Thursday, January 31, 2019

Review: One Hundred Years of Solitude

One Hundred Years of Solitude One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Nobel Laureate García Márquez was my January Classic Read. A sentinel novel of Latin American magical realism (the rains that last five years, the ghosts who haunt the Buendía family, the ascension of Remedios the Beauty while hanging the laundry!), I first read this book back in the 1980's. It's always interesting to reread books decades later and see how my thoughts about them have changed...

When I first read the book, I was impressed by characters and the somewhat Dickensian feel they had. Their quirky natures, and the way they remain plastic throughout their lives, continuing to change and grow. I was also taken aback by the frank incest in the novel, which wasn't something I'd seen a lot of in fiction. (Thirty years before GRRM gave us A Song of Ice and Fire, natch!) Now, however, I'm struck by how fundamentally unlikable many of male characters are, and view the entire Buendía family narrative as a metaphor for history repeating itself. The generations of all the José Acadios and Aurelianos are men possessed of intellect but not wisdom. In contrast, the strong Buendía women often suffer from the rampant sexism which still plagues Latin American culture (even expatriate culture here in the US) yet are also the foundation of the small community. This is exemplified in the cruel fate of Remedios Moscote, a child bride, and in the way so much of maintaining the fictional Macondo is left to Úrsula, who forges the connection to the outside world. The dysfunction of the world the Buendías built increases with each generation, ultimately culminating in Ursula's greatest fear, and a Macondo blown away... While some have viewed the novel as a metaphor for Latin American politics and history, I find it more generally a metaphor for the risks of insular living and not learning from history.

This a great novel that is not a facile read, especially because of the cutting back and forth in time, which can challenge a reader or listener, but also because of the generational names being repeated (four José Acadios, five main character Aurelianos, seventeen minor Aurelianos, an Aureliano José, plus three Remedios,* Amaranta, Úrsula, and Amaranta Úrsula). The book is made more accessible with a good family tree. Here's a fabulous graphical one, from nikhilkuria:

*Does anyone have an opinion about Remedios the Beauty and autism? She certainly seems like she was written as an autistic character I don't know how I didn't see that more clearly when I read it many years ago?

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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Review: We Shall See the Sky Sparkling

We Shall See the Sky Sparkling We Shall See the Sky Sparkling by Susana Aikin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 Stars bumped to 4 because I love the story within the story of this book.

We Shall See the Sky Sparkling has its inception in a real life story. In a family history and simple photo, Aikin's idea behind this book struck home for me. I, too, have a beautiful photo of my great-grandaunt, a woman who died a spinster, at relatively young age, and the lack of information about her story has haunted me for years. In Aikin's story, more is known, thanks to her sleuthing, about her great-grandaunt, Lily Alexandra Throop. Lily left her family home in Manchester in the late 1890's, at the age of seventeen, without family blessing, to become an actress in London, a simply scandalous choice for a young woman in this era. Her peregrinations eventually led her to St. Petersburg in Russia, where she was rumored to have given birth to an illegitimate child. She later returned to England and died from tuberculosis at the young age of twenty-four. After finding a caches of thirteen letters that Lily wrote to her brother Harry and sister-in-law Alice, Aikin was able to piece together some of Lily's fascinating but tragically short life and build a novelization of it.

While I found some of the dialogue and manners in the novel didn't accurately reflect the Victorian and Edwardian era, overall, Lily's story is a haunting one. There are likely so many young women who didn't want to follow their narrow gender prescribed roles, and no doubt many whose lives ended sadly, as a result. In this era, where women were not permitted to own property, and were themselves counted as chattel of their husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, Lily envisioned a different path for herself. She paid dearly for her choices but led a fascinating life while she lived it.

Margo (Margaret) Lapping

I received a Digital Review Copy of this book from Kensington Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Review: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

In 2019 I have decided to present one non-fiction book a month for my readers. This month, after looking at all the changes going on environmentally in the US, and prospective changes in the Amazon after the election of Bolsonaro in Brazil, I decided to read Elizabeth Kolbert's National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winning The Sixth Extinction.

