The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi, a review (The Ending Fire Trilogy #1)

The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi was my Goldsboro GSFF box book, and it is absolutely stunning in its slip case. I was super excited to delve into this African and Arabian inspired fantasy that explores a world divided by the colour of ones blood.

The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi, standard UK cover

There are three blood types in the Empire. Red of the Embers, the ruling class. They have access to magic and complete control. Blue of the Dusters, the working class. They work on plantations and in factories and are treated as though less than human by the Embers. Clear of the Ghostings. They have their tongues cut out and their forearms cut off in penance for an uprising over 400 years ago.

First of all, the representation within this book is fantastic. Unless I’m mistaken every single character in this book is Black. There is also great LGBTQ+ representation, both in romantic and sexual relationships (enemies to lovers anyone?) and also in having transgender and non-binary/multi gendered people. And just to top it all off there is disability rep from the Ghosting characters who have been mutilated. However, they have developed their own language and have adapted their tools to work for them. Now I know that representation doesn’t make a good book, but in a good book? Well it just makes it even better!

We follow a drug addicted woman who has red blood but was raised as though she was a Duster. She was supposed to be the chosen one, but things don’t go her way and she misses her chance. She struggles with her addiction and also with her place in this society. She was raised to hate those with red blood, but that includes herself. We also follow a young woman living a life of plenty, the daughter of one of the most powerful women in the Empire. But she is hated by her mother, and lacks skills in the BloodWerk magic that other Embers can do. Finally, we follow another woman, this time one with transparent blood. She is a slave, as are all of her kin, but with how little the Embers notice her she is able to slip in and out of places she should never be. There is a lot more to her than meets the eye.

So not only is there the conflict present between the different classes of people, but there is the tidewind. It blows each night and is strong enough to rip the skin off of a person. If you get caught in it? You’re dead. It used to follow a pattern, you could make sure you were inside on time. But lately? The tidewind has been getting more powerful, more unpredictable, and more dangerous.

I adored the character development within this book, it’s pretty strong from two of our main characters and seeing their change and growth throughout the book is incredibly satisfying (as well as allowing us to learn more about this world along with them). I also need to know more about this world. I don’t want to spoil anything but there are so many secrets partially revealed and mysteries to unravel and I just need the second book already!

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 10, Atmosphere: 8, Writing: 9, Plot: 9, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 9, and Enjoyment: 10 giving an average of 9 and a 5* rating!

Highlight here for trigger warnings: addiction, violence, slavery, blood, classism, death, racism, torture, murder, child abuse, confinement, grief, ableism, alcoholism, emotional and physical abuse, genocide, police brutality, suicide attempt, colonisation.

If it wasn’t already obvious, I adored this book. We have politics, characters, a slow burn romance, and fights for human rights along with a mystery about the rest of the world. I LOVE IT. Please let me know if you have read this or if you’re thinking about it. Because I need to chat with people about this book!!!

My MiddleEarthAThon TBR!

The wonderful Lizzie from Lizzieiself is hosting the MiddleEarthAThon from the 26th August until the 2nd September to celebrate the new Lord of the Rings TV show releasing! She asked me to cohost and I’ve been placed as the team leader for the Dwarves 😊⚒

Our others hosts are: The Bookworms Feast for Team Hobbit (who also has a book blog), Imena Ginac for Team Elf, Stuff Celine Does for Team Men, and LadetteM for Team Witch King!

Come and check out the MiddleEarthAThon twitter and instagram too for updates and mini sprints!

I published a recommendations video for the Dwarf prompts a while ago, as well as a video and a blog post for my overall August tbr. But I’ve also done a standalone video for my MiddleEarthAThon tbr so I thought I should do a blog post too!

First up is the prompt: “That still only counts as one” – reading an anthology or a collection of short stories. For this one I’m going with The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle… I know it’s huge but it’s literally the only one I have! This is over 1100 pages and I’m going to be trying to read it, and two 500+ page books, in just a week. Why do I do this to myself?

