Saturday, 16 July 2016

Why We Love... Tree: Seasons Come, Seasons Go

Picture Book Review: Tree: Seasons Come, Seasons Go

Tree is quite different to the sorts of picture books I normally buy. The only book we have that I could compare it to is Snow by Walter de la Mere, as it reads like a poem.

Tree follows the landscape through the seasons, as seen by an owl sat in his tree. Sections of the pages have been cut out, so the picture is built up gradually, with more animals appearing as the year progresses. The artwork in this picture book is really beautiful. The illustrator, Teckentrup, has done a wonderful job and I will definitely be on the look out for more of her work in the future.   

It's a calm, relaxing book which is good to read when you're winding down for bed or nap time. But there is still lots to get involved with, as there are plenty of animals to point out and name and it's a great way of explaining how the world around us changes throughout the year.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

The Grisha Trilogy

Shadow and Bone / Siege and Storm / Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

I'm condensing my review of these three novels into one, as I read them one after the other and I think I'd struggle to separate my thoughts on each. 

My favourite thing about this trilogy is definitely the strength of the world building. It is phenomenally well thought out, with different countries, customs, languages and, of course, magic. I think Grisha power was very well defined and it's limitations explored and explained. I knew a little bit about Grisha magic from reading Six of Crows, but it was nice to see it as the main focus in these books.  

My favourite character was Nikolai, as he had such a fun and distinctive personality. But I also liked the time that was given to the Darkling's backstory; he was a well defined villain and Bardugo does an excellent job of humanising him at the end. 

“Watch yourself, Nikolai,” Mal said softly. “Princes bleed just like other men.”

Nikolai plucked an invisible piece of dust from his sleeve. “Yes,” he said. “They just do it in better clothes.”

As with Six of Crows, the dialogue is really strong, and there are witty exchanges a-plenty, particularly where Nikolai was concerned and I repeatedly found myself laughing out loud. 

“I took a breath. “Your highness—”

“Nikolai,” he corrected. “But I’ve also been known to answer to ‘sweetheart’ or ‘handsome.”

Overall, I don't think I enjoyed this series quite as much as Six of Crows, (I preferred the characters in the latter) but I would still definitely recommend it. 

“Maybe love was superstition, a prayer we said to keep the truth of loneliness at bay. I tilted my head back. The stars looked like they were close together, when really they were millions of miles apart. In the end, maybe love just meant longing for something impossibly bright and forever out of reach.” 

Saturday, 2 July 2016

A Court of Mist and Fury

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights. {Goodreads Summary}

Sometimes, I find that I enjoy the first book in a series so much, I'm reluctant to read the next novel,in case the story doesn't follow the trajectory that I am hoping for. This is the reason I still haven't read Half Lost, by Sally Green. It's a sort Schrodinger's book problem; so long as I don't read the book, the characters can have the ending that I want. Sometimes though, when I do finally relent and read the book, it's even better than I expected. A Court of Mist and Fury is one of those books. 

"We were a song that had been sung from the very first ember of light in the world."

I remember reading some less-than-positive reviews for A Court of Thorns and Roses due to the problematic nature of Feyre and Tamlin's relationship. ACoMaF addresses this, and then some. I don't want to give too much of the story away, but there are some really clear representations of what is and isn't a healthy relationship in ACoMaF. 

“He thinks he'll be remembered as the villain in the story. But I forgot to tell him that the villain is usually the person who locks up the maiden and throws away the key. He was the one who let me out.”

“And I realized—I realized how badly I'd been treated before, if my standards had become so low. If the freedom I'd been granted felt like a privilege and not an inherent right.” 

Leading on from that, the other thing I really appreciated is Maas' portrayal of PTSD and depression. Often in books, characters move on from traumatic events with little or no effect on their mental health. Veronica Roth wrote a brilliant post on this topic on her blog. ACoMaF is not one of those books. Feyre's mental disintegration felt so real, as did her gradual recovery. She come out of the events of the books a stronger person, and I can't wait to see what she does next. 

"I was a survivor, and I was strong. I would not be weak, or helpless again. I would not, could not be broken. Tamed."

Also: feminism! ACoMaF really champions being your own person and rejecting any limitations people might put on you due to your gender. In the second half of the novel, Feyre refuses to let herself be sidelined from the action for her protection; she takes an active role and shows that she is every bit as strong and competent as the male characters. 

“She's mine. And if any of you lay a hand on her, you lose that hand. And then lose your head. And once Feyre is done killing you, then I'll grind your bones to dust.”

The ending. The ending! It's brilliant. It's terrible. It's fantastic. And it has made me more excited for the next book than I have been about a sequel since the Harry Potter years. I'll be reading book three the day it comes out.