katherine Arden
Date finished: 4/24/17
Genre: Fiction, fantasy, magical realism
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: Book #1 of trilogy
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

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.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Vasilisa Vladimirovich, a girl born with the second sight, whose mother dies right after childbirth. Her father, Pyotr, loved her mother, Marina, fiercely and was devastated when she died. And it made him angry that Marina knew this child would most likely kill her and she chose to have it anyways. Vasya is a sweet and generous child though, and it is almost impossible not to love her. As she grows she learns the ways of her land and learns from the different magical creatures that haunt the stables and the house. As she grows older though she is in danger from a shadow in the forest, and as the old ways are forgotten for fear of God, the whole village is in danger of the Bear devil in the forest.
Overall I really liked this book a lot. The Russian terms made the story a little harder to get into at first but once I was engaged with the story line I didn’t want to put it down. It was a beautifully woven fairy tale with just enough of the fantastical to make it feel perfectly magical. Vasya was fierce and brave, I loved her character. The plot line was thrilling and filled with danger and excitement. I’m excited to see where the story will take us in the next installment of the trilogy.

The bottom line: I loved this book. While it took a little time to get into the story, it turned out to be an utterly captivating story and I can’t wait to read more.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #3 – By Winter’s Light by Stephanie Laurens

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Title: By Winter’s Light
Author: Stephanie Laurens
Date finished: 1/14/15
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Mira
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Pages in book: 347
Stand alone or series: Series – Cynster family series Holiday special, 1st book in Cynster Next Generation series

Blurb from the cover:

It’s frosty December and six Cynster families come together at snowbound Casphairn Manor with members of their households to celebrate the season in true Cynster fashion—and where Cynsters gather, love is never far behind.
The festive occasion brings together Daniel Crosbie, tutor to Lucifer Cynster’s sons, and Claire Meadows, widow and governess to Gabriel Cynster’s daughter. Daniel and Claire have met before and the embers of an unexpected passion smolder between them.
However, Claire, once bitten, twice shy, believes a second marriage is not in her stars. Yet Daniel is determined. He’s seen the kind of love the Cynsters share, and Claire is the lady with whom he dreams of sharing his life. Assisted by a bevy of Cynsters—innate matchmakers every one—Daniel strives to persuade Claire that trusting him with her hand and her heart is her right path to happiness.
Claire is increasingly drawn to Daniel and despite her misgivings, their relationship deepens. But then catastrophe strikes, and by winter’s light, she learns that love—true love—is worth any risk, any price.

My rating: 3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will count towards my “Bookish Bingo” reading challenge, marking off the “2014 Release You Missed” square. I have read all the other books in the Cynster series up to this point (many for which a review is posted on my blog, see link above) and I am very much looking forward to reading Lucilla’s story (to be released February 24). By Winter’s Light is the 23rd (technically) book in this series, with a seemingly never-ending listing of possible novels to come in the future. Laurens is just about to begin writing about the “next generation” with Lucilla’s story, and since Lucilla is one of about 70 cousins and extended cousins, we could see another 69 books from this generation (Jeez Louise that’s a lot). Anyways, its hard to keep who’s who straight sometimes. Luckily, Laurens has developed an extensive family tree that can show you all the children in each family (scroll over the couples to see the children’s names) that can help us make sense of where we are in the Cynster world.
I have to be completely honest. I went into this book expecting not to like it. I read about the whole Cynster family thus far and I’ve been so excited to get into reading about the next generation that I couldn’t help but think, who cares about the damned tutors?? But Laurens managed to surprise me yet again but making this a fun and interesting read. I found myself becoming involved in Claire’s story and rooting for her to open herself up to love. I also loved the back and forth between all the different P(s)OV. It made the overall story very well rounded and fun to see from all sides. Lucilla and Thomas’s interactions make me that much more excited to read her story on Feb 24.

The bottom line:  I would recommend this book both as part of the series and also based on the merits of the book itself.

Author website
: http://www.stephanielaurens.com/
Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Winters-Light-Cynster-Stephanie-Laurens/dp/0778317471/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1421331366&sr=8-1