Reviews · Uncategorized

Review: The Beholder

Book: The Beholder

Author: Anna Bright

Year Published: 2019

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

It’s important for people to know exactly what they’re getting into, so to avoid confusion: this book is not a retelling of a specific story. Rather, it incorporates many myths and fairy tales into the storyline. Also, it is most certainly not a retelling of The Odyssey– the characters travel on a ship to far away lands and there’s a person called Homer but the similarities end there.

The Beholder was an alternate history novel, set in a world slightly similar to ours but heavily influenced by myths and fairy tales. It wasn’t perfect but it was still alright I did enjoy reading it.

The story followed Selah, the seneschal-elect of Potomac. After an embarrassing rejection, her troublesome step-mother forces her to travel across the ocean and meet a myriad of suitors in various countries that she must choose from in order to ‘do her duty’. Selah seemed like the average teenager trying to find her place in the world. She was quite shy, bookish and had a great love for fairy tales. During the duration of the book she grows in confidence and comes into her own which was a pleasure to see. However, some of her and the other characters’ actions were very unrealistic and the romance element was cute but contrived.

It wasn’t amazing but I liked it and the ending leaves many unanswered questions which I hope will be answered in the next book.

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

Reviews · Uncategorized

A Sinister Ever After: Review of The Kingdom

Book: The Kingdom

Author: Jess Rothenberg

Year Published: 2019

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

Trigger Warnings: suicide, sexual assault (off page, implied), animal abuse

This book wasn’t just a bit dark and disquieting- it took me to a whole new level of sinister that I had never experienced before.

The Kingdom was a futuristic theme park that used cutting-edge technology to create an enchanting experience for all of its visitors. With thrilling performances from previously extinct creatures, magical rides, flamboyant parades and vivid fantasy simulations it promised to inspire wonder and make everyone’s wildest dreams come true by giving them the ‘happily ever after’ they deserved. One of its most prominent creations was the Fantasists– seven android princesses engineered to delight, amuse and represent equality and tolerance in the world.

The novel was a series of flashbacks, interrogation records, court testimony, emails and more which pieced together the story of Ana, a Fantasist who was accused of murdering one of the theme park’s maintenance workers. This format allows us to see the events unfold from her perspective and simultaneously see how the same events have been twisted to appear in court. It’s funny how there never is any question as to whether or not she actually killed the person even though she claims to be not guilty. The case is built on whether or not Ana had the conscience to make the decision to murder someone or whether it was a programming malfunction. It was fascinating to see things from her perspective and understand her methodical manner of learning about the world. As Ana gradually unearths the hidden terrors of The Kingdom, the reader does too and it makes for a very suspenseful journey.

I found it sad that a society of the future would feel the need to have Fantasists. Beautiful, subservient princesses, admired by girls all over the world, engineered and programmed to entertain and please, to always say ‘yes’ and never say ‘no’. And the irony was that they were represented as strong and brave– princesses who didn’t need saving- when in reality their lives were not their own. Their vulnerability and naivety was exploited, they were treated deplorably, they were emotionally abused and manipulated, they were harassed and assaulted and intimidated. They were objectified and paraded and displayed for the enjoyment of others and despite all of that, they were always told to be grateful for what they had. Is that really the kind of role model young girls should have? I also found it interesting that there were no male Fantasists. It reminded me of two articles I have read recently. The first was about the increasing popularity of artificial intelligence being modelled on female personas (for example things like Siri or Alexa having default female voices). The second being about the increase in parents banning their children to watch Disney princess movies because they don’t want them to think it is alright for a woman to always be saved by a man. Although The Kingdom is a work of fiction, it has some very real themes in it.

The Kingdom was the epitome of hypocrisy. At first glance, it seemed like a wonderful theme park- but beneath it’s pretty façade there was relentless anguish and pain. For example, at the time of the novel, nearly all of the animals we have today had gone extinct. Therefore, The Kingdom started a program to revive extinct creatures through bioengineering. They claimed they were doing good to the planet and helping preserve our world. But why would you reintroduce an animal only to put it in chains? To make it live a life in a cage being ogled at by visitors. The animals at The Kingdom were abused and starved and most of the bioengineered animals died in days, weeks or months due to genetic defects they were created with. Is that really helping the world? It repulsed me how they thought it was alright to make the cost of entertainment for some, the suffering of others.

The reason I knocked off a star was because at times the story did become a bit too confusing as it kept switching between different formats which made it hard to keep up with the plot.

Overall, I found The Kingdom very creepy but I would recommend it to someone looking for an original, thought provoking read. After reading it, some may wish for the chance to visit The Kingdom but I wouldn’t go there even if someone paid me. Why? Because my entertainment is not worth someone or something else’s pain.