The second prompt is: “Thranduil” – a book with a shiny cover. Demon Road by Derek Landy is my choice for this one. A YA urban fantasy based in the US by the same author who wrote the Skulduggery Pleasant series. I’ve heard some… not so positive reviews of this one? But I want to try it for myself regardless and I’m hoping that this’ll be a quick read like the Skulduggery books are for me.

The final dwarfish prompt is: “Durin’s sons” – the book that has been on your tbr the longest. For me this is pretty hard to judge, so I just went with one I know is pretty old (since 2016) and that’s All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, a historical fiction based in WWII. I’ve not been having much luck with historical fictions lately, but it’s been a while since I’ve read one based during WWII (which used to be my favourite period) so I’m holding out hope.

Now whilst that’s all the prompts, the Dwarves do also get one special power and that is to swap out any book for a shorter one if needed. And oh boy do I intend to use this if I need it!

For the anthology prompt I have two different options. One is to just read one of the bindups that lives within the Sherlock book itself. The full book of The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes. This is a lot more manageable so I’m going to start the readalong with this and then see if I can manage more. Another possibility was given to me by the wonderful Hannah from Ladette M, who reminded me my Waypoint Books order would be coming through soon with my copy of Armageddon Outta Here by Derek Landy the revised edition. This is a collection of Skulduggery short stories and would be a much easier read 😂

For the shiny book prompt I’ve given myself the backup book of The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa which is a translated Japanese cat book. I whip through these super quick (I actually force myself to spread them over a few days) and so if Demon Road doesn’t work out I can squeeze this in at the end.

And for the oldest on my tbr prompt, I realised that I actually have a book I know has been on my tbr longer! And that’s The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown. This is a historical fiction which only clocks 300 pages rather than the 600 for All The Light and could save my guts by the end of the month 😅

I will say I’m slightly worried that I might end up trying to read all of these books… in a week… so someone needs to stop me from doing that please and thank you.

Are you taking part in the MiddleEarthAThon? If you’ve not signed up yet I’ve linked the Spreadsheet, Google Form to submit the books you’ve read for your team, and the form to tell us the team you’ve picked so you can sign up and have some fun with us! Having read/watched Lord of the Rings not required (I only just read the first LotR book last month and I’ve still not watched them!)

If you are taking part tell me which team you’re joining and make sure to follow all of the other lovely hosts!!

Miss Peregrine’s for Adults? 🦅

I got Ordinary Monsters by J.M. Miro in a Goldsboro GSFF box, and god is it gorgeous. But on top of that, it’s a damn good book. Coming in at just under 700 pages it’s definitely a big boi, but I think it’s worth it.

Ordinary Monsters is set in late 1800s, in the UK (mainly Scotland but with time spent in England) along with travels to places including the US and Japan. There are children who have mysterious powers, and a man who has set up a school/community for them in the Scottish highlands sends out staff to find them and bring them back to the Institute. To keep them protected. We primarily follow Charlie and Marlow, two young boys from the US. One is Black and despite being in Mississippi and having been treated with violence, Charlie has no scars. The other travelled across the pond from London to end up working in a circus in the US, and he can make himself glow blue.

I’ve barely even scratched the surface with the details inside this book. I could go on and on about each and every character, their backstory, and what we learn about them. Everything within this book has been so well developed. I’ve even found myself wanting to know about each and every side plot that was mentioned. I want to know everything about this world.

Miro does such a great job at exploring this magical world nestled within our own. I’m able to understand the magic system (as much as our characters do) as well as the community that has been built up and what their aims are for themselves and for humanity. And yet despite this there is still so much more that I want to know about the world! I was so relieved when I finished this and saw that there would be two more books. There is so much that can still be explored within this series!

I’m doing such a bad job of explaining this book, and that’s because it was just that good! I’m trying not to give any spoilers while I gush about this amazing tome and it’s so difficult!

