#SixforSunday · Uncategorized

#SixforSunday: Characters I’d Go on Holiday With

#SixforSunday is a weekly meme hosted by A Little But A Lot. This week’s theme is, ‘characters you’d go on holiday with‘.

Here are my top six!

(1) The entire Six of Crows gang (Kaz, Inej, Nina, Matthias, Jesper and Wylan)

Yes, I know it would be the wildest, most chaotic holiday ever, but it would still be pretty cool! We could go on a snowy skiing holiday and I could eat waffles with Nina and Inej.

(2) Lila Bard from A Darker Shade of Magic

Lila is the perfect person to go on a seafaring, swashbuckling holiday. Although I’m certain she’d insist on doing something dangerous and I’d just have to hide in a corner.

(3) Elide Lochan and Yrene Towers from Throne of Glass

I’d probably go on a relaxing beach holiday with these two. Sun, sand and sunshine!

(4) Haidee from The Never Tilting World

Haidee is so cute and cares so much about animals (like me) so we could go on an adventure holiday to the Amazon rainforest or something and embrace nature. She’d probably name every animal she’d see.

(5) Veronyka from Crown of Feathers (and her phoenix)

We’d fly to interesting places on her phoenix and explore different cities all over the world to discover new things.

(6) Sarai and Lazlo from Strange the Dreamer

I’d go on holiday in a dream of their making and go on lots of whimsical adventures!


Which characters would you go on holiday with? Let me know in the comments!

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Reviews · Uncategorized

Review: The Orphanage of Gods

Book: The Orphanage of Gods

Author: Helena Coggan

Year Published: 2019

  • Plot: 1/5
  • Characters: 1/5
  • Writing: 2.5/5
  • Overall: 1/5

I’m not going to mince my words, The Orphanage of Gods was just one giant waste of time, space and paper. I actually feel bad for the trees that went into making it. I very rarely give books one star but I found this book so pointless I couldn’t possibly give it anything else.

The book was based in a world with gods and humans. The gods had silver blood and special abilities and the humans had red blood, however, the humans rebelled and killed many of the gods. They tried to wipe them out at all costs. At first I found the premise intriguing (I thought it was like an inverse Red Queen) but my interest quickly sputtered out.

The plot made no sense. Two gods, Hero and Joshua went to save their human friend Kestrel from the Guard. They saved her then ended up joining a rebel group and then lots of things happened but ultimately they all amounted to nothing and I finished the book with a pervasive feeling of disappointment.

I felt like the book had no direction. It took me here and there, up and down, side to side, over hills and under starry skies and then at the end of the day, nothing much happened or at least nothing worth caring about happened. Whilst I was reading I thought, ‘This story is going somewhere, right?‘ and I kept thinking that thought until the very last page. Then I realised that unfortunately, the story was always going nowhere.

Furthermore, the book was split into three parts with three different points of view and I didn’t understand why I was reading the story from those perspectives, especially because I couldn’t care less about the characters and their motives. The second perspective was a ten-year-old girl called Raven who apparently was very special and was supposed to be in charge someday. I had no idea why her point of view was included because during the book she was such a useless character.

The romance infuriated me because Kestrel and Eliza had only known each other for a few days and they were suddenly throwing around declarations of love. Also, Eliza was a complete maniac and Kestrel seemed to not mind at all no matter what terrifying things she did. It was so unrealistic and annoying.

In conclusion, I thoroughly disliked this book and I would love to have the hours I spent reading it refunded to me so I can spend them on a better book.

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Discussion Post · Discussion Posts · Uncategorized

Characters vs Plot… DISCUSS!

What’s more important in a book: character development or a gripping plot?

The answer seems obvious: both are equally important. However, I’ve noticed that some books tend to lean towards either characters or plot to drive the story forward. There are some books that strike a good balance between the two but this discussion post is about the books that don’t.

I know that they are linked because the characters make the plot and the plot makes the characters but sometimes you can tell when one is being prioritised over the other.

Character based books tend to be more slowly paced and focus on the characters’ personality arcs. The plot behind the story might not be fully fleshed out or have some holes in it but the characters’ journeys take centre stage so it’s alright if elements of the plot aren’t fully explained or the world building is lacking.

