Friday, 22 February 2019

BOOKS ¦ Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Name: Wintersong
Author: S. Jae-Jones
Publisher: Titan Books
Date Published: February 2017
Rating: 3/5

The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride....All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They've enraptured her mind and spirit and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesel can't help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.
But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds--and the mysterious man who rules it--she soon faces an impossible decision. With time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.
- From Goodreads.

Wintersong had beautiful use of language, with incredible descriptions that immersed you in the world and created a very atmospheric story. There was a very magical, vivid, mysterious mood created by the writing. This was supported by the mythology of the story, which was obviously well researched and thought through, and the history and legends of the world had depth and were complex and intriguing.
The way music was written about was also lovely. Music is not always easy to talk and write about as it can be too based in emotions to be put into words, but the author really understood what music can mean to someone and wrote about it in such a way that it really felt like you were hearing it along with the characters.
Unfortunately I did have a few problems with the book. I felt like the pacing of the story did not work so well for me. It took at least a hundred pages for Liesl to get Underground when I expected that to happen much sooner. As well as that, I understood the need to have subplots and conflict, but it felt like there was too much concentration on Liesl's family and the drama of their lives when I was really reading the story for the fantasy elements and the interaction with the Goblin King. Of course family was important to the story because saving her family was part of what drove the plot, and the amount she cared for her siblings was a good aspect of her character, but sometimes reading about her family felt frustrating because it just seemed like it was getting in the way of the real story.
Leading on from that, it felt like there was not much that belonged just to Liesl's character. Her love and talent for music did not just belong to her because her brother had that too, her belief and relationship with the magical realm and the Goblin King did not just belong to her because her brother and grandmother believed too and her sister was stolen away by him. It makes sense that there should be things that bond characters to each other, and I liked that Liesl and the Goblin King bonded over their love of music, but it felt aggravating that Liesl did not have many interests or aspects of her personality that were unique to her.
She had her insecurities, which is understandable, every character, every person has them, but she talked about them so much that they became frustrating too. They were, in a way, part of the plot, but they never felt like they were resolved properly. She kept switching back and forth between feeling sure of herself and talking about how she was ugly or plain, and I was just hoping that by the end she would be more certain of herself and the good things about her, but she wasn't.
Speaking of the end, I didn't feel like it was a satisfying resolution. Even though I know there's a sequel, I don't feel like it wrapped up enough loose ends, and considering it's supposed to be a romance story, I wanted a happier ending.
Overall, it was an intriguing book with a lot of potential. The writing was good, there were some parts I honestly enjoyed, and I think I will be reading the sequel. However I think I felt too let down by the romance, the pacing, and some of the plot points to be completely happy with the story.

Friday, 8 February 2019

UNBOXING ¦ Illumicrate: Saints & Scars - The Grishaverse Edition Volume 2

Last year I got the Illumicrate Magic & Mayhem - The V.E. Schwab Edition box and really loved it, so when they announced they were doing their second Grishaverse box in celebration of the release of King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo, I decided to order it, and I definitely do not regret it! I've listed each item below, with a picture and link to the designer or shop that each item was made or designed by (although all of the items were exclusive to the box which is always great in a book box).

Nikolai Lantsov calendar, artists credited it pictures above.

Grishaverse enamel pin set, by Fable & Black.

Ravkan Myths layered candle, from Flickerink.

Socks, by Fable & Black.

Sunburst pouch, by Fable & Black.

Nikolai plush, by Illumicrate.

Mug, by Fable & Black.

Hand fan, by Stella Bookish Art.

Grisha women bookmarks, by Monolime.

Fox blanket, by Yoshi Yoshitani

Book sleeve, by Chatty Nora

Letter from Leigh Bardugo.

Exclusive edition of King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo.

I really adored this box, I felt like it was full of brilliant and beautiful items that I will definitely use and display, and I'm so happy to have such a gorgeous edition of King of Scars! I think my favourite items were the candle (I've already lit it and it smells wonderful) and the blanket (foxes are one of my favourite animals and it has such a beautiful design). Let me know if you got the box what your favourite items were in the comments, or if you've read the book comment what you thought of it (without spoilers). If you want to find out more about Illumicrate, you can visit their website here.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

BOOKS ¦ Review: Fire & Heist by Sarah Beth Durst

Name: Fire & Heist
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Date Published: 2018
Rating: 4/5

Slight spoiler warning for this review! 

Leading your first heist is a major milestone in Sky Hawkin’s family—even more so than learning to talk, walk, or do long division. It’s a chance to gain power and acceptance within society. But stealing your first treasure can be complicated—especially when you’re a wyvern, a human capable of transforming into a dragon.
Embarking on a life of crime is never easy, and Sky’s mission uncovers deep secrets about the mother who recently went missing, the real reason her boyfriend broke up with her, and a valuable jewel that could restore her family’s wealth and rank in their community.
With a handpicked crew by her side, Sky knows she has everything she needs to complete her first heist—and get back the people she loves in the process. But instead, she ends up discovering a dark truth about were-dragon society—a truth that is more valuable and dangerous than gold or jewels could ever be.
- From Goodreads.

While the general concept of Fire & Heist was unique and interesting, and I was always intrigued to learn more about the world and society while reading it, I think the blend of fantasy and science fiction at times felt a bit disconnected. I liked the inclusion of both, but I think it perhaps needed a little extra work to make them fit together more smoothly.
I also think there could have been a little more description in certain places, most of the time in terms of characters and settings there was enough, but there were some cases where just a little more description might have helped me picture the scene better. When it came to Sky, the main character, herself there was not always much description of her appearance. Given that she was narrating it made sense that she was not always talking about how she looked, but there were just a few moments where I felt like it would have fitted in. That said, in certain scenes the description that was there was really good, for example when it came to Home, the world of the dragons, the author did a really good job of making it feel unsettling and making you feel wary.
I enjoyed the humorous tone of the novel and found that there were quite a few funny moments. There were also some references to things like Harry Potter and The Princess Bride that were fun to spot. Generally, despite the dramatic moments and tension in the story, which were quite exciting to read, it was still balanced well with light-hearted moments and felt very easy to read.
The focus on family in the novel was also something I found enjoyable. The way Sky and her brothers and father obviously cared for each other, even if they sometimes made mistakes in how they treated each other, felt very heart-warming. It was good to see their bonds develop over the course of the book and to see how they came together in the end to deal with the challenge that faced them. I was not always sure how I felt about Sky's mother and her actions but I felt satisfied that she was working to fix her mistakes by the end.
I also really like how Sky's friendship with Gabriella developed and I think they both learnt and gained a lot from their friendship. It was refreshing to read Sky being self-aware about the mistakes she made in her behaviour towards Gabriella and how she admitted that she had not really put any effort into being friends with humans before. It was good to watch her work on that and to see her doing things like helping Gabriella get over her fears.
The chemistry between Sky and Ryan felt believable and I understood why she wanted to be with him again, but I also didn't feel too invested and I didn't really mind if they got back together or not, so perhaps a little more work could have been put into making me care a bit more about their relationship.
Overall it was an enjoyable and fun story that kept me wanting to read and had a well-wrapped up and satisfying ending. Despite a few flaws I will definitely remember it positively and probably read it again some day.

I received this book in a Fairyloot box that I bought for myself, there are no gifted or sponsored items in this post.

UNBOXING | FairyLoot: A Different Kind of Magic - June 2020

I was very excited when I saw the description for FairyLoot 's June box, the theme of A Different Kind of Magic , along with the hints a...