The Librarian of Auschwitz Review & Recommendations

Summary: Basted on the story of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, Antonio Iturbe’s The Librarian of Auschwitz follows fourteen-year old Dita as her and her family are imprisoned at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Dita has been placed in charge of the camp’s small, but highly valuable and prohibited book collection under Fredy Hirsch, Block 31’s Jewish leader. Contrary to the Nazis officers’ knowledge, Fredy runs Block 31, the hut thought to be a sort’ve daycare, as a school for the camp’s children, and it is Dita’s responsibility to give the books out for lessons as well keep them hidden from the Nazis.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars


My Thoughts:

 The Librarian of Auschwitz is a unique story for its focus on books, a subject that typically isn’t discussed when addressing the Holocaust. The book reminded me a lot of Ruta Sepetys’s Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Gray in that I had never heard of Dita Kraus’s story and Block 31, or schools, taking place within concentration camps. While The Librarian of Auschwitz is considered a young-adult novel, it’s a book that does not have to be sorted into an age category. Yes, Dita is fourteen years old when the novel begins, but she’s forced to grow up and mature under the inhumane conditions she must live through—there’s a lot of discussion in the novel, as well as in interviews with Dita Kraus, that she didn’t really get to have a childhood due to all the restrictions on Jewish citizens in Prague. The novel not only focuses on Dita, but other members in Auschwitz.  Many of the characters are based on people who were in Auschwitz with Dita, but Iturbe also incorporates real-life figures from the time period.

If you enjoyed The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, I think you will enjoy The Librarian of Auschwitz because both novels are quite and rightfully dark takes on the World War II and the Holocaust period. Additionally, both have an emphasis on books. Both books are definitely not a quick read—they’re quite heavy stories, between their page length and detailed stories. Each novel contributes something that the other novel doesn’t do with the time period; while The Book Thief focuses on civilian life and the danger of hiding Jews for both parties, The Librarian of Auschwitz tells what could’ve happened if The Book Thief took an even grimmer turn for the worse.

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, and I often reach for books that take place during World War II and the Holocaust. Since I wrote a bit shorter of a review than I normally write for the sake of spoilers, listed below are a few books that I was reminded by while reading The Librarian of Auschwitz and highly recommend if you’re looking for books that take place during this time period: 

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys- As I mentioned above, Ruta Sepetys often tells forgotten or less-discussed stories. Salt to the Sea focuses on the worst maritime tragedy in history, the Wilhem Gustloff, as thousands of individuals race to escape the Nazi takeover and Soviet advance in East Prussia.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah- The Nightingale was one of my favorite books of 2016, and it focuses on the different lives  of two sisters in WWII-era France. With her husband away on the front, Vianne is left to raise her child in occupied France and things become even more stressful when she is forced to provide room and board for a German soldier. Vianne’s younger sister, Isabelle, wants to have a purpose in the war and joins the French resistance effort.

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne BlankmanPrisoner of Night and Fog is a quite unique YA novel for featuring a main protagonist who grew up in the Nazi Party. When she meets a Jewish reporter, Gretchen begins to suspect that her upbringing, including  her father’s murder, isn’t all what it seems to be

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys- My favorite Ruta Sepetys book, Between Shades of Gray is just so heart-wrenchingly beautiful and again tells one of the less-discussed conflicts of the WWII era, following the Soviets persecution of people from the Baltic States. Fifteen-year-old Lina and her family are forced to leave their life behind in Lithuania and live in a work camp in Siberia. I’m really looking for to Between Shades of Gray’s film adaptation, Ashes in the Snow.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak- The Book Thief is probably the most widely read out of these books, and like The Librarian of Auschwitz , it focuses on the power of books, as Liesel finds herself addicted to the books the Nazis so heartlessly ban. I also recommend watching its film adaptation.

Have you read The Librarian of Auschwitz or any of the books above? Share in the comments! 

Amanda Lovelace & Cyrus Parker Event + the princess saves herself in this one

On Saturday, my best friends and I spent our second-to-last day of spring break right by attending a poetry reading at our local Barnes and Noble. The best part? The event was in honor of Amanda Lovelace and Cyrus Parker, the cutest poetry-writing married couple. Amanda is known for her debut collection, the princess saves herself in this one, and both authors just came out with new books last Tuesday: Amanda’s the witch doesn’t burn in this one and Cyrus’ debut DROPKICKromance.