For example, the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas is very popular and has a rather large and obsessed fandom even though the books have more plot holes than a moth eaten tablecloth. So why is it so popular? I think it’s because a lot of time is spent on the characters and endearing them to the readers through humerous exchanges and emotional scenes. The story is so focused on the characters that it doesn’t give enough space to the plot.

Whereas plot based books are more quickly paced and lots of exciting events are squeezed into a few hundred pages. However, the characters are flatter, fall back more on stereotypes and have less development. The plot is really well explained and clever but the characters end up lacking slightly.

Another scenario in which the plot overshadows character development is when there are so many characters and points of view in a book that each individual character doesn’t get time to flourish.

For example, I would say that The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer are quite plot based. Lots and lots of things happen in the books and the plot is so intricate and gripping but in my opinion the characters get less development time than in other books I’ve read and can be quite clichéd.

So, if you had to choose between a plot based or a character based book, which would you choose?

What do you think about this topic?

Which books do you think prioritise plot or characters?

Let me know in the comments!

Reviews · Uncategorized

Review: The Dragon Republic

Book: The Dragon Republic

Click here for my review of The Poppy War!

Author: R. F. Kuang

Year published: 2019

Trigger Warnings: Self harm, suicide, substance abuse, torture, basically every possible trigger warning!

  • Plot: 5/5
  • Characters: 5/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Overall: 5/5

*Contains spoilers for The Poppy War*

The Dragon Republic was the brutally brilliant sequel to The Poppy War and it was just as amazing as the first book (maybe even more so). It was a book that most certainly didn’t pull its punches.

I’ve actually been struggling to write this review for a while. Not because I didn’t like it or I have nothing to say, but because it was such a wonderfully complex book and my emotions surrounding it are so vast and complicated I found it hard to condense them into one review!

In this book, Rin was flung into a civil war whilst battling an opium addiction and a raging god. The best way I could describe Rin’s character is as one giant ball of conflicting emotions. Anger, love, grief, hope, fear, despair all furiously grappling for space in her heart.She isn’t a good person but a part of me is still rooting for her. And that’s why she’s such a brilliant anti-hero.

Her opium addiction was handled very well and given all the time it needed. Her journey to sobriety was extremely difficult and she wouldn’t have achieved it without the support of others. I also think it contributed to her character arc as stopping opium almost represented her stopping trying to escape from who she was and what she had done.

In the beginning, it felt like Rin was detaching herself from her atrocious actions at the end of The Poppy War. Yes, she had won the war but she didn’t want to understand that victory isn’t always worth its cost. She was allowing her deep and festering anger to fuel her, to excuse her from thinking and feeling and hurting. But over the course of the book she started to not necessarily feel guilty but accept the magnitude of what she had single handedly destroyed. The anger was still there (was and always will be there) but it was directed towards the people who actually deserved her terrifying rage.

It saddened me to see how much war had scarred Kitay and how he struggled to come to terms with what he had seen and done. I loved his friendship with Rin and the way they understood each other on a profound level.

I liked how this book went more in depth with the word building and it revealed more about the characters’ backgrounds and motives. The arrival of the Hesperians added another dimension to the book, especially with the introduction of their naval technology and arquebuses. However, I found the way the Hesperians thought they were superior and the way they analysed the Nikara to see if they were ‘ready for civilisation’ really disgusting and demeaning but at the same time I know that this reflects history.

The Dragon Republic was a fascinating military fantasy with themes of greed, power and the many ways to make a monster. It didn’t glorify war or try to lessen the impact of its brutality, resulting in a shocking, cruel and at times upsetting but very real read. If you enjoyed The Poppy War, you’ll enjoy this book even more!

Thank you you to Harper Voyager for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Uncategorized · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: July 2019

Hi, hello and welcome to my monthly wrap-up for July!

I have read and blogged much, much less than I wanted to this month, mainly because for some reason it took me ages to read Darkdawn and I have been quite busy. However, I feel like my reading is picking up again and I hope to read loads this August- especially because I am co-hosting the RetellingAThon.

What I am reading:

The Orphanage of Gods by Helena Coggan

What I plan to read next:

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

Books I’ve Read:

(1) The Beckoning Shadow by Katharyn Blair:

  • 3.5 stars
  • It was an alright book that was basically about cage-fighting X-men. I liked learning about the different powers and unraveling the mysteries.

(2) Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff:

  • 4.5 Stars
  • It was the conclusion to one of my favourite series and while I loved it, I was slightly dissapointed with the ending.

