Reviewed Again: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Sometimes I love a book so much I feel compelled to read it over again. When this happens I oftentimes feel a bit let down and get upset with myself. That I ruined a great book with a reread.
For me, very few books are as good the second time around. Having said that I have a few I read over and over again (TKaM, TNotW, TWMF and PiL). Each time I read them I love them. Never did I love them more the second time around…I loved them as much…or nearly as much…but never more…

Despite having books I love during a reread, I can’t ever recall a feeling like I’ve had reading this novel for the second time. When I first read this book I knew instantly that it was a 5 star read for me and that I loved it. With the second book coming out soon I wanted to refresh the story in my mind…So I once again went deep into the Rus’ forest at winter…

Once I started it again…well…magic happened. The first time I loved the story. The second time, I knew the story and I fell in love with the storytelling. I honestly loved it more than I did the first time. I must be getting old (hell, I AM getting old!!!!) but at times I just wanted to cry…for no other reason than I loved what I was reading.

It’s like looking over at your spouse sitting on the couch, and feeling a tug at the heartstrings and an overwhelming feeling of love…suddenly the emotions well up and you have a huge lump in your throat…that’s what happened to me whilst reading this book.

The only issue I have is that…well….I have wanted to start the second book for months now…I opened the cover (I received an ARC months before it’s release) but I was worried I wouldn’t love it as much…I’ve had friends read it and tell me it’s just as fantastic…I can’t explain it, but I am really scared to read it! I thought rereading this one would fix that problem…but now I am terrified…

Until next time…
Urania xx

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden


Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

10,000 stars!!!! I am speechless. Wow. What a wonderful magical fantastic novel!

How does one review a book that you absolutely love and manage to do it the justice it deserves? One where you get to 40% and can’t put it down. One where you have 20 pages left and tell your husband to shut up and leave you alone when he reminds you that it’s bedtime. One that after reading you’re so hyped up you can’t possibly sleep, even thought it’s past 11 pm and you have a full day of work to do the next day.

If I had to complain about anything, it’s that at the start it is a bit confusing with the children’s names. They have their given name, but also the names their family calls them and they go by. I also struggled with some of the Russian vocabulary, but soon discovered that there was a glossary in the back. I soon got over these bits and had no issues at all following along.

There is so much here to review. So I will just tell you again, that I loved this book. Every single bit of it. The family. The fairytale. The spirits that Vasilisa cares for. Even the Winter Demon. I love these old folklore stories and they all came to life in this book. Please, give this novel a chance. It will go down as an all time favourite of mine. Seriously. Top 5 lifetime reads.

What I find very interesting is that the step mother and Vasilisa are from the same bloodline and although they are much alike, their attitude it what separates and divides them. One refuses to accept what is before their very eyes, the other one does. This attitude makes all the difference to themselves, but also to everyone in the village.

Man, this is truly a Midlevel Russian Fairytale. Go satisfy that child within your heart, the heart that longs for a good old-fashioned story…where good and bad clash….where you’re too scared to breathe and too afraid to not go on…where you have to pause to build your courage and you close your eyes at the truly scary parts and cheer for the really happy parts….go curl up to a warm fire on a snowy night, make yourself a hot drink and some fresh cookies, find a warm and fluffy blanket and curl up with this book. I can’t imagine a better way to spend any night…Seriously….the best…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Review (revisited): One of Us Is Lying by Karen M McManus

I guess I’m one of those people who don’t really mind fan-fiction. Hell, I guess I’m just not smart enough to see it in most books. Maybe because I’m not obsessed with many writings. Or maybe I think we all take inspiration from where we can get it, so I don’t really often see fan-fiction as a knockoff. Some people act like it’s a terrible thing and cheating. Other’s can’t get enough of it. I’ve never been bothered either way. If anything I should think it would be an honour. At the end of the day there are very few original concepts out there…and even then the artists still got their inspiration from somewhere!

Starting this book was like an eye opener. Two chapters in and I was like, “oh shite, I’m not sure I will like this.” I mean it was so obviously “The Breakfast Club”. I was like, “really? are you freaking serious?”

But then again, growing up in the 80’s who can’t say that TBC wasn’t just, the be all, end all of everything 80’s. Who doesn’t love that movie?

Then I got over it, and the book progressed. I won’t say I was shocked at the ending. Or surprised. I won’t say I had it all figured out, but I had a pretty good idea of what happened, just not how all the players tied in together.

At the ending, I wasn’t left feeling cheated. I didn’t feel the author took shortcuts or intentionally mislead.

I wasn’t blown away by it, but I did enjoy it once the novel moved on from TBC type feel. I did go back and forth about which character I liked best (this isn’t a bad thing!). I enjoyed them all. I could also relate to them all (just like in TBC). I wanted good things to happen for all of them.

If this is what McManus has to show us in her debut novel, I seriously can’t wait to see what her next one will be like.

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Review: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Won’t lie, parts of this short novel were a bit hard. My father died of cancer. Cancer that started in the lungs and metastasis to the brain. When I read Kalanithi’s words about fatalities of that type of brain cancer…well…it was a like a punch to my stomach.

I was a bit gobsmacked at times reading this. I mean, when we are talking about brain surgery a mm can mean life or death, functional or nonfunctional. I just can’t even imagine the skill it must take. I found most fascinating Kalanithi’s reasons for choosing this field. The concept of our minds and actions just being a byproduct of our brains…well, that might seem simple in concept but I still find the entire concept too all-encompassing to grasp.