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Sixth Extinction is less a view of the future than it is very much of the present. And by present I mean, I mean where we were, as a planet, back when Kolbert published this book back in 2014. We are, of course, in a new present in which ecological damage has been granted permission to accelerate at an even more rapid pace by leaders in places like the USA and Brazil. The Sixth Extinction, or Holocene Extinction has been going on since the dawn of mankind. We have been busily thinning out the competition, including the Neanderthals and Denisovans. As she points out, we will soon likely be the only remaining primates on the planet and, in spite of the ardent work of a small fraction of the population dedicated to trying to prevent extinction of endangered species, by the dawn of the 22nd century, anywhere from twenty (conservative) to fifty (probably more realistic) of the species on our planet will have become extinct. The unprecedented rate of species decline since the Industrial Revolution (a human made decline) is what marks this epoch in the planet's history as an mass extinction event. And humans, like a giant asteroid impacting the planet, are at the epicenter of the Sixth Extinction. Tackling trends from the loss of megafauna to the end of calcifying sea organisms (from coral to anything that has a shell in the ocean) due to ocean acidification (global warming's seldom mentioned evil twin) Kolbert details the countless ways humans have reduced the planet's once astonishing diversity.

From what I can see only one of my friends on GR has read this book. A bunch of other people have called it dry or boring or even dystopian fiction. This book, which is written from a layman perspective and therefore quite accessible, is more vital now than when it was written because unlike Silent Spring its assertions are being flatly ignored. The only silver lining to the cloud of our species is that geological and paleological history teaches us one thing- this planet will be just fine without us. Based on the reduction in diversity, which will include what we consider food sources, be assured, our time here is limited.

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Review: Vigilance

Vigilance Vigilance by Robert Jackson Bennett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This dark and timely novella gives us a dystopian world a little too close to our present day world- America made great, or more accurately white, wealthy, and filled to the brim with guns. It's an vision of America that is the NRA's wet dream. Anti-hero John McDean is the executive producer of a year 2030 reality show called "Vigilance," that treats mass shootings like a game show. Because we need to be vigilant. Or more accurately, we need to watch these mass shootings to be sure we know what's going on and streaming on Facebook doesn't cut it. Not enough advertising money to be made. (Here, just to be safe, here's another automatic weapon. You can't have too many, you know. You should watch it again, so you'll be ready and safe, if this happens to you. Look at him go! See if you can survive so you can collect your prize!) Highlighting America as a country prone to national fear, and racism that leads to shooting black people (like, you know, police officers and security guards, tell me this didn't happen for real toward the end of 2018) because obviously being black means you're dangerous, Bennett offers a biting satire. Frankly, it's a modern A Modest Proposal.

Sometimes fiction can be powerful enough to effect a social change. Let's hope this much needed novella can do some of that.

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Monday, January 28, 2019

Review: Here and Now and Then

Here and Now and Then Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Many books on the emotional legacy of time travel (ex. Audrey Niffenneger's The Time Traveler's Wife or Octavia Butler's masterpiece Kindred) do so by employing time slippage rather than a well-built rationale for accomplishing controlled time travel (think the classic H.G. Wells The Time Machine or in a more modern example, Doctor Who's adventures in the Tardis). Mike Chen's Here and Now and Then allows us to have it all. We meet Kin Stewart, a time traveling secret agent whose work for the Temporal Corruption Bureau in 2142 exploits creating small variations, akin to the butterfly effect, that will hopefully create larger positive changes (such as making a senator late for casting a vote, or having someone unavailable for an investment meeting) on the day that his life goes sideways. His target won't cooperate and his 2100's era tech is taken out with a simple gunshot, stranding him in the 1990's for eighteen long years. Without the benefit of 2100 era metabolizers that put a stop to the entropy of aging, Kin begins to age, while his mind gradually seals off that portion of his memories that involve his life with his fiancée Penny in the future. To survive his feelings of loneliness, he falls in love with Heather, gets married, and together they have Miranda, his beloved daughter, a teenager at the start of the book. But as time has progressed, his mental status has become kind of unstable. He toys with the damaged tech that he gruelingly cut out of his own body, and one day it accidentally sends its signal beacon to the future. Before long another agent comes looking for him and his massive act of unscheduled temporal corruption (the sweet Miranda) is discovered. Right about the time Kin knows he's going to be forced to return to the future, he also discovers that Miranda has come across things he should have kept better hidden.

