VD The Book Yogi

lover of artistic language and the language of art

February Wrap Up

February was a bit of a whirlwind, to say the least, and did not go as planned on the reading front. I'm still a little confused as to how it is already March...Check out what I did read below!


What I Read

The Cruel Prince | Holly Black

Published: January 2, 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy
My Rating: 4 Stars

I went into this knowing full well all the hype, and my 2018 declaration to specifically avoid hype. I expected it to be good, I expected to like it, therefore throwing aside two of my other usual cautions when going into YA fantasy. 

A few chapters in, I was thinking “oh no, I don’t think I am going to enjoy this.” Fast forward 5 hours of a Saturday that needed to be far more productive in house work and errands, and I turned the last page and despaired at there not being more. 

Safe to say The Cruel Prince was not at all what I expected, and yet met my expectations of being not just good, but to my liking. Some betrayals I saw coming, even if I did not have them completely figured out. I trusted no one, and that served me well. Well, I did trust Jude, and even she had some twists for me. Faerie is a dangerous world, and one truth never wavered: you have be dangerous to survive there.

 

Aaaaand that's it. That's all I read. I technically did start a re-read of A Wrinkle In Time as planned, but since I'm only 50 pages in I really don't think I can count that as a February read at this point.


March New Releases

I don't have anything on my radar for this month, but I did decide I might give one technically released in February a shot, so we'll list that one here. 

The Belles | Dhonielle Clayton

Published: February 6, 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy 

Caved and jumped on the hype-train, but only after another trusted reviewer marked this as worth-a-go.

Synopsis:

"Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision. 

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever."


March TBR*

*As usual, subject to change on a daily basis. I seem to take issue with being told what to read, including by myself.

A Wrinkle In Time | Madeleine L'Engle

Published: January 1, 1962
Genre: YA Fantasy Classic

Started in February, but as that month passed by in a blink, it's staying on for March.

Synopsis:

"Meg Murry and her friends become involved with unearthly strangers and a search for Meg's father, who has disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government."

 

Knight's Shadow | Sebastien de Castell

Published: March 5, 2015
Genre: Adult Epic Fantasy

My last month of driving into the office before little prince gets here, so I'll try to get this one in for my March audiobook.

Synopsis:

"Following his beloved debut, Traitor's Blade, Sebastien de Castell returns with volume two of his fast-paced fantasy adventure series, inspired by the swashbuckling action and witty banter of The Three Musketeers. Knight's Shadow continues the series with a thrilling and dark tale of heroism and betrayal in a country crushed under the weight of its rulers' corruption.

A few days after the horrifying murder of a duke and his family, Falcio val Mond, swordsman and First Cantor of the Greatcoats, begins a deadly pursuit to capture the killer. But Falcio soon discovers his own life is in mortal danger from a poison administered as a final act of revenge by one of his deadliest enemies. As chaos and civil war begin to overtake the country, Falcio has precious little time left to stop those determined to destroy his homeland."

 

Freedom's Slave | Heather Demetrios

Published: February 28, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy

This is staying on as my "currently-own" read for March. I started this trilogy early last year and liked it well enough - didn't love it, but didn't dislike it by any means. Time to finish (for real this month).

Synopsis:

"An Empress Fighting for Her Crown
After three long years in exile, Nalia is ready to return to her homeland and sit on the throne that is rightfully hers. But the gods might have other plans. Forced to endure untold horrors on the journey to Arjinna, Nalia learns that it will take more than cutting down the tyrant Calar to get her crown.

An Army Fighting to Survive
Raif’s return to Arjinna as the commander of the revolution against Calar and her army isn’t as smooth as he’d hoped. Though he has more soldiers than ever before, his love for Nalia is losing him the trust of his comrades...and the war. But little does the resistance know that insurrection is brewing among Calar’s own ranks—and from the one person she trusts the most.

A Land Worth Fighting for
Arjinna is dying—Calar’s evil experiments with dark magic and the strength of her own psychic powers threaten to destroy the land of the jinn. Is Nalia and Raif’s enduring love enough to transform and rescue their homeland? Will they be willing to save the realm, no matter the cost?"

 

Reign of the Fallen | Sarah Glenn Marsh

Published: January 23, 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy

IF I get my act together and finish the books I should have read in February, then my new purchase of the month will likely be Reign of the Fallen. Necromancers sound like a nice change of pace from all of the fae plots (though I will always love those).

Synopsis:

"Odessa is one of Karthia's master necromancers, catering to the kingdom's ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it's Odessa's job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised--the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.

A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa's necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead--and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer's magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?"


January Wrap Up

Woo I stayed on track for January too! With the exception of putting off one book just a few days after I couldn't possible wait to finish a series. I am also super pumped that every book so far this year has been an above 4 Star, enjoyable read. Check them out below!


