Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Book Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

Goodreads Summary:

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingalecontinues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.


***Thank you Random House for the advance reading copy, in exchange for an honest review!

My Thoughts:

Vasya is that wild thing, untamed, unashamed, brave and bold, that lives inside all of us. In a time when women were expected to stay at home and be a good wife or join a convent, Vasya refused. Knowing her spirit would never allow her to stay hemmed in by four walls, she went her own way, secreting herself as a boy and riding around the countryside, exploring the world as a traveler, living in the wild, all from the back of her magical horse and companion, Solovey.  When circumstances bring her to Moscow, to the company of no less than the Grand Prince of Moscow himself, her spirit remains undaunted, allowing for daring feats and challenges, that could ruin her if she is found to be a woman instead of the boy she masquerades as.  

I loved everything about this book. Its majesty, the atmosphere, the descriptions that drop you directly into the pages and the place. The characters themselves, most especially Vasya herself. She retains her wild nature, and almost seems to embody the spirit of Russia itself. This is a more mature Vasya, yet one still  in tune with natural world and all its otherworldly beings - including Morozko. And let's not forget Solovey, who has such a huge personality. I simply adored him!

 I didn't think it possible, but I loved this book even more than its predecessor, and I can't wait for the next book, The Witch!


Sunday, January 7, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?



It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

It is sooo cold, it hurts outside! And I know we don't even have the worst of it! It is supposed to warm up this week though, to 30 degrees so we are looking forward to the heat wave. :)

This cold has kept us indoors. We go where we need to, and that is all, for the most part. We did get a little cabin fever the other day, and ventured out for some coffee and pastries. It was nice to get out for a little while. Today, Billy and I went out without the boy for a bit, just to Panera where we nerded out with our planners. We talked about some of our goals for the year, for the family, for our home, for ourselves. I almost don't recommend that, it was slightly overwhelming - perhaps we are being too ambitious! Lol. We are pretty easy going and flexible though, so I know if we don't get to all these ideas we won't trip out, but at least we have an inkling of what we are hoping to do. 

Read Last Week:

  

Both of these books were excellent! The River at Night made me think of Deliverance. So crazy, and a really creepy read. But The Girl in the Tower was amazing. I absolutely loved it. I didn't want it to end. The Bear and the Nightingale was my first book of the year in 2017 - it seemed fitting to begin this year with its sequel. I highly recommend reading them both - and since this is listed as the Winterknight Trilogy, apparently a third book will be on its way soon. Review very soon- hopefully this week!

Reading This Week:


I am really looking forward to reading this third in the series!

Watching:

We finished up Longmire, which was bittersweet. I loved that dang show so much!! I can't believe it is all over. We are also watching The Ranch, and Home Town on HGTV. Not sure what is next up for us, as we are almost finished with both each of them. We did start watching Top Chef again, and we do have Riverdale and The Gifted (which my husband likes more than I do), but as for Netflix shows to binge watch, I am not sure what is up next for us. Maybe Godless, or our Outlander season 3 that we haven't watched yet.


How about you guys? How is the new year treating you?

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Sunday Post/It's Monday! What Are You Reading?



Check out the The Caffeinated Book Review for the Sunday Post
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Happy New Year's Eve! 

We spent the morning being lazy and cozy - listening to music, dancing with the boy, eating French toast and tater tots, with many cups of coffee as it is freezing outside! We followed that up with a short ride, where I saw many magical things. A swooping hawk, clouds edged in rainbows, and an 80 year old woman dressed in head to toe black leather, snow blowing her walk and driveway, with perfectly coiffed hair. We are home now, and I plan on spending a few hours cleaning, as is a New Year's Eve tradition for our family. We must start the new year with a clean house, actual cash in our pockets, and the first person into our home after midnight needs to be a dark haired man. Tomorrow we will honor my husband's traditions, and eat a Southern good luck dinner.

I haven't been great at posting lately, holidays and then that weird period between Christmas and New Years where you just flounder about I spent putting together and playing with toddler toys. Wyatt and I had a great time playing with his new stuff - and he also enjoyed playing in an empty Amazon box. Lol. 

I am not sure if I met my Goodreads challenge or not, as I was terrible at entering my reads this year! I am going to do better next year though. And finally, I posted my favorite reads of 2017! Did you read any of them? Like them, love them, hate them?

Read:



Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe was a fun read before the holiday season. It was easy and quick and fit into my schedule. It was lighthearted, which helped with stress. It was a perfect read!

There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather was an excellent read! I plan on reviewing it soon, as I had many thoughts.

The River at Night I am only halfway through but I am loving it. It is scary, tension filled, and I can't wait to see what happens next!

Reading Next:

I'm thinking I am going to start the year off with the sequel to The Bear and the Nightingale, The Girl in the Tower. My first book of the year last year was The Bear, so it would be neat to follow it up with the sequel this year. I'm a nerd, I know. 



Watching:

Longmire. We love this show so so much and I am sad that this is the last season. We are also watching The Ranch. We are all Western over here. We just finished up Mindhunter, which blew my mind it was so awesome. And scary! I need a season 2 right now!


Here's to a great 2018 everyone! Stay safe tonight, call a friend, call a cab, call an Uber, but don't drink and drive! :)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

My Favorite Reads of 2017


Wow, did this year fly by! It has been a whirlwind of moments, books, and what all have you. It was a year that I didn't buy ANY books for myself. In fact, I am getting rid of most of my collection - but that is a story for another post. 

I read so many good books this year - and also a few bummers! 

Here are my favorites of the year, in no particular order. Also, these are just my favorites that I read this year, but they may not have necessarily been published this year.

