This morning I woke up and winced. Why? Because this morning, I checked my blog stats for the first time in a couple of weeks. I sat there and I thought, If my blog was a… More
“What he wants most in the world is to cut off his own hands.”
Beck hates his life. He hates his violent mother. He hates his home. Most of all, he hates the piano that his mother forces him to play hour after hour, day after day. He will never play as she did before illness ended her career and left her bitter and broken. But Beck is too scared to stand up to his mother, and tell her his true passion, which is composing his own music – because the least suggestion of rebellion on his part ends in violence.
When Beck meets August, a girl full of life, energy and laughter, love begins to awaken within him and he glimpses a way to escape his painful existence. But dare he reach for it?
“If people cut him open, they’d never accuse him of being empty.”
Listen, do you ever finish a book and just stare up at the ceiling, smiling because you just read something so beautiful and simultaneously feeling tears roll down your cheeks because now there is a deep fissure line running through your heart and you don’t know if you’ll ever be okay again?
I was slightly scared to read A Thousand Perfect Notes, because I was so hyped to read it. I’m the kind of person who gets overly excited about a book when my friends recommend it, but also in the months I’ve been on Goodreads, I’ve learned to be more sceptical — because going into a book with high hopes and ultimately being more disappointed than if I’d just lowered my standards sucks.
but!!! this!!!! book!!!!!
what I enjoyed
— ▸ Everything about Beck Keverich. Look, I love my badass-tough-as-nails YA heroines, but they all start to blend together after a while. Beck was so interesting to read about. I loved his brokenness, the complexities to his character and the way he looked at the world, a testament to the years of suffering he had been through. He is grumpy and annoying and I just want to cuddle him until the end of time.
— ▸The way the musical element is written was wonderful. Music is one of the things I’m really weirdly specific about when I read; I’ve played music for most of my life and love it with a passion, but that means that I also find it easy to call out unrealistic things. For example, in Wintersong, I kept rolling my eyes because half of the book sounded like a mash-up of a music textbook — but in ATPN, you can really tell that the author actually has experience with it, and it’s beautiful and amazing.
— ▸This book is a summary of the aesthetic I love. It’s starry nights spent on a hammock, feet barely brushing the grass. It’s concert halls and sharp smiles and fists on brick, long walks and girls made of sunshine and wit. Basically the inside of this book is just as gorgeous as the cover and I am living for it.
— ▸ It touches on such terrible, awful topics (abuse, relationships, mental illness) in such an eloquent way. I hurt so much for beck every time I saw an interaction between him and his mother. This book is so dark and haunting, and so utterly real and human. I felt rage and sorrow and compassion and I understood why beck felt the way he did, and how he both loved and hated the piano — it was a part of him, but a part of him that he’d never had a choice about.
How can something be so beautiful and terrible at the same time?
— ▸ I can’t believe I haven’t seen anyone talking about the references in this book. example:
Beck is unknowable.
Unless my memory is really terrible, Adam Parrish is also unknowable (it’s a famous quote), aka Adam from the raven cycle, who I love with all my heart! This made me so happy to see, and in the darkness of this scene, I found a smile on my face.
— ▸The ship = now 70% of my observable soul. Honestly? It was so sweet and pure, and while I feel that it was a little sudden towards the end, and a little too convenient, it has made me feel like I just ate a cinnamon roll sprinkled with glitter and happiness.
— ▸ Joey, beck’s little sister, is an amazing character. She’s such a typical little sister! I love how she isn’t pure and sweet or flat, but just a little girl who doesn’t know that the things she does are wrong because she’s never been taught to do the right thing. The love that Beck felt for her honestly made me want to cry; he wants to love her twice as hard to make up for the sin of hating his mother.
things I disliked
— ▸Crying. I don’t know what possesses me to read sad books at 2am so that I have to stifle the tears in my blankets, but I did it anyway. Why would anyone write an ending like that? Do authors enjoy watching my pain???
— ▸ On a serious note, I felt that we didn’t really know August as well as we could have. I still loved her character, but something felt lacking; her life is a little too perfect, and she’s a little too bright, a little too empty. Don’t get me wrong, I would still step on lego for her, but I feel that not as much time was spent on developing her character as Joey or Beck.
— ▸ I’m grasping at straws here and I can’t remember anything at the moment that I disliked, so I ‘ll end the negatives here.