Once safely back in the future, Kin receives a slap on the wrist and a desk job. While he finds he is happy to reconnect with Penny, he misses Miranda terribly and is wracked with guilt to find that months after he departs, Heather is diagnosed with cancer and succumbs to it, leaving Miranda to be raised by her grandmother. How does he find this out? By breaking every possible rule and communicating with the past, risking a variation of the grandfather paradox, albeit one in which a future father influences the life of a daughter born and living in the past- a past that she can alter with the knowledge of the future. When she begins to do just that, the TCB decides to take drastic action. How will Kin loop together his past and present to safeguard his only child?

Here and Now and Then is carefully plotted and Chen makes you feel the strength of the father-daughter bond without ever making you feel it's melodramatic. Although built on a sci-fi scaffold, it's the relationships- Kin and Miranda, and Kin and Penny- that drive this fine debut novel forward. While I could quibble about the future tech and the lack of surveillance of a man clearly not happy to have left a child behind, I enjoyed this relatively quiet novel. The emotional toll of time travel is masterfully handled here.

I received a Digital Review Copy from Mira Press, along with a paper review copy, in exchange for an honest review.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Review: The Kingdom of Copper

The Kingdom of Copper The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Readers, I was hopping from foot to foot, waiting to put up my review until release day. Because it's hard to conceive of a review, other than READ THIS BOOK, that doesn't have some serious spoilers. The big spoilers start in chapter four and run at a heady pace. A beloved character returns, a person of legend is still alive, persons who you thought you knew aren't who you think they are, a person you know and love is poisoned, alliances shift, long planned plots are put in motion, and most of that's just in about the first THIRD of the book, people. (Among other revelations, an overtly pansexual character and a pretty decidedly gay character are revealed in the story, although I'd be happier about it if they got to be happier.) If you thought there was political intrigue afoot in The City of Brass you're going need to sit down for this book. It is not a quick read, though it is an enjoyable one. The complexity of the political machinations is off the charts.

What I can tell you is that the characters you loved from the first book, for the most, part continue to earn your affection in this one. The true villains become greater monsters than any Scourge, ifrit or marid. And we have three central figures whose hearts and minds continue to be gradually changed by each other, who learn to question deeply what loyalty, friendship, affection, and love really mean. However...

While I loved this book as much as the first, I do have one warning for those who truly hate cliffhangers- unfortunately this book ends on a tremendous cliffhanger (much, much more so than in the first book) and will leave us waiting for its resolution another year.

I received a Digital Review Copy of this book from Harper Voyager via Edelweiss, along with a paper review copy, in exchange for an honest review.

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Giveaway! Diane Setterfield's "Once Upon A River"

This week I'm giving away my ARC of Diane Setterfield's fascinating "Once Upon a River." Here's my review from back in December:

"Over a decade ago, I read Diane Setterfield's splendid The Thirteenth Tale and was hooked on her writing. The idea of how our stories define who we are can be a haunting one, and that is especially true in her latest novel, Once Upon a River. This is a novel about parents and their children, about love and loss, about how grief can twist our perceptions, and about how believing the wrong story about one's self can lead to disaster. Centering on a seemingly miraculous little girl who is brought into The Swan, an inn on the Thames, a true mystery unravels about this child, who arrives looking dead but soon awakens, and several other little girls- a stolen toddler, a lost sister, and a missing granddaughter. Who is this little girl and what are the stories of the other three children? With a deft touch of local folklore and magical realism, Setterfield envelops you in the world, small farming community, and its denizens. With restrained but powerful emotion, you feel the predicament of those impacted by the little girl's arrival, echoing their own losses. The memorable characters and their stories are masterfully revealed to the reader. With echoes of the sensation novels of the Victorian era, this is a book to read slowly and savor."