The event kicked off with Cyrus reading a few poems from DROPKICKromance. The collection tells his experience being in a toxic relationship and then transitions to his much healthier and happier relationship with Amanda. One of the poems he read was about Amanda and he looked at her while he read (*major swoon*). I didn’t pick up a copy at the event, but I’m hoping to borrow it from the library really soon. After his reading, Cyrus discussed his inspiration behind the collection—it’s named after his favorite move when he was a pro-wrestler (!!!)- and the work behind his writing.

thwitchdoesntburnAmanda then read a few poems from the witch doesn’t burn in this one, starting off with her dedication. I love that Amanda dedicated the princess saves herself in this one and the witch doesn’t burn in this one to fictional characters, respectively to the boy who lived (Harry Potter) and the girl on fire (Katniss Everdeen). I’ve been trying to slow down my book-buying habits due to my lack of shelf space, but the fact that Katniss and The Hunger Games were large inspirations for her collection made me buy it immediately.

After Amanda’s reading, there was a Q&A with both authors. My favorite poems in the princess saves herself in this one were about the protagonist’s  relationship to words and fiction, so I asked Amanda and Cyrus what their favorite books were. Amanda discussed her love for Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, as well as her latest read, Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough, which she blurbed. Cyrus talked about his love for Leigh Bardugo and Six of Crows and that they were married by Leigh herself!! * INSERT PSA FOR MORE AUTHORS TO BECOME WEDDING OFFICIANTS HERE*

The event was in serious need of chairs so my friends and I separated when it came to seating. Blame my friend’s head for blocking out Cyrus’s face 

 Toward the end of the event, Amanda signed my copy of the witch doesn’t burn in this one and we talked more about Six of Crows (Amanda loves Nina and Cyrus loves Kaz and Inej) and Book Expo/Book Con- I will always find a way to work this into any conversation ever. If you’re attending Book Con in June, Amanda and Cyrus are going to be on a panel during the convention!

 Overall, I’m so happy that I attended this event and that my B&N is holding more and more author events (I met Jennifer E. Smith here back in September!). I can’t wait to read the witch doesn’t burn in this one and DROPKICKromance in the near future.

In anticipation for the reading & signing, I read Amanda’s the princess saves herself in this one over my spring break and you can check out my mini review below.


the princess saves herself in this one


My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

the princess saves herself in this one is the first collection in Amanda’s women are some kind of magic trilogy. Fun fact that Amanda discussed at the above event: the final collection is going to be about mermaids, entitled the mermaid’s voice returns in this one!

The collection is divided into four sections: the princess, the damsel, the queen, and you. the princess saves herself in this one can most definitely be read in one sitting (I separated into two just because of work, other reads, and a Brooklyn Nine-Nine marathon tiredness). The book addresses numerous, heavy topics, including abuse, death, and self-harm. Amanda’s writing is largely inspired by her own life and her writing just felt so real. I think this is why so many readers have been able to resonate with her poetry. Personally, I related the most to the book-related ones, like the one below:


I admit that I don’t read a ton of poetry so this might be more common than not, but I enjoyed how the titleswere placed at the bottom of the poem. This technique often made me have an a-ha moment and it was interesting to see what each poem was really about AFTER reading. My biggest problem with reading poetry is figuring out how the poems should be read. Amanda’s poetry heavily use spaces and while I don’t mind this practice, I often had trouble figuring out how the poem should be read aloud. I know it can be up to the reader’s interpretation or can be easily solved by listening to the audiobook.

Have you read Amanda or Cyrus’s poetry collections? Share in the comments!

I’m Ready to Play More Than the Wii: Ready Player One Review

In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. 
   But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.


My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One is a much-loved book among my fellow readers and reviewers that I knew would one day pop into my own reading. The book earned a priority spot on my TBR when I saw a trailer for its film adaptation and after finishing, Ready Player One has become one of my most anticipated film releases of 2018.

Ready Player One takes place in a world and virtual reality immersed in video games and sci-fi & fantasy content. While a lot of the games and films are from the ‘80s (reminder that I must watch every John Hughes film now), I was reminded of my own video game experience. I really enjoy playing video games, and by video games, I basically mean Nintendo. I grew up playing GameCube and Sony’s PlayStation 2, and the Wii continues to be my favorite console. My favorite way to play Animal Crossing is on my DS (let’s take a moment of silence for the disappointment that was Animal Crossing for iPhone).