It’s a lot easier to describe this book if you’ve read the Peculiar Children series though. Because this seems very much like the adult version of that. We explore the outside world more than you do in PC (especially in the first book) as well as tackling much darker and more complex themes. But the core concept of the book is still the same. There are magical children, they are taken to a big old house where they look after them and teach them to use magic, but things aren’t as they seem and dark forces want to ruin everything.

Bloody fantastic. That’s what it is.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 9, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 9, Plot: 9, Intrigue: 9, Logic: 9, and Enjoyment: 10. With an average of 9.14 and a 5* rating.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: violence, death, gore, racism, blood, murder, injury detail, body horror, child abuse, gun violence, child death, mental illness, physical abuse, self harm, slavery, torture, kidnapping, abandonment, death of parent, addiction, confinement, miscarriage, misogyny, rape, xenophobia, police brutality, gaslighting.

I think the only reason this didn’t rate higher is because I finished The Travelling Cat Chronicles just before it and that made me weep my eyes out! But this is an amazing and fantastic read. If I’ve piqued your interest at all, please please consider giving this book a shot!

Have you read this? If so I need to know what you thought! And have you read Peculiar Children? I know a lot more people have read those books, and they’re fun!

Some Jane Austen for my July

If you read classics, and if you’ve liked what you’ve read from Austen before… it’s kinda mandatory to read one of her books in July. Right? Well at least I think so, which is why I read Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen this July.

I’m not gunna lie, I picked this one because it was the shortest in my bind up collection out of the books I’ve yet to read. I didn’t want to make my tbr any harder than it had to be! But this ended up being a really fun choice.

Austen used this novel to poke some fun at her gothic literature counterparts. Playing with, and making fun of, the tropes they so often utilised within their works. It’s all in good jest though, and I did really like how she interwove this in with the main character so that it wasn’t something at odds with the rest of the book.

The ending of this one is exactly what I had expected. It’s an Austen novel, I think all the endings are the same. Right? I don’t know, I’ve not read them all yet. Ask me in five years and I might be able to get back to you. But yes, the ending was exactly what one would predict. But there’s a plot twist that you (if you’re like me) definitely won’t expect. Shocking behaviour!

Also within this novel, I adored Austen’s discussions on novels and literature, discussing their importance and utility. As well as discussions on friendship, first impressions of people, and gut reactions not always being the best move (surprise suprise)

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 6, Atmosphere: 7, Writing: 7, Plot: , Intrigue: , Logic: 7, and Enjoyment: 6. Giving a score of 6.29 and a 3.5* rating.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: toxic friendship, misogyny, domestic abuse, infidelity, gaslighting, death of parent, classism, adult/minor relationship, death, confinement.

This was definitely a novel of Austen’s that was worth reading. If you’ve read anything from her before and enjoyed it then I definitely recommend! I wouldn’t say that this is the best novel to start with however. It’s definitely (imo) best appreciated when already having knowledge of Austen’s writing style so you can see how she mocks the gothic tropes.

Have you read this Austen work, or any others by her? I know that some people aren’t keen on her writing. And usually I wouldn’t go for the genre she writes in, but for some reason I just really enjoy her novels!

May Reading Wrap Up

May was, as always, a busy month! And yet somehow I managed to read 13 books. Let’s take a look at the books and then I’ll look at balancing out my tbr with the new books I brought in. If you’d rather see this in video format that’s linked below!

My first read was Rebel Heart by Moira Young, the second book in the Blood Red Road trilogy. This suffered a little from middle book syndrome, with the characters clearly just being moved into place for the final book. But it was still interesting to be back in this world and I’m looking forward to capping off the series, hopefully sometime soon.

My non-fiction for the month was Living Planet by David Attenborough which is a republication of a book from the 80s. In this repub they’ve updated the scientific information, as well as switching out examples of species to those which are more obscure. This was a fantastic book and I’m so glad I can add it to my shelves!

This month I discovered that Spotify has some audiobooks you can listen to for free, so I listened to The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien because it was way past time for me to read this one. It’s such a fun audiobook and I’m definitely more hyped to read the main LotR trilogy now!

