‘The Black Prince’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Black Prince which was kindly sent to me by Anne Cater/Random Things Tours (thank you!)

 

Before I tell you what I thought of the book, check out the synopsis!

 

What the book is about…

‘I’m working on a novel intended to express the feel of England in Edward III’s time… The fourteenth century of my novel will be mainly evoked in terms of smell and visceral feelings, and it will carry an undertone of general disgust rather than hey-nonny nostalgia’ – Anthony Burgess, Paris Review, 1973

The Black Prince is a brutal historical tale of chivalry, religious belief, obsession, siege and bloody warfare.

From disorientating depictions of medieval battles to court intrigues and betrayals, the
campaigns of Edward, the Black Prince, are brought to vivid life by an author in complete control of the novel as a way of making us look at history with fresh eyes, all while staying true to the linguistic pyrotechnics and narrative verve of Burgess’s best work.

 

What I thought of it…

Anthony Burgess said that he wanted to create a visceral reading experience. I would say that he and Adam Roberts absolutely succeeded. There was definitely no sugar-coating in this book! I do have to say that the battle scenes felt like a little much at times. I understand that wars are gruesome and I am by no means squeamish but some of the graphic detail here was too much even for me. So yes, very visceral. However, if you like your historical fiction on the gory side, this is definitely a book for you!

Despite all the blood and guts, there was actually some really lovely writing in parts. I haven’t read A Clockwork Orange but I’m aware that Anthony Burgess had a very distinctive writing style and I would say that Adam Roberts definitely stayed true to it in this extension of Burgess’ original script, while also adding his own stamp.

The style is a little difficult to get used to at first, feeling quite disjointed with its many sections. I can only surmise that this is due to the amalgamation of the two different authorial styles? However, I did quickly come to enjoy it and found it fascinating to see a period in history through the multiple perspectives used. The inclusion of newspaper headlines, songs and prophecy-style sections made for a nice framing technique; it was interesting to see things through the eyes of royals, soldiers and common people alike.

This book provided a great way to learn more about a period in history of which my prior knowledge was non-existent. I would actually enjoy reading about other historical events in this style; the book felt almost like non-fiction but nowhere near as dry. The Black Prince is a very informative read (if a little too cerebral for me at times) and I’m sure it will satisfy those interested in royal history.

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Thank you again to the publishers for sending me a copy of this book! Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour 🙂

Black Prince Blog Tour poster

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5 reasons to read Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’

Hey lovelies! I’m back with another instalment of my ‘5 reasons to read’ series, this time with the seasonally appropriate Frankenstein! I have read this book multiple times; it is one of my favourite classics and its Gothic nature makes it a perfect Autumn read.

[If anyone is interested, the lovely Johann is actually hosting a Frankenstein readalong this month – maybe my 5 reasons can convince you to join in!]

 

It gave rise to science fiction as we know it

Many people argue that this is the first true science fiction novel. And I am more than happy for it to hold that title. Mary Shelley incorporated the real life development of electricity into her story and lent a factual edge to her nightmare concept. The idea of reanimating a corpse is terrifyingly plausible and makes Frankenstein truly haunting. And if you call yourself any kind of sci-fi fan, then this one is a must-read.

 

It has aged incredibly well

Mary Shelley was so ahead of her time and managed to write a compelling story that also commented on social changes that were occurring. Yet even though we have moved on a lot from those times, the themes Shelley presented still resonate today. The idea of ‘outsiders’, people who look different from ourselves or who cannot speak English, is unfortunately still an issue in many places in contemporary society, and, sadly, it is all too possible to see links between the monster’s experience and that of immigrants today.

 

It presents us with morally grey characters

Nobody in this book is purely good or evil. I love that. Victor Frankenstein, the supposedly good son and brother studying at a prestigious university makes some seriously questionable moral decisions. And the monster himself is the perfect vessel for exploring the nature/nurture debate. I, personally, believe he is not ‘born’ inherently evil; his actions result from the treatment he receives from others. Not that I am condoning his behaviour, obviously, but it makes me genuinely sad that he is treated so abhorrently based on his outward appearance. Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that these complex characters are the type that I love reading about.

 

The writing is incredible

Many classics can feel very dry and difficult to get through but Frankenstein is not one of them, in my opinion. I love the flow of Mary Shelley’s writing and I have so many wonderful quotes flagged. And the fact that she wrote it when she was just a teenager fills me with awe.