I ‘ll see you all on the other side, and by “the other side”, I mean an alternate universe where this book had a happy ending and I can pretend that everything is fine.
What’s the last book that made you cry? Do you like to read contemporary? Tell me below!
(below = me spilling the tea)
I don’t quite understand why there are so many June 5th 2018 releases, or why they just happen to be the ARCs that I read this month and last month. I desperately wanted to finish them all before release date — I really prefer to have read all my ARCs before they’re released — but life and exams and everything have gotten in the way.
On a happier note, so many of them are absolutely amazing!
So here are my picks for today’s best book releases:
(click on the cover image to be taken to the GR pages with an actual professional synopsis)
1. Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno
Summer of Salt is such a sweet, magical read! I wrote a full review here, but basically I love the magical realism, the haunting, gorgeous setting, and the adorable relationship (btw I’m pretty sure it’s Pride Month right now, and the main couple in this book are two girls!)
Katrina Leno, the author, does an amazing job of normalising queer realtionships in this book. She says, “Coming-out stories are important, but already-out stories are just as important too.”
I also feel like I should say that I love Katrina Leno’s Instagram stories. They’re so funny and entertaining, especially when she’s telling her mum how to use social media.
I really love so much about this book — the witchy Fernweh family, the sibling relationships, and just. Go read it. It’s probably my favourite on this list.
2. The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen
Initially I was a little scared to pick this up and ended up putting it off — because I was scared that it would be another long, complex high fantasy novel, and I had already dragged myself through so many of those.
But I’m so glad I finally did read it. It’s actually like nothing I’ve ever read before, and because I had never even heard of the opera it’s based on, I was shocked and thrilled by every twist and turn. I will say that the romance is a bit instalovey and some of the characters’ motives and reasoning is a little questionable – it’s definitely not a perfect book – but it was so rich and encapsulating overall. I’ll write a full review soon, but I just think it’s pretty wonderful.
3. Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider
Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider is just your typical story of girl meets boy, boy meets girl, boy also meets girl’s dead brother. It’s essentially a coming-of-age story with ghosts, Netflix, and a whole lot of fandom references.
I did enjoy this one a lot too. I finished it in two sittings, I think, and I probably would have finished it in one, except it’s the time of year where I actually need to get sleep and be responsible.
This one did make me feel a lot of things, and I think it’s a great summer read for when you want a little twist on contemporary teen romance. Full Goodreads review here.
4. Rough Animals by Rae DelBianco
Rough Animals is the only non-YA book on this list and is written by the amazing Rae DelBianco, who describes herself as “that redneck kid author” and honestly has one of the most aesthetically pleasing Instagram feeds I’ve ever seen in my life.
Her photos tell beautiful stories, but I think she does it — impossibly — even better with words. I don’t usually read books in this genre, but I’m currently reading Rough Animals and loving it so much. The writing style is beautiful and unique, and the stream-of-consciousness flow is executed really well.
It’s the story of Wyatt, our protagonist, going on “an epic twelve-day odyssey through a nightmarish underworld he only half understands; a world that pitches him not only against the primordial ways of men and the beautiful yet brutally unforgiving landscape, but also against himself.”
5. Bruja Born by Zoraida Cordova
Bruja Born is the second in the Brooklyn Brujas series. I feel bad admitting that I haven’t gotten around to reading this one yet, but I’d feel worse if I said “YES!!! I loved it, go read it!” when actually I knew nothing about it.
Here’s the synopsis:
“Three sisters. One spell. Countless dead.
Lula Mortiz feels like an outsider. Her sister’s newfound Encantrix powers have wounded her in ways that Lula’s bruja healing powers can’t fix, and she longs for the comfort her family once brought her. Thank the Deos for Maks, her sweet, steady boyfriend who sees the beauty within her and brings light to her life.
Then a bus crash turns Lula’s world upside down. Her classmates are all dead, including Maks. But Lula was born to heal, to fix. She can bring Maks back, even if it means seeking help from her sisters and defying Death herself. But magic that defies the laws of the deos is dangerous. Unpredictable. And when the dust settles, Maks isn’t the only one who’s been brought back…”
ARCs of these books all received via Edelweiss, apart from Rough Animals, which Rae DelBianco was kind enough to send me. This does not affect my honest opinion in any way.
Did you take the quiz? Which book did you get? Which books are you most excited for in June? Tell me below!