Freak Like Me by Hannah O’Donnell is a teeny book, at only 10 pages, but it packs a punch. Talking about familiars and acceptance in society, I would adore to see a full sized book within this world (and am tempted to hound Hannah until she does it!)

My last audiobook for the month was Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, which is a novel written in verse. This is a really tough novel, discussing gang violence and deaths in Black communities in the US. It’s tackled beautifully and I want to read more from Reynolds!

A partial reread, Binti: The Complete Collection by Nnedi Okorafor includes the titular novel Binti, as well as two more novellas in the series and a final short story between books 1 and 2. I read Binti previously via audio, but when I was picking up this collection I thought that I should reread the first book before diving in. This is a gorgeous sci-fi series that tackles racism, leaving home, being from multiple cultures and not feeling like you fit it, and it does all of it beautifully. I was genuinely disappointed when I realised I didn’t have anything else in this world to read!

Graceling by Kristin Cashore is one that I should’ve read years ago! It’s one of those “classic” YAs from the 00s and is such a fun read. The naming conventions are ridiculous, but I really enjoyed the book and I’m super excited to delve into the rest of the series, and then read the brand new release that’s due to come out later this year! I need to get my butt in gear clearly.

By now, I think I’ve solidified that the Goldsboro GSFF box sends me books that I adore, because Wild and Wicked Things by Francesca May was fantastic. A magical, witchy, dark book set on a small island in the 1920s with murder, lesbians, and non-binary rep. What else could you ask for?

Then I delved into some British ridiculousness with The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde which is a murder mystery, with Humpty Dumpty as the victim! I loved Fforde’s work in the Thursday Next series and this didn’t disappoint. Utterly stupid whilst also being brilliantly clever. I need to pick up more from Fforde.

Time for a little classic with The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, the synopsis on the back of my copy just talks about Wilde, and so I went into this knowing literally nothing. Colour me surprised when there was a fantastical element inside! There was one chapter that I really didn’t enjoy in here, but apart from that it was a fun classic with a really interesting concept I would love to see played with more.

Sticking with pictures, but this time it’s a contemporary read from Illumicrate. Portrait of a Thief by Grace D Li could’ve been so much more. It really needed better work on the character development, and the heist plots to steal back Chinese artefacts from Western museums needed a shade more believability. It was clearly a debut but I’m interested in anything else Li publishes in the future.

This Vicious Cure by Emily Suvada finished off the This Mortal Coil trilogy with a bang. The character development was fascinating, I adore the genetics and general science throughout all of this, and I actually really liked the ending! Looking forward to rereading this trilogy in the future.

Last but not least, I finished up my month with some Discworld in the form of Pyramids by Terry Pratchett, the seventh book in the series. This is a fun romp following the Pharaoh of not-quite-Egypt, who also happens to be a God and an assassin. In the ridiculous world on the back of the Great A’Tuin it’s a great standalone in the series.

And those are the thirteen books I managed to read this past month! I’m pretty happy with that if I do say so myself.

And then there comes the balancing. So I didn’t balance out my books for April (because it was a rough month) but I started May with 119 books on my tbr (honestly I really need to get this to a more reasonable number). I read 13 books, with 9 of them being from my tbr. I brought in 5 new books, and read 1 of those. All in all meaning that my new physical tbr count is 114. It’s went down!! I’m so damn pleased that I’m actually making some headway through this tbr!!

Let me know your favourite read of May. I’m spoilt for choice but I think Wild and Wicked Things might just have hit the top spot for me!

My June TBR Hopefuls!

After how hectic the end of May was, I thought I’d be a little more down low for June and only put 10 books onto my tbr (yes… I’m aware that’s still a lot. This was as low as I could get it!) A couple audiobooks, one non-fiction, and a load of fantasy. Perfect!

My tbr video is already up if you’d rather consume this in video form!