 

It’s so much better than any of its movie adaptations

I am one of those bookworms who will almost never enjoy an adaptation as much as the book itself. It’s impossible to get all the detail of a book into a movie or even a tv series and, in this way, subtle nuances are lost. I believe the phrase “the book is better” can never be more applicable than it is here. There have been countless adaptations of Frankenstein and they always seem to be so dodgy and melodramatic, never capturing the intelligence or beauty of Shelley’s novel. Do yourself a favour and just read the book instead.

 

5 reasons to read mary shelleys frankenstein

I know Frankenstein is quite a divisive book so I want to chat with you about it! Do you love it or loathe it? Do you see the creature as inherently evil? Leave me a comment and let’s discuss! x

September Wrap-Up! (In which I alternate between historical fiction and terrifying visions of the future)

I cannot actually believe it is October. Where has this year gone?

I read 13 books in September (unlucky for some) and really enjoyed all of them which is such a rare experience for me! Seriously, I did not rate anything under 3.5 stars this month (and that was only one book, everything else was a solid 4 or higher!)

 

Review books/Books I was sent

 

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech

I was delighted to take part in the blog tour for this book at the start of the month. I went into it blind and was really pleasantly surprised. My full spoiler-free review of this poignant story can be found here.

 

The Book of M by Peng Shepherd

With a 4.5 star rating, I would say this was my favourite read of the month. Reminscent of Station Eleven, it paints a haunting picture of a future where people lose their shadows and subsequently their memories. I definitely recommend it. Check out my full thoughts here!

 

Her Hidden Life by V. S. Alexander

This was a fascinating historical fiction about a woman who tasted Hitler’s food for poisons! I found the narrative voice very compelling, even (or maybe especially) when the story took a darker turn. Here is my full, spoiler-free review.

 

Books from my TBR

 

City of Ghosts by V. E. Schwab

I loved Schwab’s Monsters of Verity duology but this is my first time trying her middle-grade stuff. I did have some issues with it but, overall, it was an entertaining read with some nice Scottish history/legend thrown in.

 

And The Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness

This upside-down retelling of Moby Dick was a strange little read but one which raised some really interesting moral questions. And the artwork was absolutely stunning.

 

The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

I won this book earlier in the year from the lovely Tina and I finally got round to reading it! I really enjoyed it; I found the characters endearing and loved the way past and present tied together.

 

The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron

This was my book club’s pick for the month, a historical fiction set in 1920s America in the world of the Ringling Brothers’ circus. I love circus books and this one was no exception. You can find my full thoughts here.

 

 

The Witches by Roald Dahl

Of course I had to celebrate Roald Dahl day! I never read The Witches as a child but I decided to grab it this month for a fun and quick read. And I believe I was totally justified in avoiding it as a kid because it would have terrified me!

 

Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett

I’m finally getting back to reading Pratchett! And this reminded me how much I enjoy his writing. This one was a satire of old Hollywood and all the movie references really made me giggle.

 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Yes, I finally did it. After this sat on my TBR for years, I finally committed to seeing what all the hype was about. I can’t call it a new favourite because it really did make me uncomfortable but it made me think a lot and I’m glad to have read it.

 

Eclairs for Tea and other stories by Julie Blake

I’m friends with Julia on Instagram and have been meaning to read one of her books for a while now. I decided to start with this collection of short stories to get a feel for her writing and I wasn’t disappointed! There is something for everyone in this collection. Look out for my review coming soon!

 

Rereads

 

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

I reread this book for the September BookBum theme – ‘Back to School’. It was great to go back with a less critical eye and I was pleased to discover that I still loved the book. For five reasons why you should read it (if you haven’t already), click here.

 

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

During a bout of insomnia, I decided to pick up this old favourite. I’ve been wary of rereading it, in case I didn’t love it as much the second time around, but I needn’t have worried. This dark and twisted reimagining of classic fairytales is a wonderful read.

 

 

Stats

Total pages: 4231

Average pages per day: 141

Longest book: The Book of M (496 pages)

Shortest book: And The Ocean Was Our Sky (160 pages)

Favourite read of the month: The Book of M

Biggest disappointment of the month: I wasn’t really disappointed by anything this month!

