Operation Bring Back Magic || Children of Blood and Bone Review

Initial Thoughts: 

OMG I AM CRYING WHAT THE FRELL HAS THIS BOOK DONE TO ME. I AM NOW AN EMOTIONAL WRECK AND WHY ISN’T THE NEXT BOOK OUT WHY.

This is fantasy at its finest. Actually, the last bit in the book reminded me of Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce because both books clearly touched upon real-world issues and influences and put these issues in mothereffing FANTASY and it was. SO. GOOD.

Needless to say, it’s taken me ages to get from start to finish, but that’s what made the journey a million times worthwhile.


CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE

Tomi Adeyemi
Henry Holt Books, March 2018
YA fantasy
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

Listen. LISTEN. There’s only been a handful of audiobooks I’ve listened to that I then had the need to read a hard copy of, and seriously, that list only amounts to two so far. One was A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, and the other is Children of Blood and Bone. Now, this could very well just mean “oh hey, I really shouldn’t listen to fantasy at all, because knowing me, I’m gonna want a copy of the book anyway,” and yeah, this is very true. There’s a reason I don’t normally listen to fantasy on audio.

But this book. I urge you to listen to it. I urge you to read it. Seriously, from the beginning of the very first page, I had chills as I listened to the audiobook. And then I had chills again when I read the page myself. And then I had chills thinking about both altogether.

I think about the way her corpse hung from that tree.

I think about the king who took her away.

And there’s every reason to squee, because as a reader, I savored the book as slowly as I could, entrenching myself in a world where magic is on the verge of coming back. And as a writer, I had to keep getting snapshots of my favorite lines because holy hell, the words fell so elegantly on the page that I had to admire Adeyemi’s word choice.

I fucking loved this book. So much. I don’t care what anyone else says.

But let’s pretend that I didn’t already love the book on page 1. Let’s play a game of:

If I Didn’t Already Love The Book…

If I didn’t already love the book, I’d love it for its diversity. It’s a book inspired by Yoruba culture and West African mythology. It is an African world that touches on heavy themes like colorism (because it’s clear in the book that the lighter-skinned nobles and kosidan are treated better than the darker-skinned diviners). It is a world that touches on deep-rooted prejudism for “the Other” that every single time the word “maggot” is mentioned, you can’t help but flinch because of how much that word is drenched in puddles of hate. It is a world where women are once again marginalized by society, but it is also a world where many of the women are not at all defenseless (Kaea, Mama Agba, Amari, Zelie, Zu, Folake, the diviners and kosidan in Mama Agba’s care just to name “a few”). And hot damn it felt good to see so many of them rise up and fight.

I nod, remembering Father’s rants from long before the Raid. The Britaunis. The Porltoganes. The Spani Empire–all civilizations destroyed because those who had magic craved power, and those in charge didn’t do enough to stop them.

If I didn’t already love the book, I’d love it for the worldbuilding and rich history. There are maji clans listed in the beginning of the book. There are places I would love to visit, including the temple at Chandomble. There’s even mention of worlds that had succumbed to the dangers of magic, which gave rise to a fear and hatred against it. I loved that the world got fleshed out, and if that meant a lot more exposition happened in certain parts, then so be it!

If I didn’t already love the book, I’d love it for its very non-subtle Avatar: The Last Airbender parallels. It is no secret that Adeyemi pulled inspiration from places like AtLA and Ember in the Ashes (which I saw with glee when the actual term, “ember in the ashes” got used in the book at least once). She’s said so in interviews herself. I mean, Inan is definitely an African Zuko, complete with amber eyes, uncanny competence in finding the Avata–erm, the ONE diviner, and a shitton of daddy issues. Okay, so Inan isn’t scarred physically, but he does gain a bit of an interesting physical feature, has a tendency to hate himself, was on his way to a really good redemption arc throughout the book, but somehow manages to eff that up like Season 2 Zuko.

Yeah, pretty sure if I had to peg Inan somewhere in the Avatar: The Last Airbender universe, he’d be season 2 Zuko. Without the influence of an awesome Uncle Iroh–which TOTALLY made all the difference.

If that itself wasn’t already a dead giveaway of Blood and Bone’s AtLA-ness, how about the random mentions of Zelie–whose power over the dead can be greatly enhanced by bloodbending–and her affinity to water?

“You seem at home in the water,” I say. “I’m surprised you’re not a Tider.”

“Maybe in another life.”

Zelie smells like the ocean. There’s a whiff of saltwater and sea whenever Mr. Dreamie McDreamer thinks about her silver eyes and white hair. And like…COULD THIS SHIP BE ANY MORE CUTE THOUGH?

“What were you thinking?” I ask.

“You were in danger,” he answers. “I wasn’t.”

He reaches down and grazes a cut on my chin. A strange flutter travels through me at his touch. Any possible response jumbles in my throat. I don’t know what to say to that.

And maybe, just maybe in another life, my ship actually, truly happens, too. Or, you know, there’s always fanfic!

…ZUTARA FTW #sorrynotsorry #fightme

If I didn’t already love the book, I’d love it for the perfect composition of sentences. Some sentences were like music to my ears. I had to repeat reading them because they were so well-placed. I don’t know how long Adeyemi stared at the computer for as she typed her book up, but if it were me, I’d still be racking my head around how to sort my sentences out. She just makes word choice look effortless.

But for all my plotting and maneuvering, it’s obvious the girl isn’t here. Though there’s no shortage of glaring diviners, her silver gaze is not among them.

I release the throwing knife as something I can’t place deflates in my chest. It sinks like disappointment.

It breathes like relief.

I just…sigh.

If I didn’t already love the book, I’d love it for the fire in Zelie and the lionaire in Amari. I will admit Amari wasn’t as interesting to me up until she’d started to show her competence with a sword. But she is a lionaire by the end of the book, and I was rooting for her to get shit done and shank a few people (which she does, so YASQUEEN to that!). Zelie was always my favorite, though. She is your feisty protagonist with a responsibility like no other. I cannot wait for what happens next, and if it means going back into Orisha with Zelie and Amari in tow, I wouldn’t mind it one bit.

“You clutch it the way a child clutches a blanket,” Zelie releases a heavy sigh. “You fight for a man who will always hate you just because of what you are.”

You tell him, Zelie. You tell him.

5 out of 5 cookies! Seriously, you guys. This is definitely one of my favorite books of the year.


Have you read this book? What did you think?

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Mini Reviews: Mary Poppins, Dreaming Anastasia

I’m beginning to really like doing these mini-reviews. Though am thinking about reformatting the images that come along with the minis. Maybe when I find myself with time in my hands, I suppose!

I never actually read any of the Mary Poppins books when I was a kid, so I was weened off of the Disney movie that the author deplored. That said, I mean, it takes a special kind of person to dislike the casting of Dame Julie Andrews…buuuut I can see where she was going with things, I suppose. (I still love Julie Andrews so whatever.)

Dreaming Anastasia was something that landed on my lap for Fableulous Retellings so this was definitely something I needed to read. I mean, I wasn’t expecting much from it, but I do love Anastasia and the Baba Yaga folk tales, so I thought this would have been a classic love-hate relationship? It totally was.

Have you read either of these? What did you think?

Murder Most High || The Dazzling Heights Review

Initial Thoughts:

Okay. OKAY. This was actually much better than the last book even with all the random ass drama going around. I will admit I was ready to chuck my speakers out (yes I had this as an audiobook) during all the teacher drama but I calmed down when I realized Rylin had a decent head on her shoulders. The girl death was kind of lackluster though, and could have benefited from more narrative on her part. But more on that later.
SPOILER WARNING: The Dazzling Heights is the second book of the The Thousandth Floor trilogy, so expect spoilers from the first book and possibly some spoilers in this next one.


THE DAZZLING HEIGHTS

by Katharine McGee
HarperCollins, August 2017
YA science fiction
Rated: 3.5 / 5 cookies

New York City, 2118. Manhattan is home to a thousand-story supertower, a breathtaking marvel that touches the sky. But amid high-tech luxury and futuristic glamour, five teenagers are keeping dangerous secrets…

Leda is haunted by memories of what happened on the worst night of her life. She’ll do anything to make sure the truth stays hidden—even if it means trusting her enemy.

Watt just wants to put everything behind him…until Leda forces him to start hacking again. Will he do what it takes to be free of her for good?

When Rylin wins a scholarship to an upper-floor school, her life transforms overnight. But being there also means seeing the boy whose heart she broke, and who broke hers in return.

Avery is tormented by her love for the one person in the world she can never have. She’s desperate to be with him…no matter the cost.

And then there’s Calliope, the mysterious, bohemian beauty who arrives in New York determined to cause a stir. And she knows exactly where to begin.

But unbeknownst to them all, someone is watching their every move, someone with revenge in mind. After all, in a world of such dazzling heights, just one wrong step can mean a devastating fall.

I’ll have to hand it to McGee, she knows how to put attention-grabbing passages to good use. I really wanted to know what would happen after the death in the first book, and then another one in this one? Oh yeah, definitely curious. There is a morbid fascination I have to this book and it has drama written all over it.

I did like this book a lot more than the previous one, even though some people *coughAVERYcough* still annoyed the hell out of me. I still have major issues with the whole more-than-brother-sister relationship Avery and Atlas harbor throughout this book. BUT. At least one of them has a modicum of sense by the end of the book. Hint: It’s not Avery, that’s for sure. And honestly, that story was the least interesting. I wonder if there’ll ever be an Atlas POV, though. The fact that he’s such a babe magnet is beyond me, because as Bryce put it, he’s kinda vanilla other than the whole “in-love-with-my-sister” issue. I’d love to see more flavor injected in him, and maybe a POV would fix that.

In other news, things heat up with Leda and Watt, and while I faced this mostly with great amusement (because YES, WATT, let’s make nice with the girl who practically rufied you in the first book…THIS IS TOTALLY NOT OKAY BTW), I am kind of feeling this relationship. It’s almost as toxic as the beginnings of the Blair-Chuck relationship until even that blossomed to something amazing. I’m hoping for something along those lines, because I really liked the interaction they had, especially with Watt being amusing and all. Also, Nadia. I want Nadia in my head, too, if she’s gonna be the voice of sass and sometimes reason.

Dammit, every. Single. Time. It’s a vicious cycle of wanting to watch this show when I bring it up!

I worried over Rylin a lot once she started going to school with the Highliers, and I was definitely sent into a bit of a panic when the whole teacher drama thing started. I’ve been watching Pretty Little Liars recently, and lawdiedee, I was going to flip out if the whole “sexy teacher sleeps with a student” thing was going to go down again. I’m so over this sickening trope, and honestly, the minute my audiobook got to the bit where that skivvy over-confident douchenozzle lip-locked with Rylin, I was prepared to chuck my speakers out the classroom door. (The irony is that I was listening to this AS I WAS CLEANING UP MY CLASSROOM AND OH GOD THE IMAGES ARE DISGUSTING.) All that said, I am hopeful that she’ll make the right choices. I am also a lot hopeful that Cord will snap out of it and do his thing before Rylin well and truly gets snatched up by someone more appropriate.

JUST DO IT CORD.

An addition to the bunch of conniving drama-addled characters is Calliope, whose name isn’t actually Calliope, because she’s a con-woman along with her mother. Frankly, I’m not exactly sure what she adds to the story, because the revelation she finds at the end of the book wasn’t anything new or groundbreaking. Honestly, Watt and Leda had that covered by the end of The Thousandth Floor, and Calliope was, in all respects, a superfluous character. To be honest, we could have gleaned a bit more out of Mariel’s character if they had more of her POV littered in the book. Especially since it was kind of silly to have her show up in the beginning, and then nothing for the longest time until the very end. While I did like Calliope’s narrative tone–she kind of reminded me of a British-speaking Georgina Sparks (from GG of course), all there to make trouble but easily able to disappear from the plot without making any major ripples.

I’ve come to love Georgina after a while…but again, she wasn’t really all important in the grand scheme of things.

So yeah, the drama level is still high up there, and while some were cringe-worthy and overly-dramatic, others actually pick up to become riveting. I would definitely like to finish this trilogy.
3.5 out of 5 cookies!


Have you read this book? What did you think?

Mini Reviews: Vassa in the Night, Death Comes to Pemberley

I’m kind of amused at how eclectic my reading has been these past few weeks. On the one hand, there’s your general fantasy reads, and then BAM, somehow I went through several versions of Pride and Prejudice, both in readings and in the media. Ah well. Fantasy girl I may be, but I think I can stand to read much more anyway!

Vassa in the Night could actually stand to be reviewed fully, and I had much more to say about it, but I’ll wait to do that on the Fableulous Retellings Podcast.

Death Comes to Pemberley is probably on the lower end of 3 stars because honestly, I’ve read more emotionally interesting fanfiction on this time period, especially regarding my favorite Austen couple. That being said, I just had to see what this was all about, because the BBC mini-series based on this book has my second favorite Darcy (Matthew Rhys) and the ever-lovely Anna Maxwell Martin as Lizzie.

Have you read either of these? What did you think?

What Goes Up Must Come Down || The Thousandth Floor Review

Initial Thoughts: 

This world is pretty damn cool and definitely Gossip Girl of the future. But ohgod the drama I could. Not. Deal. The best POVs were from the peasants below floor 500 and I just REALLY WANTED THE ONE COUPLE TO GO RIGHT.

But let’s be honest, if this had been turned into a TV show I’d so watch the eff out of this dramatic trash. Pity I ended up listening to the book instead.


