This book is a part of my "All books mentioned on 'Friends-tv show' challenge"
I could not remember if I read this one in high school, so I picked it up. Also I want to read and own more classics in 2017 (one of my resolutions). I haven't got a big collection, but I am working on it.
Wuthering Heights was Emily Bronte's only book, but if you can only write one book in your life - this is the way to do it. I thought it was absolutely brilliant! I own the Barnes and Noble Classics edition, which came with an introduction, a short biography and a preface by her sister, Charlotte Bronte. I decided to read all of them since I did not remember much about the Bronte's from school. I am quite confident that reading the biography and a preface made all the difference for me while I was reading this book. Reading Charlotte's description of her sister's only book, how it was rejected by the publishers, her sudden illness and her short-lived life - set the right tone for this novel.
This book is quite different from anything that I have ever read. If this book could talk for itself, it would be screaming its head off with anger. I am simply astonished at how a book about very dull lives of very regular people can be so frightening to the reader. It took me a while to read it, because I could only read so many pages a day, before I have had enough of the madness that were the two main characters. You know when in a book you usually pick your favorite character and then your least favorite one? Well, how about a book in which ALL of the characters are your least favorite ones? Characters so horribly selfish, arrogant, cross, indignant and spiteful that it makes you want to throw the book out of the window. Yet, you keep reading. If that isn't a sign of a great book then I don't know what is.
I have also noticed that Wuthering Heights is often labeled as a romance, which is so wrong. This is not a romance novel, but all of the events do center around romantic notions.
Structure of the story line was quite odd, but somehow it flew very nicely. I felt like reading a memoir of a family (a very messed up family) starting with the grandparents and finishing up with the youngest of kids all grown up. Illnesses and death were woven into the story like they were as natural as a morning breakfast (which goes to show the state of living in the early 1800). I have to admit that it did get a little confusing at times, for most of the characters shared same names, but I took my time with the reading, so that was not a big issue at all. Also all of this "marrying your own cousins" ordeal shook me a little bit, but then again, different times. Come to think of it maybe that is why they all were so feeble and sickly, because they kept interbreeding with each other.
The only annoying thing in this book was the broken language at which one of the characters spoke, as it was incredibly hard to read and follow, and it became very irritating, very quickly. Luckily, he wasn't that important in the book anyway.
The Bird and the Sword came out in May of 2016, but recently it has been resurfacing a lot on many of the social platforms, so I’ve decided to finally write a proper review for it.
To say that this book is one of my absolute all-time favorites is an understatement, so let’s proceed to a review.
!Very minor spoilers ahead!
The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn't speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would sell his soul and lose his son to the sky. My father has a claim to the throne, and he is waiting in the shadows for all of my mother's words to come to pass. He wants desperately to be king, and I just want to be free.
I was looking for something to read and the premise of this book made me want to buy it – best decision ever. However, I will not be biased, and say that this story is very far from being original. What more, it reminded me heavily of Beauty and the Beast, except her beauty is not obvious and the beast... Well the beast is complicated. Wrap this up in a spectrum of all human emotions and you have magic.
The world is full of enchantment, and the magic system is very interesting (however, now that I have read Shadow and Bone (Grisha 1) I find two of them quite similar). There are these four types of people who are born into these magical abilities: The Spinner, The Teller, The Changer and The Healer. The book does not call it magic, but I viewed it as one anyway.
I nodded once more.
“Lark? That’s not a name”
I lifted my eyes to his, because it was a name. It was my name.
The main heroine, Lark, is mute by a curse, so the whole book we see her communicating through sighs and hand gestures, till her own power comes through and she finds another way to communicate. Lark is a wonderful main character! I also enjoyed the fact that she is 21, so we are spared many of the childish emotions that are often exhibited by main heroines of YA genre. On the outside she is feeble, mute and thus “invisible” to most people; on the inside she is proud, brave and compassionate. We get glimpses of the way she interacts with her family, of her horrid relationship with her father and her servant/friend Boojohni, who is the only one that can somewhat understand her. Once she is taken by the king, we see her trying to make sense of a palace life and political lies, and schemes that surround it.