Male authors: 5

Female authors: 8

Books read towards Pop Sugar Reading Challenge: 4

 

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And there we have it, another month gone! I hope you all had a fantastic reading month and that you all have some spooky reads planned for this month! Tell me your favourite book of September or something you can’t wait to read in October? x

 

My favourite blog posts of September 2018!

Hello my lovelies! I’m here again with my monthly post detailing content you guys have put out that I have loved! I really wanted to blog hop more this month but, unfortunately, life got in the way. But I’m going to try really hard in October so that I can present you guys with some different blogs to follow 😉 In the meantime, I hope you love all of these posts!

 

Reviews

Becky wrote a great review of The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White. This is one of the first reviews I’ve seen for this book and it’s nice that Becky gave a balanced opinion.

The Captain reviewed The Singer’s Gun, a book by the author of Station Eleven. I have been wanting to read another book by Emily St John Mandel since falling in love with Station Eleven 3 years ago, but I never hear anyone talking about her other books – so it was great to find this review!

Heather wrote a fantastic review of Toil and Trouble: 16 Tales of Women and Witchcraft. It was great to read Heather’s thoughts on each story in this anthology and I was especially pleased to see that she didn’t rate any of the stories less than 3 stars!

Becky wrote a lovely review of The Clockmaker’s Daughter. Kate Morton’s books have been on my TBR for years and I’m ashamed that she’s just released a new one and I still haven’t tried any! But I’ve never heard a bad word said so I’m still hopeful that I will get to them at some point.

Joana reviewed Tash Hearts Tolstoy, a contemporary that I love the sound of! Joanna’s review has definitely bumped this one higher up my wishlist.

Rachel wrote another fantastically eloquent review, this one for Normal People, which made it onto the Man Booker 2018 Longlist. I love that, even though Rachel and I read totally different kinds of books, she can always pique my interest in books I might not have otherwise considered.

Tess reviewed My Best Friend’s Exorcism which I’m really excited to read this October! This book sounds seriously awesome.

Melanie wrote a wonderful review of Small Spaces by Katherine Arden. I loved The Bear and the Nightingale by this author but I’ve been unsure whether to take a chance on this, her middle-grade offering. Melanie’s review decided it for me; I’m looking forward to reading this one in October.

Zuky recommended some short stories, complete with mini reviews! I’ve been really enjoying short stories lately so I’m glad to have added some more to my list to try.

Mandy reviewed Ten After Closing, a book I hadn’t heard of but have definitely added to my wishlist!

Cait reviewed Blackbird of the Gallows in her usual witty way and brought to my attention a great-sounding book!

 

Discussions

Kristilyn discussed how her feelings towards blogging have changed over the years and it is so refreshing to read an honest account about how much pressure there is on bloggers!

Callum outlined what makes a 5-star read for him and we have so many things in common!

Marie asked why book tags and memes are so popular – something I’ve often wondered myself! This was a great discussion post.

Krysta asked where all the realistic male characters are in YA novels, generating an interesting discussion.

Inside My Library Mind gave some great advice on how to blog when you aren’t necessarily getting much reading done. I always welcome blogging tips.

 

Other fun posts

Swetlana described a day in the life of a bookworm and gave me a really good giggle! Definitely relate.

Sim talked about some of her weird reading habits and it was nice to find out that other people do strange things too!

Kelly usually features in my posts based on her discussions but this month, she created her very own book tag! It’s based on high school stereotypes and you should all try it out!

Someone else that created an original tag this month was Nandini. This one is based on The Fellowship of the Ring so you all know I will be trying it very soon!

Rachel wrote an A-Z list of YA releases coming up September-November. The concept for this post is seriously cool and I look forward to more of them in the future!

Cat made a list of books you can read in one day and added yet more titles to my growing wishlist. Anyone know the secret to immortality?!

 

Thanks, as always, to all of you lovely bloggers who put in so much effort every month (and not just the ones I’ve featured here). I love this community. x

‘Her Hidden Life’ spoiler-free review!

Hello my dears! Thank you for bearing with me – I am now back from my trip home for the week and playing catch-up! So you can all expect a lot of likes from me as I get through your recent posts 😉

I have to say a huge thank you to Avon Books for sending me a copy of Her Hidden Life to review; the premise totally grabbed me and I couldn’t live without getting a copy of the book!

