Review: The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the NightingaleThe Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hmm… I’m at a loss with this one. I can’t say that I loved it, but I didn’t dislike it either. I feel like I’m missing something. This is a story that I should probably go back and re-read at a time when I can give it my full attention…but I didn’t feel a strong enough connection the first time around to make me want to do that.

When I listen to an audiobook, I’m usually doing something else that requires part of my attention (i.e. driving). For this reason, I try to keep my audiobook selections pretty straightforward. Unfortunately, this book proved to be too detailed for me to follow in that format. I ended up having to “rewind” several times to reorient myself because I’d find myself completely lost.

‘The Bear and the Nightingale’ ended up being a bit too complicated of a story for me to take in via audiobook. There were details and connections that I’m sure I missed. The fact that I didn’t understand some of the Russian words and wasn’t able to look them up at the time, certainly contributed to my bewilderment.

In a nutshell, the story dealt with religious persecution as the “old gods” and religions were being pushed out by Christianity. The story is set in medieval Russia and the imagery crafted by the author was beautiful. Even when I was admittedly lost, I greatly enjoyed the detailed descriptions provided.

The heroine, Vasya, had special abilities and represented “good” in this book. Her mother was determined to have her, even knowing that she would sacrifice her own life. As a result, Vasya grows up to be resented by her father in a way.

When her father decides to remarry, largely in an attempt to tame the spirited Vasya, a political marriage is arranged to Anna. Anna had planned to become a nun and religion is a very large part of her identity. To say the least, she ended up being a nightmare for Vasya.

When the self-righteous Anna teams up with the fear-mongering priest, Konstantin, nobody is safe. Let the witch hunts begin!

Meanwhile, Vasya is given a protective talisman. She is tied to “Frost”, the winter demon king. Through their abilities and old “magic” the two are interconnected. — I won’t lie. I am hazy on the details here.

In many ways, this story was intriguing. At some point, I might give it another try because I’m certain that I missed a great deal. I had a hard time staying focused on this story, not because it was bad, but because I was preoccupied. Nonetheless, it ended up being a “good but not great” read for me this time around. It just didn’t keep my attention.

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Review: Never Never (Part 3), by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

Never Never: Part Three (Never Never, #3)Never Never: Part Three by Colleen Hoover
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was the third, and final, part of Silas and Charlie’s story. While I didn’t hate the story’s conclusion as much as most of my friends did, I am definitely disappointed. I feel so….underwhelmed.

Charlie and Silas continue digging around, following the clues that they’ve left for themselves. Eventually, they unearth some disturbing truths. The reasons for their relationship’s decline were explained at last, which was kind of sad.

However, after all the build-up and suspense surrounding the reasons for their amnesia, we are given a cheesy, ridiculous reason. Seriously? It was a total let down!

I was willing to accept aliens, government conspiracies/government testing, drugging by one of their angry dads, some sort of accident…virtually anything but what we got. Instead, after all the anticipation, we are given a sweet, but completely unbelievable explanation. It was almost like they just got sick of the story and just wanted to end it quickly. Again, it was disappointing.

That being said, I didn’t completely hate Part Three. There were some very interesting revelations and I was still very engaged right up until the ending. I’m a bit torn because I actually liked most of it, but the ending really dragged it down. So, I’m going to average it and go with a 3-star rating. It started out as a 4, but the ending was a 2.

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Review: Never Never (Part 2), by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

Never Never: Part Two (Never Never, #2)Never Never: Part Two by Colleen Hoover
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After the huge cliffhanger at the end of the first book, Part Two has Silas searching for Charlie. She never made it home after they left the club. With the help of the clues they had written down, Silas does his best to find her.

If you thought that the first book was unbelievable, Part Two takes it to another level. The “amnesia” that these two seem to be experiencing keeps getting stranger and stranger. I won’t spoil it for you, but I will say that the “amnesia” storyline was unrealistic enough in the first place. It didn’t need to be made more so.

For most of this book, Charlie and Silas are separated. She has been imprisoned and must try and figure out exactly who is holding her captive and why. Meanwhile, Silas falls under scrutiny when Charlie does not turn up. He was the last person seen with her and the number one suspect in her disappearance.

Despite the fact that this story continues to get more and more far-fetched, I found myself listening the audiobook intently. I would have liked it if it were toned down a little more, but I can’t deny that I enjoyed it.

As short as each of these audiobooks are, the story doesn’t seem rushed at all. I wouldn’t have minded a little more information on Charlie’s escape and some sort of revenge against her captors. I thought that particular aspect of the story was a bit anti-climactic.

Overall, I’m still very interested in finding out what happened to Charlie and Silas. This story continues to hold my interest, even if this book seemed to get a little crazier. I didn’t think it could get any more unbelievable after the first one, but I was wrong.

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