I know it’s shocking, but I have finally started writing reviews again. I’m as surprised as you are, yet here we are. I have been reading A LOT of poetry recently. I don’t know why, but I was hit by a sudden craving for poetry and in the last month it’s pretty much all I’ve read. I’ve also decided to do a school project on poetry, because not only have I been reading a lot of poetry, but I also write a lot of it. All in all, there has been quite a bit of poetry.
I was very kindly sent an ebook of At the Last Minute by Estha Weiner in exchange for an honest review, so you can be assured all opinions expressed here are my own (as usual). I was sent the book in April, but due to circumstances I have only just got back into writing reviews so I thought better late than never and jumped right in!
At the Last Minute is a collection of poems published by Salmon Poetry. It is Estha Weiner’s fourth collection of poetry, and was first published in 2019. There’s about 50 poems, and they tend to be about 10-20 lines long, although there are some longer and some shorter. This combined with the uncomplicated language used makes the collection of poetry accessible to anyone who may be interested in reading some poetry. The topics covered seem quite random (am I missing something?), including love/relationships, plays and several based off or inspired by quotes.
I enjoyed the shortness of the poems, which meant that the meaning or story being told did not get lost between endless metaphors and similes. While the enjambment used throughout Weiner’s poetry is effective, I sometimes found it harder to focus on the sentiment she was trying to put across because of it. The poems were more narrative than emotional, so I didn’t particularly connect with them and I preferred the poems that were more vulnerable, for I found them more engaging. My favourite poem was ‘At 5:45 pm in The Conservatory Garden’. It was short and sweet, and the simple imagery evocative.
Overall, At the Last Minute is a nicely written collection of poetry with a couple of lovely poems, but not one of my favourites. Upon reading it a second time I didn’t find myself any more interested, but it might be more attractive to an American audience (Weiner mentions American locations several times) or perhaps someone older than myself with more life experience. I hope you’re all as well as possible, and keep signing petitions and educating yourself about racism because while the news cycles will inevitably move on, the fight is far from over. Stay safe and feel free to contact me because I love hearing from you!
If you’ve been on the internet at all this week, you will have heard about George Floyd’s death. If you’re not up to date on the news, here’s a BBC article about what actually happened. It has sparked many conversations about racism, and part of that is how to be an ally. As a white person, I have realised that I need to educate myself further on how to combat racism and be actively anti racist. In order to do this, I have created a list of books I want to read to educate myself. Other things you can do include signing petition, donating money and simply speaking out.
Your Silence Will Not Protect You by Audre Lorde- Over and over again, in the essays, speeches and poems collected in Your Silence Will Not Protect You, Lorde emphasises how important it is to speak up. To give witness: “What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence?”
Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward- In five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five men in her life, to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth–and it took her breath away.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge- Exploring issues from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class and race, Reni Eddo-Lodge offers a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge and counter racism. It is a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary exploration of what it is to be a person of colour in Britain today.
Freedom Is A Constant Struggle by Angela Davis – In these newly collected essays, interviews, and speeches, world-renowned activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis illuminates the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughout history and around the world.
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi- In this book, Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science, bringing it all together with an engaging personal narrative of his own awakening to antiracism. How to Be an Antiracist is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society.
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin – A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin’s early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document.
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo – In this breakout book, Ijeoma Oluo explores the complex reality of today’s racial landscape–from white privilege and police brutality to systemic discrimination and the Black Lives Matter movement–offering straightforward clarity that readers need to contribute to the dismantling of the racial divide
This list is by no means a comprehensive list, more a starting point to launch off of. For more books to read, check out this list by the New York Times, this Anti-Racist Reading List from Ibram X. Kendi and this list from Vogue. I hope this was helpful or useful, and feel free to reach out to me below with suggestions, feedback or simply to say hello!
Hello and welcome (back) to beebliophile! I’m currently trying to post once a week, and after a week of looking at the task in my bullet journal I have finally pulled myself together and I’m writing a post!
The Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer
This one has recently come to my attention due to the announcement that Stephenie Meyer is releasing another book, Midnight Sun. In case you haven’t heard, it’s Twilight but from Edward’s perspective. While I have considered reading these books many times, the lack of LGBTQ+ characters and the whole Bella deciding between 2 frankly creepy boys put me off a bit. I’m thinking of reading them, just to see what’s up before Midnight Sun is released. I’ve seen the movies though, so I already have a rough idea of the plot.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I don’t have a good reason for not reading this. I want to read it and it’s meant to be excellent, I’ve just never got round to it and I’m not a huge reader of contemporary. As soon as I get my hands on a copy, I’m gonna read it.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
As I just said, I’m not a huge reader of contemporary YA. I’ve watched this movie, it was sad I guess. I’ve read a couple of John Green’s other books and I wasn’t gripped so I probably won’t end up reading this. Plus for personal reasons I don’t want to read about people with cancer at the moment.
The Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
This is starting to be a bit of a theme, I’ve seen the movie but I haven’t read the book. I promise I usually read the book first, it’s just I’m a huge fan of contemporary YA films and not so much the books. I’m on the fence about this one- maybe I’ll read it, maybe I won’t.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
Once again, you know it, I’ve seen the movie and haven’t read the book. This book I would like to read however, because I really enjoyed the movie and I’d love to know the writer’s style in telling the story. Why I haven’t read it? Just never got my hands on a copy.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Surprisingly I haven’t seen the movie for this one. Shocking, I know, but it didn’t really grab me. That’s the reason I haven’t read the book or watched the movie. And it’s a good enough reason for me.
The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon
This one also has a Netflix movie which I haven’t watched. Contemporary YA, not my thing, didn’t grab me. Nothing more to say really.
Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott
I actually recently watched the movie based on this book and it was very emotional. Still, probably won’t read it. Now I’ve seen the movie I know what happens and my lack of enthusiasm for contemporary YA means I likely won’t read it.
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Let me say I have strong intentions to read these books, I really do. I even have The Book of Dust from the prequel series on my bookshelf. Yeah, I really don’t have a reason for not reading these except I haven’t got round to it.
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
I haven’t watched the TV series and I haven’t read the book and I don’t really intend to consume either. I’ve seen a lot of bad reviews of both and I’m put off. Just not for me.
So those are 10 popular YA books I haven’t read yet. Now you may be thinking- ‘Bee, why are there so many contemporary YA there when you don’t really like them a lot?’ You make a good point. The problem is when I looked for more popular YA books I haven’t read there aren’t many, because I have read a lot of popular YA fantasy. Like, A LOT. That’s why there’s so much contemporary YA on here. If you want to check out which books I have read, pop over to my goodreads!
Have I missed your favourite YA books? Do you think I should read the ones above? Comment below or feel free to contact me using this page, instagram or twitter!
Hey guys! Sorry for the absence, I’ve been quite busy with schoolwork and just working on looking after myself during quarantine. I’m going to try and start blogging at least once a week and I want to say a massive thank you for being so patient with me! Since I’ve spent so much time recently not blogging, I thought I’d give you an insight into what I’ve been up to.
It’ll come as no surprise that I read a lot. If you’re reading this you probably already knew that, since this is a blog dedicated to books. I read for about 30 mins to an hour everyday and I read at medium speed, I think? Recently I’ve been reading loads of poetry, but I also read plays, fiction and nonfiction and anything my family leave around the house. Just yesterday I was reading a book about coincidences that someone left on the stairs.
Like many bookworms, I also love to write. I write a daily diary, poetry and fiction. I’ve written one novel so far which is completely unreadable and I keep putting off editing it because I have this weird hate of reading my own work. I’m currently in the middle or writing another novel, a fantasy based on the four horsemen of the apocalypse. I also write poetry which I find very therapeutic.
Not a hobby, but I am currently in Y12 at a sixth form college. The A-Levels I’m taking are Classical Civilisation, English and Economics which are an interesting mix. I’m not a fan of online lessons, but since they’re the only kind available at the moment I kind of have to do them. In Classical Civilisation we’re studying The Aeneid which I’m really enjoying, in English we’re analysing The Whitsun Weddings by Philip Larkin and in Economics we are learning about economic integration. I spend a fair chunk of time doing schoolwork.
4. Arts and Crafts
I consider myself quite a creative person. Since lockdown in the UK started I have been making pompoms, and I have loads of art supplies which I plunge into at random. My current favourites are some graphics pens, but I also enjoy scrapbooking, watercolours, acrylic painting, photography and making cards.
5. Listening to music
Listening to music is one of my favourite things to do. I like to listen to music when I’m out on a walk, or in the shower, or tidying my room, or anytime really. I’m listening to music while writing this blog post. I have quite an eclectic music taste, and I think spotify is as confused as I am from my recommended playlists. I’m really into the Imagine Dragons currently, as well as the soundtrack from the movie Burlesque and the musical Six.
6. Playing minecraft
I love minecraft. I don’t have animal crossing like seemingly everyone else in the entire world, but I’ve been spending a fair amount of time on minecraft which is definitely my favourite game to play. I like how you can do survival or creative and I love wandering round a world and creating houses wherever I feel like it and sometimes blowing stuff up for no reason. On the topic of games, I redownloaded candy crush and I can’t stop. It’s so fun and relaxing and addictive. My friends tease me for it but I refuse to delete it. It’s fun!
7. Watching films and TV shows
The TV show I am currently working my way through is New Girl, which is quite fun and has lots of short episodes which I like. I’m hugely indecisive with choosing movies, so my watchlist on streaming platforms is massive and I never seem to actually get round to watching any of them. I did watch The Mandalorian though, and I adore baby Yoda. He is so so so cute and his relationship with The Mandalorian makes my heart cry. If you have Disney Plus go watch The Mandalorian, it has all the awesome worldbuilding of Star Wars in more accessible episodes.
8. Practicing Taekwondo
Last September (2019) I started Taekwondo with one of my younger brothers. I’d always wanted to learn a martial art and though I am not a sporty person (understatement) I fell in love with Taekwondo. I love how you can move up through the belts and learn new patterns and kicks and punches, I love the way it makes me feel powerful and the way my body feels like my own when I’m practicing. When I’m concentrating on Taekwondo I forget the rest of the world and it’s a wonderful feeling.
9. Spending time with my family
The amount of time I spend with my family has gone up DRASTICALLY since the start of lockdown. Turns out that’s what being trapped in a house with five other people does! I’ve actually really enjoyed it though. As a family we’ve done an online escape room, had badminton tournaments, lego competitions and had a laugh. Before I would leave at 7:20 and not get back home till 5, and my Dad left at the same time and got back around 7, so I’ve got to spend lots more time with everyone. We’ve definitely got on better than I expected, even if my brother who’s two years younger than me is now taller than me. He keeps calling me Shorty.
How could I not mention sleeping? I do love a good nap, it just boosts my energy for the rest of the day and I have a very comfortable bed. Plus now that I don’t have to get up early I’m actually getting enough sleep and it’s great, I definitely recommend it if you can.
And that is 10 things I do when I’m not blogging! Obviously it’s not everything I do, but I think those are the things that take up the largest share of my time while in lockdown. Do you share any of my hobbies? What have you been up to in lockdown? I would love to hear about it, feel free to contact me using any of the links below, or check out what I’m reading on goodreads!
I am currently in my first year of A-Level English Language and literature. For those of you unfamiliar with the British schooling system, A Levels are two year courses with exams at the end in the last two years of school. You generally turn 17 in the first year (Y12) and 18 in the second year (Y13) before going onto university.
Needless to say, I have read quite a few books in english over the years, as well as some for classical civilisation A Level which I am also currently doing. I do not remember every book I have done in class since I was 4 years old, and instead of looking things up or reminding myself what these books are about, I’m just going to state as many as I can remember and give a sentence or two on what I can remember. This post does contain spoilers, but not for any books released recently. In fact I don’t think there’s anything after the year 2000, which is kind of crazy. Without further ado, let’s begin.
A Level Texts
The Whitmore Weddings by Philip Larkin
The Whitmore Weddings by Philip Larkin are a collection of poems with themes such as disillusionment, looking back on your youth and bleakness. While I enjoy studying poetry and I appreciate the poetic devices Larkin employs, I often find the subjects of his poems quite tedious or repetitive.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby is a story about a guy called Nick and the various rich and poor people he meets over a summer in New York in about the 1920s. There’s lots of rich people behaving badly and a mystery around who Gatsby actually is. I had a love-hate relationship with Nick, I liked his insights at some point and he isn’t a bad guy but I often found him hypocritical, passive or plain irritating.
The Bacchae by Euripides (English Translation)
I think The Bacchae is great. I’m quite biased, since I adore Ancient Greece and Greek mythology but it’s pretty awesome. The play follows Dionysus as he comes to the birthplace of his mother and punishes his family, particularly his cousin Pentheus, for not believing that he is a god. It is tragic but it’s also just really cool. I do love a good Bacchic ritual.
Oedipus the King by Sophocles (English Translation)
Oedipus the King is a play follows the story of Oedipus as he sets out to save his city from a plague by finding the murderer of the previous King. This story was a whole lot of wild, and I found Creon’s character in this play quite difficult to reconcile with the Creon I knew from Antigone. The ending is quite gruesome and mildly horrifying, but the story is never boring. I liked Oedipus and his wife’s marriage before… you know.
Frogs by Aristophanes (English Translation)
Frogs is an Ancient Greek comedy play and it’s not only quite funny but also incredibly random and very interesting, especially with all the references to contemporary events of the time. I’m not a fan of scatological humour like the Ancient Greeks (look it up) but Frogs is still great fun.
The Odyssey by Homer (English Translation)
The Odyssey is my favourite text I have studied so far in Classics. It’s pretty famous, but if you don’t know it follows the story of a hero called Odysseus as he attempts to return home after the war at Troy. I adore all the greek mythology contained in it, I love the story it tells and the refrains and the characters. Homer is truly an epic poet.
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
The Woman in Black was my favourite of my GCSE texts, even after 3 years of studying it I still really enjoy it. It follows the story of Arthur Kipps as he recounts the events that traumatised him in his youth when he goes out to an isolated house in order to sort the accounts. It’s such a good traditional ghost story and even though I normally hate horror, the actual story is excellent.
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Macbeth is another famous one. The play follows the story of Macbeth, who becomes the king of Scotland. There’s lots of questionable decisions and questionable morals. I really liked Lady Macbeth, who just does whatever she wants really and is very ambitious. Also the witches are great, just randomly appearing and messing things up. Considering the themes in Macbeth actually makes it better, especially the question of fate vs free will.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre. Not a fan of this one, I’m afraid. I know lots of people do like it, and the setting descriptions and plot are interesting, but once Rochester got involved I just went nope. Rochester is fifty shades of creepy and I wish Jane had ditched him. I liked all the different settings, especially Lowood, but I found Jane too passive as a narrator at times and as I said before, Rochester and Jane together makes me shudder.
Y7- Y9 Texts
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
At this point the texts are more distant in my memory, so these reviews are about to get vague. From what I can remember, this is a story about a horse and this boy. I think it’s the horse we follow but I honestly cannot remember. I’m pretty sure it was a good book though, despite my dislike of war. What I can remember is our school trip to see War Horse in the theatre. That was incredible, I highly recommend it.
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
I don’t really remember much about studying this play, but I know the basic plot. There’s a storm and a ship is wrecked. Twins called Viola and Sebastian (I think) get washed up separately. Viola pretends to be her brother in order to get by. Viola ends up working for a lovesick Duke, and the lady he is in love with falls in love with Viola disguised as a boy. Not sure what Sebastian is doing all this time, but then he turns up and the lady thinks Sebastian is Viola and they end up together and Viola and the Duke end up together. It’s a cool story, and I like the movie based on it called She’s the Man.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
This play has several plots. The one of four lovers who are in a tangle. An argument between the fairy king and queen. A bunch of actors preparing for a play. The all end up bumping into each other at various points. It’s a good story and quite fun to act out. I think at one point in class we had to rewrite parts into modern settings and someone did a gangster version. That was funny.
The Tempest by William Shakespeare
My memories of this play are very, very vague. There’s a magician who lives on an island with his daughter, a sprite and a green guy? Some people get washed up and the daughter falls in love with someone? No idea what the actual plot is. Obviously I wasn’t impressed, though, or I would probably have more of an idea about this one.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Frankenstein is about a scientist who puts together a corpse out of random body parts then animates it with lightning. The creature then harasses him, and the scientist is very morally questionable. Some people might or might not die. This is quite a dark tale, as well as being quite sad. Sympathy is definitely for the monster, not Frankenstein himself.
Primary School Texts
Coming to England by Floella Benjamin
It’s definitely been a while and these are the only two texts I remember reading at primary school. I know we read others as a class, but I can’t for the life of me remember what they are. Coming to England has stuck in my memory, and even now I can remember scenes from the book clearly. The joy of Floella’s life in Trinidad, and the horrible racism she experienced in England as her parents worked their hardest to give Floella and her siblings a good life. It’s a really good book, and I recommend reading it whatever your age is.
The Wreck of Zanzibar by Michael Morpurgo
I honestly have no idea what happens in this book or what I thought of it. I just remembered the word Zanzibar.
And that concludes my mini review of all the books I’ve read at school and can remember! What books did you read at school? What did you think of them? Comment below or tell me on twitter, I think it’s fascinating how everyone studies different things.
I’ll start off by saying I absolutely adored the cover for this book, it was what first attracted me to it. A girl in Viking-esque style stepping out of a choppy sea? Amazing. As usual I did no research on this book before reading it, and therefore had no idea this was the second in a series. Thankfully it doesn’t directly follow on from the previous book, because that would have been very confusing. Instead the main character from the previous book appears as a very minor relation to one of the main characters in this book, Halvard. This review is a bit messy, but so were my thoughts about this book so it couldn’t be helped. The synopsis:
For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.
For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainlandforever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.
Now, if you’ve read the first book, I’m assuming you went into this book knowing about the history between all the clans and who the Svell are. I didn’t, and if you are going to read this book, I highly recommend reading The Sky in the Deep first. You can read this one and understand it, but it takes some detective work to have any idea what’s going on.
Some basic details I picked up were that Tova comes from a territory not connected to the mainland, from a people called the Kyrr. They’re mysterious and no one messes with them. On the mainland there are the Svell, who Tova lives with, and the Nadhir, who are made up of two joined clans, the Aska and the Riki. Some people called the Herja attacked the Nadhir a while ago. While this book is described as a standalone, I think I would have got less distracted by random details if I had read the first one.
The book is written in first person from two perspectives, Tova and Halvard. Tova is a Truthtongue, which means she can read the runes. The Svell hate her and think she is an insult to their god, so want to kill her while their Tala (holy person) keeps her alive for his own uses. Tova is uniquely in tune with the spinners, who control the destiny of gods and men. She can sense the web the spinners weave, and occasionally hears things. I did a bit of research and while the spinners are called the Norns in Norse mythology, they are roughly equal to the fates in Greek mythology. This book definitely felt more historical fiction than fantasy. Halvard is the heir to the Nadhir chieftain and the link to the previous book.
The writing of this book was the best bit about it. There were some stereotypical features such as memory flashbacks to provide background to Halvard and Tova and some outsiders who save the day, but the plot got better as the book went one, with the mysterious Kyrr who Halvard knows and the brief encounters between Tova and Halvard before they meet properly. I really enjoyed the simple, evocative descriptions of setting and the vivid writing of action, the mixture of fate and free will, inevitability and brutality.
The ending was my favourite part of The Girl the Sea Gave Back. That sounds like an insult, but I don’t mean it as one, it’s just the book took me a while to get into and everything pulls together very dramatically near the end. It had the contrast between Tova and Halvard tentatively trusting one another, Tova finally not feeling like an outcast and a great final battle. There was a bit of romance if you like that kind of thing, although I slightly thought Tova and Halvard should be left as friends. Overall I would recommend this book, but only after reading the first one. Would I survive? Maybe not, I’m not a particularly violent person.
I could not wait to get into this book, and thankfully I had it within arm’s reach when I finished Storm’s Herald. Like I said in my review of Storm’s Herald, I did indeed receive Storm’s Herald and Storm’s Clouds in exchange for review, but all opinions expressed are my own! VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: this review does contain a spoiler for the first book (Storm’s Herald). Nothing that will change the plot dramatically or ruin it, and I did suspect this once I was about ¾ through the book, but if you want to read it completely spoiler free then don’t read this review! All my other reviews are spoiler free unless explicitly stated.
Everything is really well explained at the start of the book, not explicitly but through the first few pages of character interaction so if you forgot anything in the previous book you can work it out pretty quickly. Of course, I had finished the other book seconds earlier so that wasn’t such a problem. The chapters in this book are really long, and it can be a bit on the nose sometimes, but there are moments of real humour where I genuinely laughed. I loved that they set off on a quest with no clear plan except ‘find a dragon’ when they had no idea where it was. Again there is a lot of jumping to random perspectives for a few pages to see what is happening elsewhere, but I had got used to it at this point and I could generally tell how they were linked to the main story at this point. There was a lot more of the Fae court and the magic school in this book as well as the quests, including lots of focus on Princess Elise and what she was up to. There was more tension in this book than in Storm’s Herald, which had me reading faster and faster!
THIS IS THE SPOILER. Okay, I’m done yelling about it being a spoiler. What I want to talk about here is Garth. Garth has enough personas to fill a city here people, and they are very varied. Garth is actually Gwythr, a guy who was a hero in the Fae’s war. He’s now human and wanders around as Garth, except when he is Gyaltso, an old dude who turned Kalden’s hair white then straight up left him which I found hilariously random. I have several problems with Garth. The first is quite petty but I think Garth’s nickname of ‘little bird’ for Lynette is so creepy and it made me cringe and my skin crawl every time he said it. Maybe it’s meant to be cute, but NOPE. And even weirder, a trope I hate, is Lynette being *strangely attracted* to the bad guy (Garth) who is nice only to them. I know Garth isn’t technically bad, but he isn’t exactly good either. Also, this isn’t a problem but how does Garth get around so fast? Can he teleport? What?!
Anyway, back to the rest of review. Princess Elise was a lot more prominent in this book and although she was a little irritatingly perfect, I did like seeing what she was up to. It was quite stereotypical that the lady in waiting was a spy, like it wasn’t even subtle. At some points I felt there were too many characters, but if I just thought of the characters from the random jump arounds as one time things it was a lot easier to focus on the main ones. There were some giants who inexplicably spoke like Scottish people. Not sure what was going on there. Then there is Waya. Waya is introduced as a boy and it is later revealed they are transgender, or at least very confused about their gender and sexuality. You see, Waya is in love with a girl, and to impress her parents they go on a quest to act manly. While I liked Waya as a character and I would definitely be interested in knowing more about them and whether they decided to have Garth magically change their body, it did feel a bit like a token because Waya is the only character I can think of who is on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Once again in this book time jumps around with no respect for how much time it seemed had passed. One minute I’m chilling, and the next two years have passed, and I am like WHAT.
In conclusion I really enjoyed Storm’s Clouds. Especially the sentient library which moves books around to mess with the librarians. I could read a whole book about that library. I really liked the ending, and I very much need to know what happens next. Would I survive this book? Yeah I would, I’m living in that library.
Two Darks Reigns is the third book in the Three Dark Crowns series by Kendare Blake, a Fantasy YA series with four books plus novellas told in the present tense. I read Three Dark Crowns a couple of years ago now, along with the sequel, so as usual I decided not to read a summary of the previous books and jumped straight into the third book in the series. How badly could it go?
Queen Katharine has waited her entire life to wear the crown. But now that she finally has it, the murmurs of dissent grow louder by the day. There’s also the alarming issue of whether or not her sisters are actually dead—or if they’re waiting in the wings to usurp the throne.
Mirabella and Arsinoe are alive, but in hiding on the mainland and dealing with a nightmare of their own: being visited repeatedly by a specter they think might be the fabled Blue Queen. Though she says nothing, her rotting, bony finger pointing out to sea is clear enough: return to Fennbirn.
Jules, too, is in a strange place—in disguise. And her only confidants, a war-gifted girl named Emilia and her oracle friend Mathilde, are urging her to take on a role she can’t imagine filling: a legion-cursed queen who will lead a rebel army to Katharine’s doorstep.
This is an uprising that the mysterious Blue Queen may have more to do with than anyone could have guessed—or expected.
This story definitely feels like a YA, but that’s what it’s meant to be, and I enjoyed it. At times it felt a bit slow and meandering, especially nearer the start, yet as I got more into the story, I found myself really wanting to know what all the mysterious dreams and signs meant. Through Arsinoe’s dreams we are shown the events of the life of someone in the past who I grew to quite like. I’m a big fan of the story being focused on three sisters and their relationships with each other as well as the overarching plot, which I’ll be honest I did not see coming. From the first book I did not expect to end up here, yet I was equally interested in all the viewpoints and there was the occasional cliff-hanger which I’m almost always down for.
The main characters of the story are the three sisters, Queen Katherine, Princess Mirabella and Princess Arsinoe (both supposed to be dead, along with Jules who grew up with Arsinoe with the naturalists. My favourite character was Braddock. If you’ve read the previous books, you know who I’m talking about. I stand by my choice. Also, while I wasn’t such a fan of Jules in the previous books I grew to like her a lot more in this one. I’m also very into the setting, because while the ‘magic island hidden from the mainland’ trope is a common in fantasy, I liked the way Kendare Blake decided on its relations with the mainland and the way it is set up.
In conclusion while I am not as obsessed with the series now as I was when I read the first book, this is still an interesting series and I will definitely be reading the final book to find out what happens to all the characters and see how the author chooses to resolve the plot. Would I survive? Yeah, probably. I think I’d be a naturalist or poisoner.
I absolutely LOVED To Kill A Kingdom. I’m a huge fan of retellings done well, and this bewitching dark retelling of the little mermaid was both brilliant and felt different to the original. The main thing to take away from this review was I had great fun reading this book. It was the first time I’ve read a book in one sitting in a while, I just couldn’t put it down!
Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.
The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?
Like a lot of fantasy stories, the first chapter or so had a bit of explanation but the way it was weaved into the story was not at all boring. We get introduced to the two main viewpoints, Elian and Lira pretty early in the story so we get lots of time seeing their individual sides of the story. Alexandra Christo balances the fairytale feel to the story perfectly with and edge of cruelty which stops the story being to sickly. There’s plot twists, marriage alliances, disguises, sirens pirates and a magic quest for a crystal. What more could you ask for in a fairy-tale fantasy? The enemies to lovers trope is a common one but I thought it was done really well here, slowly enough that it didn’t feel like two characters being shoved together and then you get partway through the book and they’re in love and I’m in love and there’s so much romantic tension. It made me very happy, I smiled most of the way through this book.
There are two points of view in To Kill a Kingdom, and if you asked me to choose one I would have a very hard time. I liked the narrative voice of the siren Princess Lira, her development from cruelty throughout the book, but Elian’s crew completely stole my heart. Elian is a prince who adores the open sea and killing sirens, and to begin with their POVs are completely contrasting with the darker Lira and more noble Elian. That being said they are both bloodthirsty from the beginning. What better to bond over than violence and murder? There is some great banter, lots of romantic tension and a pirate crew I would die for. If Alexandra Christo would like to write a book solely on that crew, I would definitely buy it. The setting comprises of several different kingdoms, each with fairy-tale aspects that match their name in some way. For example, Prince Elian is from Midas, a kingdom of gold. The kingdoms are wonderful, nothing too complicated but described succinctly to perfectly capture the mood of the place.
In conclusion this is a brilliant standalone fairy-tale retelling with what I thought was a pretty perfect ending. Would I survive this book? I reckon I could live in Midas or one of the other kingdoms without too much trouble. Not the sea though. As I have previously mentioned, I get seasick.
The Middle Ages Unlocked by Gillian Polack and Katrin Kania
I have a habit of picking up very solid historical information books about the middle ages and reading them from cover to cover. It is a slightly questionable technique, especially since some of them are VERY information dense, but I have great fun doing it. As you can see in the image above I used a lot of sticky notes.
The Middle Ages Unlocked was awesome, really informative and jam packed with every type of information you could possibly need about medieval England 1050-1300. The time period you choose for a medieval nonfiction book is very important because there are huge changes that happened over what is quite a large period. This was the first one I’ve read where it considered both Jewish and Christian communities as well as slavery in the middle ages, two things I have never seen much info about. There is even information about measuring things! In conclusion, The Middle Ages Unlocked was very readable, sorted into handy sections and filled with information. If you want information on this time period, this is the book for you.
I’m not sure what else I can say about this without it getting repetitive, so instead I’m going to throw some facts at you from different sections that you can surprise your family with (if you so wish.)
Rich and Poor, High and Low
Rich and well-born people were supposed to be happy and look happy, regardless of their state, as happiness was considered attractive.
The Middle Ages Unlocked
From Cradle to Grave
Pain was often considered an essential part of Christian death because it was thought to be the deserved punishment for sins.
The Middle Ages Unlocked
Death and Taxes You Cannot Avoid
Outlawry meant that the person was considered outside the law and thus had no legal protection from others.
The Middle Ages Unlocked
Crossroads of the Mind
The vast majority of magic practices were considered part of daily life or religious belief and were not regarded as sorcerous.
The Middle Ages Unlocked
Babies were ideally bathed one to three times a day.
The Middle Ages Unlocked
Written and Spoken Words
Dragons were generally considered to be oversized snakes, with wings, a tail, feet and sharp talons.