Discussion Posts · Uncategorized

Antiheroes… DISCUSS!

Hello, today we’ll be discussing the interesting phenomenon of antiheroes!

Firstly, there’s a very important question to address:

What is an antihero?

Well, remember when you were younger and in every story you thought there was a ‘goodie’ and a ‘baddie’? An antihero is both of those things and neither of them at the same time. They’re the protagonist of the novel/ movie /play/ epic poem/ pop-up book but they’re not what we would normally consider a hero. They might not want to save the world, they might not put others before themselves and they might not always take the most ‘morally correct’ decisions.

Their goals may be quite selfish or just defy everyone’s expectations and they may do many morally and ethically questionable things to achieve their goals. Their good intentions do not necessarily result in good actions. Nevertheless, they always have redeeming qualities and can come across as very likable, multi-faceted characters so even if they do bad things it’s hard to hate them.

In stories the hero may be flawed but is generally labelled as good, fair and brave. The villain may be vulnerable but at the end of the day they’re evil. An antihero’s character is shades of greythey’re not fully good or fully bad and they’re not quite evil.

Personally, I enjoy reading about antiheroes because their motivations are normally very complex and it’s impossible to predict what they are going to do next as they’re not confined by strict moral values. Seeing how they justify and explain even the most terrible actions is scarily interesting. I always find that even though my brain is telling me that the character is bad and I shouldn’t like them, it’s hard to hate them when you have access to their most private thoughts and know all the events that led them to be the way they are.

Some examples:

Here are some of my favourite antiheroes and why!

Baru from The Traitor by Seth Dickinson: Baru would do anything and betray anyone to save her island and it was terrifying to watch her destroy people I thought she loved in the name of her cause. She was a genius and the reader was made to understand how important her mission was to her even as they watched her humanity slip away.

Rin from The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang: Rin had indomitable power and and it was intriguing to see how she thought she was using it for the greater good even when she wasn’t. She made lots of wrong choices but at the same time she still wanted to try and help.

Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: Kaz had only two goals in mind: money and vengeance, and it was obvious from his actions that he was not a good person. However, his tragic and terrible backstory evoked sympathy and it became hard to dislike him when you realised the reasons behind his actions. Add to that how loyal he was to those he cared about and he ended up being almost likable!

Lada from And I Darken by Kiersten White: Lada was brutal, unforgiving and ruthless. Everything a woman wasn’t supposed to be in her society. She wanted to claim what was hers and she hungered for power and while she slowly spiralled down and isolated herself from everyone, I still found myself rooting for her.

Jude Duarte from The Cruel Prince by Holly Black: Jude was brilliant. In the most terrifying way. She also hungered for power and she wanted to make her place in Elfhame no matter the cost. She became as cold and cunning as those around her and while what she does is entirely self-serving you can’t help but want her to succeed and marvel at her scheming.

More examples:

I took to Twitter to ask the bookish community about their favourite antiheroes and here’s a list of some of the characters that were mentioned:

  • Locke Lamora from The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
  • Elphaba Thropp from Wicked by Gregory Maguire
  • Catherine Pinkerton from Heartless by Marissa Meyer
  • Adelina Amouteru from The Young Elites by Marie Lu
  • Tea from The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
  • Ia Cōcha from Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan
  • Victor Vale from Vicious by V. E. Schwab
  • Maud from An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good
  • Sebastian Morgenstern from The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
  • Arya Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin

So that’s antiheroes! Let’s end with a quote from a tweet by Kara Harte from Kattitude Reads:

“A good anti-hero is flawed and makes mistakes, but for the most part has good intentions at heart.”

What do you think about antiheroes? Who are your favourite antiheroes? Let’s discuss in the comments!

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Reviews · Uncategorized

Review: The Silence of the Girls

Book: The Silence of the Girls

Author: Pat Barker

Year Published: 2018

  • Plot: 3.5/5
  • Characters: 4/5
  • Writing: 4.5/5
  • Overall: 4/5

The Silence of the Girls was a moving retelling that focused on what the women had to endure whilst recounting the events of The Iliad by Homer. It wasn’t as breathtaking as other Greek mythology retellings I’ve read (such as Circe by Madeline Miller) but it was still a rather powerful read.

The book is primarily told from the perspective of Briseis. She was the queen of Lyrnessus until Achilles sacked the city and killed every male- young or old. And what happened to the women of Lyrnessus? They all became slaves to the men who killed their families and destroyed their home. Briseis became Achilles’ ‘war prize’, concubine and slave.

Seeing the events of the Trojan War through Briseis’ eyes was interesting because in tales of Greek mythology everything is so focused on The Trials and Triumphs of the Great and Powerful Heroes that no one seems to care about the women, silently suffering in the background.  Through Briseis’ inner thoughts, feelings and fears a whole new side to these Great and Powerful Heroes was revealed. A side that saw women as ‘war prizes’ to be awarded, used and passed on as one pleased, as objects that existed to serve as opposed to human beings with rights and lives that they were crushing every second of every day. Because no one sang songs about the women, theirs was a song of silence: of quiet tears, of broken hearts and of crushed hopes.

However, half way through the book, Achilles started to get some chapters from his perspective which was quite disappointing because I thought it was Briseis’ story and I wanted to learn more about her, not him. And while Achilles was portrayed as a very complex character- from his insecurities about his mother leaving to his strong friendship with Patroclus and his hunger for fame and glory– I didn’t want to read from his point of view, I felt as if he was stealing the limelight from Briseis. The only thing I got from his perspective was how much he utterly dismissed Briseis.

This was not a romance story. This was not a happy story. This was a story about how although women always ended up paying the greatest prices, nobody seemed to care.

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

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#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!

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 very rarely give books one star but I found The Orphanage of Gods 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 didn’t do much.

The romance was unrealistic 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.

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 different 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.

Goodreads | Twitter

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.