Not exactly the hobbit food, but my tomato sandwich looked so good I just had to include it!
“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”
This second installment (or the middle of the book to be more correct) is phenomenal. If you had some trouble trudging thought the songs and the first and second breakfasts in the first book, this book is your reward. The story, the characters, the sass! The Two Towers is the best of Tolkien bottled up in a bottle. The bottle of the finest, richest wine.
“I was talking aloud to myself. A habit of the old: they choose the wisest person present to speak to.”
Many new characters came onto the scene and I adored every single one of them. Treebeard especially, and the fact that he was somewhat based on Tolkien's friend Lewis (the author of The Chronicles of Narnia) was beyond heartwarming. Literary world needs more friendships as one that Tolkien and Lewis had. Two literary geniuses who inspired each other, put each other in each other's books and dedicated books to one another.
As with every great fantasy book that I read I find myself unable to pick just one favorite character - instead I have a small army of favorite characters. Because each of them brings something different to the book, something that I love. The Two Towers is full to the brim with my favorite characters, and yes, Treebeard is definitely one of them. An ancient race of tree beings (very badass beings at that) that can turn the ground upside-down if they get angered enough. But they also could spend hours just enjoying the wind and the earth.
Which brings me once again to Tolkien's tremendous love for nature and the environment - it is one of the very prominent themes of the book, and one that fills my heart with joy. Because of his innate affinity for beauty of nature - Tolkien's writing and descriptions are transportive. You can almost imagine yourself in Middle Earth - being carried high up by Treebeard, or getting lost in the marshes.
Another character that stole my heart with his very first appearance is Faromir - a man even more honest and righteous than Aragorn. Faromir is one of the very few (well one of the only two characters in the whole book who aren't tempted by the ring and its power, not even a little bit) and for that Faromir is definitely a top character for me. Because if you read the book you know how much it says about the person if they aren't even tempted.
But few rival to Sam Gamgee in terms of awesomeness. I am one of those people who thinks that Sam is the true hero of the story, and book two proves so much of that. Sam is the man, thetas honestly all I can say, because his actions speak for themselves.
“Don't leave me here alone! It's your Sam calling. Don't go where I can't follow! Wake up, Mr. Frodo!”
The Two Tower's pacing is perfect, while The Fellowship of the Ring was very slow to begin, because of the extensive lore that was being explained, the second book is full of adventures, action, sassy comments, beautiful friendships and also sad moments.
Cannot wait wrap up my journey with The Return of the King, although I will also be sad to leave the Middle Earth.
Since I am devoting the rest of 2018 to mostly fantasy books, I decided to make a TBR - to keep me on track.
1. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (re-read)
I've already started on this, and already finished The Fellowship of The Ring and have about 100 pages left in Two Towers.
I'm thinking I will pause after Two Towers to read a different book, since I will be busy next week and don't it to affect my beautiful journey of Middle Earth *insert heart eyes here*
2. Dry by Neil Shusterman (arc)
I was very lucky to get a physical arc of this and I cannot wait to read it. This is the only non fantasy book that makes the list (so far) in my 2018 TBR.
I fell in love with author's Scythe series (also dystopian) and I am sure that I will enjoy this one as well.
Shusterman writes very realistically, it feels like his novels could happen any time now. Especially one that is set in such a realistic California future (sadly).
3. We ride the Storm by Devin Madson
I've read The Vengeance Trilogy by Madson (including the novella that goes with it) and now I am ready for more brutal adventure.
The only downside is that this book is the only one out in the series so far, and I will have to wait some time before being able to continue. And who likes waiting??
I heard that this one is even more brutal than The Vengeance one, so eek, will see. Hopefully I won't get traumatized, ha.
4. Proven Guilty (Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher
It's been a really long time since I read Dresden Files, at least 2 years that's for sure.
I stopped on book 8 and now I am hoping to jump back in, and just pick up where I left off.
Thankfully, Butcher is very good at reminding the reader what happened in previous books, so I'm not too worried. I am worried that my taste has changed and I will find this not as good or as entertaining as I did before.
I will start with book 8 and if I'm still into it I will try reading more this year as well.
5. Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb
I am hoping to read the first trilogy in 2018 (this series is soooooo long). they are set in different times and realms as far as I know, but the whole thing is still very, very large. So I figured the first 3 is a good place to start.
I decided to pick this up because a few book-youtubers that I watch speak very highly of it, so I wanted to see for myself. Plus Robin Hobbit is very renowned in fantasy, and that's what I'm doing this year - just reading all of the fantasy!