In order to enter, please comment below. Please be aware that "Unknown" user ID entries may result in my being unable to contact you. I know you value your privacy, but if you want to win, I have to have some way to let you know. You can email me at to tell me which entry is yours (repeating your comment and saying "hey, that's me... XXXX XXXX") if you just do not want your name or username appearing on your entry.

Extra entries can be had by subscribing to the blog by email, which you can do in the right side bar. Don't use the "Contact Marzie's Reads" form because that's for emailing me, not for subscribing! If you are already subscribed, I count your extra entry automatically.

Extra, extra entries (what?!) can include following on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads, Bloglovin' and/or Feedly. If you've been around a while and are already following, I already count your follows when I set up the RNG draw! And if you're new, thanks for being here! Your participation in my blog helps me get more Advanced Review Copies and that results in my being able to offer these giveaways!

Entries for US (including APO, etc) and Canada residents: I will pay the postage.
Entries for all other countries: I will pay up to $5.50 to ship this book. If the postage is more, you must state that you are willing to pay the difference, which could be as much as another US$20 by PayPal. Sorry but it's a fortune now to mail from the US to other parts of the world. :(

This giveaway will be open until Sunday, January 27th at 11:59 PM. The winner will be notified by email if I have it, or by social media contact. I'll mail your book on Monday if you reply swiftly.


© Marzie's Reads 2017-2019, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Review: The Gilded Wolves

The Gilded Wolves The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Gilded Wolves is an ambitious novel. I'm not sure it always lives up to its ambitions but it provides an astonishing array of diversity and perspectives on colonialism, cultural identity and erasure. I have seen quite a few reviewers compare it to a combination of Bardugo's Six of Crows and Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code and while I think the comparisons are correct, looking beyond that, I think that Chokshi has managed to make the themes of both those books (found family, and mysterious objects and elements with grave portents for humanity, respectively) and spin them into something uniquely hers. Her central characters are all eccentric individuals of various cultural and racial backgrounds, living and working together in L'Eden hotel in Paris. We meet Séverin, cast out as presumed heir to House Vanth, one of four powerful gatekeeper houses of the West, his arachnid-loving foster brother Tristan, Laila, an Indian dancer (really the least of her skills), Zofia, a Polish Jewish autistic math prodigy, and Enrique, a Fillipino/Spanish historian. They join forces with Hypnos, the part Haitian and deliciously queer head of House Nyx, one of the two remaining houses* of the Order of Babel to try, ultimately, to secure the so-called Babel Fragment, recover a missing Babel ring, stolen from the other remaining house, House Kore. (And if you're thinking that Babel, you're right- we are talking about five fragments from the biblical Tower of Babel.) The mystery that binds these six together is developed slowly, and is set in part around the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1889.

What is fascinating about this novel to me is its deft handling of prevalent antisemitism, racism, and the sense of isolation felt by those from perceived outsider/inferior cultures cultures. There are tossed off moments in this book that made me draw a sharp breath, like that when Enrique is handed an invitation under a false identity bearing a Chinese name, as if it was nothing, or when the whole intent of Laila's cultural dances is obliterated by demands and expectations of vulgar display. The normalcy of many small events, peppering the story, make the perceptive reader keenly feel all the ways cultural identity can marginalized, overwritten, ignored. While not a perfect book (if there is such thing) I'll eagerly pick up the second book in the series, which will hopefully release in 2020.

*The missing house in this scenario is the Fallen House and you'll be wanting to learn more about that one, to be sure.

