The Girl in the Tower (Winternight Trilogy 2) by Katherine Arden

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues 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.

Finally got to read my ARC from NYCC 2017!!

At a Deleted Scenes panel I went to where Arden was one of the speakers she said that she ended up rewriting The Girl In the Tower twice! The version of The Bear and the Nightingale that was published was only half of her original story, but when she went back to the second half it just wasn’t working anymore. So she scrapped the whole thing and started over for the sequel.

I am still curious what the first draft was like.

I was a bit of a mess when reading this sequel. I started it, got nearly half way through when life got in the way and I was too exhausted to read. Then I went away on a vacation and I never read on a vacation because I am too busy touring. Then I picked up where I left off after I got settled into my regular routine. So I feel a bit disjointed as I try to write this review.

I liked it, though not as much as The Bear and the Nightingale. Maybe I’ll feel differently when I reread it. When the third book comes out I’ll listen to the first two on Audible. I already have TBatN in my library.

I really liked the early scenes with Vasya and Morozko I liked their dynamic and I was happy that my questions from the first book about Morozko and the necklace were answered.

I liked Vasya’s rebellion against a patriarchal society and her fight for freedom in medieval Russia. Though sometimes I shook my head at her when she was risking her disguise with silly wagers and races. Girl, you are playing with fire! Figuratively and literally!

Speaking of medieval Russia, Arden really makes the setting feel just right for this fairy tale. I don’t know much about historical accuracy, though she did as much research as she could for a “poorly documented era” (her words). It just really felt like you were there. I also enjoyed the political games and deceptions being played. That added a frustratingly suspenseful dynamic.

One downside of the story is that I did predict who the ghost really was, though I didn’t guess the twist. It does make me want a prequel novel though because what a tragic love story that is!

There isn’t much of a cliffhanger since the villain was disposed of but I do like Vasya’s niece and I want to see where her magic takes her. I also still just really like the way the relationships are written, especially between Vasya and  Sasha, and Vasya and her horse. And of course we can’t see the last of Morozko.

3.5 out of 5 Chyerti

Some of my favorite poetic quotes: I know they say to check the finished work but I am too lazy and I like the way it was written in the ARC:

Page 67: “The more one knows, the sooner one grows old.”
Page 87: “I carve things of wood because things made by effort are more real than things made by wishing.”
Page 189″ The first stars had kindled in a sky gone royally violet, and the moon heaved a faint silver curve over the ragged line of palaces.”
Page 235: “Every time you take one path, you must live with the memory the other: of a life left unchosen.”

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Top Ten Tuesday: May 1: Books I’d Slay a Lion to Get Early

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Updates are now at That Artsy Reader Girl.

May 1: Books I’d Slay a Lion to Get Early.

1) Dark Age (Red Rising Saga 5) by Pierce Brown
Expected publication: September 11th 2018

2) Time’s Convert (All Souls Universe 1) by Deborah Harkness
Expected publication: September 25th 2018

3) Serpents Mirror by Deborah Harkness
Expected publication: ???
Still just a partial manuscript.

4) Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak
Expected publication: October 9th 2018

5) The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy 3) by Katherine Arden
Expected publication: August 14th 2018

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, Narrated by B.J. Harrison

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Revenge at all cost!

A young sailor returns home from a dangerous voyage. His father and his sweetheart are waiting for him. But an act of jealous treachery changes his life forever!

An unexpected meeting changes everything and the man who was once an unknown sailor emerges as The Count of Monte Cristo, mysterious, rich, and powerful enough to take the ultimate revenge against his enemies.

I love, love, love this classic novel. Definitely one of my all time favorites. The complexity of it is just brilliant. It’s not just a revenge story (though the revenge is juicy and deserved!) but also a story of hope and forgiveness.

I began listening in the fall of 2017, but I didn’t like the narrator’s voice and couldn’t get past the first chapter. Then I found B.J. Harrison. He narrates a few of Poe’s short stories I love and his voice work is amazing. When I saw he narrated TCoMC I started listening to his rendition.

For two days in December I listened to 14 chapters. Then I took a break to do a re-listen of the Red Rising books before Iron Goldcame out. Fast forward to mid-February I went back to TCoMC and spent the next couple of months only listening to it. The audiobook is 52 hours long (117 chapters). To clear things up in the beginning (February- March) I wasn’t listening everyday. I was doing like only 5 hours a week. The past few weeks of April I have been listening 1.5 – 2 hours daily.

The length of the novel can be intimidating but it is so engaging, and the prose is so poetic. I book marked a lot of sections. I’ll have to share a few of my favorite quotes.

There are so many details between the events and the characters’ connections. There is just so much planning involved that
A) I would have loved to see the outlines that Dumas made and B) I don’t know how anyone can read an abridged version. So many little details from early in the story come back later. You may think something is insignificant, but it’s not. Every subplot has a purpose.

I kept a list of the characters nearby and would refer to it in the beginning to keep them straight, but as time went on I didn’t need it.