Side note, I adore these cover editions.
6. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
Not much to say here except that it's time for another Sanderson book - it's been way too long.
I've been a bit grudgy after the last book in Mistborn (era 2) - I did not like that one at all. But, I think I'm past it and ready for more Sanderson's magic and feelings that he hits you with oh so beautifully.
So far, this is a standalone (although there are plans for book 2 already), so it's nice to read something that you don't have to continue in right away.
7. The Iron Flower by Laurie Forest
Probably only one of the very few YA fantasy books that will be on this list - I might add two more. I am stepping down from YA almost completely and will only read books from authors that I know and like, or if I do a very extensive research on them. I've read way too many crappy ya books and I don't have time or patience for the anymore.
But Iron Flower I am very excited about!! And if there's a third one I will read it as well. It's a continuation of The Black Witch and I cannot wait to see where the story goes.
8. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
The Poppy War has taken the reading world by storm and I want to see what's it all about.
So it's better be good!! :)
I love good asian inspired fantasy. I heard that this book is brutal, but what are you gonna do - it's fantasy after all.
I really know nothing else of this book, so I will just have to read it and see.
9. The faithful and the fallen series by John Gwynne
I'd love to read the whole series in 2018, but they are so big - gigantic really that I'm not sure I will be able to.
These have been also highly recommended to me, so I am very excited. Plus I am in love with these covers, ahhhhh.
10. The Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C Dao
Julie C Dao surprised me with the first book in this series, and I literally cannot wait for the second one to come out (November hurry up).
The first one was so good, I couldn't believe it was a debut (I was also lucky enough to have an arc of the first one).
This is ya as well, but this is the author that I trust (I added her to my favorites with just one book - and that's huge for me).
And that is it for part 1 - It's quite ambitious, because lots of these are very chunky books, but hopefully they will be worth it, and hopefully I will find many favorites among them. Part 2 will be coming when I made at least a dent in part 1 :)
“Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars.”
I don't even know how to start this, so I might as well start with a story.
I was about 8 or 10 years old and sick again (I was a very sickly kid), with either a very bad flu or a very bad cold (there was a lot of coughing). So my dad borrowed from his coworker 4 books and brought them home to me (I grew up in times when people borrowed and shared, not just shopped and shopped). The books obviously were The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings "trilogy" (it's one book really, just split into 3 upon publishers intent). So I started reading. Suddenly I wasn't sick in my room anymore, I was in The Shire, I was guessing Gollum's riddles, I was running from Smaug I was in Rivendell bound under elven beauty and all I needed to do, all I must do was get that ring to Mordor to be destroyed. I was in love. Then many years passed and after all of 3 movies were released they were showing them on TV. I remember sitting at the foot of the couch and waling for 10 minutes at the Boromir scene, I just couldn't stop.
I don't remember how many times I read the books, but this is my very first time reading it in English. And anyone who says that the books are hard to read because of the way they are written, honestly needs to purchase a dictionary because they really are not. The language is beautiful. Sure, Tolkien gets off topic and could ramble a bit, but that doesn't make it hard to read at all.
“Three Rings for Elven-Kings under the sky
Seven for the Dwarf-Lords in their halls of stone
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie”
Here is what Tolkien in his own words had to say to those who dislike his books:
"Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible; and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer."
He was a sassy sweet old man! :)
Lord of the Rings (and all of the books set in that world) are not just books. They aren't something to be submitted to publisher because of the due date, or not something to be filled and stretched out because of the word count requirements. He spent 12 years writing Lord of the Rings. They are a labor of love - and it shows. It shows in every word, every description - it doesn't feel like fiction (which was Tolkien's true intent), it feels like a historical recollection of fantastical things that truly happened. That's why you don't just read the books, you go to Middle Earth and you live it.
I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that P.Jackson adopted that same approach to making his movies - he didn't just make them, he lived them, which also shows in every second of the three films.
In the diverse universe of different races my favorite are the elves. And not because they are so ethereal and graceful, but because of their affinity and relationship with nature. Elves are always sad because they know that earth is dying and the they won't be able to slow and stall that process forever. They respect nature above all and they live in harmony with it. Unlike orcs and goblins who only see nature as materials for making their weapons and other scary things.
Tolkien himself disliked technology and how fast it was advancing. He liked things true and simple. He liked the countryside, he liked his old house set in the greenery of nature - his haven in a fast changing world.