 

What the book is about…

It’s 1943 and Hitler’s Germany is a terrifying place to be. But Magda Ritter’s duty is the most dangerous of all…

Assigned to the Berghof, Hitler’s mountain retreat, she must serve the Reich by becoming the Fuhrer’s ‘Taster’ – a woman who checks his food for poison. Magda can see no way out of this hellish existence until she meets Karl, an SS officer who has formed an underground resistance group within Hitler’s inner circle. 

As their forbidden love grows, Magda and Karl see an opportunity to stop the atrocities of the madman leading their country. But in doing so, they risk their lives, their families and, above all, a love unlike anything either of them have ever known…

 

What I thought of it…

As I already said, I was fascinated by the premise of this book. I have read a number of books set in WWII but I had never heard of the ‘tasters’ – women who sampled Hitler’s food to check for poisons. I absolutely had to read this book based on that idea!

Magda had a captivating narrative voice and I was truly invested in her story. I felt a connection with her and found her easy to root for. I didn’t feel much towards the other characters, except for the obvious hatred towards Hitler. Considering a large element of this book was the romance, I was mostly indifferent to Karl.

Her Hidden Life definitely felt like a book of two halves. The first half is quite light and romantic; it’s not insta-love exactly but the romance did feel very quick. I would have liked it to develop a little slower. However, with the turn things take in the second half of the novel, I can understand why things needed to move at the pace they did. The story definitely becomes darker and, at times, quite bleak. There were some scenes that were particularly harrowing.

Overall, I found this an intriguing book from start to finish and definitely recommend it to fans of historical fiction who are looking for something a little different. I rated this one 4/5 stars.

 

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Has anyone ever heard of ‘tasters’? Do you enjoy reading WWII fiction? Let me know your favourites in the comments! x

 

 

‘The Ringmaster’s Wife’ spoiler-free review!

Hi beautiful people! Today, I’m reviewing The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron, which was my book club’s pick for September!

 

What the book is about…

Rosamund Easling is no stranger to opulence. As the daughter of an earl, she’s grown up with every comfort money can buy. But when hard times befall the family’s Yorkshire estate in the aftermath of the Great War, Rosamund’s father sells her beloved horse, setting the stage for a series of events that would extend beyond even her wildest dreams.

Though expected to marry for a title instead of love, Rosamund feels called to a different life – one of adventure outside the confines of a ladies’ parlor. She abandons all she’s known and follows in pursuit as her horse is shipped to the new owner – an American entertainer by the name of John Ringling. Once introduced to the Ringling Brothers’ circus and knowing she has much to learn, Rosamund agrees to a bareback riding apprenticeship in the shadow of the Ringlings’ winter home—Ca’D’Zan. It is at that mansion, in what would become the last days of the enigmatic Mable Ringling’s life, that Rosamund finds a deeper sense of purpose in the life she’s been given, and the awakening of faith in her heart.

With a supporting cast of characters as mysterious and dazzling as the Ringlings’ big-top world, Rosamund’s journey takes her from the tradition of the English countryside to the last days of America’s Roaring ‘20s—a journey that forever changes what one life might have been.

 

What I thought of it…

I love a circus book but I’ve not read many with a historical setting. This was a nice introduction to the genre. Kristy Cambron did a great job of creating a vivid picture, capturing all the opulence of 1920s America and the less beautiful behind-the-scenes work of the circus. This, combined with the storyline, made for a very dreamy and romantic read.

I really liked the cast of characters. Rosamund was a feisty heroine who was easy to root for and Colin made for a wonderful love interest. But my biggest love was Mable Ringling. I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t heard of her before reading this book but I would love to find out more about her as it seems as though she was a person of great merit.

I did have a couple of small gripes with the book. Mainly, I was slightly confused by the timeline as it jumped about quite a bit. I also was frustrated to see that horrific cliché “she let out a breath she hadn’t known she was holding” – please can we stop using this line?!

Overall though, I really enjoyed this read. The ending took a surprising turn that I did not see coming but I really loved this journey through the circus world of the 1920s.

 

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What are some of your favourite circus books? x

‘The Book of M’ spoiler-free review!

