Review: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

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Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price. This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

This book is absolutely stunning. I can’t believe it’s taken me until now to read this, but I find short stories so hit and miss! Some (*cough* Tales of Beedle the Bard *cough*) can be blatant gimmicks. And others, like this, can be downright beauty.

I am so, so happy that this one fell into the latter. All 6 of these stories are based on classic fairytales, but with a new and fresh take set in the Grisha universe. I haven’t actually read the Grisha trilogy yet, but I loved Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom! What I love about this book is you don’t actually have to read any of Bardugo’s books to understand any of the tales.

“They pray that their children will be brave and clever and strong, that they will tell the true stories instead of the easy ones.”

I actually can’t chose a favourite of these stories, because they’re all so beautiful in their own ways. Ayama and the Thorn Wood, The Witch of Duva and The Water Sang Fire definitely all stood out for me though! I love how each story took up around 50 pages, and I think having that time and space is just crucial for the reader to know the character enough to connect fully to the story.

I can’t write this blog post without telling you all about the incredible illustrations that come with the hardback edition I own! Round every single page there’s a band of illustrations which build up as the story progresses. For example, in one story we start with a fox, and slowly the band builds up until we have trees and other forest creatures around the perimeter of the double-page spread. I can’t even begin to explain the beauty here, the amount these drawings add to each story and make them feel like fairytales.

“They pray for sons with red eyes and daughters with horns.”

I honestly have so much to say about this book that I’m going to have to stop myself from rambling and just say this. Leigh Bardugo, you have done short stories right. I have never experienced a novella quite like this one. It stands out in the fairytale experience, and it took me to many different worlds between the pages. I found it perfect for this festive time of year, so comforting and interesting. I’m sure these stories are ones I will come back to many times again!

★★★★★
5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

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Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.
Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.
But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?
Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.
Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.
But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?
What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?
What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?
But what if it is?

If there are two people who are destined to write together, it’s Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli. They go together like salt and pepper, and I love what came out of their partnership in What If It’s Us!

I’m a big fan of both authors and I felt their characters complimented each other perfectly, but still had their own voices. I could just about feel the differences between the way both characters were written that gave them each a unique feel.

“I barely know him. I guess that is every relationship.”

I loved the plot! I remember Adam talking when I met him last week, and I know him and Becky really wanted to write about the difficult parts of relationships as they develop and not just the getting together part. I loved how this book tackled the struggles and not just the Broadway worthy scenes, and it made this book so relatable.

Arthur and Ben were just the cutest, but they were so flawed too! There were parts when I couldn’t help but feel like both of them were just being assholes, but that’s the charm of these characters. They’re so real, they mess up, they accept it, they move on.

“You start with nothing and maybe end with everything.”

I also loved the side characters, friends and family! Not enough YA includes intimate family scenes and I love how their whole lives were included, as well as scenes at home. There’s a specific scene including both of Arthur and Ben’s parents, and it was so heartfelt and lovely.

The only slight issue I had with this book is that it took a long time for me to get into. Maybe 100/150 pages in I got it, but when I did get into this book I couldn’t stop reading! It took me almost a week to read 100 pages, and then a couple of days to read the last 300. So I’d definitely say it’s worth the wait.

★★★★
4 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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ARC Review: The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge

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Part ghost story, part Nordic thriller – this is a twisty, tense and spooky YA debut, perfect for fans of CORALINE and Michelle Paver.
Martha can tell things about a person just by touching their clothes, as if their emotions and memories have been absorbed into the material. It started the day she fell from the tree at her grandma’s cabin and became blind in one eye.
Determined to understand her strange ability, Martha sets off to visit her grandmother, Mormor – only to discover Mormor is dead, a peculiar boy is in her cabin and a terrifying creature is on the loose.
Then the spinning wheel starts creaking, books move around and terror creeps in . . .
Set in the remote snows of contemporary Norway, THE TWISTED TREE is a ghost story that twists and turns – and never takes you quite where you’d expect.
 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Hot Key Books in exchange for an honest review. This has not changed my views in any way.

The Twisted Tree was the perfect book to read this week around Halloween! The story follows Martha, a girl who can read people by touching their clothes. She travels to Norway to visit her grandmother, who she later finds out has recently passed away. In her abandoned cabin, she finds an interesting boy hiding. Together, they will find themselves in the midst of some eventful, and creepy, times..