Next after elves were hobbits in their love for nature. Hobbits didn't like technology either, and in the Shire they truly lived in their own world. If you read the prologue you will learn that except the plow and a windmill hobbits really didn't have any other advanced tools (I know a windmill is not a tool, but it's a means of making things). Hobbit's philosophy is simple and beautiful - give a hobbit a garden and he's happy. They liked their comfort, and they liked there tea, they also liked to eat 6 times a day, which I totally get on board with. I won't go into any other races, except this two that are my favorite, because then my review will be half as large as the first book.
“He loved mountains, or he had loved the thought of them marching on the edge of stories brought from far away; but now he was borne down by the insupportable weight of Middle-earth. He longed to shut out the immensity in a quiet room by a fire.”
The book starts with an extensive genealogy and history of hobbits, which is important to know to understand them. Because even with danger at the front door a hobbit will still want his second breakfast. If you read the books and watched the movies they are quite a few differences, especially in the first part of it. I like both ways of starting up - one sets you up with a lot of information which you really need to truly grasp the feel of the things, and the other creates a very fast paced chase which glues you to your screen.
The scope of Tolkien's creation is tremendous - he had so much material that it's still being published. He created a separate language for his books, he created a whole world of extensive mythology - I honestly don't know how he kept his notes straight. The man, and his works are pure genius. Also, all of this was done before google. Just let that sink in.
I feel like modern fantasy authors should strive to write more like Tolkien did. And I don't mean in the same style or anything. But with love. Treat their books as if they were real, not merely a fiction. Step into the world they create and live the story, not just write it. Nowadays authors try to either shock the reader, or to trick the reader - and while it often works, it shouldn't always be the case.
The first book doesn't bring much in a sense of human interaction, or much action, due to it being weirdly split at a point - remember to threat the books as one. It's a one long and epic journey, and book one is merely a set up for it. Lord of the Rings itself is merely a drop in the vast ocean of Tolkien's universe, and I plan to drink the whole thing. Or swim in it.
"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes, a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king"
I'm not saying that this trumps Jane Eyre for me, but it's on the same level! Wow! Why did I wait so long to read this book I have no idea. I might have read something by Wilde in high school, but that was so long time ago and in another language that I just can't remember. But no matter because I will definitely read more by him from now on.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is simply a masterpiece. The writing, ohhh the writing! Think of gooey, dark and smooth chocolate being poured gently and delicately over some fresh strawberries - that's what his writing feels like!
Every word is perfectly in its place, every description is so rich and lush and it all flows most beautifully together. And somehow Wilde managed to pair up his beautiful writing with the most cynical story. People say he's witty, and people aren't wrong.
The way he weaves the narration is superb. He makes you think, he makes you agree and then he makes you feel like a horrible human being because you agreed to his quite evil musings. I loved how the power of suggestion was the driving force in the book. How just a couple of words spoken in the right moment and the correct time could gloss over somebody's mind. How somebody can talk themselves out of almost everything. How one's resolve can fade easily if there's somebody to bend it in the wrong direction just a little bit.
In the course of a novel we watch a decent human being turn into a vile creature, and how a person who pushed him to it remains untainted for the most part - brilliant, simply brilliant.
The review will not be honest if I don't mention a chapter (11 I believe) which was pretty boring, because it was just pages of descriptions of things, but even that can be forgiven on the scope of how good everything else was.
I tend to not be able to express my thoughts well when I liked the book so much, but to sum it up The Picture of dorian Gray is a classic that I will re-read many more times in the future and I feel like I will get out of it something new each time. If you only must read one classic book - red this one.
I know it's a little past half year mark (not a little, but still) so I decided to take a look at my reading stats this year, and compare it to the previous year.
All stats are taken from my Goodreads which I think is a very cool option that GR has.
So far I am almost exactly 10,000 words behind from my 2017 word count. And I still have 4 months to go, so I'm pretty sure I will beat it.
This one is so interesting! I only gave 5 stars to 10 books in 2018, and 3 of them were re-reads! I have either become very cynical, or I have just been reading a lot of duds this year. I'm pretty sure it's the combo of two.
My most popular rating is still a 4 stars for both years.
In 2017 I haven't given a single 1 star, which changed in 2018! I guess I was nicer in 2017, lol. In 2018 I gave 7 books 1 star rating! Savage!
The largest book I've read so far was The Black Witch with a count of 608 pages.
Surprisingly most of my books are e-books so far! That just proves how much into NetGalley I've been! It's also proven by the fact that half of my books were either NetGalley or ARC's from publishers! Maybe that's why I had so many duds this year? Because I haven't been choosing my ARC's properly?