The romance was absolutely beautiful. Lark was proud and strong-willed and king Tiras was even more so. Together they clashed and burned - and the result was dazzling. You can practically feel the love from the pages of this book. Love that is strong and gentle at the same time. A love that you know will last forever.
It was an unforgettable read for me - full of action, emotions and twists and turns. Many will find some parts of the story recycled from other stories, but in my opinion if those parts were to be recycled anyway – this is the way to do it. And Amy Harmon’s raw and enchanting writing style is more than enough of a reason to pick up this book (especially now that the second installment of it is coming out in 2 months). That said, this is a standalone, but Amy Harmon is expanding the story into a second book from somebody else’s point of view (Kjell's), while still bringing some of the old characters back.
I will start out by saying that this book was not at all what I thought it would be. For some reason I imagined this book to be a fantasy set somewhere in 1900 hundreds, about a runaway who joined a circus.
And while in a sense, it is a story about a runaway and a circus (however little of the actual circus was in it), I did not at all anticipated it to be so contemporary. After the initial shock of finding out that the story is very modern (it is set in 2016) wore out I started to really get into the story, and soon was not able to put it down.
Also wanted to mention that the provided synopsis of this book reveals a lot, way more than it should (it literally spoils the whole book, so don’t read it).
The main character, Willow, runs away from home, and the events that follow after are quite ridiculous, but also heartfelt and raw. I could not peel my eyes off the pages, I just had to follow her journey all the way trough. What I loved the most was that there was never a “magic” solution, or an easy fix, or a miracle for any of her problems. She kept getting knocked down by life in the most brutal and impossible ways, and she kept getting back up and making it through – and then getting knocked down again. And to think – that she was running away from things that most people would be running towards: money, friends, and stability. There was one exceptionally juicy plot twist, and I enjoy plot twists a lot. Especially when I don’t see them coming. "The Circus" touched many important and painful subjects, shedding light into dirty corners of our society.
While the story was gripping and hard-to-put-down, the writing was a little choppy, and confusing at times. The long chapters were divided into smaller sub-chapters, and all of them had titles (most of the titles were very cryptic and didn’t help with the general confusion). And the worst part was that there was almost no differentiation between the things that were currently happening and the flashbacks that she was having.
Since the synopsis mentions Suz, a girl who the main character meets, and befriends, I will mention her too. At first I had trouble trying to justify their friendship, I can see that it was born out of the desperation and loneliness, but after Suz stole from her, I had troubles seeing why Willow stuck around. And the synopsis says that “now Willow will have to make a choice if she can trust that girl again”, well from the story Willow didn’t really give it much thought at all – they just kind of stuck together. But overall I think that Suz brought a lot of color and character to the book (once again I am wishing that synopsis didn't reveal as much, as it would have been so much better to be surprised when Suz entered Willow's life).
I would like to thank LibraryThing and Rock the Boat Publishing for providing me with an advanced reader copy of this book. I truly feel honored to be one of the first readers of this gripping adventure of a book. “The Circus” took me by surprise in the beginning (don't judge the book by its cover, right?), but managed to keep me completely engaged all the way through. When the book comes out (summer of 2017) I will be able to edit and add more to my review, as I have more to say about this book.
“She'd remembered the wrong things, and forgotten too much. She'd remembered how to kill and how to hate, and she'd forgotten how to grow.”
I had a little internal struggle about how to rate this book. I adored about 90 percent of it, but the other 10 percent, not so much. In the end I decided to settle on 4.25/5 stars.
Uprooted is an adult fantasy novel, although it is often mistakenly labeled as YA (due to the young age of the main protagonist). Which is not a bad thing for it appeals to both adult and young adult readers (although it might seem a little too dark for some ya readers). Uprooted has also won The Nebula Award for the best novel and is rumored to become a movie.