I received a Digital Review Copy of this book from Wednesday Books/St. Martin's Press via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Review: Annelies

Annelies Annelies by David R. Gillham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In all honesty I have to say that I had trepidations about this book from the start. Given the very real issue of growingly prevalent Holocaust denial, fictionalizing a story about one of the most famous individuals associated with the Holocaust surviving the camps seemed like a bad idea to me. While wholly understanding the intent was to make us feel what was lost even more, by showing us what might have been, I was still troubled. In the end, though Gillham's novel is well-researched, what it comes down to is my simply not feeling the authenticity of the voice of Anne Frank, in all it's petulance, adolescent longing, and burgeoning adulthood that I know from Diary of a Young Girl. This, on top of the fact that I am still left with those same reservations about fictionalizing her life and having her survive (because there are still so many that don't believe that the Shoah even took place) resulted in my rating for this book. This is a novel that should only be paired with the true history of its subject.

Annelies "Anne" Frank, June 12, 1929 - February or March 1945

I received a Digital Review Copy of this book, along with a paper review copy, in exchange for an honest review.

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© Marzie's Reads 2017-2019, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Review: The City of Brass, Plus a Giveaway!

Next week the second book in the Daevabad Trilogy, The Kingdom of Copper, releases. I'm giving away a paperback copy of the first book, The City of Brass, below. Here's my review of City of Brass from December 2017.

The City of Brass The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Over the past year, I have read several impressive debut novels (Katherine Arden and Ruth Emmie Lang specifically come to mind) where authors have built unique and magical worlds in which the reader can lose themselves. S. A. Chakraborty joins this group with a novel that is mesmerizing and steeped in Arabic and Persian folklore. The City of Brass takes its title from a less well-known tale in A Thousand and One Nights/"The Arabian Nights". (You can read a quick synopsis of the story of the City of Brass, and the seal of Suleiman/Solomon in A Thousand and One Nights here.) As in The Arabian Nights, Chakraborty's City of Brass is set in a world of djinn, ifrits, marids, and daevas* - ancient Avestan/Persian creatures that were considered chaos-promoting and deemed false gods by the Zoroastrians. Here, we travel the paths of the legendary Silk Road and Spice Route, from the bazaars of Cairo to the foothills of the Hindu Kush, Ancient Persia and the legendary City of Brass, Daevabad.

(You find can a key to this map, its various locations and their relevance to the Daevabad Trilogy world here.)

Equal parts fantasy and political intrigue, the first book of The Daevabad trilogy gives us alternating chapters about two main characters, Nahri, a girl with a mysterious history, and Ali, a djinn prince, in a story arc that brings them steadily closer to meeting one another. The inscrutable daeva Dara, a third main character, who rescues and protects Nahri, provides a vivid and visceral presence and has a recent past as mysterious as Nahri's. Chakraborty manages to make what becomes a love triangle an enjoyable read and everyone knows how I loathe love triangles. Nahri's relationship with Dara, grounded in emotion versus that with Ali, grounded in intellectual companionship, forms one of many interesting elements of the book. The misfortunes of being an idealistic second son, and the political implications of racism and slavery figure prominently in this tale. After the rather stunning last few chapters, I am eagerly awaiting The Kingdom of Copper. Although...

"Be careful what you wish for..."

*These are not quite related to the Vedic devas of Indic culture.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Here's a chance to win this first book in the Daevabad Trilogy! For your primary entry, comment on this post. For additional entries, subscribe to the Marzie's Reads by email. You can also follow Marzie's Reads through Bloglovin' (see link on sidebar), and you can follow Marzie's Reads on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, but your extra entries will only count if I can link them to YOU. Otherwise it's very hard to connect one entry to another, assign and contact the winner.

This giveaway will be open until Saturday, January 19, at 11:59 PM, EST.

