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[Short Reviews] February Reads – Part 1

Recently, it’s become a bit of a chore to write reviews. I’ve been wanting to write a full review on recent favorites, especially The Bear and the Nightingale, but I just haven’t had the time, not to mention they’re not always worth the effort in readership. So, in effort to improve the blog, and make my life easier, I’m expanding my monthly recaps. I might throw in a review post here and there, but for now, a few short reviews on recent reads:

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The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden: A beautifully written mix of history and Russian folklore, The Bear and the Nightingale is the first of a promising new series, fully of rich imagery and a unique cast of characters. Set in the snowy white of the Russian wilderness, Vasilisa struggles to live by her step mother’s rules, namely, abandoning the old traditions for a new religion, but abandoning long-held superstitions rarely goes well, especially when a storybook monster leaps from the page and into real life. I can’t wait to read the next one! (4 Stars)

Listen to Me by Hannah Pittard: Mark and Maggie’s marriage is in trouble. From the very beginning, this much is clear, but after several meaningless squabbles, the two manage to side-step their issues as the tension builds uncomfortably high. It’s like watching a scary movie, expecting the worst at any moment, perhaps there’s a clown around the corner, a murderer with a chainsaw at the door… but in the end, it’s just a shadow.  (3 Stars)

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin: While on the short side, Fever Dream is perhaps the most affecting novel I’ve read yet. From the very first page, Schweblin weaves a heart-rending mystery as Amanda struggles to recall the last few days, and ultimately, what happened to her daughter. Just when you think you’ve solved the mystery, you’ve found the important moment, something else happens, leaving you completely mystified until the very end. (5 Stars)

The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen: The final installment of The Queen of the Tearling, at least a few questions are answered… in addition to new mysteries all-together. Perhaps the most frustrating end imaginable, it seems Johansen wrote herself into a corner with this one. At least we know who Kelsea’s father is now, as well as the monstrous becoming of the Fetch. (3 Stars)

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Caraval by Stephanie Garber: Equal parts romance and mystery, Caraval follows two sisters, Scarlet and Tella, as they escape their abusive father and runaway to the mystical Caraval, a yearly performance/competition, but as soon as they arrive, young Tella is kidnapped and made the central target of the show. Scarlett’s search for her sister is heartbreaking as the game twists her perception between reality and performance, but the ending is well worth the chase. I’ll be needing Part 2 ASAP! (5 Stars)

If Our Bodies Could Talk by James Hamblin: Based on the title, as well as the blurb on Goodreads and the book cover, I expected to read something along the lines of Dr. Oz’s You: The Owner’s Manual, only a little shorter and definitely more current. At least the latter was true. Instead, I found a haphazard collection of journal articles on today’s hot topics in health, from risky treatments to the need for multivitamins… with no clear recommendation on anything beyond simply eating a balanced diet, drinking more water, and increasing activity. Interesting, but unnecessary. (3 Stars)

The River at Night by Erica Ferencik: After a white water rafting accident, four friends are left stranded in the wilderness and without their gear, until they spot a campfire in the distance. Thinking they’re saved, they rush toward the camp, transforming their story from an outdoor survival story to Wrong Turn 8. (3 Stars)

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney: Listed as one of my most anticipated reads from 2016, The Nest was destined for disappointment. Following the Plumb siblings as they squabble over what to do with the family “nest”, I couldn’t find a single character I liked. Each selfish in their own way, the Plumb siblings have lived a life of luxury, each unafraid to flounder or fail expecting the “nest” to catch their fall… but when the money disappears, they’ll have to decide what’s more important – family, or the vacation home? (3 Stars)

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The Crystal Ribbon by Celeste Lim: Born to a poor tea farmer in medieval China, twelve-year-old Li Jing is married off as a nursemaid to the Koh family’s three-year-old son. Continuously mistreated and ultimately sold to a courtesan house (similar to the Japanese geisha), Li Jing plots her escape with the help of the animal spirits. For a middle grade novel, the story is both emotional and, at times, upsetting, but an adventurous tale of self-discovery, nonetheless. If you loved Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon, this is the book for you! (4 Stars)

The Man Who Never Stopped Sleeping by Aharon Appelfeld: Following a young Holocaust refugee as he immigrates to Israel, Appelfeld’s words will leave a lasting impression on its readers. Throughout the novel, the main character struggles to accept the changes in his life, learning a new language, a new country’s traditions, changes that are more overwhelming than a grieving teen can bear. (5 Stars)

What have you read lately?

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5 thoughts on “[Short Reviews] February Reads – Part 1

  1. Great idea! I’ve always done a monthly wrap up with short reviews, it just takes the pressure off to feel like you need to write a long review for every single book I read. You read some great books this month! I’m looking forward to the Bear and the Nightingale and Caraval, and also have had my eye on The River at Night. Fever Dream and The Man Who Never Stopped Sleeping sound amazing!

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  2. These are great! I love that you quickly recognized that your expectations of The Nest were not going to live up to the actual novel; I hate when that happens, but it’s nice to know that I’m not alone – ha! I really enjoyed The Nest, but I had no expectations; I did, however, have some expectations going into Listen to Me and I don’t think I enjoyed as much as I’d hoped. How’s the weather down there? I think spring has already arrived; maybe we’re just going to skip any other winter weather? My husband had to mow the yard yesterday – ha!

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    • Thanks! It’s always a bummer when a book doesn’t live up to the hype. And the weather here has been gorgeous! The azaleas are already out in full force! Happy reading ☺

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  3. I completely understand how reviews can get overwhelming. I’ve been avoiding them because they seem so daunting! I just need to sit down and write and not concern myself with how intellectual or smart they sound. Just write.
    This is a great alternative! If this works, I’d say see going!

    Liked by 1 person

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