Friday, December 15, 2017

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

Series: Winternight Trilogy #2
363 p.
Publisher: Del Rey
Published: 12/5/17
Source: NetGalley and Publisher for review
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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.
My thoughts:

I was surprised by the first book, The Bear and the Nightingale (my review linked) and eagerly awaited this book. I have to admit that, at first I was thinking this book might suffer from second book syndrome as Vasya kept making bad choices. She is learning something totally new so that is expected, but sometimes frustrating for the reader. Still, as things moved on and I became more curious. Once she became reunited with 2 of her older siblings I was totally invested.

This story is a retelling of Russian myth (actually several), we do get a tale that feels familiar in the embodiment of death who falls for a mortal the consequences. It is also a tale of a strong girl who learned what she didn't want out of life in the first book and what she was willing to do to avoid the consequences of her decision. While we are still dealing with the echoes of that important choice she now finds she must decide on what she wants and if she is willing to fight for it. In other words she doesn't just need to know what she is moving away from but what she needs to move toward. She finds her voice and her strength from within and every bit is needed to not just survive a cunning villain but also those that felt betrayed by her choices who also, in turn, betrayed and loved her.

I give this book 4 1/2 stars. If you haven't tried this series, I think you should! I really enjoy all the characters especially Vasya, Morozkzo (who will break your heart), and Slovey (her horse! I love that horse!). I also would start with the first book. While this trilogy hasn't ended, this one did not end on a cliffy, but questions linger and you are pulled into wanting the next book now. You could wait for the last book to appear, but seriously, I would just start enjoying it now.


Friday, December 8, 2017

Spartan Heart by Jennifer Estep

Series: Mythos Academy: Colorado #1
Spin-off from: Mythos Academy Series
279 p.
Publisher: Indie
Published: 11/5/17
Source: From Author for review
Amazon Affiliate link
New school year, same old problems . . .

At Mythos Academy, everyone knows exactly who I am: Rory Forseti, Spartan girl and the daughter of Reapers.

Even though I fought alongside my cousin Gwen Frost to save the mythological world from Loki and his evil Reapers of Chaos, I’m still the most hated girl at the academy because of all the horrible things my parents did. I had hoped that this school year would be different, but the other kids just won’t let me forget about my parents.

But something strange is going on at the Colorado Academy. First, I run into a Viking guy who dislikes me more than most. Then I notice some odd artifacts in the Library of Antiquities. And worst of all, I start hearing rumors about a new group of Reapers who can summon mythological monsters.

I might be the most hated girl at Mythos Academy, but I’m also the only one who can save it . . .
My thoughts:

This is the first book in the spin-off series of the Mythos Academy books with Gwen Frost as the heroine. In this book, Rory Forseti, Gwen's cousin who we briefly met, is the heroine in this series set in Colorado. Since I'm a fan of Jennifer Estep's writing and also a fan of anything set in CO I knew this was a total win for me. I was correct. I enjoyed my time at the CO Mythos Academy. For those that have not read the main series, I do suggest it, but I think you could read this book first. I still think that you would feel as if you are missing something and you would be right. I really loved that first series and I do think you will as well.

If you are familiar with this world you will be easily transported there in this book. It does have the same feel as the other series and the same kind of adventure. We get a more seasoned warrior in this book but she also is inexperienced in life having just felt betrayal from people she would never expect. Recovering from that, bearing the bullying at school and tempted with a choice on almost every level we find ourselves engaged with Rory and rooting for her from the beginning. We are also introduced to a new talking sword. As much as I did like Babs, she hasn't quite stolen the spotlight from Vic just yet. However, the griffins have totally stolen my heart.

Btw, can I have a griffin? Would go great with the Fenrir wolf I want as well (you'll get those references if you read the books in this world!).

I give this story 4 stars. It is a great reintroduction and expansion to the world I knew and enjoyed. There is no real romance in this book, but there is a lot of potential! So those who like a slow romance may find themselves enjoying this series. I recommend it to those that love a fun fantasy world.

For a limited time, the first 3 Mythos Academy series books (the series that started it all) and a prequel novella is on sale. The series is listed at $2.99 as of this writing. I'm not sure how long it will last. 
Affiliate link:
...and just like that it goes back up. Keep your eye on this link above if it goes on sale before the year is out. It should change if it does!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Series: Rolling in the Deep #1
439 p.
Published: 11/14/17
Publisher: Orbit
Source: NetGalley and publisher for review
Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy. 
Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost. 
Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. 
But the secrets of the deep come with a price.
My thoughts:

I love mermaid tales. Not all admittedly have appealed to me but this one really peaked my interest. It is horror so no singing red haired girl longing for legs (although that original Grimm tale could also be horror).  It also spoke a lot to the horror of what humans have done to the ecosystem. Now this isn't a book on questioning who is the villain in this tale, as the mermaids were presented as nothing but killers... but there is an opening and this theme may come into play in later books. There is also a working knowledge of science and even the holes in biological science that has yet to be filled. This lent the book a realistic feel and you could believe that these monsters could exist.

While this is a horror tale, those who like romance will get a taste of it, but only a taste. We tend to be more engaged in why they came aboard and how they change as things start happening. The horror of what the sirens (mermaids) wrought take center stage and any more romance would have muddied the waters... so to speak. There is an opening for further romance and I think it may happen more as the series progresses.

We also journey in this tale through book excerpts from the experts on the voyage as well as diary quotes and other mediums so the tale gets broken up a bit but it enhances the peril these voyagers found themselves. This also made the tale feel unique as well.

I give this book 4 stars. If you are looking for a good horror tale, I do highly recommend this book. While the book falters a bit in the end for me, it still feels complete with open threads to be explored as we learn more about the sirens of the deep. I also really appreciated how the science was used successfully in this book.