Returning to Ready Player One, I loved the separation between the real world Wade lives in and the virtual world set within the OASIS—the world building overall was phenomenal! The book physically takes place in a near-future United States destroyed by energy/fuel consumption and basically any non-Earth saving ways you could imagine. I really liked learning about this society and how much the way of life is influenced by the OASIS. The OASIS is an even more mind-blowing, with all of the different worlds set inside. I think it’s safe to say many of us would be spending our days in a virtual stimulation of Hogwarts! I also loved learning about the creators of the OASIS, Og and Halliday, and seeing all of the pop cultural references.

I liked when Wade and his avatar, Parzival, team up with his friends and fellow gunters (people who make it their mission to find James Halliday’s egg) for their quest, and it was just really fun seeing them talk and play games. Art3mis was definitely my favorite “secondary” character—I loved how she was a blogger and that she could solve Halliday’s clues just as well as Wade. However, I was a bit frustrated when Wade or Art3mis magically came up with the solution to one of Halliday’s clues. Obviously, we would be reading Ready Player One all day if Ernest Cline had given us their entire thought process, but sometime it felt too easy, even for experts. I also had trouble visualizing some of the action scenes, which may have resulted from my own unfamiliarity with most of the games.

Lately, there has been a ton of hype over Ernest Cline’s confirmation that a sequel to Ready Player One is in the works. While I think the novel works really well as a standalone, I wouldn’t mind seeing Art3mis and Wade’s relationship develop and I’m curious about the future of IOI. I would even love to just have a novella to see what the winner of the Hunt (no spoilers for you!) does with their winnings.

Overall, I highly recommend reading Ready Player One if you’re looking for a unique dystopian read or if you have a love for video games and all the sci-fi things! I am more than excited to see Ready Player One in theaters when it comes out on March 29. 

I received Ready Player One from Blogging for Books for this review.

Have you read Ready Player One? Are you looking forward to the movie? Share in the comments!

The Fae Have Landed: Heir of Fire Reread Discussion

The Fae are here to stay in Sarah J. Maas’s Heir of Fire, and I am here for it.

My reread of the Throne of Glass series continued in February with Heir of Fire, and I am having a great time being back in this series. Just as a refresher, one of my reading goals for 2018 is to reread ToG in anticipation for the final book to come out on October 30, 2018. I know some readers aren’t happy that the book isn’t coming out until Halloween-time, since ToG usually releases in September, but I don’t mind as much. Yes, I do find time to read during the school year, but I want to be able to set time aside to solely focus on the ending of my favorite fantasy series either during Thanksgiving or winter break.


Since Heir of Fire is the third book in the series, this discussion will be featuring spoilers. Before my non-spoiler readers leave, just know that my 5 Star rating for this installment remains. One of the reasons why I’m rereading the series is because I’ve forgotten a lot of the plot details surrounding the magic system and Fae. After my reread, I am really impressed with how SJM was able to interweave new information about magic in Wendlyn and Adarlan with new characters and multi-POVs. Heir of Fire also has a special place in my heart because SJM signed my copy at my first signing of hers in 2015. I remember talking to her about Queen of Shadow’s release and writing & editing, with my college application deadlines coming up.


And listen, I am all for the envrionment, but ToG-wise, after the publication of Heir of Fire, SJM’s books got a lot thinner because of Bloomsbury’s paper-saving ways. The hardcover of HoF is over 550 pages long AND I LOVED HOW IT FELT LIKE A 550+ PAGE BOOK IN MY HANDS.

When thinking about each book in ToG, I’ve started to break them down by how much Fae have come into play, hence the title of my discussion. I reread Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight back in January, and you can find my discussion points in Before the Fae.

For my non-spoiler folks, this is where I leave you, courtesy of Ron & April.

hof gif.gif

I don’t really remember my exact feelings of HoF from my first time around, other than my immediate need for QoS after that ending with the King of Adarlan. However, I do remember my feelings over Sorscha’s death and the fact that Dorian gets turned into one of his father’s demons. I LOVED Sorscha and Dorian’s relationship, and I am so sad that we obviously won’t see her in the series any longer. It would have been really interesting to see her survive and escape to the South, especially since she was low-key part of the resistance with Ren and Tower of Dawn takes place in that setting . The only thing I’m grateful for during that scene is the survival of my bf, Chaol. AND I ALSO COMPLETELY FORGOT ABOUT THE FOLLOWING FEELS BETWEEN HIM AND DORAIN:

“He looked at his friend, perhaps for the last time, and said what he had always known, from the moment they’d met, when he’d understood that the prince was his brother in soul. “I love you.”

