Fantasy, Fiction

Book Review: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

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The premise of this book is amazing. It’s 1969 and 4 siblings go see a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell people when they will die, right down to the age and exact date. With this information – Daniel, Varya, Klara and Simon- go ahead and live their lives with this information with Varya the only one who shares her age. They live their lives not knowing whether it was living out a destiny or a self-fulfilling prophecy. The book follows the life of each sibling and gives more insight into how they live.

With such a captivating cover, I feel like I saw this book everywhere and I had high hopes for this but unfortunately, this book was a let down. It had my interest in the beginning and I was curious to see how they would go ahead with life having an alleged expiration date, especially getting the info as teenagers. I feel like the first sibling story was quite interesting and captivating but as we progressively went through each sibling, it became more boring. By the time, we got to the story of the last sibling, I was bored out my skull and uninterested. There was so much focus on their work too, and while I got the connection, I just didn’t care.

Nothing about the writing stood out and it’s quite forgettable. I don’t have much to say about it to be honest. If this is on your TBR list, I honestly let you know that you won’t be missing much if you skip it.

Taynement

Fantasy

Book Review: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

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“Because that’s what the story’s really about: getting out of paying your debts. That’s not how they tell it, but I knew. My father was a moneylender, you see.”

Everyone who knows me knows fantasy is my favorite genre to read especially with how shitty the world is nowadays. I like to get lost in a whole new world that is built entirely from scratch where everything is possible and you know your hero is going to come out victorious in the end. Novik has mastered the act of fairytale retellings and this book is a very loose retelling of the fairytale, “Rumpelstiltskin”. 

I say loose because it has some of the elements like a character that turns silver into gold, there is also a big thing about not giving up what your name is, and everything happens deep in the forest. But the central story and the characters are unique inventions of the author herself. The traditional story is one where Rumpelstiltskin aids a woman in spinning straw into gold and she refuses to hold up her side of the bargain. But somehow in Rumpelstiltskin, he is the villain and I have never understood that logic. This book turns that entire idea on its head.

Miryem is the daughter of the town moneylender, but she takes over her father’s business when he repeatedly fails to collect their debts. Turns out she has a talent for making people pay what they owe and she starts making money for her family, turning silver into gold and this attracts the attention of a Staryk (a creature who values gold above all else) king who wants her for her talent and forcibly makes her his queen.

This book is told from multiple people’s perspective which I wasn’t expecting because from the description it seemed to be a book firmly about Miryem but that was not the case. A lot of characters feature prominently in this book and it might get hard to keep up with the story and whose point of view is being heard next. I did this book on audio and there was no indication of whose character POV preceded each chapter, so I wonder if that was the same with the actual book.

I liked that this book is a YA fantasy novel that does not focus on a love triangle, I think I’m all loved triangled out when it comes to this genre. In fact, this book is not a love story at all. It’s about strong girls fighting hard for their beliefs, for their country and for their family. It feels so refreshing to see young women being bad asses and trying to have agency in a world that sees them as property – first as their father’s and then their husband’s.

The book tackles a lot of serious issues for a YA novel – sexual abuse, loss of a parent, rape, sexism, antisemitism, alcoholism etc so just a heads up for possible trigger warnings. I found it very interesting that Novik makes the money lending family Jewish. She uses the book to explore the stereotypes surrounding Jews and money and tries to subtly point out the antisemitism in that stereotype. I thought that was very cleverly done.

Overall, this just felt like a story that was single-handedly created for me. From the Staryks, to the Winter King, to the traveling between places, to the so very strong female cast, to the magic, to every single word on every single page. Novik creates a world that is difficult to leave once the book is done and I am definitely looking forward to what she does next. I gave this book 4 stars on good reads. As mentioned earlier,  I did this on audio and the narrator was fantastic so I definitely recommend that medium.

Have you read this one? What did you think? Do you read/ like fantasy? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below!!

