Circe by Madeline Miller

Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Content warnings: rape, sexual abuse, sex, I think homophobia, awful parents

Ugh this book. I don’t know how to talk about this because I had such high expectations because The Song of Achilles was so good, and objectively this book was really good but it didn’t connect.

Circe is the daughter of a Titan and she is born with yellow skin making her an outcast in her own family. She seeks solace in mortals but they always let her down and she ends up banished to an island.

The thing is with this book is that it tells all of the legends of Circe but the way it’s done at times it felt a lot more like an anthology than a straight story. As it strings the stories together there’s a lot of passing of time glossed over which is fair because no one wants to read that. That isn’t to stay I didn’t like the style it was just a bit odd.

I think that the style was part of my disconnect with the novel however. I couldn’t get a grasp over how I felt enough before it moved onto the next tale.

Circe is an amazing character. Her story is that of an ancient feminist who does what she wants without a care towards men. But she also struggled with the age old heterosexual problem of not needing a man but wanting a man. However for some reason I just couldn’t gel with her character. I should’ve adored her she is everything I want in a character but it just want happening.

Miller’s writing is fantastic once again. It’s somehow flowery and literal at the same time. I could really feel and imagine every aspect she was trying to convey.

I may try to read this again someday maybe when I’m a little older, that being said I would still recommend it as it is different from every Greek mythology fiction book I’ve read.

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The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

In my mission to catch up on Rick Riordan books I have started the Kane Chronicles. As these books came out before the Heroes of Olympus I figured this was the best one to start next.

Carter and Sadie are siblings live apart, Sadie with their grandparents and Carter with their dad. They reunite for a project however pretty soon after it all goes wrong and their dad is taken by a god and the kids end up with powers.

I think because I read 5 PJO books it feels weird to read Riordan’s style with different characters. I wasn’t a massive fan of our two main characters, but maybe that’s because it’s the first book and I haven’t got to know them yet.

I love Egyptian mythology so this was right up my alley, though I have to say I was slightly disappointed , I’m not sure I like how it was done. But again I feel like I can’t quite make a judgement on this.

I wasn’t sure about the way it was set up at first as well as the chapters are told in first person perspective and I think through a tape recorder and its written as if the siblings are taking the mic from each other. I came around to it after a while but it did feel a slight bit juvenile, and I know this is a Middle Grade but still.

Now all these things I’ve said made it seem like I didn’t like the book, which I did, I just wanted a little bit more from it.

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Strange the Dreamer Blog Tour | Review

Synopsis

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.

Review

Content warning: mentions of rape, genocide, slavery, forced pregnancy. Scenes of emotional abuse, explosions, death.

Strange the Dreamer. Where do I even start?

This book is both weird and wonderful, but also really heavy and draining. If you’re looking for something light and fun in a fantasy, maybe leave this one for another time.

Strange the Dreamer is haunting, it deals with topics such as slavery, genocide, and rape, but it also feels enchanting too. The idea of a city that has completely vanished, going on a mission to said city, and then finding what has blighted it for so long. Its the kind of fantasy that has so much world building but you don’t even realise until you know more about the religion and political climate in the book than the ones in our own world.

This would’ve been a favourite for me had it not had such a slow start. Now I understand why it was necessary, to build up the reader for arriving in Weep, but it was a bit of a struggle for me to begin with.

I loved the characters, Lazlo was full of naïveté and a desire for a world of peace. Sarai, who doesn’t know how she should feel towards her father who destroyed her race but did so due to being a slave for many years. Eril-Fane who struggled with nightmares about what he did every single night. Even the side characters were so well developed. Though I did struggle with remembering names sometimes but that’s a me problem.

I’m trying not to talk too much about the plot in this review as I believe it’s very important for this specific book that you go into it not knowing much, because there’s a lot of twists that I either had a feeling about or just did not see coming. It’s very carefully crafted for the reader.

Now the ending I did not see coming and it’s something I want to talk about with people, but it leaves me super intrigued for the sequel and what this means for all our characters.

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Paperback is out now. Sequel, Muse of Nightmares, out 2nd of October.

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Thank you to Jenni Leech for arranging this tour!

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Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

AH I CAN’T BELIEVE I AM ALMOST CAUGHT UP WITH CASSIE’S BOOKS

Content warnings: death, murder, violence, sex, and there might be more but I read it during a tough time and can’t remember if there were more triggers, I’m sorry.

Lady Midnight is the start of a new series int he Shadowhunters world. We follows characters who were introduced to us at the tail end of The Mortal Instruments: Emma Carstairs and the Blackthorn family. Someone is killing faeries, the same person that Emma thinks murdered her parents. So the Faeries allow the eldest Blackthorn to leave the Unseelie Court and aide in the investigation.