It’s almost the end of May, and due to a super stressful schedule, I haven’t been able to read or blog as much as I would have liked to. That’s life, I guess, but as soon as this hectic period is over, I really can’t wait to dive into these highly-anticipated books:
1. LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff
This. Looks. So. Good!!!
“On a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap.”
I’ve been following the author, Jay Kristoff, on Instagram for a while (since I loved the Illuminae files, which he wrote with Amie Kaufman, and also his Nevernight chronicles). Honestly, this guy is really funny and probably one of my favourite authors at the moment. And everything about this book just screams “I am cool, pick me up, read me and fall in love with me!”
It just sounds like so much fun. Murdery space adventures? Secrets? Robots? SIGN ME UP.
2. The Wicker King by K. Ancrum
I have heard so many positive reviews about this one and I can’t wait to get to it.
“August and Jack struggle to keep afloat as they teeter between fantasy and their own emotions. In the end, each must choose his own truth.” — from the Goodreads description
The premise is just so unique and intriguing, and it sounds quite dark and creepy. Also, apparently there’s mental health rep, and I’m definitely planning on reading more books focused around that kind of topic soon.
3. The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic
I can actually hear people gasping in horror. I have not, in fact, read The Foxhole Court yet, and I’m probably the only person out of my Tumblr friends who hasn’t. There are so many gorgeous edits and quotes that I feel like I already have some of the quotes memorised, even though I’ve never read more than a couple pages of the book. It’s that big of a deal.
And I am SO HERE FOR IT. I really hope I love it; is there anything better than falling in love with a book completely while your friends pat you on the back, grinning, “I told you so?”
4. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Only now am I realising that I should have put this as book #3 on the list, because three crowns, get it? No? Sorry, moving on.
Three Black Witches, all fair to be seen
two to devour
and one to be queen
The cover for this book is gorgeous, and everyone loves some good cover love. The others in the series are so aesthetically pleasing and gorgeous too, and loads of my bookish friends have loved this! It sounds like a dark, intense fantasy, so I miiight not read it straight away (I’ve been slogging through those for a while) but I really am super excited. The reviews have been a bit polarising, though, so I’m a little nervous.
5. Starfish by Akemi Bowman
I’m especially looking forward to Starfish because I’ve heard it has Asian rep, which is really important to me as a Filipino girl who barely ever sees herself represented.
There are also apparently domestic abuse and mental health discussions in this book, both of which are incredibly important and serious topics that I really need to read more on. It’s always important to be informed and up-to-date on issues like this, and I hope this book talks about them well.
And I know I’m repeating myself…. but look at that cover.
6. Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young
I’m sorry, did I say “excited”? What I meant was JUMPING OUT OF MY CHAIR BECAUSE I CAN’T WAIT.
It looks so interesting, and I’ve seen it literally everywhere. This book is definitely very high on my TBR, because a) VIKING WARRIOR GIRL b) mystery and betrayal and c) everyone loooves it. And the whole “breathe fire” thing sounds so intense.
More than that, though, it apparently has a really fleshed-out heroine, which is something I definitely look forward to reading. Fingers crossed that I’m not disappointed!
7. The Bird And The Blade by Megan Bannen
I never expected to get approved for this on Edelweiss, but I did — and now I can’t wait to read it! It looks like just the kind of thing I’ll love, a retelling with Asian fantasy elements and ghosts, power struggles and interestingly crafted characters.
I know I harp on about this (and I’m doing it again) but that cover is giving me life.
And apparently the main character is a cunning, crafty girl, and I love that kind of stuff! Honestly, why do books take so long to read? Why can’t I just absorb it through the power of osmosis?
8. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Honestly, I feel so sheepish admitting that I haven’t read this yet.
In case you’re one of the three people alive who hasn’t heard, The Hate U Give is a book that tackles racism and oppression in today’s modern society, which is so important and vital to starting a conversation.
I need to read this. Even if I end up not reading a single other book on this list, I know that I have to, because this is such a huge topic and something that can’t just be ignored.
I have a copy waiting for me. It’s calling my name.
9. Girl Made Of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake
If we’re going to deduce anything from today’s post, it’s that I am incredibly easy to lure in with beautiful covers. This is no exception.
But it’s not just that. This book deals with another hugely important issue — rape culture — and I’ve heard many people say that it’s well-written and deals with the issue carefully.