Dorian merely nodded, eyes still blazing, and lifted his hands again toward his father. Brother. Friend. King” (550)

Regarding Chaol, I never really had the impression that he was scared of Dorian’s magic or helping the resistance because it went against his loyalty. Above all, I think he was just scared for Celaena and Dorian’s futures and what he might do that could make matters worse (especially after everyone freaks out over him sending Celaena to Doranelle, aka Maeve). I did enjoy seeing him partake in the resistance in Aedion, who has definitely become one of my favorite characters in the series.

While I could read a book all about Chaol all day (and one day soon, I can!!), my favorite character and perspective in HoF goes to Manon Blackbeak. I know some readers aren’t totally sold on having Manon in the series, but I freaking love her. Yes, we do get badass Celaena in this series, but Manon takes cold-heartedness to a whole new level. BUT OF COURSE THAT COLD HEART HEATS UP WITH HER LOVE FOR ABRAXOS. Correction, Abraxos, Manon’s soft yet menacing yet loveable dragon (yes, I know he’s a wyvern) is my favorite character. He brings out a softer side to Manon that she begins to acknowledge, especially with the Crochan witch and her grandmother at the end of the novel. I don’ t exactly remember where Manon is and what’s she doing by the end of Empire of Storms, but I could totally foresee a spin-off about the Wastes.

The biggest plot element I wanted to explore in this reading of HoF is Celaena’s relationship with Rowan. Before jumping into their relationship, I forgot how much goes down at Mistward, between the skinwalkers and all the information revealed about the Wyrdkeys. Like I said, my memory of EoS isn’t too reliable when it comes to the smaller details, but I hope to see Luca and Emrys make a reappearance. Regarding Rowan and Celaena as a couple, while the two don’t get together in this installment, I think SJM layed enough of their relationship out for them to become mates in QoS. Their relationship in HoF progressed at the right rate, and it’s not like they ever get down to some intimate business. I loved how much they opened up to one another, especially since learning more about Celaena’s experience during the downfall of Terrasen was among my favorite scenes in the books. So my conclusion? I like Rowan and Celaena as a couple. However, I do think they need some time to develop romantically in Queen of Shadows before sailing as a ship.


I plan on rereading Queen of Shadows in March and Empire of Storms in April, so I’ll be able to treat myself at the end of my spring semester in May by FINALLY reading Tower of Dawn– I know Chaol is waiting for our reunion!.

Do you read Throne of Glass? Have you read Heir of Fire? Share in the comments!

CAN THE THUNDERHEAD GIVE ME THE 3RD BOOK? | Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman Review

I love reading series. I love reading trilogies.

But you know what I don’t love? Reading amazing series, like Neal Schusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy, that aren’t complete just yet. Because I need book 3 right now… please!

Since Thunderhead is the second book in the Arc of a Scythe trilogy, I am not going to be providing a summary for the sake of spoilers. If you’re interested in learning more about this series, I recommend checking out my review and non-spoilery thoughts on the first book, Scythe. Scythe and Thunderhead have deservingly caused a lot of hype in the book community in 2018. DON’T be like past me and avoid reading these books because you’re scared of the hype, WELCOME IT INTO YOUR BOOKISH HEART. If you still haven’t found a series that quenches your post- The Hunger Games feelings, Scythe is the one for you.


My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Everything below the following GIF I consider to be spoilers, so bye for now non-spoiler folks, courtesy of Ron Swanson.


My Thoughts:

 Even weighing in at 499 pages, Thunderhead is the type of read I totally would’ve flown through if it weren’t for one of the busiest weeks of my semester (pre-spring break crunch time is REAL). I recommend reading Thunderhead in the shortest amount of time possible for you just because it will be a bit easier for you to connect the dots (unless you’re a fantastic note taker while reading, unlike me). For example, it took me some going back to the very beginning of the book to realize the significance of Scythe Brahms gleaning Rowan’s dad, or you know, the fact that RAND IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE ALIVE. I didn’t catch this until Murina mentions the “late” Rand before meeting Faraday in the Library of Alexandria. Thinking back on these instances, if there is one word to describe Thunderhead, its revenge. You have Rowan gleaning scythes, Rand and Goddard (!?!) taking their role in the new order back, and overall, scythes getting back at scythes.