I love the evolution of Edmund’s character from innocent and naive to worldly, educated and cunning. I don’t know how Edmund juggled all those identities and stories. (My friend who listened to it right before I did called Edmund the first Batman. I’ll say! She also listens all day long and finished in about a week or so. Damn!)

I loved the way Harrison changed his voice for Edmund. When he was young and naive it was a bit higher and faster. When he became the Count it was deeper and more articulate.

Harrison is a wonderful narrator. His pacing is just right and he does a great range of voices so you know which character is speaking. I love the way he pronounced the name Mercédès. Actually, if it weren’t for the audiobook and hearing all these French names and words pronounced correctly I would be saying them in my head the incorrect American way.

I also loved the way Harrison said “Yes” for Monsieur Noirtier de Villefort (he is paralysed and only able to communicate with his eyes, but retains his mental faculties). His “Yes” is very long and deep.

I could go more into all the characters and their fates but that would turn into a whole essay. (So maybe another post someday.) I’m really glad that I persisted because now I am proud to say I read The Count of Monte Cristo.

5 out of 5 Millions in Diamonds.

FAVOTRIE quotes:

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 & 2 Broadway review – no spoilers

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I saw the play, still in previews, on April 5th and 6th, in the evening. The Showbills have the same content inside, just different covers. I guess for the guests not seeing the shows back to back. The pins they gave out at the end of the night. They almost ran out on the second night. And I bought the pen and the bookmark as a souvenirs.

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I was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed this production. I went in with such low expectations because I had read some things online about the story. Well you can’t always believe what you read because the story was different than what I expected. While I had a couple of issues with the plot because it felt a bit fan fiction-y, Cursed Child still remained true to the characters and did not demean their core values or their journey, actions and sacrifices from the first 7 books.

Also, it was so funny. I, and the audience, laughed a lot. I missed some of the lines because of the laughter and will have to read the script sometime to see what lines I missed. I didn’t expect it to be so funny. The actors had great comedic timing.
Speaking of such, the performances in general, even when the material was dark and serious they were fantastic.

I will say that the play being broken up in two nights, each two and half hours, is a bit long. I think some scenes could have been cut down or cut out.

I will make a separate detailed post about the things I liked and my critiques to discuss with those who have seen it.

I will end on a high note. The special effects were PURE MAGIC! Jaw dropping fantastic! I won’t say more in this review. Go see it, then go read my other post so we can discuss.

Some more photos: Expecto Patronum!

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Top Ten Tuesday: April 10: Books I Loved but Will Never Re-Read

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Updates are now at That Artsy Reader Girl.

April 10: Books I Loved but Will Never Re-Read (submitted by Brandyn @ Goingforgoldilocks)

There are many, many books I love that I will only read once because there is just so many books to read and I can’t devote the time to reread everything I love. I’m keeping this list short to just highlight a few that really stood out to me.

1) Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy.
It’s so beautifully written but so, so, so sad. It’s a difficult read because of everything Tess endures.

2) Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer.
I like the movies a bit more than the books. So, I can just pop the DVD in when I am in the mood.

3) We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.
Such a good story and I like the way it is told in letters. But the prose takes some getting used to and it is a story that gives you a book hangover.

4) The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.
I am currently listening to the unabridged audiobook. I love it, however, it is 52 hours long. I am about three quarters finished and have been listening since mid-February. Considering how long it takes to get through I am only doing this once. I did bookmark my favorite moments and the important plot points though if I ever want to skip to a certain part.

5) The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins.
I have already done a reread when the movies were coming out. If I am in the mood to revisit the story, I’ll just watch the movies. They’re close enough adaptations that can scratch the itch.

Top Ten Tuesday: April 3: Characters I liked That Were In Non-Favorite/Disliked Books

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Updates are now at That Artsy Reader Girl.

April 3: Characters I liked That Were In Non-Favorite/Disliked Books

I have been racking my brain for weeks on this topic and still only came up with two characters so this will be a short list.

1) Indigo in Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige.
I first heard about Dorothy Must Die at NY Comic-Con 2013. Usually it is not something I would read. Yes, I did read and loved Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, by Gregory Maguire, but that was fan fiction backstory for the witch. Dorothy Must Die is not backstory, it is Dorothy coming back and becoming evil. However, I picked up a Comic-Con exclusive prepublication excerpt because it was free and I’ll grab anything that is a free sampler at Comic-Con.

When I read the first four chapters of the excerpt I liked it enough to put it on my to-read list. The character of Indigo was really the one who drew me in. I liked her sass. However, she is not in story much. The rest of the book is not that great and I never cared to continue with the rest of the series.

2) Rumplestilskin in Beheld (Kendra Chronicles 4) by Alex Flinn.
This book is a series of four different fairytale retellings. The book as a whole is so disappointing. I go more into it here.

Rumpelstiltskin was actually my favorite retelling. It featured the most magic, on Rum’s part, spinning the straw into gold. That was the most endearing part; when Rum and Cornelia are getting to know each other and are falling in love. There’s a good twist to this character.