Thank you to Macmillan and Jess Rothenberg for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinion expressed are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Tags · Uncategorized

The Second Sunshine Blogger Award!!!

Hello! I’ve been nominated for the second time to do the Sunshine Blogger Award! Thank you so much to the wonderful Kimberly @ Bookish Kimberly for nominating me- please check out her amazing blog before you finish reading this post!

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RULES:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blogging site. (Thank you so much to Kimberly!!!)
  2. Answer the questions.
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  4. Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.
  5. List the rules and display the sunshine blogger award logo on your site or on your post.

Questions:

(1) Which country are you from?

I’m from the UK. In my opinion, the best book retailer here is Waterstones (it’s actually my favourite shop and I’m always making excuses to go there).

(2) If you would suggest one beautiful tourist spot in your country, what would it be?

There are loads but one example is the Peak District National Park. It’s breathtakingly beautiful with its picturesque valleys, fields, footpaths, plateaus and peaks.

(3) What’s your favourite hobby aside from reading books?

I enjoy origami. I’m not an expert and all my attempts at folding advanced things have ended in screwed up pieces of paper, however, I do find it relaxing and I’m proud of whatever I manage to successfully fold.

(4) What’s your favorite book genre?

I adore fantasy. Specifically epic or high fantasy because I love how imaginative it can be as everything is fictional: the world, the characters, the culture and customs. There is so much room for creativity and you never know what you’re going to read next. I would also read dark fantasy although it can sometimes be very unsettling. Sometimes I read low fantasy (where the magical elements are merged with the real world) but it depends on the book. I love books with magic and sorcery and I find learning about different magic systems really interesting. I also love fantasy books based on fairy tales and myths because I find them very intriguing. Nevertheless, there is one type of fantasy I can’t stand: urban fantasy. It just frustrates me in a way I can’t explain.

(5) Is there a quote from a book that has changed your life? If yes, what is it and from what book?

There are many quotes I have learnt from and find inspiring but I wouldn’t say they have gone so far as to change my life. However, instead of mentioning one of those inspiring quotes I’m going to mention a quote that really resonates with me as I feel it sums up my entire bookish life.

‘Too many books, too few centuries’

~ Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

I feel as if there are so many amazing books in the world that I will never get around to reading and it makes me feel a bit sad until I remind myself that the most important thing is to enjoy the books I do get around to reading as much as I can.

(5) If you had to swap places with any book character, who would you choose? Why?

I would swap places with Lila Bard from A Darker Shade of Magic but after the end of A Conjuring of Light so that I can travel the world in her ship and go on fantastical adventures.

(6) What is your favorite book you had to bring and read in school?

I brought and read Persuasion by Jane Austen in school once and I really enjoyed it.

(7) What is your last 1-star & 5-star book?

I only ever give one star to a book I really, really, really didn’t like and that barely ever happens but I think my last one star read was Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor because it was a terrible, confusing ending to the trilogy and I did not enjoy it. My last five star read that blew my mind was The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang that I was lucky enough to receive an arc of!

(8) Choose one book you would recommend the most to your bookish friends.. and why?

I recommend An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir to most of my bookish friends because I think it’s an amazing story and I just want to spread its awesomeness to as many people as I can.

(9) Who is your favourite character in a book series?

My favourite character in a book series is Aelin Galathynius from Throne of Glass. She’s definitely not perfect and she doesn’t always do the right thing but she goes so far during the series and I can’t help but feel proud of how her character develops. She becomes more mature and comes into her own and all the things she goes through helps build her into the kind of queen that Terrasen deserves.

(10) Which book do you wish had a sequel?

I wish Descendant of the Crane by Joan He had a sequel because apparently it’s a standalone but the ending leaves many questions unanswered and I it pains me to think I’ll never read about all of those brilliant characters again.


I’m going to nominate seven people instead of eleven:


New Questions:

  1. Which book do you wish had a prequel?
  2. Do you prefer reading standalone books, duologies, trilogies or book series with four or more novels? Why?
  3. Which supporting character do you think deserves their own book?
  4. Which book genre do you want to read more of?
  5. Which animal character in a book do you wish was your pet?
  6. If you were stranded on a desert island with one other book character, who would you choose?
  7. What is, in your opinion, the prettiest book cover you have ever seen?
  8. Have you ever read a book solely based on its cover?
  9. If you could be a character in any book, which book would you choose?
  10. What is the funniest book you have ever read?
  11. Which book character are you glad isn’t real?

If you want to answer these questions but you haven’t been nominated then feel free and thank you again to Kimberly for tagging me!