The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden | Book Review

11:05 AM Ally M.G. 0 Comments

“We who live forever can know no courage, nor do we love enough to give our lives.”

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

“Nothing changes, Vasya. Things are, or they are not. Magic is forgetting that something ever was other than as you willed it.”

This book is magical. Fall into the lands of Russ and experience the stories told between its inhabitants. The Bear and the Nightingale is a Russian folklore re-telling, but to me is was just a whole new adventure I never thought I would embark on.

In this story we follow the story of Vasya, a spirited young girl who lives in a village where they honor the spirits with offerings for protections. Vasya is special because she can see and speak to these spirits. Unfortunately, these spirits begin to suffer along with the villagers when a priests comes to spread the new religion of the new God. A new evil is rising, ready to consume everything in its path…and only Vasya can save them all..

I personally don’t know a single russian folklore, so this retelling filled me with curiosity and want for more. Especially with Katherine Arden’s story telling style. She doesn’t just tell you a story but she poetically paints you a picture.

If that isn’t beautiful then I don’t know what is. Her gorgeous writing weaves the plot and the world building together so flawlessly that you do not realize the difference between plot and world building. The subtleness Arden creates in her writing is award worthy. Although there are moments that it feels like the story is dragging on because it may be confused with her world building.

“In the space between one breath and the next, the wind told him a tale: of life and death together, of a child born with the failing year. After and fainter, like an echo, the stranger heard a roar and crash, as of wave on rock. For the barest instant in the reeking hall, he smelled sun and salt and wet stone.”

I want to gush about all the amazing parts of this book, but I do not want to spoil the experience of reading this book…to anyone.

It is fresh. It is new. It is magical.

My Rating: 5/5
GR Rating: 4.18/5

“You will walk a long road,” said Morozko. “If you have not the courage to meet it, better—far better—for you to die quiet in the snow. Perhaps I meant you a kindness.”


All for the Game by Nora Sakavic | Book Review

10:00 AM Ally M.G. 0 Comments

"It’s not the world that’s cruel. It’s the people in it. "

Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He's short, he's fast, he's got a ton of potential—and he's the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher.

Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn't need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed.

But Neil's not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil's new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can't walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he's finally found someone and something worth fighting for.

Before I start I want to say that this is a heavy book. It has mental and physical abuse, rape, murder, suicide thoughts, and many other heavy topics.

I started this book knowing it was about sports, but part me thought it was gonna have some form of urban fantasy. I was wrong. This is 100% about sports, Exy to exact. (Exy is like an extreme version of lacrosse that has male and females in a single team with a lot more beating each other up with a racket.) 

As well as being about sports, the story also features a bunch of college students struggling because life is not fair. Through the trilogy we follow the story of Neil, a boy who has been on the run from his father. One night he signs up to play alongside a Class I Exy team, the Palmetto State's Foxes. The lowest ranking team in the division. 

Here Neil meets a dysfunctional team of monsters (Andrew, Aaron, Kevin and Nicky) and upperclassmen (Matt, Dan, Allison, Seth and Renee ). Together they all grow as a team as Neil deals with the people he tried to run away from. 

I read the three books back to back in a span of a week. I didn't think I would get hooked, especially on a contemporary about sports. But alas, I was wrong. Neil's story is full of pain and sass, and all I wanted to do was hug him. 

"Remember this feeling. This is the moment you stop being the rabbit."

Like I said before, this book deals with some pretty heavy themes that caught me off guard. There was an assault scene in the book that left me beyond angered, it made me hate several characters (whom I later forgave a bit but not completely). This book is not for everyone, especially if certain things trigger you. I don't even think the book has any warnings, even though it should because goddamn. These characters go through some pretty heavy stuff. 

Nora Sakavic's writing is pretty straight forward. It is not overly descriptive nor lacking detail. My only complaint is that the sports scenes (the games/matches) were a bit confusing when I read them. I am not a sports fan. Sakavic explains the rules of Exy several times throughout the three books but it just did not click in my the matches were just a big "What's going on!! Whaaaat!?"

My favorite part of the whole story was watching Neil allow himself to become an important player with his team, rather than an outsider watching this group of misfits from the sidelines. He goes from Neil the outsider to Neil, #10 Fox striker. 

"Hope was a dangerous, disquieting thing, but he thought perhaps he liked it."

My Rating: 4/5
GoodReads: 4.9/5
Amazon: 5/5


Author Guest Post: Carrie Ann DiRisio | SerendipiTEA tour + Giveaway

8:00 AM Ally M.G. 1 Comments

I partnered up with SerendipiTea Tour in order to help promote upcoming debut authors for 2017! I was partnered up with Ms. Carrie Ann DiRiso who has an really fun book coming up in October! Also there is super awesome giveaway going on. There is a few days left so don't forget to enter to win some free books

Check out the other blogs to learn about new upcoming books released by debut authors!


Many of you might have heard of BroodingYAHero before. He’s my adorable, opinionated character, found over on twitter at He’s the combination of every brooding boy in all your favorite books, and his tweets have made him quite popular.

As your favorite, spicy-sweet book boyfriend, the perfect tea for Broody is a CINNAMON SUNSET.
This tea is full of flavor, dramatic, and will warm you right up. Plus, we all know gazing into Broody’s eyes is as dramatic as staring into the setting sun.

I’ve enjoyed tea for years, ever since my roommate in college introduced me to the magic of an electric kettle. I love sipping on tea as I write, starting with high-caf teas in the morning, and mellowing out with a nice herbal tea at night. What’s your favorite?

BROODING YOUNG ADULT HERO’S GUIDE TO ACHIEVING MAIN CHARACTER STATUS was a really exciting book for me to write. It’s both a “How To” book, explaining all the attributes the best main characters have, as well as a chance for Broody to star in his very own exciting story as himself! I hope it will make you all giggle.

You can sign up for Broody’s newsletter
And add the book on Goodreads

SerendipiTea Tour Stops

 April 2nd--Ohana Reads
April 3rd--YA and Wine
April 4th--The YA Book Traveler
April 5th--YA Wednesdays
April 6th--Bibliobibuli YA
April 7th--Rattle the Pages
April 10th--lollipopsbooks
April 11th--SimplyAllyTea (Me!)
April 12--bookishfangirl
April 14th--Redd's Reads

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