Hi everyone! Before I start today, I just want to say a big thank you for 200 followers! I know this must seem like a tiny number to some of you but it means so much to me that there are 200 people interested in what I have to say; I appreciate every single one of you!

Today I’m reviewing The Book of M by Peng Shepherd, which was very kindly sent to me by the lovely people at Harper Collins.

 

What the book is about…

Set in a dangerous near future world, The Book of M tells the captivating story of a group of ordinary people caught in an extraordinary catastrophe who risk everything to save the ones they love. It is a sweeping debut that illuminates the power that memories have not only on the heart, but on the world itself.

One afternoon at an outdoor market in India, a man’s shadow disappears—an occurrence science cannot explain. He is only the first. The phenomenon spreads like a plague, and while those afflicted gain a strange new power, it comes at a horrible price: the loss of all their memories.

Ory and his wife Max have escaped the Forgetting so far by hiding in an abandoned hotel deep in the woods. Their new life feels almost normal, until one day Max’s shadow disappears too.

Knowing that the more she forgets, the more dangerous she will become to Ory, Max runs away. But Ory refuses to give up the time they have left together. Desperate to find Max before her memory disappears completely, he follows her trail across a perilous, unrecognizable world, braving the threat of roaming bandits, the call to a new war being waged on the ruins of the capital, and the rise of a sinister cult that worships the shadowless.

As they journey, each searches for answers: for Ory, about love, about survival, about hope; and for Max, about a new force growing in the south that may hold the cure.

 

What I thought of it…

This was a stunning debut. The concept is so unique and had me completely engrossed from start to finish. The novel’s apocalyptic opening had me immediately gripped. The story definitely has a Station Eleven vibe (which is one of my very favourite books) but it’s also completely original.

The quality of writing is absolutely excellent, so much so that it’s hard to believe this is a debut. I was absolutely captivated and could not stop thinking about this book whenever I wasn’t reading it. There were some really strong descriptions of the post-apocalyptic world and I could visualise everything very clearly.

Shepherd has created a diverse cast of characters, all of whom felt well fleshed-out. I don’t always get on with multiple perspective books but it worked really well here. The way the storylines converged into the novel’s conclusion was fantastic and I did not see any of it coming. I do have a slight issue with the fate of the two gay characters; I like to think it was just an oversight and not the author’s intention but what happened to them made me a little uncomfortable.

Some elements of the book were a little confusing (I couldn’t really get my head around how people could force things to happen by forgetting about them? Like how can you force yourself to forget something?!) It went over my head a little bit.

But, on the whole, I really enjoyed this one and would recommend it! Despite it’s length, it doesn’t feel like a book that goes on forever. It really is an awesome and ambitious story; it felt very cinematic and I could definitely see this being made into a movie. It’s well worth a read if you’re a fan of post-apocalypse stories with a difference!

 

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Has anyone read this one? What is your favourite post-apocalyptic book? x

10 books I’m excited to read soon

Hi lovelies! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt is ’10 books on my Fall 2018 TBR’, which is perfect as I had already planned a post talking about upcoming releases and books I’m excited to read soon! Some of these are books I’ve been saving ALL YEAR to read during the dark cold nights and others are sequels I’ve been dying for over the last few months.

[Top Ten Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, and now lives over at That Artsy Reader Girl.]

 

New releases

 

Muse of Nightmares

Pretty sure this is most people’s most anticipated read of the year?! And rightly so. Strange the Dreamer was such an absolute masterpiece with a totally killer ending and I just know that Queen Laini is going to deliver once again with this conclusion to the duology. I’ve got it preordered and fully intend to read it as quickly as possible when it arrives.

 

Fierce like a Firestorm

Lana Popovic’s debut Wicked like a Wildfire was one of my favourite books of 2017 and I have been going out of my mind waiting for this sequel! The first book was so magical and full of the most divine purple prose; I can’t wait to flail over this one.

 

A Storm of Ice and Stars

It seems like this is the year of the duology’s end. All three of these anticipated releases are the second and final books in duologies! A Shiver of Snow and Sky was another book I really loved last year, though I initially thought it was a standalone. I’m delighted that Lisa Lueddecke has written another book set in the same world and can’t wait to get back to the snowy land of Skane!

 

Autumnal reads

 

Sweet Pea

I got this book for an absolute steeeal recently – that, combined with Zuky’s praise, bumped it right up high on my TBR list!