(3) The Resurrecionist of Caligo by Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga

  • I have no idea what to rate this one!
  • A very weird book about murder, magic and medieval medecine. I still need time to mull over it!

Books I’ve Reviewed:

My favourite post of the month:

My post with all of the details about the RetellingAThon because I am really excited to co-host it this August!

Read the post here!



That’s all the reading and blogging of July wrapped up! What was your bookish month like? Let me know in the comments!

Uncategorized

My Reading Journey: 100th Post!!!

Greetings, my good bookworms!

This is my 100th post! I almost can’t believe it!

I remember when I first started this book blog, I felt completely and utterly terrified. It was very new to me and I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. I thought it would be a miracle if even one person bothered to read my reviews.

But here I am, six months and one hundred posts later. I’ve met amazing people, made new friends, gained hundreds of followers, connected with authors and publishers, discovered brilliant books and shared my bookish passion with the world. So this very special post is about my reading journey, it is a thank you to the people, experiences and books that have gotten me where I am today.

I’d say the main reason I’m such an avid bookworm is my mum. From when I was a very young child, too young to even talk, she used to sit and read books to me for hours on end. As soon as she’d finish one book, I’d run off and bring her another. She read me stories and children’s encyclopaedias about things like animals, space and more. I remember our favourite books were always the Mr Men and Little Misses. We read Mr Clever (who wasn’t actually clever) countless times and we also liked Little Miss Sunshine (who turned Miseryland into Laughterland). She showed me how fun reading can be and taught me the importance of it and it’s something that will always stay with me.

My mum also convinced me that reading to the plants in the garden was vital to their survival and growth so little Umairah would go and sit in the middle of the garden and read very loud so that all of the plants could hear her. Thinking about it now, I find it hilarious that I believed her and no doubt she also found it hilarious at the time. Nevertheless, I love you mum- thank you for everything.

Two-year-old me, having been read to by Mum so many times, decided it was time to give reading a go. I’d pick up a big storybook and drag it with me onto a chair. Then, I’d stare at the words and make unintelligible sounds (as if I were reading aloud) and stare at the pictures, trying to understand what was going on. I did this for hours even though at that time, I still couldn’t actually read.

When I started school, I discovered my new favourites: The Magic Key books. They were about these children who went to different places and time periods using a magic key and I adored them. Later on, when I was around eight, I couldn’t get enough of the Rainbow Magic books about these fairies who were always being troubled by some pesky goblins and I loved anything by Enid Blyton. Particularly, The Faraway Tree, The Wishing Chair and The Famous Five. As you can tell, I’ve been obsessed with all things fantasy for as long as I can remember. I think I read the Harry Potter books when I was ten- I remember feeling very accomplished when I finished that series and I also really enjoyed the Narnia books.

I used to love this book called The Frog Princess by E. D. Baker which was similar to The Princess and the Frog but when the princess kisses the frog, she becomes a frog instead of the frog becoming a prince. I’ve read that book so many times I wouldn’t even know. Another book that I loved as a child was a novel called The Princess and the Captain by Anne-Laure Bondoux. It was so original and it captivated me from the first page. I’d never read anything like it and I still don’t think I have. I reread it a bit later and I still loved it (even though I didn’t appreciate the ending).

As I grew, my reading tastes grew with me and I started to read more advanced and grown-up things. While I did read other genres, fantasy was and has always been my favourite. My teachers at school definitely played a big part in this growth, always pushing me to analyse and evaluate books and texts in innovative ways which helps me with my book reviews.

Furthermore, my friends had a large role in my reading journey. When I was younger I didn’t know anyone who loved reading as much as I did and it made me feel sad not being able to talk about it with other people. Then, a few years ago, I met someone called Melika, who wouldn’t stop raving about how amazing the Throne of Glass series was. Eventually, I relented and decided to read the series and ended up becoming just as obsessed as she was. We’d have (and still have) very long conversations about the series and give each other book recommendations. Now, we’re firm book buddies and I’ve discovered loads of amazing books from her recommendations.

The influence of these people and books culminated in a great passion for books that led me to start this book blog late last year. Now, I’m apart of a giant book community that makes reading such a joy. I get so many brilliant recommendations from so many different places. I get to share my bookish passion with other like-minded people all over the world. Every second of it is wonderful. So, thank you to my teachers, friends, the book community, the authors of all the books that shaped my childhood and most of all thank you to my mum. Thank you for the greatest gift of all, the gift of reading.