I have to say, whilst I am really loyal to The Infernal Devices and that is still my fave of the Shadowhunter books, this is definitely Clare’s best work so far, and I am super excited to read the rest of the series because i think it may takeover as my fave from her.

I love the kind of background to this novel, as in like we have the main plot line of “who is killing all these faeries” but in the background you have the struggle between the Shadowhunters and the Faerie Court, the Shadowhunters and the intensity of the Clave, and Emma and Julian having feelings for each other despite it being forbidden between Parabatai. I think with this world this is what really stands out to me is the amount of work Clare puts into the politics and I adore it. I want to read more and learn about the history of the world.

One thing I noticed with this novel was there was a couple of lines and phrases that Clare settles into repeating. The one I was most aware of was “tastes of blood” everyone tasted of blood when they kissed, which is a really weird thing to say. I don’t know what the deal was but it was a weird thing to always point out.

Clare has always been good at having LGB characters in her novels, we’ve had Magnus who is bi, Alec who is gay and the sapphic relationship between Helen and Aline, and with this book we have the introduction of another bi character in Mark Blackthorn. I’m glad that she’s always got some characters with differing sexualities but I would love for one of them to be the main character and for Clare to include characters who are trans or non binary.

My favourite character HAS to be Julian. He is a little lamb and is so soft and has put himself in the position of being a parent to his siblings and has had to grow up so quickly. He deserves to be so happy and I just want to read more about Julian. Emma is ok and she’s well developed but she also frustrated me a lot.

With the way the book ended I’m excited to read Lord of Shadows but I’ve also heard from a lot of people that it’s super sad, so maybe not that excited.

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The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

content warnings: same as those for The Wrath and the Dawn

Where the first novel was about getting to know the characters and their world, this one was very much about twists and deception, for both the characters and the reader.

I think it’s pretty obvious that from the first book to this one Ahdieh’s writing already got much better and the same with the jump from this to Flame in the Mist. I love her writing style and feel really immersed in the prose. Whilst I didn’t particularly feel like The Wrath and the Dawn was slow or anything, it was more packed with character development and backstory whereas this had a lot of plotting and action and I really liked how fast it moved.

Some of the characters really surprised me in this novel, they either did things I was not expecting or were just so much worse than I thought they could be. I still love Jamal and he is my soft baby. Shazi is still as fierce as ever.

There was a lot of parts of this that had me literally gasping so hard and I was kinda stressed out, but in a good way.

I’m sorry this is a short review but there isn’t much to say that wouldn’t spoil stuff from the first book. I probably should’ve done a bind up review but I realised that after doing the original review so here we are.

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The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

I saw a lot of buzz from this book on booktube last year and then I read Flame in the Mist and felt like I had to read this series because I really liked Ahdieh’s writing, so I was preemptively excited. And whilst it didn’t quite live up to the hype this was still an enjoyable read.

content warning: whilst I wouldn’t consider their sexual relationship as rape, it could be trigger if you are a victim of sexual abuse, death, uhhhh I’ve forgotten what else there is but if you’re interested and have a trigger, message me and I’ll look into it for you!

Every time the Caliph, Khalid, takes a new wife she is found dead the next morning. Shazi decides that she will be the next bride after her best friend is killed, in a move that she plans to use to take vengeance. To put off getting killed Shazi tells the Caliph a story every night. But there is more than meets the eye with Khalid and slowly Shazi begins to discover that he isn’t the murderous brute she believed him to be.

The best part of this for me is the world building and the writing. The writing itself isn’t poetic, flowery or anything like that, it’s pretty to the point but it was sooo easy to read, and I read it so quickly that I had to read the novellas and take the second book out from the library immediately. The characters are super fleshed out as well. Shazi is a kickass lead who I loved reading from, Khalid is super dark and interesting and whilst I’m mixed about how I feel about him as a romantic leadI loved reading about him and his inner turmoils. I also just loved Jalal, he’s the perfect side character, who cares about the good of everyone involved.

I honestly don’t know how to explain my feelings about the romance in this book. It could be described as insta-love as it happens over the span of a few weeks, but because there is so much happening it feels like longer. On top of all that you have the weird way they have entered the relationship, knowing full well that every woman he has married has died. They have sex a few times before romance even happens, and for both of them it’s very much like procedural, they do it because they feel like they have to, it’s never romanticised at this point. There’s even a point where he asks if she wants to have sex and she’s like “we’ve done it before”, but he still asks. I just have very confused feelings. I was very wary of the sexual relationship before the romantic relationship that I have flagged every time they had sex prior to beginning to like each other, so again if you need warnings or anything let me know and I’ll read over these pages to make sure what’s involved.