On that note, there seems to be a lot of confusion about how to sign up for the email subscription so here's a screen capture of where you sign up in the sidebar:

When you sign up, you'll receive an email asking you to to VERIFY your subscription to Marzie's Reads. If you do not verify, you are not subscribed, and sadly you do not have an extra entry plus even sadder, you might miss reviews and giveaways! If you send me an email (Contact Marzie's Reads) instead of subscribing, you do not have an extra entry, either. :/

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Monday, January 14, 2019

Review: Dragon Pearl

Dragon Pearl Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yoon Ha Lee already had me at FOX MAGIC and DRAGONS. This middle grade space adventure story revolves around Korean mythology and sibling love. Min is a bold and brave girl who goes searching to find out what has happened to her older brother Jun, who has been accused of abandoning his post to search for something called the Dragon Pearl. Readers of Lee's Machineries of Empire series will find in contrast to the steep immersion of his usual worlds that this is a very accessible story for children. There is a deft exploration of supernatural racism, since foxes are looked down upon in Min's society and viewed as sly and dangerous, whereas tigers, dragons, shamans, celestial maidens, and even goblins are seen as useful to society. While some aspects of the story require the usual suspension of belief in middle grade adventures- young teen runs away from home in space to rescue older brother!- the story is just plain fun. With it's gorgeous cover and novel blending of mythology and space opera-like drama, this book is sure to delight young readers.

I received a Digital Review Copy of this book from Disney Hyperion via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: The Lost Puzzler

The Lost Puzzler The Lost Puzzler by Eyal Kless
My rating: 3.25 of 5 stars

3.25 stars

The Lost Puzzler offers an interesting world but gets bogged down in a repetitive plot structure. Telling the story of Rafik, the titular lost puzzler, we see events that directly affect him in the past, along with a "present day" (future world) historical search for information about him, along with an attempt to determine his whereabouts. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, puzzlers are those both gifted and cursed with the ability to gain access to sophisticated technology and structures that are remnants of the mysterious Tarakanian society.

While the concept was initially intriguing, the repetitive theme of twelve year old Rafik being sold from guild to guild as people exploit his puzzle solving abilities seemed to drag on. The reader can foresee early on what facets of the ending of the book will be but it's a long 500 pages getting there. My biggest complaint however was the development of the character of Vincha, who is judged by everyone in this future dystopian world by the same double moral standards as those in our day. It felt odd that this was a world that evolved with sophisticated technology, fell apart, its denizens struggle to survive in an almost Mad Max sense, many with significantly augmented humans, yet everyone is still focused on how many people Vincha has slept with in this camp or another. Evidently women's sexuality/promiscuity is still a significant social issue while men can still "just be boys." Really? After a while, it just began to annoy me. Wouldn't it be unique to have a future dystopian world in which assertive or aggressive women are not labeled bitches and no one cares about who they sleep with?  It also would have given the sting of the revelations about her character's actions far more impact.

I received a Digital Review Copy from Harper Voyager via Edelweiss along with a paper review copy, in exchange for an honest review.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Alex, Janelle and Marzie Read Wayward Children Book Four: In an Absent Dream, Part 2

In an Absent Dream is the latest in the Wayward Children series. It released Tuesday, January 8th. This is the story of Katherine Lundy, who we first met in Every Heart a Doorway, as a teacher and counselor in Eleanor West's School for Wayward Children. Lundy's life wasn't a happy one. And here we find out all about her wayward background.

You can find my review of In an Absent Dream here. The title, drawn from Christina Rossetti's poem Goblin Market, is your clue that Lundy's world was a goblin market one. The interesting thing about Lundy's world is that this is finally a hereditary door! The goblin market is a portal world that Lundy find her father also visited. But her love of this world and some of the people in it is certainly not matched by her father.


In Part 1 of our discusion, which is over on Alex's blog, we contemplate Lundy and Moon's friendship and the structure of the market. In Part 2 we look at hereditary doors and their emotional perils for those who come back to our world.

Alex, Janelle and Marzie Read Wayward Children Book 4

Part 2

Marzie: I've been thinking a lot about Lundy's father and what his experience must have been like that he left and never went back. (He was sure about leaving!) It was interesting that this was finally a hereditary door, wasn't it?

Alex: I was so excited to see one of the hereditary doors! I had been dying to find out what that was like.

Marzie: Yes, and that it passed to Diana’s son was interesting.

Janelle: I am so excited to see more about the hereditary element in future works. I’m hoping it’ll be a doozy.