Reviews · Uncategorized

Review: Queen of Ruin

Book: Queen of Ruin

Here’s my review of the first book, Grace and Fury!

Author: Tracy Banghart

Year Published: 2019

  • Plot: 3/5
  • Characters: 4/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Overall: 3/5

Queen of Ruin was the conclusion to the Grace and Fury duology and while it was better than the first book, I still found it a bit lacking.

At the start of the novel, the two sisters, Serina and Nomi, were reeling from the disastrous events that unfolded in the previous book. Serina, while battling her grief and guilt, was trying to lead the women of the Mount Ruin prison to freedom. Whereas, Nomi was struggling with Asa’s betrayal of her trust and wanted to keep her family safe. However, they ended up joining together to fight for the rights of all of the women of their country and wanted to change the ingrained sexist ideologies surrounding women.

I liked the way Serina’s character went from strength to strength. In this book, she truly became a fierce leader and warrior. Nomi’s character development was subtler but she definitely became more confident and sure of herself. I admired them both for their courage to fight against a system that had suppressed women for years and years.

I also liked the other female side characters because they were nuanced and complex but sadly, just like the first book, the male characters were as flat as cheese crackers. Malachi was broody; Val was nice, nice, nice; Renzo was really nice too and Asa was the classic unhinged emotionless villain.

The reason I found it ‘a bit lacking’ was because barely anything happened considering it’s a few hundred page book. I thought there was too much repetitive filler and not as much interesting content.

Queen of Ruin was a quick read with fairly deep themes but all in all not very impressive or original. I’d recommend it to people who enjoyed the first book.

Thank you to Hachette Children’s Group for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Friday Reads · Uncategorized

Friday Reads | The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Hello!

Today I’ll be doing another ‘Friday Reads’ with The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. This book was full of mystery and was utterly unpredictable– it’s definitely one that I’d recommend.

Friday Reads was invented by The Candid Cover and is a merge of:

  • Book Beginnings which is a book meme hosted by Rose City Reader where we share the first sentence(s) of a book.
  • The Friday 56 which is hosted by Freda’s Voice where we share a snippet from page 56 of a book (or 56% on an e-reader).

Bookish Beginnings:

Here are the first sentences of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle:

“I forget everything between footsteps.

‘Anna!’ I finish shouting, snapping my mouth shut in surprise.

My mind has gone blank. I don’t know who Anna is or why I’m calling her name.”

I love these first few sentences because they act as a firm hook to grab the reader’s attention. I remember when I started reading this book I was so confused and had no idea what was going on, which made me curious enough to continue reading!

The Friday 56:

A snippet from 56% of the book:

“A draught greets me at the top of the staircase, twisting and curling in the air, sneaking through the cracked windows and beneath the doors to stir the leaves littering the floor.”

I like how something as simple as a draught is personified in this snippet. It’s amazing how the use of words can create such a vivid reading experience and conjure up worlds in one’s mind.


What are you reading this Friday? Let me know in the comments!

Reviews · Uncategorized

Review: The Merciful Crow

Book: The Merciful Crow

Author: Margaret Owen

Year Published: 2019

  • Plot: 4/5
  • Characters: 4/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Overall: 4/5

The Merciful Crow was an intriguing read about a world plagued by prejudice and hierarchy and the people fighting for justice.

The world building was excellent because it was very original and I was gradually fed more information as I read as opposed to a boring info dump at the start of the book. I also loved the magic system and the way it functioned in the novel.

The people were split into twelve castes and each one had a birthright gifted to them by their gods. Each caste was named after a bird. For example, the Phoenix caste (the caste of royalty) had the birthright of fire. However, the lowest caste- the Crows– were born with no birthright and were treated appallingly by the other castes. Hunted and abused by the Oleander gentry, shunned in every town and city, every day was a fight for survival for a Crow.

Crows were the only people who were immune to a highly contagious disease called the Sinners’ Plague which was impossible to survive. Therefore, they were necessary as they served as mercy killers for those who fell ill with the plague and were the only ones who could safely dispose of the bodies. They even wore the scary plague masks that people used to wear during the time of the bubonic plague which I thought was cool. Every time they took away a body they were payed by the town or village by whatever they could afford.