One thing I would say is that if the story this is based on is a story you grew up knowing you might not want to read this as Fadwa told me that it’s changed a lot from the original story and what she’d heard about it she didn’t like so just bear that in mind.

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Winter by Marissa Meyer

As this is the 4th book in the series this will be brief.

It took me a long time to get to Winter as it is SUCH a long book, and I think it suffered from that. I enjoyed it but not to the same extent as Cinder. There was a lot of time where it just felt a bit too drawn out.

I loved the ending of this book, it tied the series together so well. As much as it’s a cheesy happy ending it left me super content because when you have a series like this where there are so many characters that you start to get very fond of.

I’m glad I finally got around to finishing this series, especially finishing this book as I feel like I have a sense of accomplishment because it’s so long.

At times it did feel like some of the characters were being too smart, like they just knew what to do and what to plan but thats a big theme in YA to be honest.

I’m not really sure about the portrayal of Winter. I feel like it could be quite offensive to people who are mentally diverse.

All in all I’m glad to finish this series but it could’ve been tied together a bit faster in this book.

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The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

I don’t know if there is much for me to say about this book that I haven’t previously said about the novels in this series.

This was a solid finish for the series and I think tied up a few ends of this series to feel like it ended but left some loose too so that you know there is more of the story to tell in the following series in this world.

This whole book is mainly focussed on battles and whilst they were super fast paced and I felt like I was totally in the scene I did occasionally feel like they were a bit too fast paced and things were over quickly. I imagine this is because it’s a middle grade book and Riordan didn’t want to get too bogged down in the details but sometimes I just wanted a little bit more.

I really enjoyed the end of this novel. There was a lot of ways it could have gone that I don’t think I’d have liked but it didn’t. So much came together in such a wonderful way and it made me happy that I finally read the series after having it on my shelf for so damn long.

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Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

Princess Rhiannon Ta’an is about to become the Empress, but the night before her coronation someone tries to assassinate her. The rest of the world thinks she is dead but knowing her life is in danger she goes into hiding letting the world continue to think this as she figures out who tried to kill her. Alyosha is framed for the murder and also has to go on the run.

I really liked the dual POVs, we all know that multiple POVs can sometimes not work out and you end up hating on of them but this wasn’t the case with this book. Both characters were good to read from and Belleza wrote the chapters really well that every time the POV switched it was on a cliffhanger so you couldn’t put it down. It made the reading experience really fun.

The book is short-ish. I’m used to books of this genre being long, sometimes unnecessarily. Even though it is short it doesn’t feel like it, like it doesn’t feel like it’s going super fast and skipping details and it felt like it told the story it needed to tell and didn’t draw anything out.

This book is diverse and so well built. The cultures are super well constructed, there’s religion, different planets, different politics.

For a debut novel I’m impressed and I’m excited to read the sequel and see how Belleza’s writing progresses.

I really did like this novel and it did live up to the hype. It wasn’t a favourite and I think that’s just because it didn’t have that wow factor that I need from a fantasy/sci-fi Book.

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Peter Darling by Austin Chant

This book is so important. Content warning for: character death, transphobia, and I think other stuff but I read this a while ago and can’t remember exactly.

Peter left Neverland to return to real life and grow up as Wendy Darling. However this has only made him realise how strongly he identifies as a man. Things have changed in Neverland without him, for the better, but Peter just wants things to be the same way they were before.

Now I enjoy a good fairytale retelling but man was I so happy to see this one. I was never a huge fan of Peter Pan, I always thought the original was just a spoilt baby but this was so much different. The idea of Neverland being a place where you could be who you are with no fear of judgement felt so much more magical to me.

What I really liked about this novel was that Chant characterised Peter in a similar way to the original, aka a whiney baby, but gave him such a backstory and made him much more likeable because of that back story. You can understand why he does the silly stuff he does. He’s still stuck in the past because he just wants to go back to when he felt happy in himself and because the world has changed without him he thinks it needs to go back to how it was for him to be happy.

The characterisation of Hook was really interesting. I feel like we don’t get to know much about him in the original (which I haven’t read in a very long time) but with this one he’s just really different after the passing of time.

The parts of the novel that was flashbacks to Peter’s life in the real world were absolutely heart breaking. Knowing that he had been in a world where he could be himself and then choosing to go back to real life and finding how awful it was in comparison absolutely killed me. So bear in mind if that’s something you are sensitive to tread carefully with this book.

I can’t talk about the representation as I am cis, but it was own voices so I feel confident that it is good rep.

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