Alex: I was frustrated at her father for behaving the way he did. He could have chosen to make his world more attractive instead of restrictive. He threw acid on it instead. He drove her away.

Marzie: I thought her father was very misguided. I’m not even sure it would have taken much to make Katherine’s world richer than Lundy’s. Just even the shared experience, if he had really talked to her, might have been enough to ground her here. But his negative reactions and the reality of their family and school made it all the opposite. The Goblin Market was really far more appealing because she could be herself and freed from the constraints of the principal’s daughter role.

Janelle: So misguided.

Alex: He probably felt like he won for the first few years too. Smug and sure that he’d convinced her to choose his reality instead of what she really wanted. I want to see the look of horror on his face when he realized what had actually played out.

Janelle: This story was so deliciously tragic. In almost every way. I love tragedies, and this one is spectacular.

Marzie: It is. I really cried at the end. I haven’t done that since Down Among the Sticks and Bones when Alexis was murdered.

Alex: It really was a tragedy. And I think that’s part of why I love it so much. I identified more with Lundy than I have with any other Wayward child so far.

Janelle: I identified with Lundy as well, although I thiiiiink when all is said and done, I’ll end up feeling most kinship with Eleanor herself.

Alex: Nonsense! ;) The Goblin Market was decidedly Logical, and yet still had a sense of whimsy about it that I loved. There are rules to be followed and wiggle room for the young.

Marzie: LOL. High Logic and High Wicked…(that’s what they say in EHAD) There was whimsy. And I’ll never forget Moon, the bird girl. It was what pushed this book to 5 stars for me. The idea of what her learned life was there… the role with the Archivist, who is so abstruse and odd, just… haunting, that girl. I literally could not stop thinking about Moon.

Janelle: I loved Moon so much.

Alex: Moon broke my heart at the start, and filled it in the middle when she got her apprenticeship and then broke it again when she last spoke with Lundy. That last quote really got me in the feels. “You were my best friend ever. Remember that okay? I loved you a lot. Even if you did build a boat big enough to bury yourself in.”

Marzie: Seriously, I cried for both Lundy and Moon. Fantasy books hardly ever make me cry.

Janelle: Yes, it did me, as well. I didn’t cry, I don’t cry very much, but I did think about the story a lot, and the tragedy did affect me. It stuck with me.

Alex: I cried. Not when I first read the line, because I didn’t know what she meant yet, but once it was clear, I cried, because Moon tried to save her, but Lundy didn’t let her, and she asked, so Moon, bound by the rules of the Market, had to answer.

Marzie: I guess since we know from EHAD that the Goblin Market booted her out, I could see that Moon was having to leave her to her own sad fate. I did feel like the Archivist tried to warn her, but mostly it felt like they wanted to keep her (the Market, I mean). It was all just going to be bad, the way things turned out.

Alex: I had kind of forgotten, and hoped and hoped that Lundy would find a way to stay. Oh gosh, Lundy broke the Archivist’s heart as much as she broke Moon’s.

Marzie: She did. I think everyone’s heart was broken, probably even Diana’s. At some point before Eleanor arrived, she must have begun to realize a bit of what she had cost Katherine.

Alex: Lundy’s story is the saddest story.

Marzie: Yes, I think it is even sadder than Jack’s because at least Jack goes home and gets to rebuild her life on the Moors. Lundy doesn’t get that resolution. She gets murdered.

Alex: Yeah, Jack has a chance to go home. And Jill deserves the bed she’s made for herself. Lundy just wanted to be a sister and to have the Market.

Marzie: Part of me wishes that Diana could have joined her in the Goblin Market. That would have been the only chance for her to be happy- to have Diana and Moon together. But clearly not a possible solution. I wonder what she thinks of her nephew going (before she leaves for Eleanor’s school, I mean). That must have been searing… to realize he gets to go back to a place she loved and is barred from returning to.

Janelle: God, yeah. That was the last straw. I felt just so much empathy for her in that moment. She didn’t even do anything wrong. It was just an impossible situation, and it broke her. Everything else stemmed from that.