Leggy.

p.s: If you read this and want more fantasy recommendations, we have a post here on the blog guiding you through this genre. Do look it up and feel free to leave a comment!

 

 

 

 

Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult

We Chit Chat: Children of Blood and Bone

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“gods are nothing without fools to believe in them.” 

Taynement: Whew. It’s been a month and some, I think? But I finally got through Children of Blood and Bone. The struggle was real.

Leggy: lol, why do you think you had such a hard time with it? The genre or the book itself?

Taynement: I’ve been asking myself that question. It’s easy to say the genre because it’s all mystical and YA, things i’m not necessarily a fan of but I’ve read other books in that vein that I liked. I really liked it at first but at some point, I just got to a place where I just didn’t care what happened to anyone.

Leggy: I actually agree with you that it lags somewhere in the middle. I think it starts off fast and action packed but the middle brought in the YA love ridiculousness and it just lost its grit. I think it picked up towards the end though. I really wanted to read this book really bad because the premise intrigued me.

Taynement: When I think of this book, I think there was a lot going on. It was part Harry Potter, part Hunger Games. Zellie was basically Harry – Captain “I’m so fierce and I can save everybody”.

Leggy: All the annoying qualities of Harry without the “funness” of Ron to cut through it and make it more palatable. Every time she barged into trouble and made a split second stupid decision I just couldn’t deal.

Taynement: The love part was inevitable. It’s YA.

Leggy: I was annoyed by it though. Like they knew each other all of 5 seconds and were in love.

Taynement: I have to say I like how she led up to it. I liked how the intimacy was formed from his first reaction to her to when they could feel each other’s magic.

Leggy: Blehhhh. This is someone whose father killed your mother and a whole lot of people, someone who himself has chased you through multiple kingdoms and you just decide to trust him just like that because he makes your loins stir? There was nothing I enjoyed about the romance in this book.

Taynement: Now Amari’s I wasn’t so sure about because I honestly thought there was some romantic undertones on how she felt about Binta. And it was cliche to have them fall in love with each other’s siblings

Leggy: All the romance in this book was cliche to me

Taynement: Fair enough. Were you bothered by the no translations?

Leggy: No I wasn’t at all. It didn’t affect my understanding of the book. It’s magic incantations. I don’t care what they literally mean.

Taynement: I really feel bad because I really wanted to like this book. That being said,  expect a lot of Nigerians to like it because of the traditions, the language and being able to recognize the geography.

Leggy: Actually, this is one of the reasons this book fell flat for me. I couldn’t use my imagination because these are real places and her setting descriptions didn’t make any sense with the pictures I had in my mind about the real places. Snow in Ibadan? Also, there is so much to explore in Yoruba god mythology that I think she squandered the chance. I feel like she tried hard to use Nigerian settings and culture and put it into a stereotypical American fantasy trope which is probably why Americans will enjoy it more.

Taynement: Speaking of familiarity, I was a little peeved at some names. Not a big deal but why is a guy who lives in Warri called Kwame? What is Tzain and Zellie? Also, what happened to Amari’s mom? We just never heard from her again? I even did a search to make sure I wasn’t mistaken. And did we get an explanation to Inan’s secret?

Leggy: Nope, we never understood why that happened to him in the first place.

Taynement: I came in fully expecting an experience but was left empty.

Leggy: What did you like about this book?

Taynement: The acknowledgements when she said she wrote this to depict the injustices against minorities specifically black people in the US and how they are treated. I liked the metaphor and it made me understand what she was trying to achieve with this book. I really liked the message.

Leggy: I don’t think there was anything that I specifically liked. I’m really grateful to have a fantasy book with black characters, that’s something you rarely see in this genre and this is one of my favorite genres as everybody knows. I think the sequels will be better so I might check them out when they come out. Also, we have to mention that this was the author’s first book, so congratulations to her! Would you recommend this book to anyone?