My let-downs also comprise a bigger percentage than my favorites, which is also kinda sad.
Fantasy is a prevalent genre, but other genres beat it so far. Since I experimented a lot with my book genres this year, but I will remedy that with the rest of 2018 reads.
I've also read 3 classics this year (all of which I really enjoyed!) , so I'm surprised they aren't showing up on the chart.
The largest book I read in 2017 was Harry Potter and the order of the Phoenix, which was also a re-read for me.
2017 was such a happy year - look how many favorites! Look how much fantasy I've read! Ahhhhhh, I sincerely hope that 2018 gets better reading wise for me.
But I also had quite a few let-downs in 2017 as well.
And contrary to 2018 I barely read any ARC's and e-books in 2017, and I don't know if it's good or bad, I guess it all really depends on the book.
The rest of the year reading plans:
I will make a more detailed post about my rest of the year TBR, but for now here is an overview.
I am planning to devote the rest of the year mostly to reading epic fantasy. I have many series I am planning to start, and one series that I am planning to re-read.I also have few ya fantasy books that I might also give a chance if I have time.
I'd also love to read at least one more classic in 2018, I already read 3 this year so I'm quite proud.
There are also a couple of new releases that I am excited for and hoping to squeeze them in as well. One of them being The Dry by Neil Shusterman - so ready for that one!
I had to sit on this one for a while before I decided that I was ready to write a review. Partly because I'm a lazy potato, but mostly because I was bitter about this book's ending.
Rating this was very hard as well, because I enjoyed this less than I did the first book in the trilogy (and I rated that one 4 stars), but I also could not deny how brilliantly everything was wrapped up, so I couldn't give this less than 4 stars either. So you see why I had to sit on this and ponder.
But let's go back to "I'm still bitter" stuff, because I really am. Did I think that my favorite characters would survive the book?? Yes, I did. I was so naive! So childish. To be honest, now that I think about it - I'm surprised that anybody survived!
This definitely wasn't a happy ending book, at least not for me. But there was a little sweet moment that softened the blow (I guess...). See, still bitter. The fact that the characters I absolutely loathed survived didn't help either.
I mentioned this before (in my review for the 1st book) that I absolutely recommend reading the novella In Shadows We Fall before this series - because it brings much dimension to the story and the characters, and I have to mention it again because book 3 wrapped everything in such a way that everything came full circle. It's hard to explain without spoilers so I'm afraid you will just have to see for yourself.
Reasons why I didn't enjoy this as much as the other two books (I adored book#2!) were mostly related to characters - I loathed Hana. And Malice. Equally, I'm pretty sure. It's quite comical because in book two I was so busy hating Katashi that I didn't realize that Hana was so much worse.
I also didn't care for sexual content in this book. I liked the placing of it in book 2 because it brought a lot to the story, but here it was more like "been there done that..." and it just didn't add anything to my experience, maybe except the ick factor. Also, all of this brother/cousin loving didn't sit well with me. I know, I know - different times, pure blood and all that, but I still think that it's absolutely gross.
I'm not even sure that I need to mention it, but the writing is absolutely superb, all throughout the trilogy. It's just so addictive and easy going (despite the very dark content) that I couldn't help but swallow these books up. I would have read them much faster to be honest, but reading e-books hurts my eyeballs, so that kinda slowed me down. I feel like that was important to mention because I was in a middle of book 2 when I just had to take a day break to let my eyes rest and I couldn't stop thinking about the book that whole day! That's how good this series is!
I can't wait to read We Ride the Storm - the only book by Madson I haven't read yet. I discovered her few weeks ago and already read 4 of her books- oops.
As the title suggests I am doing a tag. I honestly don't know who originally created the tag (sorry) and I am way too lazy to look it up. Also the tag has 15 questions but I will only answer the ones I find most interesting (lazy again).
1. Best book you've read so far?
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
I read quite a few good ones but I will go with A man called Ove. This book made me cry so hard I couldn't see the pages. So good. So good!
A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.
Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn't walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?
2. Best sequel you've read so far?
The Gods of Vice (The Vengeance Trilogy #2) by Devin Madson
This was such a good read, I couldn't put it down!
Two emperors. One empire.
The war for the Crimson Throne has split Kisia. In the north Otako supporters rally around their champion, but Katashi Otako wants only vengeance. Caught in the middle, Hana must decide between her family and her heart. Is the true emperor the man the people want? Or the one they need?
3. A release you are looking forward to reading?
Dry by Neal Shusterman
When the California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions, one teen is forced to make life and death decisions for her family in this harrowing story of survival from New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman.