 

My Best Friend’s Exorcism

Everyone RAVES about this book. It’s something I liked the sound of but resisted buying… until last week when I saw yet another glowing review and decided on impulse to get it!

 

The Halloween Tree

In 2016, I read Fahrenheit 451 and in 2017, I read Something Wicked This Way Comes. So I decided to continue my tradition of an annual Ray Bradbury with this October-appropriate story which comes highly recommended!

 

The Witchfinder’s Sister

This is a book that I wanted to read last year when it came out – but I couldn’t justify spending the money on the hardcover. I was then really shallow and refused to buy the paperback because it wasn’t as pretty (I know, *shame*). As luck would have it, my shallowness actually paid off because I found the hardback in a charity shop for £2! I’ve been saving it for October for a witchy-themed buddy read with an Instagram friend!

 

Rebecca

I bought this edition of Rebecca in a January sale and have diligently saved it until now because I wanted it to be a really atmospheric read on cold dark nights! I love Gothic literature so I’m really hoping this will become a new favourite.

 

Bonus reads I’m excited for

 

The Handmaid’s Tale

This is a book that has been on my TBR for years and I am finally going to read it! I know it’s one of those that divides opinion but I’m hoping to fall into the love camp. Either way, it’s time to see what all the hype is about!

 

Water for Elephants

Another book I’ve been aware of for years but never picked up! It actually fits one of the PopSugar 2018 reading challenge prompts (a bestseller from the year I graduated high school) so I’m delighted to finally have an excuse to make time for it!

 

What are some books you’re excited to read this autumn? x

5 reasons to read ‘The Color Purple’

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”

The Color Purple, Alice Walker

 

Hello everyone! I’m back with another instalment of my ‘5 reasons to read’ series. I recently reread The Color Purple by Alice Walker, which I first read a few years ago in sixth form. It was nice to go back and reread without over-analysing everything, and it made me realise just what an incredible book it actually is!

 

Explores LGBTQ+ themes without making a big song and dance about it

There was something so nice about reading a book that doesn’t shout “hey, look at me, I have LGBTQ+ themes!” Yes, I love that books are becoming far more diverse these days and that sexuality is a much less taboo subject. But sometimes it’s nice to be surprised. I had honestly forgotten that this book looks at the theme of homosexuality/bisexuality because it does so in such a gentle, quiet way. Celie talks about how she is not interested in men. The book features a f/f relationship but doesn’t make it into this huge thing. It was nice to read something that just felt real and honest.

 

Female empowerment/love of the female body

Further to the previous point, this book contains so much feminism but I feel like it’s never talked about in that respect?! Shug educates Celie on the joy of sex and teaches her not to be ashamed of her body, and I think that’s such an important topic that is not given enough attention. It also raises the issue of a woman’s body being a possession, and the right to say no. Girls everywhere should read this.

 

Cultural representation

Obviously, I can’t speak from experience but I feel like Alice Walker is accurate in her representation of African-Americans and native African people. It is nice to see a contrast between how black people live in the United States and how they live in the missionary colonies. There is a lot to consider, from religious beliefs to marriage to the practice of scarification.

 

Epistolary form

For those readers who like their books written as a series of letters, this one is perfect. Celie’s letters read like a diary and make you feel closer to her as a character and more invested in her story (especially considering how the novel opens). It also really helps to move the pace along, as most of the letters are fairly short.

 

Love and Family

None of the family units in The Color Purple are very conventional but that is what makes it so beautiful. These people band together through love, not obligation, and create their own group where everyone belongs and has a place. Celie appears to be the person to whom everyone is connected and it’s lovely to see.

 

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This is one of the books I’ve read this month for the BookBum book club! The theme this month is ‘back to school’ and I’m hoping to read two books – one that I studied in school (this one) and one that is (or should be) required reading in schools that I haven’t read yet (The Handmaid’s Tale).

Have you read The Color Purple? Did you study it in school like me? What was your favourite required reading in school?

 

‘A Thousand Beginnings and Endings’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies! I was recently sent A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Harper360YA (thank you!) I’m so grateful I got the chance to read this #ownvoices collection of retellings of Asian myths and legends, and would love to see more stuff like this on the market.


What the book is about…

Star-crossed lovers, meddling immortals, feigned identities, battles of wits, and dire warnings: these are the stuff of fairy tale, myth, and folklore that have drawn us in for centuries.

Fifteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate.

Compiled by We Need Diverse Books’s Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, the authors included in this exquisite collection are: Renée Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E. C. Myers, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong.

A mountain loses her heart. Two sisters transform into birds to escape captivity. A young man learns the true meaning of sacrifice. A young woman takes up her mother’s mantle and leads the dead to their final resting place.

From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge, these stories will beguile readers from start to finish. For fans of Neil Gaiman’s Unnatural Creatures and Ameriie’s New York Times–bestselling Because You Love to Hate Me.


What I thought of it…

This is such a fantastically valuable book. I’m so glad this has been put together. Like all anthologies, it has its highs and lows – the middle dipped quite spectacularly but the last few stories made up for it with their awesomeness. I did not really want to summarise what each story is about, I just wanted to talk about my thoughts on them but if anyone is interested in finding out more about each individual story, I would like to direct you all to Melanie’s fabulous review! For now, I will talk briefly about each story individually below 🙂

 

Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi – 4 stars

The first story in the collection was beautiful and heartbreaking. This was my first experience of Chokshi’s writing and I found it sumptuous and gorgeous.

 

Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong – 5 stars

This was so well-developed for a short story! It made me feel so much in so few pages. It was darkly fascinating and full of foody descriptions which is always the way to my heart 😉

 

Steel Skin by Lori M. Lee – 3 stars

I didn’t really connect with this sci-fi story. The writing was ok but the whole thing felt a bit rushed. I did like it slightly more when I learned the folklore that it was based on, but it wasn’t my favourite.

 

Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaipotra – 2.5 stars

I wasn’t feeling this one at all. It had weird creepy vibes and I didn’t enjoy it. It was an interesting ‘Romeo and Juliet’ type of story but I found it quite strange.

 

The Counting of Vermillion Beads by Aliette de Bodard – 3.5 stars

I’m not gonna lie, I did struggle to differentiate between Tam and Cam! But I did love the magic in this one. It reminded me of some magical realism I read recently. Though I think I might have preferred the original ‘nasty’ version of the story!

 

The Land of the Morning Calm by E. C. Myers – 5 stars

This is my favourite story of the collection. It was so very touching. The folklore was incorporated seamlessly into the story and I never once felt confused because it was explained as it went along. I would gladly read more stories set in this world and I will certainly be looking for more of this author’s work.

 

The Smile by Aisha Saeed – 4 stars

This one was short but powerful, with a great feminist message.

 

Girls who Twirl and Other Dangers by Preeti Chhibber – 3 stars

Another story that I struggled to connect with. The contrast between the old myths and the contemporary references felt jarring in this one and I just didn’t really ‘get’ it. It also felt very young in tone.

 

Nothing Into All by Renée Adhieh – 5 stars

I love anything to do with goblins so this was a delight. Adhieh really captured the fairytale feeling with her writing.

 

Spear Carrier by Rahul Kanakia – 2 stars

This felt like information overload. It was all very weird. I think it was a bit too deep for me; I did appreciate it more once it was explained but I found it longwinded and harsh.

 

Code of Honour by Melissa de la Cruz – 2 stars

This one felt totally out of place in this collection. There was barely a link to any mythology and it was reminiscent of teenage paranormal romances of the 2000s.

 

Bullet, Butterfly by Elsie Chapman – 5 stars

Joint favourite story! This was utterly heartbreaking but oh so beautifully written. I cried.

 

Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar – 5 stars

Absolutely gorgeous writing and great feminist messages. This read like a real fairytale.

 

The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon – 5 stars

Sumptuous! I’ll never look at a sunset the same way again. I love that the author gave voice to a character who has even less dialogue than an ox in the original legend! I also really enjoyed that the reader was addressed directly; I always think that adds to the magical fairytale feeling.

 

Eyes like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa – 5 stars

This was surprisingly dark to end on but had some lovely descriptions. I loved it.

 

Out of a possible 75 stars (five stars for each of the 15 stories), I gave this collection 59 stars. I gave the book an overall rating of 4/5 stars.

 

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Has anyone else read this anthology? If anyone does want to know more about any story in particular, do get in touch 🙂

What are your thoughts on short story collections in general? Let me know your favourite in the comments! x