What I Read

The Girl In The Tower | Katherine Arden

Published: December 5, 2017
Genre: Adult Fantasy
My Rating: 5 Stars

Sometimes sequels to excellent first novels can fall flat. The magic is less potent, the characters less engaging, the plot weaker. 
None of these issues occurred with The Girl in the Tower, and I am so freaking happy about it. Vasya is just as wild, just as independent, and yet makes believable mistakes as she continues to grow up. Mysteries that began in the first book continue to be solved, while at the same time new ones arise.
Arden is so talented at blending magic and the history of Russia together, keeping us grounded in  the politics and society of Moscow while at the same time the fantastical creeps at the edges. From domovois in bathhouses to the frost demon always watching, no matter how ingrained in the reality of the city Vasya becomes, no matter the plans her family and society have to trap her, cage her into the suppressed life of a woman of this time period, the magic of the wild forest is never far, and she never loses sight of herself. 
And for Morozko: it will work out, I'm counting on it. <3

 

Traitor's Blade | Sebastien de Castell

Published: March 6, 2014
Genre: Adult Epic Fantasy
My Rating: 5 Stars

Listened to this on audiobook, and enjoyed! I'll be getting the next one for audio as well, since I have a credit to use, but I like this one enough (and feel confident about the sequels) to purchase the hard copies and add to my library shelves. Plus, I love these covers and they'll make great additions to the library :)
I saw this tale compared to The Three Musketeers after I finished, and while I did say "oh okay, I get that," not once while reading did I make that comparison. There are plenty of stories about friends on a journey to somewhere, fighting for some cause. I enjoyed the comradeship between Falcio, Kest, and Brasti, and also the notion that at any time they could go their separate ways. What binds them is a pact and a king long dead to most of their fellows, so they are at once still trying to be true to their values as Greatcoats while also admitting that the old times are gone and perhaps they should move on. Lots of satisfying action, and I loved de Castell's style of writing and the swordplay descriptions, especially the notion that a conversation can (and does) occur with every thrust and parry. 

 

A Gathering Of Shadows | Victoria Schwab

Published: February 23, 2016
Genre: Adult Fantasy
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Started out and finished strong, but got a bit slow throughout the middle. Full of great character development and all necessary build-up, I don't want to go as far as to say the middle dragged. But the pace definitely slowed as we journeyed with each character and tension built.
One tiny issue I had was how fast Lila suddenly came into her powers. The tournament she enters (love it, Lila!) is comprised of carefully selected, extremely practiced and talented magicians, and yet she who just began her practice four months earlier and can only just barely summon a flame holds her own against her competitors...I thought it was a bit of a stretch. Lila's badass in a lot of ways, and completely understandable that her powers come on fast due to...certain rarities *wink*...but I don't think she needed to suddenly be that talented in magic as well as everything else she rocks at.
That tiny nitpick knocked a half star away, but I still loved this one and couldn't wait to buy the final book. Which leads us too...

 

A Conjuring of Light | Victoria Schwab

Published: February
Genre: Adult Fantasy
My Rating: 5 Stars

Broke the rules and ordered this one instantly upon finishing AGOS. I couldn't wait, and it did not disappoint. Action packed from start to finish, if my complaint with AGOS was that the middle moved at a slow pace, then it was completely made up for with this final installment. Surprises, heartbreaks, and above all else originality...Schwab has crafted a perfect not-conclusion to this world. The story ends with most loose ends tied up, although it's open for more (which I hear is in the works, following new characters...yay!)

I also cannot gush enough about how air-tight the plot and rules of magic are in this world. Characters are not suddenly able to do more than they should, even if they discover new means of using such magic. I adore how neatly the romances are woven in - no odd breaks from the crisis going on to spend time swooning. The romance served a perfect sub-plot, aiding without ever overtaking the main plot.

A perfect conclusion with the option to return!


February New Releases

I don't have anything on my radar for this month, as I'm sticking to my "avoid-the-hype" rule! That works, because there were several released in January that I can catch up on now and still abide by my second rule, only one new buy a month!


February TBR*

*As usual, subject to change on a daily basis. I seem to take issue with being told what to read, including by myself.

 

The Cruel Prince | Holly Black

Published: January 2, 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy

This got pushed back from January when I couldn't wait to finish the ADSOM trilogy. But looking forward to it as I've been hearing good things from other reviewers I trust!

Synopsis:

"Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.


Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself."

 

A Wrinkle In Time | Madeleine L'Engle

Published: January 1, 1962
Genre: YA Fantasy Classic

Technically another of my currently-owned, and a book already read (at least 20 years ago!) But with the new film coming out next month, I had to give this one a re-read!