Not included in the 10 is The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, which I’m reading one chapter a day of. I’m carrying on with it in June and I’m actually hoping to finish it this month! We’ll have to wait and see.

Then, the TBR jar returned this month! And from that I’m picking up The Muse by Jessie Burton. This is a historical fiction set between the 1960s and 1930s that follows art, or more accurately, one painting. This was gifted to me by my little sister back in 2016 and I really do need to get around to it!

Because I’m one of the co-hosts for MiddleEarthAThon I really should have read the Lord of the Rings… and I haven’t. So I’m wanting to listen to the audiobook of The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkein! One of the most well known high fantasy books, and it’s a wee bit shameful I’ve not read it yet 😂

And for my second audiobook, Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth. This is an LGBTQ+ gothic historical fiction, and I really know basically nothing else. But my friend Lizzie enjoyed it (from LizzieIsElf) so why not! It’s a long audiobook, just under 20 hours, so I’ll most likely start this one after reading LotR.

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch is a longstanding fantasy series that I’ve seen around for a few years now, it follows a detective around a magical version of our London. I love a good mystery, as well as a fantasy, so I’m hoping this combination really works for me.

Vox by Christina Dalcher is a dystopian where women can only speak 100 words a day. Any more and they get hit with 1000 volts of electricity. I enjoy concepts like these, but I am wary of it being “women” who are impacted by this. How does this then impact trans women, or non-binary folk, or trans men? I’m not expecting this book to be aware enough to cover this topic but I’ll be super pleasantly surprised if it does.

Another social commentary kind of book, 84k by Claire North. This is set in a world where each life has a monetary value, and if you can afford the price you can do whatever you like. Including murder. Our main character doesn’t care, until someone they love has their life bought.

Hannah from LadetteM sent me The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake when she was unhauling it. She really didn’t vibe with it, but I also enjoyed Addie LaRue, which Hannah hated sooooo I thought it was worth giving a shot to a fantasy world where only 5 people will get a place in this society each year.

For my non-fiction of the month I’m going for Minnesota’s Geologist by Sue Leaf, which was a present from Kari from Kar-ing for Books who lives in the state and knows I’m always down to learn about geology! I’m super excited for this one and have been for a while.

The Goldsboro GSFF box for May gave us The Collarbound by Rebecca Zahabi, this is advertised as a magical, brink-of-war setting and I really do enjoy political fantasy and have had fantastic success with previous GSFF books so I’m excited for this one!

And finally is the Illumicrate book from the May box which is Book of Night by Holly Black. I’ve never been interested in Black’s books before, but this one has a woman who is fantastic with explosives and I am totally here for that. I just hope it’s a good one!

And that’s my June TBR! Let me know if you’ve read any of these books and what you thought of them. And let me know one book that’s on your TBR, I’m always here to add more books to the list!

Living Planet, a review

Living Planet: The Web of Life on Earth by David Attenborough, is a republication of a title first published in 1984. It’s not just a reprint however. Attenborough has updated the book, firstly to represent the scientific developments that have come about over the past (almost) 40 years, and also to ensure that this book is actually different to the first. Attenborough went through and altered the examples of flora and fauna he used. He mentions instead less commonly known species, which I really appreciate as it means the “old” book is still worth reading in it’s own right as well as teaching me about more species!

But now onto the actual book. This is, if you weren’t aware, an environmental non-fiction written by a beloved Naturalist. The book is split into 12 separate chapters which all discuss different aspects of our planet. These all interlink with each other and culminate in a final chapter on how humans interact with this environment.

This first chapter was all about volcanism so I was obviously in my element here! I loved learning more about the ecology present at volcanic sites and about some species I’d never heard about before. It does also discuss volcanoes themselves, nothing new for me here but I still love reading about it (cause I’m a giant nerd 😂).

Chapter two is all about frozen climates. I liked learning about the similarly evolved to penguins birds in the north (auks). I didn’t realise that the sea level would rise about 55m if Antarctica melted! I enjoyed the discussion on how the Inuit survived the harsh climate. Of course this section had a fair bit of discussion around global warming, a lot has changed.