The drought—or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it—has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s lives have become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers.
Until the taps run dry.
Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation; neighbors and families turned against each other on the hunt for water. And when her parents don’t return and her life—and the life of her brother—is threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she’s going to survive.
4. Biggest surprise?
Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) by Neal Shusterman
I was beyond surprised at just how much I enjoyed this book. I practically inhaled it!
A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.
Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.
5. Biggest disappointment?
The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6) by Brandon Sanderson
I honestly had A LOT of disappointments this year, but I am still bitter about this one.
Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.
The Bands of Mourning are the mythical metal minds owned by the Lord Ruler, said to grant anyone who wears them the powers that the Lord Ruler had at his command. Hardly anyone thinks they really exist. A kandra researcher has returned to Elendel with images that seem to depict the Bands, as well as writings in a language that no one can read. Waxillium Ladrian is recruited to travel south to the city of New Seran to investigate. Along the way he discovers hints that point to the true goals of his uncle Edwarn and the shadowy organization known as The Set.
6. Favorite new author?
I found her a couple of weeks ago and already read 4 of her books. Oops! I started with this novella, which I absolutely recommend!!
In Shadows We Fall by Devin Madson
Winner of the 2017 Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novella
You will die. Your children will die. The empire will burn.
Empress Li is out of favour at court. Foreign-born and past her prime, she is to be set aside. But she won't go quietly. With nothing left to lose, Li will do anything to stop Emperor Lan signing a secret alliance that could tear the empire apart. Yet when her life is threatened, old mistakes come back to haunt her and only a three-year-old boy can change the course of history.
With everything at stake, could an innocent child be the best assassin?
7. Favorite new fictional character?
I am a minor character type of reader. I don't know why. I just am, and always been.
8. Book that made you cry?
Yes, I am using the same book twice, but what are you gonna do?
This book made me weep!
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour made me tear up and so did The Lido by
9. Favorite NetGalley book?
Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent
This was so perfectly messed up!
From the international bestselling author of Unraveling Oliver, an “unputdownable psychological thriller with an ending that lingers long after turning the final page” (The Irish Times) about a Dublin family whose dark secrets and twisted relationships are suddenly revealed.
My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.
On the surface, Lydia Fitzsimons has the perfect life—wife of a respected, successful judge, mother to a beloved son, mistress of a beautiful house in Dublin. That beautiful house, however, holds a secret. And when Lydia’s son, Laurence, discovers its secret, wheels are set in motion that lead to an increasingly claustrophobic and devastatingly dark climax.
This book can be renamed All the Stupid Things Leona Did. It's been a while since I really disliked a women fiction book, but here we are. I had quite high hopes for this (for some reason). The premise sounded interesting and I am always in the market for a good book revolving around women and children.
For startes Leona is the stupidest main character, I'm sorry but she really is. I get it, there are people who don't know what they want to do with their lives (I mean, I don't!), people who don't finish things, people who hide from the world all the time - and I have a feeling that Leona was supposed to be a character that reader identifies with, but the whole execution was so poor, that all I could do was just roll my eyes at her constant stupidity.
The whole premise of the book, while at first sounding very endearing quickly turned out into something very wrong. The book takes methods that women who can't get pregnant would use in hopes to conceive a baby and turn it into a stupid game of Leona choosing her sperm donor. It was quite insulting actually. All the while she tumbles from one poor and unprofessional decision to another.
The whole plot was very unrealistic and from the whole array of characters I only liked Maura. The ending was kind of sweet, but also very impractical - there were so many questions left open that the book felt unfinished.
I had another book by Loretta Nyhan on my TBR, but I went ahead and removed it - it was clear from this book that this author is not for me, even if the writing was quite good.
I am in a huge mood for thrillers/suspense/mystery books! So when I saw the description for this book I was more than intrigued. Open Your Eyes has everything you want in a good thriller - pace, suspense and a good dose of daily life. It was also an extremely fast read. But it also falls short on many other things.
The main character, Jane, is compelling and I sympathized with her a lot, but she's also not very bright. There were some things she did in regards to her family and kids that left me thinking "no way a mother would ever act like that".
I also had trouble connecting to the age of kids, her daughter was supposedly 3 years old, but in the book she was left to act as if she was at least 5. I just thought that it was a big disconnect in that sense and therefore the novel didn't feel authentic and real life like.
The first 10% of the book were also very, well not good. The writing felt childish and the dialog ridiculous - I almost gave it up. But I'm so glad that I didn't, because from then on I couldn't put it down.