One of my favorite aspects of Thunderhead was of course reuniting with our cast of characters from Scythe. Scythe Curie/Marie remains to be my favorite character and while I’m so sad that we won’t see her journeying on to book 3 (unless Neal Shsuterman throws another crazy plot twist at us), I think her story ended in the best way possible in context. I do like Rowan as a character and his storyline with Goddard and Rand, but I have always preferred Citra/Anastasia. I would love to go back into the story and mark where we see Citra differentiate between calling herself Citra or Anastasia (I’d say she really delves back into Citra at the end of the book). BUT CAN WE PLEASE TALK ABOUT THE CHARACTER THAT FREAKED ME OUT THE MOST: GODDARD! I cannot get over how he took Tyger’s body and did the things and ahhhhhh, he’s back.

Thunderhead expectingly expands the world of Scythe with many new terms, places, and characters. The only new element I wasn’t too crazy about was how the majority of the journal entries were from the perspective of the Thunderhead. While this betters our understanding of the Thunderhead, I often found myself wanting entries from the scythes. Character-wise, I liked Murina’s role as Faraday’s research assistant and I’m super intrigued to see their role in this book three—which all depends on how much of a time jump we’re going to experience (more on the ending to come). Greyson easily became our third central character in the series, and I loved how his perspective gave us insight on how the Thunderhead works, unsavories, and Charter Regions. I’ve seen a few reviews compare Greyson to Jesus and the Thunderhead to God, which actually makes sense (Christine of polandbananasbooks did a fantastic job of describing her Garden of Eden and Greyson-as-Jesus theory in her review here). I would love to find an interview with Neal Schusterman to see if he actually took this into consideration when writing the series.

I guess this is where my book three theories and Thunderhead ending discussion is going to begin because I CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT IT! I really wonder how Greyson is going to come into play in book three. Has the Thunderhead given him instructions about Citra and Rowan? Will he find them?? I would love to see Faraday and Murina save them, especially with their knowledge of maps and the Thunderhead’s blindspots, but their ending was also quite ominous. I’m also interested to see how many revivals book three will bring. I think it’s safe to say that we will get Rowan and Citra back and unfortunately/rightfully not Marie, but maybe Xenocrates??? And how long is our time jump going to be? Will there even be one? If Citra and Rown start the book, I think there will be some sort of time jump, but maybe we’ll start with Greyson’s conversation with the Thunderhead. Or will we go between the past and present??ONLY BOOK 3 CAN TELL.

Have you read Scythe or Thunderhead? Do you have any theories about book 3? Share in the comments!


I READ A SUMMER CONTEMPORARY IN FEBRUARY?? | This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

Summary: Fate seems to come in the form of an email for seventeen year olds Ellie O’Neill and Graham Larkin. After Graham accidentally emails Ellie about his pet pig, the two strike up a conversation that lasts for months. Ellie and Graham talk about everything—expect for Graham’s life in the spotlight and a secret hidden within Ellie’s family. When Graham creates an opportunity for the pair to spend time together in Ellie’s small beach town, their relationship is taken to the next level, as Ellie and Graham determine if two people from two different worlds can be together.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars


My Thoughts:

I started my Jennifer E. Smith book journey backwards. My first Jennifer E. Smith book was her latest release, Windfall, in 2017. It was after reading Windfall that I decided to pick up more of Jennifer’s books, who I’d say is most well-known for The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. Then I  met Jennifer, who’s also one of the sweetest authors that I’ve met, at a signing at my local Barnes & Noble, where I learned that most people start with This is What Happy Looks Like when starting her work.

I’ve been craving and eating up fantasy books this winter, butI needed a quick break with a contemporary read. Little did I know that I was picking up a book that takes place in the complete opposite season: summer. I’m always on the lookout for summery contemporaries for the summertime, and while I’m a tad disappointed that I picked up This is What Happy Looks Like now, I was not disappointed by this light, fun read.

This is What Happy Looks Like flips between the perspectives of Ellie and Graham, and I liked how each chapter began with a snippet from their email exchanges. I feel like the ‘boy and girl from completely different worlds’ trope worked really well in this book, as Graham is an A-list teen actor and Ellie is the small-town girl working at the ice cream shop and her mom’s store (and who has her eyes set on a Harvard poetry course, so more power to you girl!). AND ELLIE HAS A BEAGLE NAMED BAGEL! This is What Happy Looks Like immediately earned points in my book for not only having a dog, but for having a dog named after my favorite food. Un-trope-like, I really enjoyed how there’s no ‘oh-my-gosh do they know that I’ve been emailing them for the past X months and how will our relationship and trust be affected’ action from either character; from the moment they meet, Graham tells Ellie that she’s the guy who’s been emailing. I feel like this saved some unnecessary drama and allowed the plot to move in a less expected direction.