The third chapter was on slightly less northern climes, this time focusing on northern forests. It was really interesting to learn more about the similarities across continents and also the slight differences that appear as you move towards the equator!

Chapter four was on jungle environments in Asia, Africa, and South America. I’ve been in the South American rainforest and it was so cool to read Attenborough talking about some animals and birds I was able to see in real life as well as their companions on different continents!

For the fifth chapter it was all about the grasslands and the animals that developed there. That naturally then lead to discussions on how colonisers massacred many species when moving into these areas, despite the native populations being able to maintain equilibrium for centuries. It’s interesting to see how these species develop the same characteristics separately from each other across the planet.

Chapter six was about desert environments across the planet, super interesting to learn about the different adaptations in the different variations of desert and the Tassili paintings are amazing and the evidence they give us is invaluable! I can’t believe I’d never heard of them before.

Chatper seven now and this chapter was on the creatures that spend their time in the sky. I loved Attenborough explaining how the flight mechanics of birds is so similar to that of airplanes. I also had no clue that little butterflies could be swept so high up into the sky! And now I really want to go in a hot air balloon and experience that world for myself!

Sweet Fresh Water is chapter eight, this chapter was all about the life that’s supported by rivers and lakes. I *really* am not keen on aquatic life (phobia level not keen) so this wasn’t my favourite chapter, but it was super interesting and I loved learning more about otters, beavers, and birds that utilise the rivers and lakes.

Chapter nine was on The Margins of the Land and as someone who’s studied (a little) about mangroves at university, I found learning about their environments and revisiting them really fun. These creatures that live in the margin worlds are able to tolerate such a vastly changing environment that it’s fascinating to learn about them.

Chapter ten was “World’s Apart” talking about island nations and landmasses with uniquely evolved species. I loved learning about this unique adaptations from places like New Zealand and Hawai’i to remote atolls barely touched by humans. I also appreciated the discussions on how humans impacted these environments when they reached them, both from European colonisers but also the people who first reached these land masses.

A fascinating but (for me) deeply disturbing section: Open Ocean is the eleventh chapter. Despite this chapter being filled with my phobias, it’s still so incredibly interesting to learn about. Especially the comparisons between “similar” environments on land, and also the various adaptations of the deep. But I can’t lie, I’m glad the fish-y sections are over!

The final, twelfth, chapter was on new worlds, all about how humans have altered the species around us for all of our existence. 10,000 years ago all the way up until now. I enjoyed learning more about the ancestral changes (which were bigger than I’d expected) but also appreciated the discussion about the havoc we’re wrecking on our planet in the modern day.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Research: 10, Uniqueness: 9, Readability: 10, Personal Impact: 8, Intrigue: 8, Informativeness: 9, Enjoyment: 10, giving a score of 9.14 and a 5* rating!

I’m so glad that I deeply enjoyed reading this book and I definitely want to pick up more of Attenborough’s non-fiction in the future. Have you read anything from David Attenborough? Or even watched his documentaries? I highly recommend them!

The Embroidered Book, a review

The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield is a historical fantasy starting in the 1760s, following sisters Charlotte and Marie Antoinette. Both who become Queens and have a major impact on their respective new countries. But in this world, people can do magic, if they know the ingredients, and are willing to pay the price.

Historical fiction used to be very much my thing when I was younger, but in recent years I’ve moved away from it. Meaning that without this being the Goldsboro GSFF pick I probably wouldn’t have read it. And boy oh boy am I so glad that I was influenced to pick this up!!

This book is incredibly historically accurate. Every friendship, every enemy, every political move and alliance, can all be backed up by historians. Heartfield did an incredible job in the research for this book. This book made me so interested in these two women that I went to research them myself, thinking that surely there would be things that were missed and/or not factually accurate. In reality it just confirmed everything that had been shown in the book.