I really enjoyed this book and I’m so glad I read it in October. I found this read so interesting and unique, and I loved the Norse mythology and Norwegian setting. Both things are ones that I don’t often see in YA, and were great to read about.

“You write the story of you every day with your thoughts, words and deeds.”

I loved Martha as a main character, and the female power in this book! Martha talks a lot about her ancestors, and it was awesome to read about the strong link between Martha, her grandmother and her ancestors before then. Martha was perfect as the heroine of this story. She was scarred, struggling and dealing with so much. I loved her flaws, and it was so interesting (and felt realistic) to read about her struggles with having a visual impairment.

“You create yourself. You get to decide your story. No one else. You.”

This book is urban fantasy, set in the real world, and I found that just brilliant. It was awesome to feel the genuine struggle of Martha and Stig coping with their struggles in the real world. I also loved reading about Martha’s mum and the rest of her family. It added an extra depth to the story that was lovely to find out about.

So overall, this book was a really good read perfect for Halloween! Look out for it on January 10th!

★★★★
4 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Selection (#1) by Kiera Cass

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For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

I just saw a review on Goodreads that sounds exactly how I’m feeling about these books. They’re like cookies that are really bad for you – you know you shouldn’t like them because they’re full of trash but you just can’t help yourself by eating a whole packet in one sitting. Credit to Taneika for that one!

So right now, I’m feeling incredibly torn over this book. For one, I never thought I would like a book with a girl called America Singer. America. And talking of America, this girl tears me in half too. On one hand, she is so damn indecisive and I know it’s going to annoy me a tiny bit throughout the whole series. But on the other hand, she has a kind and sensitive soul which shines through above all.

“I hope you find someone you can’t live without. I really do.”

I actually really enjoyed the caste system and world. It only has a small touch of fantasy and the palace and it’s grounds are pretty well described. I actually enjoyed how the world and history was described. I would have loved a map in the front of the book, but the history lessons were through dialogue and actual lessons the Selected took part in. I didn’t mind this, because it kept the lessons short and informative, rather than just long pieces of information.

“And I hope you never have to know what it’s like to have to try and live without them.”

Sure, this book was absolutely and utterly far from perfect. It should really be easy for me to say it was bad. But I can’t help it, it was so trashy I loved it. It was the kind of TV you know you shouldn’t watch but can’t help it. It was so predictable, cheesy, fluffy and other wrong things that I should be hating on it. But I can’t help it, these books are fun and quick to read and I have already read half of the second book.

Help me.

★★★
3 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion? 
Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. 
With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.

Wow, unpopular opinion much. I know there is much love around this series and I’m sorry, but my opinion seems to be the complete opposite of what everyone else thinks. Oops.

Oh my god. I didn’t think it could get any worse, but reading my review of Gemina, I think I actually liked this one even less. The bottom line is, I was just even more confused because there are way too many characters in these books! Let’s just have a quick throwback to me a couple of years ago when Illuminae came out. I was where everyone else was, fangirling over this new book with a completely new style of reading. I honestly think it was just so refreshing to read something so different, but since then, both books that followed just seem like retellings of the same world. I can’t help but feel that success, rather than love made the authors release the other two.

“May we meet again on distant shores.”

And another thing I hate about not only having so many characters, but also the camera surveillance way this story is told? I felt so damn detached. Yeah, this book is emotional and yeah, I loved the poetic parts. But I still don’t give a damn what happened. Sorry for my cold heart and black soul.

Like 80% (at least) of this book was just boring and I couldn’t focus. Only a small number of pages actually made me feel like I was invested or involved in the book at all. But on the other hand, this really small amount of pages…were awesome. I loved them, I felt completely in the world and I felt the emotion. And I guess I do have one popular opinion, because I LOVE AIDAN. Like, I flicked through the whole book looking for those black pages. I loved his parts, and I wanted so much more. If only the book was just AIDAN…

“Some place fine and far from here.”

But that’s where the good stuff ends, and other than that, I was so disappointed. I wanted it to all end so I could read better things. I’m glad I managed to finish this series, but that’s about it.

Well don’t let the fact that I disliked this one put you off – it’s such an unpopular opinion after all!

★★
2 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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