I hate what happened to Kalanithi and his family. What they went through, I mean, how could anyone not? I would have loved to read a b by book by Kalanithi that wasn’t sure to end the way it did. I found his subject matter and how he discussed his cases and brain surgery fascinating. I wonder if he would have been a different type of writer had he not had cancer. Was his writing style and his reflections modified because of his diagnosis? Did his future make him more humane? Please, understand, I’m not trying to imply that he was anything but compassionate before…I…well…maybe I am kinda wondering if he was less compassionate before….not by a conscious meaning to be…but just by the circumstances of that type of work. Of any type of work really.

If any of us were to sit down and write about ourselves and our current path, wouldn’t it be different from the words we were to write if we knew our death was imminent.

I’m glad I read this book. It gave me so much to think about. It offered insights I’m not sure I’ve had before…but I would have loved to read a different type of book by Paul Kalanithi as well…for so many various reasons…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Review copy provided by Netgalley for an honest review

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Review: The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

I’ve finished this novel and am just wondering how in the hell none of my mates have read it. Seriously, I know many that would really like this one!

Second, I listened to this on audio. I admit that I was a bit worried when I started and found out that author was one of the narrators. I have nothing against authors reading their own books, but oftentimes it just doesn’t work for me…It would be the same as any random person trying to narrate a book…it’s not easy to do and not everyone is meant to narrate an audiobook. However, Jess-Cooke did a wonderful job. She absolutely made the book, as did the male narrator, Bruce Mann. I listen to maybe 30 audiobooks a year as I walk back and forth between my home and jobs. I rarely comment on the fact that I listened to the novel…however, again, I absolutely LOVED this audio version!

About half way through this book I figured it would most likely end in one or two ways…and it did. I don’t even care. I really enjoyed this novel. I loved Alex and his story. I loved Ruen. But most of all, I loved Carolyn Jess-Cooke’s storytelling. No, it’s not the be all end all of books. No, it’s not the best thing I’ve ever read. However, I enjoyed the entire experience of this book in so many ways. The audio, the personalities of the narrators, the story, the country of Ireland as a backdrop, Shakespeare, the music, demons, the family bond, the mother, the son, the doctors, teachers and social workers. They all meshed together to create such a wonderful reading experience.

Again, I’m shocked this book isn’t more well known…That other’s haven’t heard of it…I might just have to climb to the top of the highest hill near me here in Wiltshire and whisper the title and hope that the wind carries it near and far so others can enjoy this novel as much as I did…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

Review: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

wildI really enjoyed this book, but it was a bit depressing. It really gives me pause and makes me think about how many people are out there like Chris McCandless. If he had chosen any other place he might still be alive today….but what would he be like? How many people do you know that march to a beat of a different drum? So many of those people who do so are geniuses in disguise. If we don’t find an outlet for the thoughts that go though our minds, what happens? Obviously, Chris wasn’t stupid. He obviously had a lot going on inside his head. It also appears that he kept a lot of that to himself. What if he had found someone to share those thoughts with? What if he had some type of outlet to deal with those thoughts? What is “wanderlust”? Was Chris rebelling? Was he protesting? Was he trying to find himself? Was he trying to reconcile his past relationships in his head? Or was it nothing so complex as that? Was he simply just “being” and going where that led him?

I’ve known people who I’ve thought could seriously live anywhere and with nothing and they would be happy…..material items mean nothing to them. They don’t worry about tomorrow….they know it will come regardless of how you prepare for it…and they know that it usually takes care of itself. I’ve often admired their courage to set forth and not know where they shall end at the end of the day. Staying in hostels or sleeping under the stars…..I’ve also though that there was a bit of madness there as well 🙂 I’ve wondered if they are running from something. Or just simply living life as they *want* to live it….

I’ve often wondered about really successful artists. Authors. Musicians. Painters. Really anyone that is successful doing things in a different way. I’ve often wondered what would happen if they hadn’t found their chosen fields. Or if they hadn’t been successful in those outlets. IOW if Stephen King couldn’t make a living from writing, what would he do? If Prince couldn’t do the same with music, where would he be? If Steve Jobs has never found tech…..The list goes on and on. Of course there are plenty out there that couldn’t…and they died penniless…only to be discovered long after their deaths…

But take it a step further….what if those people had never found that outlet in the first place? Would their search for it be termed “wanderlust”?

Face it, you see someone a bit unkept standing on a street corner and *if* you see them, you might make an automatic assumption…..if you see a young guy standing on the beach going, “Whoa, Dude”, again an assumption is made….

I’m pretty f**king sure the co-workers of Chris McCandless’ at McDonalds who jokingly offered him a bar of soap to get rid of the smell were making assumptions as well. However, they were wrong. Turns out that he was probably the most educated person there. He wasn’t stupid and unable to get work somewhere else. He wasn’t unmotivated. His family was probably more “well-to-do” than any one else’s. Chris didn’t have to be alone. Chris didn’t have to be flipping burgers at McDonalds. He *chose* to…..

I’m not saying that Chris was a closet genius and he would have changed the world. I’m only saying that these are the thoughts that ran though my head as I read this book.

It just all reinforced what I already know….We ALL have these *things* going on inside our head. Some of us just mask them better…..or find a way to deal with them… one ever knows everything that goes on with someone….even our loved ones…..we all have our secret thoughts and feelings….and sometimes motivations aren’t clear….even to ourselves…..

a little bit of kindness can go a very long way…..but so can a little bit of judgement…so be generous with your kindness and stingy with your judgement….

and finally…..

“we are all stories in the end”……

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce #1) by Alan Bradley

bottom-pieI just love little Flavia…so wish I could go back in time and read these as a 10 year old! I would have been mad for her then! Such a cheeky little bugger! But whom I kidding? I love her now as a 46 year old!

If you think this is a short review, well you’re wrong…You don’t need me to tell you what the book is about, you just need me to tell you to go out and read it…so I am telling you now…it doesn’t matter how young or old you are…go out and buy this book…we all need a little Flavia in our lives!

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley