Book Review | The Faerie Thorn, and Other Stories, by Jane Talbot

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I’m a great lover of fairy tales and folk tales, and I really love it when someone writes ‘new’ ones that feel like they could be hundreds of years old. I picked The Faerie Thorn and Other Stories up as a summer read and it absolutely did not disappoint. It contains seven tales all centered around faerie-like beings, all incorporating classical faerie elements, while being entirely new and unique. The Faerie Thorn by Jane Talbot

The stories can be gruesome, dark deeply sad, but there’s a raw beauty in these stories that I haven’t seen anywhere else. Talbot has created several, amazingly vivid portraits of worlds that feel so much deeper and wilder than you could ever imagine. There’s the promise of something more in every word.

The writing is unique and inventive, Talbot is not afraid to use language differently from what we’re used to, while staying consistent throughout the book. It creates a sense of otherworldly-ness and strangeness that really sets the tone for all of the stories.

A beautiful and dark collection of faerie tales, enchanting and tantalizing, will transport you to other worlds you didn’t think existed.

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Book Review | Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater

“You are made of dreams and this world is not for you”

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Ronan Lynch is a dreamer; he can pull strange, dangerous and wonderful things from his dreams. Jordan Hennessy is a thief, a forger, a copier, and a dreamer trying not to dream. Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter, her brother was a dreamer, she has seen the damage dreaming can do, and she fights to prevent the end of the world..IMG_20191207_141317_051.jpg

Call Down the Hawk is the first book in the new Dreamer Trilogy, which is a spin off of The Raven Boys series. It follows Ronan Lynch (and other new characters) after the Raven Boys events have played out. I’ve read The Raven Boys cycle several times, so I don’t know what it would be like to read Call Down The Hawk without any foreknowledge, but you definitely don’t need to read the Raven Boys first, because Stiefvater manages to weave the necessary background information throughout the story, without it getting annoying if you know the first series well. She really manages to do it just so that the background feels significant to the character, without it getting like a summary of ‘the previous episode’. She strikes the balance just perfectly.

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Book Love by Debbie Tung

★★★★★IMG_20190223_153806_671

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I’ve loved Tung’s diary comics for years, ever since I stumbled upon Quiet Girl in a Noisy World, which is about her life as an introvert in an extraverted world, and was really excited about this new comic collection which is solely about her love for books! I love her drawings, they’re so simple but they express so much, and I love how relatable it all is. There are so many things in this little book that I believe many book lover will recognize themselves in, from sniffing books to not being able to pass a bookshop without at least looking at the window display! A really enjoyable and funny comic collection, that would make a perfect gift for any book lover.

 

 

 

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Retrograde Orbit by Kristyna Baczynski

★★★★★ IMG_20190223_155153_495

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Flint lives with her mother on the mining planet Tesla, where her family in het grandmother’s day was forced to evacuate after a nuclear disaster on their home planet. Flint has already dreamed of going back to her family’s roots and obsesses over it throughout her life. In the book we get to see her grow up from childhood to adulthood and see her obsession change and grow with her, as she struggles for recognition and a way to make contact with her past. A really cool tale about finding your own home and your own place in life, with absolutely beautiful illustrations (what I liked most were the colors, and how every color signified a certain episode of Flint’s life) against a background of an entirely planet so different from ours where ‘planet hopping’ is a form of travel, but full of oh so human and relatable people and their relationships (male/female friendship that does not turn romantic!). A rare and beautiful treat!

 

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Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills

“I just don’t want you ever to think that I’m not going to find you.”

Sophie has always loved her small town life, her four best friends, her marching band. But when her marching band is chosen to march in the Rose Parade in LA, she has to find a way to fund this trip. In the middle of the night, she sends an e-mail to Megan Pleasant, asking if this local and super famous country singer will come back to her home town to sing a charity concert to fundraise the trip – even though she has sworn never to return.  But there’s also a new guy in town, who seems to have just as many secrets as Megan Pleasant.

★★★★★IMG_20190223_154148_326

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I’ve been a fan of Emma Mills books ever since I got hold of This Adventure Ends almost a year ago, and I was reeeeally looking forward to Famous in a Small Town! And it was definitely as great as I’d hoped it’d be!