I really hope I enjoy it, or that I at least take away something good from it.
10. A Reaper At The Gates by Sabaa Tahir
I absolutely love Sabaa Tahir. That woman, in my opinion, is such an icon. Her Instagram stories are the best.
And her books are even better. This is the third book in the An Ember in the Ashes series, which I honestly love to pieces. After the ending of A Torch Against The Night, I’m so scared and excited to see what happens!
She’s been posting a lot about being an “evil author”, though, and “drinking reader’s tears”. So. I guess we’ll see how much I still love her when this is all over.
Those were some of my most anticipated hyped reads! Have you read any of these? Are you going to? What do you think about them? Let me know below! (Maybe we can buddy read!)
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May was an…. interesting month. I had so many more deadlines and so much more revision to do that I fell behind a little on blogging/reading/reviewing. It’ll be like that for a couple more weeks, but by the time the summer holidays roll around, I’ll hopefully be able to focus much more of my attention here!
It was a month full of cookies, sunshine, headaches, and books both good and bad.
Books I Read In May
Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno
Read: ARC review copy via Edelweiss
Rating: ★★★★ / ☆☆☆☆☆
Review: I think this book helped me realise just how much I love magical realism. I’d recommend it to fans of The Wicked Deep.
A Court Of Frost And Starlight by Sarah J. Maas
Rating: ★★.5 / ☆☆☆☆☆
Review: This is where the whole “controversy” thing comes into play. I’m going to be blunt. I liked some parts, but I didn’t sign up to see everything I loved about this series brutally murdered in a wave of boredom. (Okay, that was really really really harsh, and I’m sorry, because I know that loads of people loved it. I have my reasons, though. Full review here.)
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Rating: ★★★ / ☆☆☆☆☆
Review: This had some interesting ideas and concepts, and, while managing to be creepy and atmospheric at times, was also ever so slightly racist and not entirely enjoyable (slow pace, annoying MC). It was meant to be a buddy read, but the other person DNF’ed because they got bored.
Contagion by Erin Bowman
Read: ARC review copy via Edelweiss
Rating: ★★★★.5 / ☆☆☆☆☆
Review: Deliciously creepy, atmospheric, and chilling; it kept me up all night, clutching at my bedsheets in terror. (I know, I’m an infant.)
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Rating: ★★★★ / ☆☆☆☆☆
Review: I am actually addicted to Becky Albertalli’s writing style. Something about it just grabs me and doesn’t let me go. However, there isn’t really very much plot to go by, and the message that you need to be in a relationship to be happy/beautiful didn’t sit right with me. Successful buddy read!
Cast Long Shadows by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan
Read: ebook (I think this is the only format it’s available in, anyway)
Rating: ★★★★ / ☆☆☆☆☆
Review: This was a good short story with an interesting plot and some aspects that really interested me! It’s a step up from the last one, I think.
What I Leave Behind by Alison McGhee
Read: ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.
Rating: ★★★.5 / ☆☆☆☆☆
Review: A sweet, short novel; I’d probably best describe it as like a chocolate — quick to consume, but enjoyable all the same, although not really leaving much of an impression in the days after. Full review here.
Immortal Reign by Morgan Rhodes
Rating: ★★.5 / ☆☆☆☆☆
Review: I was really looking forward to this book; I actually enjoyed most of the rest of the series a lot. But my OTP were suddenly boring, the pages dragged on and on with filler, it took me around half a month to read, and everything was wrapped up way too messily and easily.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Read: paperback copy (reread)
Rating: ★★★★.5 / ☆☆☆☆☆
Review: After finally getting my own copy (I originally borrowed a friend’s when I first read the series), I reread The Raven Boys! I had forgotten how much I love the writing and the magic. I will say, though, that it’s definitely not a perfect book, and I do have a couple of issues.
War Storm by Victoria Aveyard
Rating: ★★★★ / ☆☆☆☆☆
Review: I’m still confused about my own feelings. I cried a little, laughed, yelled at the characters, and I think that in conclusion I love Evangeline. I definitely had an issue with the length and pacing, though, and Iris’ unnecessary PoV. Full review coming soon to a local blog near you.
Furyborn by Claire Legrand
Read: ARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss
Rating: ★★★.75 / ☆☆☆☆☆
Review: I made a cake out of this review.
Review recipe here.
Circe by Madeline Miller
Read: UK hardcover (which is so so so gorgeous!!)