Taynement: Yeah. I’m curious to see people’s different takes on it and what they liked about it. So, though it wasn’t for me personally, it’s also not a terrible book that I would tell people to stay away from. I gave this book 2 stars on Goodreads.

Leggy: I also gave it 2 stars on Goodreads but I would still definitely recommend this book to other people. I know a lot of people who have personally enjoyed this book and like you said, even though it wasn’t for me, it might be for someone else. Also, the cover of this book is gorgeous so if you want to splurge a little, buy the physical copy.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

“As it fades, I see the truth – in plain sight, yet hidden all along. We are all children of blood and bone. All instruments of vengeance and virtue. This truth holds me close, rocking me like a child in a mother’s arms. It binds me in its love as death swallows me in its grasp.” 

Leggy & Taynement

Fantasy

A Personal Guide to Fantasy Books [with recommendations]

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Everybody knows I love fantasy and I think everybody would love fantasy as much as I do if they just gave it a chance. I think that in a world that gets too much at times, it is amazing to be able to escape to a world where nothing is real and everything is dreamed up. Worlds where dragons exists, emperors rule, people have superpowers, and whole new worlds are built for your reading pleasure. Also I know most of you enjoyed The Harry potter series so what are you waiting for?

My journey into being a fantasy reader was a slow one, I started with dystopian novels till I thought I had read all the good ones, then I went into fantasy lite and then epic fantasies. This is the same formula I use whenever I want to lure someone into my fantasy world. I recommend a dystopian novel then scale it up from there.

So this is a recommendation of sorts for anyone who’s thought about venturing into the fantasy genre but not sure where to start:

If you enjoy  fiction  I think the dystopian novel to start with is “Station Eleven“. Station Eleven is a book about the break down of civilization as we know it, an airborne viral diseases hits America and everything crumbles, we’re left with a generation of people who know next to nothing about the world before the apocalypse and we are told the stories of survivors and non-survivors alike,  through a band of traveling performers.

Honorary pick – Never let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

If you enjoy(ed) Station Eleven – and are feeling brave enough to climb the ladder, Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson is my pick for you. A weird sun appears in the sky and suddenly gives people superpowers and the world as we know it changes. The people with superpowers called epics now rule the commoners brutally and the only way to kill these people is to find out their weaknesses but they guard their achilles heel with their lives. When David was 8, he witnessed the brutal killing of his father by one of the epics called Steelheart and vows to one day bring him down.

If you enjoy romance or Young Adult fiction  the dystopian novel for you to start with is Divergent by Veronica Roth. Society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all 16-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between choosing her family’s virtue and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself. You also have probably heard of the movie franchise.

Honorary pick – Delirium by Lauren Oliver

If you enjoy(ed) Divergent – you’d like A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas. Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jeweled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

Honorary pick – Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

If you enjoy children’s literature  the dystopian book for you is The Giver by Lois Lowry. Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community.

If you enjoy(ed) The Giver –  you’d enjoy The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson. As the son of a lowly chalk maker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students learn the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing—kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery—one that will change Rithmatics—and their world—forever.

Honorary pick – The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowlings

If you enjoy thrillers – the dystopian novel for you is The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey. In a world in the process of being destroyed by a kind of zombie making virus, an infected girl, Melanie, her beloved teacher, a crazy scientist and a couple of soldiers must survive in a mostly destroyed England. There’s also a movie about this.

If you enjoy(ed) The Girl With All the Gifts – Red Sisters by Mark Lawrence. Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive

Check out these book recommendations and tell me what you think. Is there any you are interested in? Have you read any books on the list? Do you have any book recommendations for me? I’m always interested in increasing my TBR list!!

P.S – While I have read all the books on this list, I did not enjoy all of them. I do believe in finding the books that are right for you and books that you personally enjoy so just because a book was not right for me does not mean it will not be right for you.

P.S2 – I tried not to include epic fantasies that span years, I think this is a suitable entry into the genre regardless and I will make a separate list of epic fantasies another time.

enjoy!

Leggy.