The plot was limpy at times as well - there were some things put in there that didn't have any significance whatsoever to the main story, and while sometimes a secondary story line works - it just didn't in here. But only because in a thriller I want every little detail to matter, every little noose to come unraveled - and when I get led on by secondary plot lines I just get fidgety because I just want to know how the story will end!
Despite that Open Your Eyes was still a compelling, quick and quite thrilling read. I felt fear at times and I was a bit surprised at the outcome of the mystery, but I definitely wasn't wowed. I'm happy I picked it up, but I wouldn't re-read it or anything.
Big thanks to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for a digital advanced reader copy provided for a review. All opinions are my own, honest and come from the heart.
I am a middle book person. They tend to be slower, they tend to have more background and usually by the end they escalate so fast, having left you hungry for more. In Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson book 2 was my absolute favorite, in Hunger Games book 2 was the best one in my opinion. And now The gods of Vice - I just couldn't get enough of this book, and when it was over I jumped into the 3rd one right away.
The pace really suited me - it was both action packed and slow, it had story, it had flashbacks - it was just so dimensional all around. The characters got most of their development done in this installment and I truly enjoyed learning all of the little secrets that came out to the surface.
The best secret was kept till the very end, but it was well worth it, because it blew my mind. Literally. Brain explosion! Kaboom! Just when I thought I knew characters and was beginning to trust them - things got turned around 360 degrees and I didn't know what to think anymore!
That is also the ongoing theme with this book - I never knew what will happen or even how all of this would end. And I loved that! I usually can see endings and twists a mile away (but that might be because I also read a lot of generic fantasy in the past two years), but this kept me guessing. Well, to be honest I even gave up on guessing - I just went with it and enjoyed the wild ride.
This is also not a book in which you can pick up a favorite character, call him or her "a precious dandelion" and root for them till the end. Because the moment you start feeling something for a character they turn around and mess up in the worst possible ways. It's stressful! But it's also very fun. I cannot wait to see how this madness of a trilogy will end.
(DNF at 51%)
I feel like I am doing myself and this book a disservice by reading a much shortened, translated version of it. The original book is about 500 pages, and this version is 288.
I peaked at other reviews of this book on Goodreads, because the book got a lot of glowing 5 star reviews (and I just couldn't understand why). But now I know that the translation is the reason.
The original, Madhorubdagan, is poetic, lush and beautiful. One Part Woman is dry, choppy and repetitive. Which saddens me to no end, because I don't speak the language the book was written in, so I guess I will never be able to experience the true beauty of it.
I loved the new cover, I loved the topic and I loved that I had the chance to read something by a foreign author. I wanted to learn more about Indian culture, their religion and customs, but due to the horrible translation I really couldn't.
Sure, all of those things were in the book, but they weren't catered to an average reader - there were no explanations as to who was who, and what god came from where. There were no explanations of temples, or rituals - names were just thrown around and I drowned trying to decipher what means what.
I also really hope that this book is not a correct representation of Indian culture as a whole and its people. Because if it is you will be hard pressed to find one single nice person in India, which I'm sure is not true. In the book they all were just horrible people! Jealous, crude, self-centered and worse. The only person I felt bad for was Ponna, because not only she suffered the most, but also because Kali (in my opinion) was a total prick.
I am sad that I wasn't able to enjoy this book, nor learn anything from it. I firmly believe that if book gets translated it should be translated in a way that is the closest to the original, but also in a way that is accessible and understandable to everyone. People who live in that environment and people who don't should all be able to experience the book in the same way. Otherwise why translate it at all?
Big thanks to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for a digital galley copy provided for a review. All opinions are my own, honest and come from the heart.
3.75-4 / 5 stars
I feel like it is impossible to review this book without mentioning the drama that erupted over it about a year ago (not sure exactly when). I also do not remember WHO started it, or WHY they started it for that matter.
Then hundreds of people started jumping on the band wagon by condemning this book without even reading it (gasp!! I know, I know...) and it just became a whole big mess - which frankly is probably the most embarrassing thing I've ever seen a community of readers and intellectuals do. Embarrassing! If you want to hate on the book just because somebody else told you to - then maybe you shouldn't be reading books at all. Because books are for people who have their own opinions.
I've also seen so many people pull quotes out of the contest and use them to "prove" their negative points about the book. That's just messed up, and you know it.