Alex: It was probably salt in the wound, and finally the last thing that made Lundy need to finally leave and go to the school.

Marzie: Yes. I can’t imagine sitting there for a decade watching my nephew go to a world I loved, with people in it I love, knowing I’ll never go back. *sobs*

Janelle: Totally. It makes me want to read (or write!) more tragedies, because they really just do it for me.

Alex: That would have been the last of it for me, certainly. In An Absent Dream is the best of the series so far, in my opinion and I can’t WAIT for more people to read it.

Marzie: So all in all we love this book. It’s one of the strongest in the series. For me, DATSAB is still my favorite but I love the way she made me care about Lundy in this book because she wasn’t a character I was particularly drawn to in EHAD.

Janelle: Yes. I think it’s my favorite entry, but I also really like Down Among the Sticks and Bones. Is Come Tumbling Down out yet? Haha.

Alex: I WISH! Hey, when will we get that publication date? I need to know how many more days of heartache I have left!

Marzie: Yeah. The wait… 2020 is so far away...

Janelle: Hopefully 2019 will be another short year for me.

Alex: Janelle, thanks so much for reading along with us again! Same bat time, same bat place when Come Tumbling Down releases?

Janelle: Definitely!

Marzie: We are going to have to find more stuff to read and discuss until then!

Alex, Janelle and I have been have a wonderful time discussing the Wayward Children books and can hardly believe that we'll likely have to wait a whole year before we discuss the next in the series, Come Tumbling Down. Thanks for joining us and see you again soon for other books!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Review: The Winter of the Witch

The Winter of the Witch The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5 Stars and more if I could give them.

"Magic is forgetting the world was ever other than you willed it."

Readers of my blog are quite familiar with my great love for Russian folklore and my love of the Winternight trilogy. Katherine Arden has managed to take some of the most famous characters of classic Russian folktales and deepen them while stripping them of many of the tropes, particularly female gender constraints, that plague classic fairy, and folktales.

Vasya has never desired a conventional life for herself, and after the conclusion of The Girl in the Tower, finds even greater challenges lie ahead after she is labeled a witch and blamed for burning part of Moscow. Picking up immediately after the conclusion of that second book, The Winter of the Witch finds Arden continuing to deftly mix Russian folklore and the medieval history of Rus' in a way that reflects the delicate coexistence of faith and pagan culture in Russia. The tension between the Byzantine-influenced Orthodox Russian faith and paganism, between family and personal freedom, is perfectly captured in Vasya as she bridges the worlds of humans and chyerti.

"I was born to be in between— do you think I don't know it?"

This book opens with utter heartbreak but moves on, while never forgetting what has been lost, at a harrowing pace toward a resolution that is satisfying, and even at times exhilarating. Arden never lets her reader down- the complexity of relationships and the story she has interwoven with real Russian history are beautifully rendered.

A triumphant capstone to the trilogy.

For blog readers:

Arden's melding of Vasilisa (the now Wise) into Snegurochka, the Snow Maiden and companion of Ded Moroz/Morozko/Father Frost is a beautiful transition, as is her relationship to Baba Yaga. There is so much richness in the recasting of these roles, most of all in that Vasya retains her individuality and independence in a way that neither Vasalisa nor Snegurochka do in their classic tales, and without the harshness of Baba Yaga herself. Vasya is both iconoclast and an amalgam of all that was good in these three characters.

Come back and tell me about how you feel about the ending!

Snegurochka by Boris Zvorikin

If you haven't had time start the Winternight Trilogy, now's your chance to win a paperback copy of The Bear and the Nightingale, first book in Katherine Arden's trilogy and a snowflake pin (shown resting on the book near the bottom edge). Comment below to enter. You can sign up for the newsletter in the right sidebar or follow Marzie's Reads on Bloglovin' for an extra entry. This is such a great series!

This giveaway is open internationally, with a winner outside the US to receive the UK edition (a different cover) of the book from Book Depository. A winner will be drawn on Monday, January 14, 2019 at 9 am EST. Winner to be announced here and on Facebook.

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