THE THOUSANDTH FLOOR

by Katharine McGee
HarperCollins, August 2016
YA science fiction
Rated: 2.5 / 5 cookies

WELCOME TO MANHATTAN, 2118.

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. Everyone there wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

LEDA COLE’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

ERIS DODD-RADSON’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

RYLIN MYERS’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will this new life cost Rylin her old one?

WATT BAKRADI is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy for an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is AVERY FULLER, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

Amid breathtaking advancement and high-tech luxury, five teenagers struggle to find their place at the top of the world. But when you’re this high up, there’s nowhere to go but down….

Futuristic Gossip Girl

Every single description of this book that I’ve seen so far describes it as being the futuristic Gossip Girl, and I’m definitely in agreement with that. If you ask me, it’s what brought me to wanting to read the book in the first place, because I frigging loved Gossip Girl. Chair ship ftw!

But as much as I loved GG, I couldn’t honestly rate this as high as I would have liked, because much of the drama drove me nuts.

How is this drama different from GG, you ask?

There isn’t much difference, honestly. There’s a ton of underage drinking, there’s sex scandals right, left, and center, there are drugs and drug addicts, there are perfect teenage specimens littered throughout the pages, and there’s conspiracy like you wouldn’t believe.

The added bonus is that this takes place in 2118, well into the future, where cities fit into one entire building, all the way onto the thousandth floor.

So what’s not to like?

Honestly, I rolled my eyes every single time Avery’s POV showed up. The way she’s been characterized is that she’s “practically perfect in every way,” and honestly, the ONLY problem she seems to have is that she is in love with her adopted brother. This in itself is cringe-worthy in all ways (it’s just wrong, so wrong, and nothing in the world will make this OKAY–AND GOD WHY THE HELL DO THEY NOT STOP). A lot of the girls want Avery to like them, because at the end of the day, she’s Queen Bee, and I don’t know, but most queen bees are not characterized as being “nice.” Avery is NOT nice. She’s as P-E-T-T-Y as everyone else clamoring up near the thousandth floor, and she’s quite honestly my least favorite character ever because every single time her POV shows up, all she’s doing is whining and pining over Atlas–when she’s not heavily drinking and hosting pity parties for Eris, that is.

Which brings me up to the love-hate relationship I have with Leda, Avery’s best friend. Leda’s obsession is definitely creepy, and things escalate to a point where she does really unforgivable things. But ya know, I love batshit crazy when it comes to story, and Leda is as batshit crazy as you’re going to get, drugs included.

On the bright side, I do want to highlight some really good things I found about the book that will eventually lead me to reading the rest of the trilogy (please just let this be a trilogy, because I really don’t want to keep reading this if it’s a series…).

Rylin and Cord – Of all the pairings that get introduced in this story, I’m really hoping this is one that eventually pans out at the end. The ending in the first book frustrated me to no end, but let’s face it, the two still have feelings for each other, and I’m always a sucker for poor girl and rich boy stories (I’m also currently watching Meteor Garden and I absolutely loved Hana Yori Dango and Ouran High School Host Club…if that says anything about my mentality). I MEAN, HE TOOK HER TO PARIS COME ON.

Watt – I’m still not sure how I feel about Watt entirely, but his storyline does bring a bit of technology back into the book. Watt and his quant Nadia get embroiled in the story because of Leda and Avery, and while Watt lives well below floor 500, like Rylin he eventually manages to drag himself into the dramatic lives of the upper floor miscreants.

The futuristic environment is probably the most intriguing part of the book. If there’s anything more appealing about this world, it’s the fact that hierarchy quite literally means the higher you are, the more powerful your family is. In this case, the Fullers–with their massive property ownership–are the richest of the rich, even going so far as to genetically create their daughter Avery to perfection. I also liked the idea that the upper floors seem spacious enough that they look more like the outside world than what we eventually see as apartment floors.

I guess I want to defend the rating by saying that had this been a TV show, I would have watched the crap out of it. It’s just the right amount of YA angst that would entertain me. It’s definitely the right amount of teen drama that could get super addicting really quickly (hell, I binged GG at some point…), and heck, the first few pages hooked me because the book started with the death of a girl (which, of course, made everyone ask “Which girl died?!”). It has every formula for being fantastic. And yet I found myself cringing a lot and skipping a few chapters just to get to ones I wanted to read about.

2.5 out of 5 cookies! As much as I would love to rant about this book, I’d probably continue reading it if only to see how many of these hooligans die off and whether or not my ship actually makes it through.


Have you read this book? What did you think?