Three of a Theme: Russia-Inspired Fairy Tale Retellings

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This week, I’ll be discussing a trend in my favorites shelf: Russia-inspired fantasy novels!

  1. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
  2. Uprooted by Naomi Novak
  3. Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

Russia is a fascinating country, and I love the blend of Russian history with fantasy elements.

Read:

In The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, it is very apparent how much research has been conducted by Katherine Arden on a period in Russian history that is little-known and poorly documented. She blends this historical context with Russian fairytales and the folklore of the time, to create a magical and believable world.

Uprooted is a fairytale version of Poland and Russia. It has a twist of Beauty and the Beast and Rapunzel, as well as hints of Slavic folklore. Naomi Novik has built a wonderful world through this clever mix of origin stories and has managed to make it feel like her own creation.

To Read:

I have yet to read Deathless, but I own a paperback copy and fully plan on reading this one over the next couple of weeks. This book mixes the Russian folklore story of Koschei the Deathless with historical events in the twentieth century. I’ve been told that this book contains some heavy topics, so I’m likely to wait until I’ve read something a little lighter (I’m still reeling from The Secret History).

 

 

Friday Favorites: Stand-Alone Novels

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*Friday Favorites is a feature in which I discuss my personal favorites in categories, genres, and more.

This week, I will list my favorite stand-alones!

This was definitely a hard list to come up with, since most of my favorite books are part of a series. I had to dig deep into past reads, but I was able to find some gems! While sequels are fun, stand-alone books are great if you want to read a book that ties up every loose end without dragging a story on for longer than necessary.

So without further ado:

Easy by Tammara Webber

Easy is a New Adult college romance. I read it when I was in college, so it was definitely a right-book-at-the-right-time situation. It’s a very cute and fun story, and the romance is absolutely swoon-worthy. While it is technically a stand-alone, it has another book written from the perspective of the love interest and a spin-off book with different characters.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Okay, this is definitely cheating, since Vicious has a sequel (Vengeful) planned for release at the end of the year and a third book to follow (Victorious). However, it was originally considered a stand-alone and works very well as one, with the ending wrapped up nicely while also leaving room for speculation/future books. This is also one of my favorite books ever, and V.E./Victoria Schwab is my favorite author, so how could I not include this?

Wallbanger by Alice Clayton

Sooooo I may have gone through a steamy New Adult romance phase, but what can I say? These books are addictive, fun, and bring on allllll the swoons. Wallbanger is straight-up hilarious. It’s perfect if you’re looking for something light, funny, and sexy.

Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker

This is another New Adult romance, but it is not what I would consider light. It has some pretty dark themes, but K.A. Tucker really knows how to write sexual tension and suspense. Kacey is such a feisty, strong, and fun main character, even though she has some problems to work through over the course of the book. The male lead is the love of my life, and his dedication to pulling Kacey out of the darkness is heartwarming. It concludes in such a satisfying way, and UGH. I might need to read this one again soon. This one also has spinoffs, and Kasey and Trent have cameo appearances in each of them.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

There isn’t much to say about this one. Adore x10000. If you haven’t read it, read it.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

I’m not usually a fan of contemporary fiction, but I really enjoyed this one! It involves a beachside community, a schoolyard scandal involving a kindergarten class, and the murder of a local. The story leads up to the murder, while it is broken up with interviews from people in the community after the murder takes place. You don’t know who died until the very end, and the mystery will keep you hooked. I would recommend this for anyone looking for a good beach read.

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

The main character of this book moved to Boston from Maine and starts dating a sexy neurosurgeon. Which is basically my life story, minus the sexy neurosurgeon. The less you know about this book going into it, the better, though I will say that it isn’t as light and fluffy as it may seem at the start.

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

This is a mystery/suspense story that is written in reverse. It involves a young woman named Nicolette, who returns home after several years to discover that the mystery of her high school friend’s disappearance is being revisited due to another disappearance. I was guessing the whole way through, and still didn’t know what happened until the events unfolded at the end. I read this entire book at the airport during an extended layover, and didn’t even mind that my flight was delayed because of it.

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

This book is a terrifying and intriguing dystopian thriller involving a young zombie girl. I think this one actually has a sequel, but it’s a separate story that takes place in the same world. I loved how creepy and weird this was. Its been awhile since I read this, but I remembered completely devouring it.

 

Soooo in conclusion:

That was hard. I need to read more stand-alones, I think. After reading (and loving) The Cruel Prince, I plan on reading two of Holly Black’s stand-alone novels (The Darkest Part of the Forest and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown).

If anyone has any other great stand-alone novels that they’ve read, let me know in the comments!