The book was labeled racist, ableist and some other vile things. But I am here to laugh into all of those people's faces - because it's not. I do see how it could be mistakenly viewed as one (if one wants to skew the reality and see only what they want to see), but there is a big difference between a book being racist and a book being set in a racist, close minded, prejudiced world. Just because the book talks about those things (and goodness those things NEED to be talked about!) doesn't mean that the book IS those things. How somebody couldn't make that distinction is beyond me, but I digress - let's talk about the actual book!
I've seen The Black Witch being compared to Harry Potter and I definitely see why. The magic school setting, the pure bloods vs. everybody else, the white wand and many other things are definitely similar. The lessons that those books are trying to teach are very similar too - prejudice, choosing your own friends, the magic community wanting to be pure blooded and so on.
I could also definitely see why so many people gave up on the book very early on - the society in which Elloren finds herself is beyond toxic. Yes, the society is racist! Yes, it is prejudiced! Yes, it is absolutely horrid and cruel and mockingly pure blooded. It's like being in a company of many Hitlers and many Malfoys - at all times. But it is also shockingly, and sadly, similar to the society we now live in.
Also, if you thought that Harry Potter got bullied a lot - wait till you read this. Elloren gets bullied on another level. It's quite painful.
Elloren comes from a very sheltered village, where she lived a beyond sheltered life with her gentle uncle, who hid a lot of things from her. Then she finds herself in a world of which she knows nothing, except things that her exceptionally cruel aunt tells her. It takes Elloren a long time to realize what really is going on. It takes her a long time to see the lies she's been fed, to see the truth beyond all of those shimmering facades. She makes many mistakes, and many bad decisions - but her journey is a beautiful one. Elloren is flawed, Elloren is confused and scared, but despite all of that she denies the life of privileges because the price is not what she wants to pay, and finds her own way to the truth.
I gave the book 3.75-4 (I really couldn't decide) stars because I didn't realize it was going to be set in a magical school setting. While I do enjoy those, I also think that they are a bit overused and just don't do much for me. Sure, it was fun in Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but sometimes enough is enough. I wanted something more grown up (I know this is ya, but still). There was also way too much "glaring" from a certain character for me - he literally "glared" at her about 100 times, and that just gets old, people.
But there were so many things that I loved! For example, when Elloren finds out about how her clothes are made - this fantasy book actually talked about ethical fashion! I literally whooped with happiness because I was so pleased. Ethical fashion is very important to me - fair wages, fair working environment, no child labor - I refuse to shop at the malls and "fast fashion stores" such as forever21, because of how horrid they actually are. If you don't know the horrors of fast fashion please google it - you will never look at your clothes the same ever again. So to have it talked about in a fantasy book was amazing - more people need to be aware what they are supporting with their money.
Animal abuse, interracial marriage, underage marriage, arranged marriage, unfair working wages, favoritism, corrupted politicians - this book has so much to say, and it saddens me that so many people chose not to listen. There was also a heartbreaking example of how parents corrupt their children with their prejudiced views.
There was a lot of girl power in this book, which I loved - my favorite side character was Diana - a super strong, confident girl who didn't give a flying shit about what anybody else thought. Every scene in which she was present was hilarious. I definitely need more Diana in my life, or to be more like Diana. There's a lovable bookworm, who goes through many transformations and her journey, while similar to Elloren's is beautiful in its own way. A lot of side characters are really good, but some could use a little more dimension.
The Black Witch has a lot to offer - the plot, while not very original, sure has many things that make it very appealing. The writing is phenomenal, if you ignore few words that definitely got overused here and there - the script is absolutely beautiful. I cannot believe that this was Forest's first book. She absolutely has the talent!
The book also makes you think - it throws you into uncomfortable situations and makes you draw parallels with the real world - who would you believe, what would you do, what would you change?
I thoroughly enjoyed The Black Witch and will be reading the next installment, The Iron Flower very soon (was very lucky to get an ARC of it, whaaaaat). There are so many ways the story could go and I cannot wait to explore it.
I would have swallowed this book up in one day, but horrendous headache made me wait. In other words this book was so hard to put down! I just had to keep reading, I just had to know how everything would end.
This is a fantastic debut novel, it's actually hard to believe that this is just a debut - everything flows so nicely, and Frey's writing is simply addicting.
This is such a creative take on a kidnapping story! I've never read anything like this and this book just didn't want to let me go.
Is kidnapping wrong? This book will change your perspective and flip your world upside down.
I loved how Not Her Daughter portrayed media attention in this book - how all of those TV stories only show you what's on the surface, only what they want you to see - twisting the truth just so they can make the headlines more shocking. But what if in some instances kidnapping is actually. good thing? What if it's not kidnapping, but saving?