  










Honorable Mentions



Rekindled Love




How about you? Any standouts? Any royal stinkers?

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Sunday Post/ It's Monday! What Are You Reading?



Check out the The Caffeinated Book Review for the Sunday Post
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Hey all!! I am such a flibbertigibbet these days. I can't focus on one thing for too long, moving from one project to the next. It's even affected my reading! I'm behind on so many things, including reviews. Note to self - do not promise any book reviews for December next year! I need more hours in a day - or else I need to just stop sleeping until Christmas is over. 

We took boyo on a walk through the woods, pulling him on a little sled. It was so fun! We also took him to see Santa, where he did ok until they bopped him on the nose with a stuffed animal and he made a wicked little face. Lol. I can't help but wish that would have been his photo expression!


Christmas Eve is next week, I can't believe it! I probably won't be around until after the holiday, so I wish everyone who is celebrating a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate Hanukkah, and well wishes to everyone else as well! 

Read Last Week:


I managed to finish this short YA book. I wasn't too excited about it, but I kept reading it because the setting was so unique. The main character lived on a Christmas tree farm most of the year, but the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, she and her family lived in a trailer on a Christmas tree lot. It was pretty cool, and I learned some neat facts about trees. Lol.

Reading This Week:

I have a whole laundry list of books that I need to be reading, but I am sure I will read some other short, lighthearted read instead. 

Watching: 

Christmas movies, Riverdale, Top Chef, The Gifted, and Mindhunter. (scary but good, that one)

I pop on Youtube on our TV while I am cleaning, usually to play music, but lately I have been watching vloggers too. My son gets really excited whenever this vlogger named Zoella comes on. Lol. It's cute.





Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Sunday Post/It's Monday! What Are You Reading?



Check out the The Caffeinated Book Review for the Sunday Post
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Hey all! Snow! I love snow! I am sorry though if the snow caused any of you hardships. I'm kind of snow fan and I am slowly turning my son into one too. Lol. I showed him the snow falling out the window the other morning and he kept wanting to look at it all day. :) Although, it seems like the south got more snow than we did here in Michigan, at least my corner of Michigan.

Prayers for all those affected by the California wildfires. This year has been so bad for disasters. :(

Read Last Week:

  

This was a cute little read for the holidays! A shortie but goodie that brought a smile to my face. I also started rereading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - one of my favorites in the series! Isn't there just something about Christmas that makes you want to read HP again?  I guess it's all those Hogwarts Christmas'!

Reading This Week:

I am going to be reading a bunch of books at once for a bit, I think. I'm kind of a in a book grazing mode. Little bit of this one, little bit of that.

  


Poison - which I have started for NetGalley and I am really enjoying, but I keep letting my Kindle accidentally die!

The River at Night - for my online book club, Hike Like a Woman book club

and the aforementioned Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. 

Watching:

Christmas stuff, but none of my favorites really yet except Love, Actually. Those are coming up this week and next, all the way to Christmas. Any must watches for the season? I have to watch Emmett Otter's Jugband Christmas every year, Chevy Chase's Christmas Vacation, and The Muppet Christmas Carol. I think I am going to add in The Polar Express this year too - Wyatt will love it. I think we will also give him his first taste of hot cocoa too! Any suggestions or favorites for hot chocolate?

For television, we are watching The Gifted (not too bad!) and Riverdale. 

How about you guys? What's going on in your part of the world?





Thursday, December 7, 2017

Christmas Book Reviews: The Rancher's Christmas Song and Christmas in Icicle Falls

If you have visited my blog before, you might already know of my love for Christmas romances - especially those by RaeAnne Thayne. This one was no exception, as I thoroughly enjoyed reading about music teacher Ella and her adjustment to life out west. Ella may have spent most of her formative years in the city with her mother, yet her love of her dad's ranch didn't diminish, despite an accident as a child that left lingering scars. She has returned the ranch she once spent joyful summers riding horses to take care of her ailing father, and to confront a few demons as well - including two little twin imps from the ranch next door, whose father makes her weak in the knees. I loved the touching story of the twins love for the father, and what they do to make his Christmas special, along with the role that Ella plays. I love Beckett and his love for his high spirited but good hearted boys. And I love that Ella go to prove once and for all that she belongs to the ranching life, with her spirit, perseverance, and mettle. A heartwarming read for the season!  Thank you NetGalley for providing me with a free galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Reminiscent of the little Charlie Brown Christmas tree, Muriel Sterling, renowned in the town of Icicle Falls for her books, her family's candy factory that is central to the town, and for her parties, especially at Christmas, unboxes her tree to find that it is not what she expected - in fact, it's kind of ugly. After discovering that there is no other tree to be had, Muriel realizes her "ugly tree" just needs a little love and bam, it is no longer an ugly tree. She just had to see its potential. After telling her friends Sienna, Olivia, and Pat about her ugly tree, they realize they all have their own ugly trees in their lives, in the form of people who are hard to get along with for one reason or another. They resolve to conquer their own "ugly trees", see the potential, nurture it. I loved this concept, as well all have those people in our lives, who test us, just a little - or a lot! Sienna has her grouchy neighbor, who in turn has a good looking nephew, while Olivia is dealing with a new daughter-in-law she is skeptical of, while Pat puts up with the landlord to her bookstore. And Muriel - she has someone else that she is seeing the potential in, all of a sudden... I really enjoyed this book, once I got all the characters straight. I haven't read all the books in this series, so some of the back story was lost on me, but it didn't matter once I got into it. And once I got into it, I was hooked! I may even have to read the rest of the series! Thanks to NetGalley for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.