Synopsis:

"Meg Murry and her friends become involved with unearthly strangers and a search for Meg's father, who has disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government."

 

Knight's Shadow | Sebastien de Castell

Published: March 5, 2015
Genre: Adult Epic Fantasy

I enjoyed the audiobook of Traitor's Blade a lot, so this will be my audiobook for February.

Synopsis:

"Following his beloved debut, Traitor's Blade, Sebastien de Castell returns with volume two of his fast-paced fantasy adventure series, inspired by the swashbuckling action and witty banter of The Three Musketeers. Knight's Shadow continues the series with a thrilling and dark tale of heroism and betrayal in a country crushed under the weight of its rulers' corruption.

A few days after the horrifying murder of a duke and his family, Falcio val Mond, swordsman and First Cantor of the Greatcoats, begins a deadly pursuit to capture the killer. But Falcio soon discovers his own life is in mortal danger from a poison administered as a final act of revenge by one of his deadliest enemies. As chaos and civil war begin to overtake the country, Falcio has precious little time left to stop those determined to destroy his homeland."

 

Freedom's Slave | Heather Demetrios

Published: February 28, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy

This will be my "currently-own" read for February. I started this trilogy early last year and liked it well enough - didn't love it, but didn't dislike it by any means. Time to finish!

Synopsis:

"An Empress Fighting for Her Crown
After three long years in exile, Nalia is ready to return to her homeland and sit on the throne that is rightfully hers. But the gods might have other plans. Forced to endure untold horrors on the journey to Arjinna, Nalia learns that it will take more than cutting down the tyrant Calar to get her crown.

An Army Fighting to Survive
Raif’s return to Arjinna as the commander of the revolution against Calar and her army isn’t as smooth as he’d hoped. Though he has more soldiers than ever before, his love for Nalia is losing him the trust of his comrades...and the war. But little does the resistance know that insurrection is brewing among Calar’s own ranks—and from the one person she trusts the most.

A Land Worth Fighting for
Arjinna is dying—Calar’s evil experiments with dark magic and the strength of her own psychic powers threaten to destroy the land of the jinn. Is Nalia and Raif’s enduring love enough to transform and rescue their homeland? Will they be willing to save the realm, no matter the cost?"


2017 Favorite Reads

I had a reading goal of 50 books, and completed it (yay!) just on time. Part of the problem in getting there was morning sickness that threw me off of reading for a good two months. The other part was one disappointing read after another, leading to slump after slump. It turns out I was pretty hard to please in 2017, even with books I did enjoy. I read plenty of books that I had anticipated and really liked, such as A Court of Wings and Ruin, but as far as making it to favorite status only a few made the cut. 

Going into 2018 my reading goals have changed a bit - I mentioned it in my December wrap up that I'll be going for quality over quantity, and one way to help me be more selective is to set my reading goal for less. So I'll be aiming for only 25 books this year, and avoiding that hype-train in YA on which it is very easy to be swept away. To help, I've set myself the below rules:

  • Only buy ONE new book/release a month
  • Read one of the books I currently own a month
  • One audiobook a month

25 is technically only about 2 books a month, and already the list above has me reading more than that. But with little prince coming in April, and the books on my 2018 wait-list thinned out considerably (more selective!), I hope to be reading more of the towering stack I already own and be less sucked-in to the hype of new YA releases. And hopefully, I'll have a year full of new favorites by next Christmas.

So, on to the favorites of 2017!


The Bear And The Nightingale | Katherine Arden

This story is a magical step into a winter fairy-tale. The Russian inspiration was a breath of fresh air amidst all of the Arabian themes in the last couple years. Don't get me wrong, I'm still loving those Arabian themes, but it was one of those instances where I didn't realize I'd been craving something new and different until I had it in front of me.

Read my full review on Goodreads.


Hunted | Meagan Spooner

This book was such a surprise. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale, and I've read countless retellings, many of which I've loved even though they followed every predictable path. I just love the tale, no matter the form.

Hunted did not follow the traditional mold, and the deeper I went into the forest the more I loved it.

Read my full review on Goodreads.


The City of Brass | S.A. Chakraborty

I am so glad another of my highly-anticipated reads for this year did not disappoint. I loved everything about this story, my heart pounded at all the right times, and I was wailing in impatient denial at the ending. I NEED the sequel, now.


Furyborn | Claire Legrand

Some books you just vibe with, and this one was 100% my cup of tea. Flawed characters you kind of hate/love, a story that connects across centuries, just the right amount of grim, and plenty of action. Also, this is a YA that read more on the adult side of the genre, which I tend to enjoy more (though I still have the pet peeve of certain content belonging in Adult fantasy).

Read my full review on Goodreads.