The bond between Emma and Sarah in this book was so tender and real, and full of love it seeped through the pages. Amy's insecurities, and anger and hate were so strong - frankly, it was very hard not to wish for her to die the most painful death imaginable.
If not for the few plot flops that I just couldn't overlook this book would have been a shining 5 stars, but 4.5 coming from me (so critical!) is a high praise too. I just couldn't understand some of the decisions Sarah made - why would she stay at the cabin for so long, why would she trust Ethan, how come he didn't just turn her in (he knew her name and much more). Also the plot line with Charlie's father went nowhere, and I felt like I needed a little bit more closure there.
If you want an impossible-to-put-down summer book - read this. If you want a perfect book club discussion novel - read this. If you want a perfect women fiction book - read this. Not Her Daughter will make you sad, happy and angry - all at once, so don't miss this little rollercoaster of a read.
Big thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an e-arc copy provided for a review. All opinions are my own, honest and come from the heart. Not Her Daughter comes out on August 21st!.
It is a shame when such a pretty cover hides such a useless book. My reaction when I was finished with the book? "What in the world did I just read??"
Like living in a snow globe, The Waiter is a captivating study in miniature. Everything is just so, and that’s exactly how the waiter needs it to be. One can understand why he becomes anxious when things begin to change. In fact, given the circumstances, anxiety just might be the most sensible response...
Sure, the synopsis sold me on this book, even though I was already so intrigued by the beautiful cover, but did the book deliver? Absolutely not.
It wasn't a study in miniature, it wasn't study of chaos as it erupted around an anxious waiter - it was a mess of neurotic thoughts, random encounters, angry and derogatory ramblings and bunch of "important" names thrown around. Add the unresolved ending on topped all you have is a big floppy mess of nothing.
My first problem with this book was that it made you feel left out - the waiter would ramble on about things, and places and names that I knew nothing about, or barely knew, and honestly a person who hasn't ever been to Europe probably wouldn't know either. It felt as if the book was written for a very small, specific audience, and at times it even felt as if the reader wasn't necessary at all.
Surprisingly, there were things that I really liked. I liked waiters views on clothing - how we like to wear brand clothing because we think it makes us original, that it creates our own personal style, but in reality we are just parading somebody else's ideas, specifically a designers who made the clothing. So instead of being original and distinguished we are no more than just a walking commercial for those clothes. I thought that was absolutely brilliant way to look at it and I definitely agree with it.
I decided to read the whole thing because I wanted to see how it would play out. Now that I did, I wish I just abandoned it (I had to skim the last 30% - I was quite bored). The ending didn't wrap anything up, didn't close any loops or holes, and it did't explain anything at all. Which made the whole reading experience pointless to me.
Big thanks to NetGalley and Gallery, Threshold, Pocket books for providing an advanced e-ARC for a review. All opinions are my own, honest and come from the heart.
I am quite surprised that this book isn't talked about more, on Goodreads specifically. It is the epitome of a perfect summer read - I ate it up in one day (and this book isn't small - 448 pages).
Also, I had no expectations whatsoever when I started reading it, so I think that contributed to me being very pleasantly surprised by this debut.
The beginning of the book has very strong Pretty Little Liars vibes, but much, much better executed. However, as the book progressed I started comparing it to The Secret Garden by Kate Morton (which I recently also read). The comparison is due to the story branching out through two generations- past and present colliding, and that is something Morton does in her every book. But, while The Secret Garden almost put me to sleep, All These Beautiful Strangers hooked me and didn't let go till the very end.
Mostly, we follow the story through Charlie in the present day, but we also get glimpses into the past from her parents' points of view. The overlapping was done really well, and the story flow felt very natural. And if I put you off by comparing this to Pretty Little Liars, don't worry All These Beautiful Strangers is far superior to PLL in every sense - structural, grammatical and just in general the writing is quite good.
Charlie is a great main character to follow around - she doesn't pull her punches, she says what she thinks and never takes it back. Sure, she might be a bit antisocial, but I was actually able to relate to that. The story is set in a prestige boarding school, but despite that it wasn't tacky in a way college novels can be.
By the end it did get pretty intense and I loved it! The book that makes me feel things (and I felt scared for the character) is a book worth reading my opinion! All These Beautiful Strangers is a perfect summer read, and as far as young adult mystery books go - this one is one of the best I've read so far.
Big thanks to the publisher, William Morrow, for providing an advanced reader copy for a review. All opinions are my own, honest and come from the heart.
Freelance BETA reader.