The Bear and theNightingale by Katherine Arden is a book that I’ve been seeing everywhere for a long time. I’ve wanted to read it forever. But for some reason it took me ages to pick it up. Then I saw it for sale in a little book store in Thailand when I was on holiday and it seemed like the time was finally right to buy it. So, I did.
I don’t know why I hesitated to read this book. I’ve always loved books based on fairy tales, folklore, myths or legends. Perhaps it was the Russian setting. I’ve struggled in the past with books set in Russia, usually because of the character names. I find with Russian names that the characters will have one name and then a nickname. This can make it confusing to keep track of who is who. But I do love a Russian setting with all that ice and snow. Continue reading →
I never know how to review books that are part of a series. I tend to only review the first book in a series and then make vague references to the following books because I don’t want to spoil anything for new readers. So I’m going to tread very lightly (and vaguely) as I review The Wicked King, the second book in a YA fantasy series by Holly Black. I read the first book The Cruel Prince about this time last year. I’ve also read other books by Holly Black including Tithe. In case you don’t know, this series is all about faeries, and the few mortals living with them, and is set in the Shifting Isles of Elfhame.
The main protagonist is a human girl named Jude. Her mother was once in a relationship with a faerie general named Madoc, but she ran away from him into the mortal world when pregnant with his child (Jude’s older sister). Jude is completely human, as is her twin sister. When Jude was a child, Madoc came and killed their mother and then took all three sisters to Elfhame. Being mortal in a faerie realm is not a good thing so Jude has had to learn to be sneaky, dangerous and as cutthroat as the faeries around her. Continue reading →
For the past three weeks I was immersed in the epic, magical world of the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas. Reading this series took A LOT of reading time as it’s seven books long (with the 8th and final book A Kingdom of Ash due out in October 2018). But it was well worth my effort.
If you have already read this series then I am preaching to the converted. If you have never read a YA or fantasy book in your life then this is probably not the series for you. If you read book one, hated it, and didn’t read any further, then this post isn’t for you. But for everyone else who wants to be swept away to a magical realm of queens and kings, princes and princesses, warriors and assassins, faeries and healers, magical creatures and witches, quests and kingdoms, then please read on. Continue reading →
Tithe by Holly Black was a book I re-read recently in anticipation of reading The Cruel Prince. And I’m glad I did as Kaye and Roiben from Tithe make an appearance in The Cruel Prince. It’s a YA fantasy novel that blends faeries and the modern world together.
Tithe tells the story of Kaye, a teenage girl with a rocker for a mum who moves from place to place as her mum pursues her music. Like her mum, she’s a bit rebellious. She’s not going to win any prizes for being a model teen as she smokes, drinks and skips school. She also has a big attitude.
Kaye and her mum go back to New Jersey to live with Kaye’s grandmother. When she was a kid, Kaye used to have friends in this place — faerie friends that only she could see. And now that she’s back, strange things start to happen and she begins to explore the powers she’s always had. Continue reading →
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black was on my wish-list for a while due to all the love for it that I saw on bookstagram and because I re-read Holly Black’s book Tithe recently. I don’t read a lot of YA fantasy but since reading and loving the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas based on bookstagrammers’ recommendations, I thought I would give The Cruel Prince a try.
If you don’t want to know anything at all about this book, don’t read on. I am going to reveal a tiny bit of plot that occurs in the first few chapters.
Set in the world of Faerie, the story is told from the point-of-view of Jude who is a human girl living in this world with her twin sister Taryn, half-faerie sister Vivi and Vivi’s faerie father General Madoc and his second wife and son Oak. Continue reading →
When I first heard about Nora Robert’s new book YearOne I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Years ago I went through a Nora Roberts reading stage where I devoured all her romantic suspense novels but it’s been a while since I’ve read any of her books. When I heard that this book was a departure from her usual romance stories and was about a killer virus taking out billions of people and leaving a dystopian wasteland in its wake, I was even more intrigued.
I was then lucky enough to win a proof copy from Good Reading magazine and Hachette Australia but I would have bought this book otherwise.
Year One starts with a riveting opening:
“When Ross MacLeod pulled the trigger and brought down the pheasant, he had no way of knowing he’d killed himself. And billions of others…”
As the world’s population rapidly depletes, a new order rises. People who had previously had slight magical impulses now grow into their power, revealing all sorts of beings from witches to fairies to shapeshifters and elves. Some normal humans survive as well. But for every good Uncanny (as they call the magical people) and for every good human, there are plenty of bad people who want to kill and let chaos reign.
The story follows quite a lot of different characters as they leave New York in search of other people and safety. The cast of characters grows and was at times hard to keep up with. But the scenario is intriguing and a bit different from the normal zombie apocalypse dystopian route. There are no zombies in this book!
I came to this Young Adult fantasy series very late but I’m glad I finally made it. While I jump on the occasional YA reading bandwagon (Twilight, His Dark Materials and The Hunger Games), I consider myself a bit long in the tooth now to read this genre and I don’t really read much fantasy. But maybe a good book is a good book no matter how old you are or who the target audience is. And so when I recently joined the Bookgramming community on Instagram and saw all the love for the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas, I was intrigued to find out more and went and bought the three book box set.
I consumed all three books in the series–A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury and A Court of Wings and Ruin–in a week. Now I finally get all the hype and all the love for this series. I can see why teens and women alike are filling their Instagram feeds with photos of these books and I’ve happily joined this reading cult.
For the uninitiated, don’t worry, I won’t give any spoilers. But I will say this is a fantasy series about the world of humans being divided by a great wall from the world of faeries after a great war 500 years ago. The main character Feyre is a human huntress who is struggling to feed her starving family (a crippled father and two older sisters). She reminded me of Katniss from TheHunger Games in that she is a bit ragged around the edges, smart and tough. Feyre kills a huge wolf she suspects might be a faerie who has come illegally through the wall. This sets off a chain of events that sees her whisked away over the wall into Prythian, the land of the Fae, as punishment for her crime.
There must be something in the water in Oxford. It was once the literary stomping ground of writers such as J.R.R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings) and C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia series) who formed part of a writer’s group called the Inklings and met regularly at the Eagle and Child pub to discuss their writing. And Lewis Carroll was inspired to write Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland while living in Oxford. Now Philip Pullman, who resides in Oxford, can easily be added to this rich literary heritage as an author who creates such detailed, fantastical worlds.
Philip Pullman has just released The Book of Dust Volume One: La Belle Sauvage (what a mouthful). It is set in an Oxford that’s similar in appearance to the one we know, but is quite different. Pullman’s Oxford still has students, academics, colleges and pretty countryside but there are some magical differences. Every person has an animal companion called a daemon who is an extension of themselves and can talk, think and feel. Children’s daemons can change into all sorts of animals, reflecting their moods and needs, but once maturity hits the daemons settle into a particular animal form. In this alternative world there are also witches and other mythical creatures.