Rating: ★★★★★ / ☆☆☆☆☆
Review: This was such a stunning, eloquent, wonderful novel. Circe’s development and character is beautifully written, and this book is an amazing journey towards growing and loving and wondering what it really means to be alive. (It was 99% a cover buy, but it was AMAZING so that’s good.) Full RTC soon.
Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider
Read: ARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss (I finished it this morning!)
Rating: ★★★★ / ☆☆☆☆☆
Review: I read this in basically one sitting because it was so sweet and touching and compulsively readable. It really touched my heart. I had a few issues, but it was so entertaining, funny, and sad.
Overall Reading: I read 13 books this month, which is a definite decrease from April’s 22, but I’ve been so incredibly busy in comparison (actually, I should be doing something riiight now, but I’m doing this blog post instead because ha, poor life choices.)
Goodreads Challenge: My challenge this year is to read 120 books, and I’ve read 98. I think I might up my challenge when I reach 100. Or maybe not. I think I read a little too much.
Book things I got!
This month, I bought:
- The Raven Boys
- The Darkest Part of the Forest
- The Strange And Beautiful Sorrows Of Ava Lavender
(There was a sale, okay?)
Instagram: I’m almost at 1000 followers and I honestly don’t know why anyone bothers following my messy account, but I love everyone so much! I recently became a rep for Fiction Wicks (STARRY10 = 10% off on everything in the shop, which is full of amazing, cheap, handmade bookish candles!) and Mending the Lost, who makes amazing shirts, prints and cards that are feminist, bookish, and/or help those with mental illness.
<– me, a (one-winged??) fairy posing for an instagram photo that I never posted whoops
But I’ve been really productive with taking photos and uploading to Instagram lately, which would be good if it wasn’t just another form of procrastination for me. 🙂
I got a lot of the sun this month; I went to carnivals, beaches, on shopping trips, to the cinema, to people’s houses and to places that nobody owns. I ate ice-cream and drank hot tea on the same day. I’m doing a lot of musical work at them moment, because I just happen to have exams in the flute and the piano soon too.
5 from my June TBR:
- The Bird And The Blade (ARC copy)
- Girl Made of Stars
Did you read any books you were disappointed by this month? Did you set a Goodreads reading challenge? Do you have a bookstagram (so we can be friends)? Tell me in the comments!
“This is how you hold your child. This is how you murder your husband.”
★★★.75 / ☆☆☆☆☆
What’s It About?
“Follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world…or doom it.”
Rielle Dardenne has been hiding her powers for years in the King’s court, taught by her father and her tutor to stifle them at all costs — because the only two people who will ever be able to wield all seven types of elemental magic are a pair of prophesied queens: the Blood Queen, who will bring the world’s destruction, and the Sun Queen, who will be its saviour. Rielle must prove herself, through a series of trials, to be the Sun Queen, and try to keep her heart intact in the process.
“Two queens will rise.”
A few hundred or so years later, we follow a different story from the perspective of Eliana, the Dread of Orline, a girl who’s all but killed the conscience inside her in order to survive under the cruel Empire’s grip. We follow her murdery misadventures as she tries desperately to save her stolen mother, keep her little brother alive, and try not to irritate people more than she’s already irritated them. (Killing people’s families and friends does tend to make them dislike you a little.)
you may also like:
Furyborn: A Recipe
- Start with a base full of stabbing, knife wounds, and bloody murder.
- Mix thoroughly.
- Add more stabbing and brutality.
- Add just a pinch of death, but don’t overdo it. Actually, nevermind. Overdo it.
- Magic. This depends on the chapter you’re in, and on what kind of cake you want to make. Either way, add lots of magic or none at all.
- Sprinkle in the weirdest love triangle I’ve ever seen. Mix well, and add a dash of dramatic speeches.
- Bake for a thousand years.
- Throw in some lost princesses/queens/any kind of nobility really. Angels work too.
- Slice it up using bodiless minds and mindless bodies.
- Congratulations! You have now made a Furyborn cake!
Some people will love this cake. Some people are going to absolutely hate it with a passion. I fell kind of in the middle. Here are my thoughts:
- The beginning is so incredibly intense. It drew me right in with its blood and mystery and intrigue and sucked me into this book.
- While the worldbuilding did have its issues (more on this later), I found parts of it to be really interesting and refreshing. We’re given backstories about the magic system, information about the saints, and we’re told about the world and its customs to an extent.