The only historical inaccuracy I could find in this book? The magic! (obvs) And I thought the magic was done so well and was a magic system I’d never come across before! Individuals have to sacrifice something important to them (specified for the spell) at each point of a five pointed star, to make the magic work. This can be a physical object, or they can write down a hope/dream/love and this will be taken from them and sacrificed. I thought it was done fantastically and was such an interesting aspect of the story.

On CAWPILE I rated this book: Characters: 10, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 8, Plot: 8, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 10, and enjoyment: 10. Giving an average score of 9 and a 5* rating!

I won’t lie to you folks, I did struggle a little to get through this book at first. Purely because it’s just so big! (it’s around 700 pages and my copy is hardback) and when I first finished it, I thought it was a 4 star read. But I just couldn’t stop thinking about it and every time I mentioned it I started gushing! And for me? Well that’s easily the signs of a five star read!

Highlight here for trigger warnings: death, violence, domestic abuse, misogyny, murder, arranged marriage, partner violence, child illness and death, miscarriage, endemic disease, racism, colonialism, imperialism, accusations of paedophilia, and mutilation of corpses.

Have you read The Embroidered Book, or would you consider reading it after this? I’m so so glad that I delved into this book and I’m very much here for more historical fantasies!

The Brothers Lionheart, a review

The wonderful Veronica from Veronica’s Shelf gifted me The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren after I read some of Lindgren’s short stories and enjoyed them. Finally it was time for me to get around to this translated Swedish classic.

This is such a sweet and moving children’s classic following a young disabled boy and his older brother who seems perfect in every way. After his older brother passes away in an accident, the younger brother knows he’ll meet him again one day in Nangyala, just like his older brother said.

They both, of course, meet up in Nangyala and go on many adventures where the younger boy has to learn to become strong and brave just like his brother.

This book definitely has that magical feeling that I adore from all the children’s classics that I’ve read through before. I definitely got some Narnia vibes, think “further up and further in”, from the afterlives portrayed in the book.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 8, Atmosphere: 7, Writing: 7, Plot: 7, Intrigue: 7, Logic: 7, Enjoyment: 7, giving a score of 7.14 and a 4* rating.

Overall this is an incredibly sweet book and one I’ve not heard enough love for from the English speaking community! Have you read this one from Lindgren? Will you pick it up now? I totally recommend it!

Champion, a review

Champion by Marie Lu is the last book in the Legend trilogy (or at least the original trilogy, I think Lu has added more books to the series) which is a YA dystopian looking at the balances of power and corruption.

The blurb on the front of my copy says that the series “blows the socks off the Hunger Games” and I don’t quite agree with that, but it’s definitely a fun series and one that you should totally pick up if you’re in the YA age bracket. I would’ve loved this when I was a little younger and I still did enjoy it now.

It’s a really interesting take on dictators and capitalism that I didn’t expect from the series, there are a lot of nuanced discussions that delve into the intricacies of different political powers and the impacts of capitalism on a society. I enjoyed that the series didn’t simply go for the basic discussion, and this depth is really ramped up in this final book.

Because this is a YA novel there is, of course, relationship drama. It has its faults, but it’s not awful and I did actually really enjoy how the resolution came about. It wasn’t as unrealistic and fairy-tale like as a lot of other YA fiction. I think Lu should be given credit for how she utilises standard tropes and expectations and yet adds diversity to this representation.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 7, Atmosphere: 6, Writing: 6, Plot: 7, Intrigue: 7, Logic: 7, and Enjoyment: 7 which gives a score of 6.71 and a 3.5* rating.

It’s not the best book I’ve ever read, but it is a solid YA dystopian that I’d happily recommend to any teens. I don’t think I’ll be continuing with the extra books in the series however. The original trilogy is enough for me.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: death, violence, gun violence, medical content, grief, war, murder, terminal illness, medical trauma, child abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, torture, police brutality, colonisation, classism.

Have you read this series, or anything else by Marie Lu? What did you think? I’ve still got Warcross on my tbr, as well as the Young Elites trilogy!