Despite the essential work that Crows did, people were still hostile towards them. This made me feel really sad because if the Crows didn’t take the bodies of the infected away from the town or village and burn them, the disease would spread like wildfire throughout and everyone would die. I couldn’t understand how the other castes could be so cruel and ungrateful to the people who were saving their lives.

I found it ironic that people claimed that Crows had no birthright because being immune to a deadly disease seems like a very precious gift. Furthermore, teeth and bones from other castes held a small amount of power that some Crows were able to harness. For example, a Crow could use a tooth from someone from the Phoenix caste to wield some fire magic. The way I saw it was that people decided to disdain Crows and say that they were cursed by the gods to make themselves feel important and superior because in reality Crows did have abilities that were extremely useful.

Fie was a Crow and a future chieftain and she was bound by a covenant bond to the fugitive prince Jasimir and his too-cunning bodyguard Tav to lead them safely to their allies in return for Jasimir promising to give more rights to the Crows when he became king. They went on a long and bloody quest to save their land from tyranny and bring about justice.

Fie was incredibly stubborn but she had a strong sense of loyalty and responsibility. I liked her because she was never afraid to stand up to those who sought to take away her rights.

At the beginning, I hated Jasimir because he was pompously annoying but his character developed greatly over the book and he went from a petty prince to a just king.

Tav was very resourceful and was good at getting into the good graces of others using his charm. He was also very loyal but after spending most of his life as Jasimir’s bodyguard and body double, he started to wish for a life of his own.

However, the one thing I didn’t understand was why their were no measures in place about how Crows harnessed the birthrights in teeth and bones because if people despised them so much why would they allow them to have so much power.

Overall, I enjoyed this book very much and I liked how it dealt with themes of loyalty and prejudice. It is a book I would recommend to fans of fantasy bored of the standard tropes.

Thank you to Macmillan for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Reviews · Uncategorized

Review: The Beckoning Shadow

Book: The Beckoning Shadow

Author: Katharyn Blair

Year Published: 2019

  • Plot: 3/5
  • Characters: 4/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Overall: 3.5/5

The Beckoning Shadow was a novel about the importance of accepting your past instead of running away from it and it was basically what would happen if the X-men were younger and liked cage fighting for fun.

Oddities were humans with special powers and Baselines, without. Wardens were Oddities tasked with eradicating others that were deemed to be threats. Oddities were bedtime stories told to keep children in check, they lurked underground and in the shadows but they didn’t want to hide from the world anymore. They wanted to live in it without fear. Here are some examples of the different types of Oddities and their powers:

  • Harbinger: Makes a person’s deepest fears come true.
  • Demo: Everything their fingertips touch turns to dust.
  • Unraveler: Can undo past events.
  • Ledger: Bind people to unbreakable contracts.
  • Ripper: Can strip an Oddity of their powers.
  • Stoneskin: Can turn their skin as hard as stone.
  • Metalurg: Manipulates metal.
  • Scribe: Can write in ‘umbra ink’ which makes writing invisible unless an Oddity breathes on it.

Vesper was a Harbinger and after a tragic accident involving her powers, she went on the run- leaving her family without a word. She was afraid of her powers that she couldn’t control, she thought she was a monster and everyone was safer if she stayed away. After a while on the run, she found out about the Tournament of the Unraveling and she decided to enter and try to win the prize: one Unraveling and a million dollars. She thought it was her chance to rewrite her past, fix her family, herself and her life. And so, with the help of an MMA fighter called Sam, she trained and competed in the competition of a lifetime. She became a cage fighter, battling with other Oddities for victory.

“I’ve spent so much time… trying to find some way to repair what I am and what I’ve done I didn’t see the damage I was doing.”

Vesper was an interesting character. She was afraid of her powers and blinded by her own fear. It took her a while to realise that the solution wasn’t running away or hiding but finding out how to control her powers so that they would cause no harm. She didn’t need an Unraveling to ‘fix’ her life, she needed to own her actions, learn from them and communicate with those around her.

The reason why I have deducted stars is that I felt very bored at times whilst reading it. The novel was extremely repetitive as Vesper was constantly thinking and saying what felt like the same things about the guilt she carried over her past actions. While I can understand that she was distressed about it, her repetition became annoying after a while.

The Beckoning Shadow was a story about dealing with grief, loss and pain and worth a try if you’re looking for something a bit different to read.

Thank you to Katherine Tegen Books for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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