Writing Style: If I describe it as: familiar, would you understand? From the very first pages I felt at home with this story, writing was simple and fluid. It felt as the magic from the story had spilled over the style of writing too, because yes, it was magical. The author is of polish descend, so this book was rich with Slavic traditions, characters and food. I didn't expect this when I picked up this book to read, so you could say that it was like a cherry on top. The best part was the magic. It was not flashy - no dazzling staffs and bright lights, but simple and earthy. The whole magic process was compared (from the main character's point of view) to works of nature - walks in the wood, flowers growing, rivers flowing; it might seem a little confusing and out of place for some, but trust me – it was beautiful.
Character development: Agnieshka, a girl of barely seventeen, is the main heroine of this story. I loved the fact that her teenage age did not play any part in the story (I have read way too many books about unstable and hormonal teenage girls as main characters, so it was a breath of fresh air to see this one play out differently). I really enjoyed her character, and her personal growth through the story. She was described as average, in comparison to her extremely beautiful best friend, Kasia, but Agnieshka doesn't go complaining and comparing herself to her friend (well she does a little bit, but not in a jealous way). These two girls have a bond stronger than iron. At times it may seem that Agnieshka is completely and ridiculously infatuated with her friend, but she "grows out" of it as the book goes. Agnieshka is headstrong, clever and loyal, which are amazing characteristics to place upon a female character, she stays true to herself till the very end and never forgets where she comes from.
Another character of whom we see a lot of is Dragon (a bit too cliche of a name, due to parallels between dragons that take girls into captivity and all, but oh well), a wizard that looks over their village and fights the Wood (a collective evil being in this book). Dragon is cold, prideful and pretty mean. But somehow you end up liking him anyway.
Kasia, Agnieshka's best friend, despite being described as incredibly beautiful, is nothing short of a woman warrior. She places others before herself, and is willing to sacrifice everything she has not only for her best friend, but for their whole village.
There are many secondary characters, all of whom are very well built and are important to the story, but they never steal focus.
Very minor spoilers ahead.
Story line: Story starts pretty slow, but extremely enjoyable, as we get to see Agnieshka struggle through her new role as a witch in the tower of Dragon. Being taken by him instead of her friend, which comes as a shock to the whole village, Agnieshka stumbles and crashes through her new life at the tower. She is messy, clumsy and not good, well pretty much at anything. When Dragon realized that she is a witch, he tried to teach her magic, but alas, she is not good at that either. Only when she finds an old spell book of Jaga (yes, THE baba Jaga), her immense potential unfolds, and she ends up being the one to explain to Dragon how to do the sort of magic that she does. Seeing pompous and almighty wizard trying to do simple magic and failing was quite comical.
Let's talk about Jaga. Yes, this is the famous Baba Jaga (my slavic blood is so happy), the witch in a hut with chicken legs. Only that here she is described as a complete badass and an amazing witch (not as a bad witch either, as she is usually portrayed in children's tales). Turns out Agnieshka is able to perform the same magic as Jaga could - the earth magic (it is never really named that, but it is a nature magic of sorts). There are many beautiful descriptions throughout the book of the way they do magic.
My favorite ones are these: when Dragon and Agnieshka make a rose for the first time, when they cast the Summoning Spell and when Agnieshka uses pine needles for a protection spell.
We see Agnieshka's true character when she goes all alone to save her village from another of Wood’s attack. After this the story unfolds extremely fast, as Wood keeps attacking them in various ways. At one point Agnieshka goes to the city, for the trial of Kasia, and we see all of the dirty politics going on behind the scenes. People in the city depicted as arrogant, pompous and quite mean. This is not Agnieshka's cup of tea, and as a reader I could not wait for her to leave the city, I felt that she did not belong there. Tragedy after tragedy strikes the city, and Agnieshka finally flees.
From this point on I felt like fighting was the only thing going on. It was greatly described, but at one point I felt like I had too much of fighting, it was exhausting to read as the villain was only getting stronger and more brutal. Half a star of my rating got lost somewhere in all of the fighting. When the book comes to a point of Agnieshka and Dragon defeating the villain, it was not what it seemed at first. And boy did I enjoy that little twist on the story!
Another fourth of the star for me was lost in a completely unnecessary love scene. I thought that the book was extremely perfect without it, even though I understood why it was put there in the first place. It just made me feel very awkward, as I myself had somehow stumbled upon lovers and their act.