- The contrast between the two main characters — Rielle and Eliana — was so fun to read, and really though-provoking. As we switched from chapter to chapter, you could see the symmetry between them, and at the same time, the stark, haunting differences. Rielle is written as a good character who will eventually turn bad, and Eliana is the opposite. They both struggle with feeling like monsters, but while Rielle is afraid of becoming one, Eliana is afraid of losing that part of herself.
- It attempts to be diverse, in both sexuality and race. I’m going to include this as a positive point and a negative point, because I’m not bisexual and I don’t claim to be able to speak for that minority — but I’ve seen bisexual friends and reviewers say that they enjoyed this rep as well as people who say they’ve hated it.
- There were several characters that really stood out for me. I loved Remy to pieces, as well as Navi; I found Rielle quite interesting to read about — a hungry girl, thirsty for love, for power, for attention, for pain — and willing to lie and decieve, even if she is at times deceiving herself.
- The character relationships could be so intense and interesting. I love how Claire Legrand subverted the two-girls-fighting-over-a-boy trope, which was a massive sigh of relief to me; I’d thought that I would have to read another typical YA trope again, and when I didn’t, it was such a good feeling.
- The magic system introduced some interesting new elements. I really liked the concept of empirium and the way it could be used.
- I need to know how Rielle and Eliana’s stories conclude. I didn’t realise that this book was part of a trilogy for some reason, so I was expecting everything to be wrapped up in one book and now I’m desperate to find out how both characters got to the point where they “fulfil their destinies”.
- The pacing was really off sometimes. We would go straight from a brutal, heart-pounding fight scene to a bunch of characters standing around talking or planning or eating, and all it did was suck my interest out of the book. I ended up not caring about the scenes I was reading, because I wanted to find out what had happened in the other PoV, and when I got back to it, I’d already forgotten why I cared.
- Some of the scenes are outright weird. In one of the chapters, we go from a terrifying nightmare straight to a sexual scene to an attack — and this all happens in a really short chapter. It was over so quickly that I was just sitting there frowning, thinking What…. just happened???
- There should have been way more development over a thousand years in the worldbuilding than there actually was. Sometimes, it was hard to distinguish Rielle’s chapters from Eliana’s in terms of the worldbuilding; think of where our world was in terms of technology a thousand years ago. A lot has changed. But in Furyborn’s fictional world, barely anything was different except the magic/beliefs and the people that ruled.
- I don’t like any of the romance. At all. Rielle is caught in the middle of one of the weirdest love triangles I have ever read, and does some really inexcusable things. On one hand, she’s been in love with her best friend for years (siiiigh where have I seen this before??) — Audric, the golden prince, who a lot of people think is a cinnamon roll but who I think is just kind of bland and more of a cardboard cut-out than an actual character.
- Audric is engaged to Lu, Rielle’s other best friend, and ends up cheating on her to be with Rielle, which is always a huuuuge NOPE for me in books and real life. (This doesn’t end up being a huge problem later, but it was still so icky.)
- On the other hand, Rielle is fantasizing about this voice in her head. Corien could have been a really interesting character, Darkling-style, but that just didn’t happen. He was boring. Boring.
- Actually, so many of the characters had the potential to be amazing and came close, but never hit the mark. Take Simon, for example. He had layers, you know. Layers. And then in the last few chapters, he throws all of that away. Or Eliana. She had the capability to become a really interesting morally grey character that I could really root for, but I didn’t think we got the development we needed to see that happen.
- Eliana’s romance was also very iffy for me, because we never really get to know the people she’s supposed to be romantically attracted to, and we never see the subtleties of her falling in love.
- The sex scenes are so uncomfortable and badly written. Look, I’m a YA reader, not an erotica reader; I know that authors include sex in YA books because nobody should be shamed for it, and teenagers do it etc — but it just felt… cheesy? There’s a lot of “yes, please,” and the earth swelling and mist rising, and I just grimaced and skim-read a lot.
- The main characters are kind of Mary Sues. Yep. Powerful girl destined to become queen, who has better magic than anyone before. Dangerous assassin girl who is also gorgeous.
Still, despite the list of negatives that got more out-of-hand than I planned, I did really enjoy this book in places and I’d recommend it for people that like high fantasy and don’t mind seeing familiar tropes. It was compelling, really well-written at times, and I’m incredibly excited to see what happens next in the series (and how Rielle and Eliana’s stories come to a close.)