First of all I need to mention how funny this book is – like laugh out loud funny. And also the way in which it’s funny that it feels so recognizable for my generation. It’s a specific kind of humor that I can’t really explain but I don’t often see in books and I love it when I do.

There’s less action in Famous in a Small Town than in Mills’ other books, so if that’s something that’s going to bother you maybe this isn’t the one for you, but I loved how it gave more spotlight to the characters and their relationships with each other. Because I do think these characters are the best from all her books, they’re so sparkly and life like and all of them so unique with their own voices and quirks. It becomes such a beautiful portrait of these people and their lives, and especially their relationships.

I especially loved how these five people (plus the new guy) have known each other for almost their entire lives and it’s so visible in the way they fight and make up and have long standing inside jokes. Often books center around new friendships, and I love to see longterm friend squads. I especially loved that while there was a distinctive group dynamic, all of these friends also had special relationships with each other, certain habits and tradition only two of them shared and such. Like they were a tight group, but they also had their individual relationships with each other and those were shown in such a subtle way. It’s so realistic, because no friendships are the same and especially groups are so complex, and Emma Mills writes this really well.

I also really loved the story, too, it’s quiet, yes, but it feels so powerful. There were two moments I totally did not see coming and I was completely surprised with the ‘revelations’ (as they’re not really plot twists in the traditional sense). The story lulls you to sleep  and then comes the INFORMATION (by lack of other word)! It was really surprising, but I won’t say anything else on it!

It’s a bit of a quiet book, but it’s so full of these people and their daily lives, their histories and their emotions, their super funny inside jokes that make you want to be part of their circle. A really lovely and comforting book that I’ll love rereading again and again.

 

 

Content warnings (may contain spoilers): a shitty suicide joke by a shitty character (but it’s made clear it’s shitty), death

 

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Chocolat by Joanne Harris

“Happiness. Simple as a glass of chocolate or tortuous as the heart. Bitter. Sweet. Alive.”

In Lansquenet, nothing much has changed for decades and decades. That is, until Vianne Rocher comes to settle and begin a chocolate shop and outrages the local priest to begin such a shop in temptation and sin – and at the beginning of Lent, too! But slowly and surely, the town gives in, despite the preaching and the threats of damnation, but evil still lurks in the corners. But sometimes the only way to cast out true evil, is to expose it to the light..

★★★★☆ IMG_20190109_185029_393

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I decided to finally pick up this book because I’d watched the movie so, so many times and wanted to see what the source material was like. I was surprised, slightly confused but pleased nonetheless, as the book is in essence very different.

Chocolat was so much more complex than I’d expected. Not necessarily in terms of plot, that is largely the same, but it’s definitely more emotionally complex than the movie. We get to live with these really complex and morally grey characters (like the priest). All of the characters are so three-dimensional, complex and human, it’s very impressive. I feel a lot of the book is about those complex emotions and how displaces loyalty and obsessions really can ruin people’s lives, and even end them. But it’s also about loss and letting go of that loss. It’s about the bad things people do, but also about the good things people are capable of. It’s about facing fears and seeing they’re more terrifying in your own mind than in reality. It’s really full of all of that and more.

This book is often marketed as a feel-good read, but honestly it’s actually quite dark. There’s darkness in Vianne’s past, there’s darkness in the village, darkness everywhere. It does not leave you cozy and buttery, like a feel-good novel is supposed to do. But actually I really enjoyed it because of that, this hint of rawness, so it was a pleasant surprise for me, just mentioning that it doesn’t exactly do what it says on the tin.

What I thought could be better is some of the writing. often things are told instead of shown in places where it would really feel more lively and airy if they were shown. Like parts of dialogue told instead of actually ‘spoken’. In fact, there is a lot told that should have been shown, but perhaps that’s just the style. The narrative switches between two characters, which is interesting and sometimes confusing, because there are no headers signaling the change. It gives a sense of connection between the characters but I’m not sure if it works here.

A lovely and interesting book and not at all what I expected.

 

Content warnings:  domestic violence, violence in general, religion (negatively used), discrimination

 

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