For me, This is What Happy Looks Like fits as a summer contemporary for a few reasons other than the fact that book takes place from May to July. We see Ellie’s sleepy hometown in Maine transform into a summer tourist destination, and her town’s Fourth of July festivities alone would’ve made this a summer read. Ellie’s job in the ice cream shop and getting ice cream with Graham was enough for me to long for summer nights at the beach with a soft-serve.

Jennifer E. Smith’s writing really flows in This is What Happy Looks Like, and it’s the type of read where you don’t realize that you’ve read over 100 pages in just one sitting. I really enjoyed the book’s fast pace, but I wish we got more time with Ellie and her best friend, Quinn. The two get into a fight over Ellie’s secret relationship with Graham pretty early on the book, and I wish their disagreement ended earlier so we got more interaction from Quinn.

Overall, I highly recommend picking this one up for when you’re in the mood for a light-hearted read or need a companion for a beach day. My next Jennifer E. Smith book is going to be The Geography of You and Me.

Have you read This Is What Happy Looks Like? Share in the comments!

Keeping Up with Fantasy : The Bear and the Nightingale & The Cruel Prince

I’ve  been reading true to the season this January and February with plenty of fantasy, and I’ve been absolutely loving it! I read a lot of contemporary in 2017, so I really want to spend time in 2018 catching up on some backlist titles and ALL of the amazing releases in the fantasy world coming out this year. Today, I’ll be giving you mini reviews of The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden and The Cruel Prince by Holly Black.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

My Rating: 4.5/5 Starsthebear.jpg

I never realized that I needed Russian-inspired fantasy until I read The Bear and the Nightingale, the first book in the Winternight trilogy. This book has been on my radar since New York City Comic Con in October (I think the publisher was giving out paperback copies), and it’s been described to me as the perfect winter read, which I can now say is true! The Bear and the Nightingale follows a family who lives in a village on the edge of the Russian wilderness, where folklore and spirits are part of the way of life. After her mother dies, Vasilisa is left to figure out life and her secret powers on her own. Her father’s new wife does not help matters by forbidding that Visalia and her siblings honor the household spirits.

While the story primarily focuses on Vasilisa, we get plenty of third person POV from almost the entire cast of characters. I love her brothers, Sasha and Alyosha, and I like how Vasilisa’s stepsister, Irina, is not pitied against her. My favorite aspect of the book is definitely a tie between Katherine Arden’s writing style and her world building! I love how she incorporated Russian folklore, culture, and even history, from what I understood, in her own fantastical world.

Regarding the ending, I was pretty content with that there weren’t a million and one questions left open at the end (okay, maybe there were like five). I’m really excited to pick up the The Girl in the Tower, especially since I’ve heard that the books features Vasilisa’s siblings that we don’t get throughout The Bear in the Nightingale!

 The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

tcp.jpg My Rating: 4/5 StarsI am here to admit that all the hype surrounding The Cruel Prince made me want to pick up this first installment in Holly Black’s The Folk of the Air trilogy. While I have seen some mixed reviews, so many reviewers that Ifollow have raved about TCP and have placed it among their all-time favorites list. TCP was my introduction to Holly Black, and I’m sure like many, the only Fae-inspired books I’ve read are Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

TCP reminded me of Amanda Hocking’s Switched trilogy for its human-enters-fantastical-world element (Switched is about trolls, TCP is about faeries). Despite the hype, I didn’t know too much about the book going in, and I really enjoyed how Holly Black incorporated humans and the mortal world into the story. In the most basic synopsis, The Cruel Prince follows a mortal girl, Jude, who must fight off the trickery of the Fae in order to be in a place of power and respect in their kingdom.

I like how the book starts off with the reason why Jude and her sisters are whisked away from the mortal world to the Faerie realm, then transporting into the future with the girls adjusted to living among faeries. Like I said before, I haven’t read too many faerie books, but Holly Black’s world-building and world of Fae seemed really unique, and I’m definitely interested in seeing the world expand in the next book. My favorite part was learning more about the royal court and seeing what Jude’s role would ultimately be.

While I do think TCP is worthy of the hype, it’s not my all-time favorite book. I feel like Jude quickly escalated to being pretty dark to OH MY GOSH THIS GIRL IS ABOUT TO HAVE ALL FAERIES BOW AT HER FEET against all of the plot development, and I can already see the insta-love/hate-to-love forming. However, I am interested in picking upmore of Holly Black’s work and I plan on reading The Wicked King upon its release date.

Have you read The Cruel Prince or The Bear and the Nightingale? Share in the comments!