“They called her the Dread, not knowing that beneath the mask and cloak and painted-on smile, she was simply a girl. A girl with a heart that burned for blood.” / “You are a dreamer, a teller of tales. I see that now. You ache for magic, and for all those golden giants of the past.”
Thank you to the publisher for sending me an e-ARC via Edelweiss. This has not affected the honesty of this review in any way.
However, the inclusion of cake in this book did affect my opinion. In a good way.
Have you read Furyborn? Are you going to? What are your biggest pet peeves when it comes to YA? Tell me!
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I know. I know.
You’re probably wondering, is she insane? Does she have a heart at all? Is she actually a dark and evil monster that clawed its way out of my TBR pile?
The answers are a) only a little, b) I think so, and c) I really hope not. TBR piles are terrifying.
But my point is still there. I really appreciate it when an author kills off a love interest, even if I’m sobbing my eyes out at 3am and wondering how on Earth I got here. Especially in YA books, where it’s so rare.
Why do I like it when the love interest dies?
The Issue With “Happy Ever After”
There’s a huge problem in YA books regarding love interests and the dependency and realism of relationships portrayed in the genre. Almost every successful YA novel that I’ve seen hyped this year features a romance (normally heterosexual, but that’s a different topic and a looong one that I could probably write a whole other post about).
Romance isn’t what I have a problem with. In fact, I like it when romance is written well, because it can be incredibly fun to read.
What I have a problem with is that usually – and especially in books with female protagonists – the love interest becomes synonymous with “happy ending”. The love interest shapes the protagonist, makes her stronger, teaches her things (Which is good! Yay! Character development!) but then somewhere down the line, the girl begins to feel useless without him. She has to save the world or become queen or whatever, only because she has to save him. And while this is a romantic sentiment, and I’ve fallen for it a few times myself, there are times when it can become particularly troubling.
YA can mean anything from 14-18 years old, sometimes younger, often older. But still, when you teach young girls that their happy ending isn’t complete without a prince, it sends a much darker and more disturbing message.
To be clear, I don’t have a problem with a heroine saying, “I love him so much that I’d die for him.”
My problem is when it becomes “I love him so much that I become nothing without him.”
There are so many young girls out there who feel inadequate because they don’t have a boyfriend yet. They don’t feel “normal”. They feel like they need to end up in a romantic relationship, because otherwise, how can their endings be happy at all? I was one of them. I’ve known girls who felt and still feel like that. And I don’t think that anyone should have to experience that at all.
It’s not even just in books. It’s in the movies we watch, in the songs we hear — turn on the radio, and at any given moment, a love song will start playing, and the fourteen-year-old girl who’s never had a boyfriend will turn her face away and start thinking of all the people she’s never dated. She will feel unworthy, unaccomplished. And that is wrong.
It’s Not Just The Feminism – It’s Better Writing
When a love interest dies, it points out strengths and weaknesses in a fictional relationship. It gives the author an opportunity to grow their characters into somebody much more compelling to read about.
Grief is terrible in real life, but entertaining in fiction. When executed well, the death of a love interest can be much more twisty and intriguing to read than the classic “and then the prince married the princess, and everything was perfect.” It leaves room for character development; since the protagonist has to cope with the death, it leads to self healing and restoration.
Exceptions To The Rule
Of course, there are some characters who I, a small girl with no combat training whatsoever, would defend with a plastic sword if it meant that they stayed alive forever. This is also the part where I was going to list books where the love interest does die, but spoilers. 😦
If the relationship is really well-formed and is genuinely one of my OTPs, I really don’t think I could root for the death of either of the characters. Mostly, I like it when insta-love is killed because I hate that stuff anyway.
Do you like it when the love interest dies? Or can you barely stand it? Do you think authors like watching us cry? Tell me in the comments below!
Whoever said that reading is good for you is a liar and very untrustworthy, because I feel like I’m not okay at all. This book hurt me, a lot, and I have plenty of things to say about it. Shoutout to everyone who told me reading this was a good idea, because you’re all evil in the best way possible.
Note: If you already read and enjoyed this book, I have bonus kermit memes at the end.
(Did you really think I was capable of being serious for more than three minutes?)
