Circe by Madeline Miller

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: 10th April 2018
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
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In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.

When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe’s place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.

There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe’s independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

Continue reading “Circe by Madeline Miller”

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The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Publisher: Little, Brown Books / Hot Key Books
Publication Date: January 2nd 2018
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
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Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

This book gave me two very different feelings; indifference and complete investment.

I was thankfully gifted The Cruel Prince as an ebook from Hot Key Books, and wasn’t surprised at how much attention it got when I ran a poll with what books I should read while making the long journey to visit extended family over Christmas. It won by a landslide, and while Holly Black books are usually a hit or miss for me, I got excited at the thought of being whisked away to a faerie land where fairy is spelled like ‘faerie’ and the creatures of the land are not cute with magic wands and wings.

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Unfortunately, that’s not what I got in the first 67% of the book.

The Cruel Prince, to me, could not decide what kind of book it wanted to be. At first, it seemed like a self-aware novel; a faerie land living alongside the human realm, where the protagonist felt apart of both. She would shop with her sister at Target, say stuff like ‘lighten up, jerk!’ when in conflict with magical creatures, but then she would also ride a giant toad with a saddle around it and wear dresses made of leaves and feathers. Her step-father has green skin and her baby step-brother can glamour her into slapping herself until she’s red in the face. I kind of liked it; Holly Black’s novels always have the mundane and the strange walking side by side. It was the same with The Darkest Part of the Forest (which I adored) and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (which was a bit meh) – like I said, Holly Black’s books are a hit or miss.

This concept of Jude feeling out of place in both worlds went on for quite a long time, and didn’t in fact stop. This, thrown in with being severely bullied by Carden (the cruel prince in question) and his awful friends also goes on for so long that I started to feel really uncomfortable. It got to the point where I felt like a bystander just letting it happen. I’ve never been bullied this severely, but I think I have a responsibility to say that if you’re affected by seriously and severe bullying in entertainment you consume, and you’re going to read this book, now you know.

This goes on for most of the book, and I found myself wanting to DNF it a few times. When I’m reading a book and I can feel myself wanting to put it down, I know it’s not going well. I don’t like to waste my time, and it felt like I was doing exactly that. But THEN, as it read 67% on my Kindle, when my mother was calling me in because the Sunday roast was ready, I couldn’t stop reading!

The story completely turned around and the drama started, the political intrigue, the distrusting of characters all reared their beautiful heads. And it was like, where the hell were you all when the grip of my kindle was getting weaker and weaker? It’s not a plot twist or anything, I’m not spoiling it when I say it got interesting, but it’s a bit weird that I have to say that. The whole book should be interesting!

After tweeting about it a few times, I saw that I wasn’t alone. Many felt like it was worth sticking to until the end where it leaves you wanting the next book as much as how you just wanted any other book when you began reading The Cruel Prince. So, if you’re just starting out or even a third into it, keep going, there is something about this book that’s meant for it to blow up in popularity come the second one.

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Books I’m Excited For In 2018

2017 has been a great year for books. I haven’t read as much as last year, and I think that’s partly due to not setting myself a reading goal, which was kinda nice and relaxing. Plus, the amount of books you read doesn’t matter, it’s about what makes you happy. And what makes me happy the most is getting way too excited about the books that aren’t even out yet.

So, without further ado, here are the books I’m most excited for in 2018!

Circe by Madeline Miller

I’ve been trying to get my hands on an early copy of this for a few months now – but it seems that our fates are not aligned and I will have to wait patiently…a word not in my vocabulary. The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller’s debut novel, is one of, if not my ultimate favourite books of all time. I absolutely adore it with all my heart, and I believe it’ll happen again with Circe.

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Bright We Burn by Kirsten White

So, this has become one of my favourite series of all time. Unbelievable, because I remember reading And I Darken, which I bought on a whim, passing the Penguin stand at YALC back in 2016, and enjoying it but also being super frustrated by it. It hadn’t much hype, and maybe that was part of why I bought it, but what some of the characters did for the people they loved, tearing themselves apart for nothing in return, grinded my gears. But actually, looking back, and then reading Now I Rise as an e-arc made me fall head over heels for this historical story which is a RETELLING OF VLAD THE IMPALER BUT AS A TEENAGE GIRL. This story is fantastic, and I cannot wait for the finale. Blurb for And I Darken (so you’re not spoiled) is here!

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novak

I read Uprooted on a long car drive from Bavaria, Germany back to England in one sitting. I was told by people that it’s generic, that it was boring, that it was formulaic. I can’t argue that it wasn’t a typical fairytale like fantasy, but boring it was not. It was fun, interesting, and I’ve come to realise that I love fantasies set in places that aren’t generic woods. I like my fairytale to have it’s setting and worldbuilding rooted in real countries and old stories with culture. Uprooted was set in an Eastern European/Polish feeling place, and I assume Spinning Silver will be a new place but with the same writing I hold dear.

Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

Look, all future V.E. Schwab novels should be on this list, but the next one up that actually has a set date is Vengeful, the sequel to Vicious, that tells the story of two best friends from college who gain powers; one becomes the hero and one becomes the villain. SOUNDS AMAZING DOESN’T IT? And finally, we are getting a sequel and I’m so excited to return to this world after giving my heart over to The Shades of Magic series. The blurb for Vicious is here!

Record of a Space Born Few by Becky Chambers

I seem to have a pattern here. All the books I’m excited for are either sequels, or novels by authors I already love. It seems there’s no difference here, but there’s a good reason for it.

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All of Becky Chambers novels are standalones. It means that her last two books, while set in the same universe, you do not have to read one to understand the other. You can go into Record of a Space Born Few without listening to me harp on about how I’m excited for ‘this installment’ without spoiling anything for you. Becky Chambers’ books delves into the understanding of humanity as another species with their human-like customs, as well as unpacking what we know as humans through fictional non-humans. It’s incredible and such an interesting way to question ourselves.

What books are you excited for this year? Let me know in the comments!

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Everless by Sara Holland

Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: 2nd January 2018
Rating: ☆ ☆ .5
Goodreads

The novel, pitched as Red Queen meets Downtown Abbey, is set in a kingdom where time is a commodity that flows through the blood and is hoarded by the rich, and centers on a 17-year-old girl who becomes the next handmaiden at the Everless Estate only to find herself at the heart of a centuries-old rivalry over the secret to immortal life.

1507201345324So this was kind of…blah. And I hate saying that, because ‘blah’ isn’t a good review is it? But how can you describe a book that makes you feel nothing?

Everless is pretty much a textbook YA court fantasy story. I knew what would happen, and it felt horrible that I didn’t care. My mind began to automatically skip over sentences that weren’t dialogue until at one point I didn’t even know what was going on and had to force myself to go back over it. It still didn’t make sense.

There seems to be a half formed plot about Jules’ past that makes her obviously ‘special’, but what it is is half-assed and doesn’t make for much of a shocker moment. Yeah, of course she’s special, yeah of course she’s the only one who can save the kingdom. The rest of the characters? Kinda boring, a bit 2D. I only gave it 2.5 stars because the beginning didn’t at least drag and I kind of enjoyed the magical ‘blood-iron’ system that allowed people to pay in time.

Something very refreshing in this story however was the inclusion of LGBTQ characters within the world. While it was unfortunate that they were side characters, or extras just passing through, it really showed the kind of worlds that Holland will be writing in the future. Inclusive, diverse, and different. It’s so hard to find historical-esque fantasy that will include dragons but find non-straight people ‘unrealistic’, and so I am pleased that we’re finally building the blocks to a more well rounded genre.

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