“This, I say. This and this. The way his hair looked in the summer sun. His face when he ran. His eyes, solemn as an owl at lessons. This and this and this. So many moments of happiness, crowding forward.”
The Song of Achilles is a book that you’ve undoubtedly heard of if you’re familiar with the YA book community. It’s especially popular on tumblr, where you see about 29472869 gorgeous edits and quotes daily. It’s honestly a surprise that I haven’t picked it up before now.
This book is essentially a retelling of The Iliad by Homer. It’s told from Patroclus’ point of view, and focuses on the relationship (read: romance) between him and Achilles, the “best of the Greeks”, a half-god warrior (who also happens to be really, really hot, and this fact doesn’t escape Patroclus’ notice.)
Personally, I had no clue what actually happens in the Iliad (i’m sorry that i haven’t found the time to read epic ancient Greek poetry, but I’ll get there someday) – and this meant that I didn’t know what was coming, which in turn meant I was wholly unprepared.
— ▸ The writing is so good. Madeline Miller’s writing is short and sweet, yet evocative and eloquent. The wording is gorgeous, highly quotable, and honestly just a pleasure to read. It fits perfectly with the story and enriches it so much.
The word I use is hubris. Our word for arrogance that scrapes the stars, for violence and towering rage as ugly as the gods.
— ▸ The romance is slow-burn and beautifully sweet. It was totally believable and utterly heart-wrenching to read, in the best way possible.
He is half of my soul, as the poets say.
In fact, it was outright wonderful. The representation in this is amazing. Too often, gay characters are shunted to the side, made into flat characters and stuck in there solely for diversity points. This book doesn’t do that. Kudos to Madeline for writing in this element.
— ▸ Greek mythology. I’ll be the first person to admit I know nothing about it beyond what I picked up from Rick Riordan books – but it is incredibly interesting to read about; you can see why people have preserved this story for thousands of years.
— ▸ The characterisation was stunning. Miller takes on the difficult task of taking already-famed heroes and characters, legends in their own right, and making them human. Mythological figures often seem distant, cold, far removed from us – but through her eyes and pen, we are presented with a staggeringly real portrait of humanity. The characters all have flaws and desires and secrets, and the level of care put into their construction really does shine through.
— ▸ It makes me emotional. This book is capable of taking your heart, ripping it in two, and then saying oh, you needed this?
— ▸ Altough it’s set in ancient greece, where sexism prevails above all else, we still manage to have strong female characters. While not the best, I loved that the author still wrote powerful, fierce females; Thetis has some of my favourite descriptions in the entire book:
Her mouth was a gash of red, like the torn-open stomach of a sacrifice, bloody and oracular. Behind it her teeth shone sharp and white as bone.
“She is his mother.” She is a goddess first, I thought.
So why didn’t I rate it 5 stars?
— ▸ I’m not sure if i’m allowed to critique the plot, because it’s literally a classic that’s lasted thousands of years, but the ending was easy to predict. I guess I can’t really consider it a negative, but it was easy. Consider this an ambiguous point rather than negative.
— ▸ It was a little slow to get through, and the time jumps were a bit odd to adjust to. I think this might just be me as a reader, but the jumping-around of time – combined with the beginning of the book, where we’re still being introduced to the world and drowned in a sea of Greek names – disoriented me a little. Not enough for me to dislike it, but it was a bit annoying.
— ▸ The character voices didn’t develop as much as I’d like them to. Again, a minor issue, but I was expecting Patroclus’ voice to be a little different after 9 years of living in a war-camp.
— ▸ It was a tragedy. I didn’t know it was a tragedy and I was Not Prepared because I thought I was going to read a happy romance and it turns into the equivalent of “hey everyone you love is dying!” but again this isn’t a negative this is just me being sad 😦
Overall, this was a really excellent book that took an old tale and made it into something glorious and fresh. I’ll definitely be picking up some more of Madeline Miller’s work in the future – especially since the cover for Circe is so beautiful….
This review was originally posted on my Goodreads.
The Song of Achilles in quotes and kermit images:
“Patroclus. I have given enough to them. I will not give them this.”
“A thousand ships have sailed for her.”
“I could not even see the ugliness of the deaths anymore, the brains, the shattered bones that later I would wash from my skin and hair. All I saw was his beauty, his singing limbs, the quick flickering of his feet.”
Thanks, Homer. We owe you one.
bonus kermit memes for people who already love this book!
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