The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo (Book Review)

Publisher: Orion
Page Count
: 279

I can make this very easy for all of you! I love fairy tales, I love Leigh Bardugo, I love the Grishaverse and I love books with beautiful illustrations all lead to me adoring and falling in love with The Language of Thorns. There was no way around it and I honestly never really doubted it to begin with. However, I know that makes for a really poor review, so I am shortly going to review each of the stories.

Disclaimer: It is not strictly necessary to have read any of the Grishaverse books beforehand, although I suspect the tales will be more fun that way.

Ayama and the Thorn Wood

Rating: 5/5 stars

“You know how the stories go. Interesting things only happen to pretty girls, you will be home by sunset.”

Well, wrong! This one was my absolute favorite and I think it had a lot to do with the message of the story. It was like a mix between Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast but with the complete opposite moral – you don’t have to be beautiful or handsome to go on adventures, to be brave and strong and most of all to be appreciated. It gave me such a sweet taste of how Leigh Bardugo would continue to deconstruct these tales we all know so well and make them her own, a lot darker and in quite a few cases way better.

The Too-Clever Fox

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

“A lesser creature might have closed his eyes and prayed for nothing more than a quick death. But if Koja had words, then he had hope.”

I liked the idea of having a fox (by the name of Koja) as the hero of the story. His wit and fast thinking got him out of every situation until it didn’t. For this one I saw the twist coming, but I still appreciated how the story ended quite a bit.

Little teaser for this one: Koja is supposedly Kaz Brekker’s (Six of Crows) favorite, so if that is no reason to check it out then I don’t know.

The Witch of Duva

Rating: 3/5 stars

“Fly away now, little bird,” she said. “Some things are better left unseen.”

The closest fairy tale to compare it to would probably be Hansel and Gretel, however, I just want to point out that Leigh Bardugo goes far beyond all the traditional tales’ constraints. I don’t exactly know what it was about this one, but it definitely fell among the most disturbing ones for me and they are all … peculiar in that way. One thing is for sure, nothing is as it seems here!

Little Knife

Rating: 4/5 stars

“She never worried when her beauty faded, for in her reflection she always saw a free woman.”

While Little Knife has a lot of classic fairy tale elements, such as impossible tasks and suitors battling for the hand of the most beautiful woman in town, it still has such a positively refreshing message about female independence and women’s identity. I liked how Little Knife reinforced the idea that it is not necessary for every single being to end up in a romantic relationship in the end.

The Soldier Prince

Rating: 4/5 stars

“My life began with wanting something for myself.”

The vague resemblance to the nutcracker definitely peaked my interest for this story. Yet, instead of the transformative power of love being the main focus it is rather about finding your own wants and human desires; that need to live for yourself instead of the people around you. I enjoyed this little journey of self-discovery that very much reminded me of artificial intelligence becoming conscious. It also had one of the most eerie endings out of all the six.

When Water Sang Fire

Rating: 5/5 stars

“A thousand desperate wishes have been spoken on these shores, and in the end they are all the same: Make me someone new.”

Let’s face it, this was basically the very dark yet still incredibly beautiful original take on the origin story of Ursula from the Little Mermaid. I loved every single word of it!


So, those were my thoughts on the Language of Thorns! As a final statement, I just really want to praise Sara Kipin’s illustrations that beautifully unfold as you continue with each story. They made the tales truly special and assured that 5-star-rating in the end.

Fazit: 5/5 stars! The most beautiful addition to the Grishaverse possible!

Have you read The Language of Thorns or other books set in the Grishaverse? What are your thoughts?

Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel (Book Review)

Publisher: Michael Joseph
Page Count
: 320

At the beginning of 2017 I read Sleeping Giants, the first installment in the Themis Files series, so it is only fitting that I sort of closed the year with its sequel Waking Gods. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the series is a kind of darker and more adult version of Illuminae (set on Earth but still dealing with space stuff). I will never tire of the format being in protocols, journal entries and interviews.

Honestly, I remember how it took me a while to get into Sleeping Giants at first, with the writing having felt very clinical and detached, but I didn’t have that issue at all with Waking Gods. In the contrary, even after all this time, I could jump right back in and quickly remembered where we left off and I guess the ten year time jump helped with that as well. Everything happens a lot faster, though, and I think that is due to a whole new rush of information. Just like the humans in the book don’t know how to handle it all, the readers themselves get swept up in the stress and panic a bit. There are definitely some decisions made that I didn’t agree with and consequences that I would have had no clue how to react to.

While this sequel is still very dark and won’t let you get too attached to anyone, it felt like it was a tiny bit less disturbing than the previous book. The new cast additions were nice and didn’t take away from the focus on people we already were familiar with. I felt like we didn’t spend as much time with certain characters as we used to, which made events that I cannot describe in detail due to spoilers less impacting. In general, it seemed like the author attempted to give everyone their time to shine and didn’t go as much in depth as we used to before.

Nonetheless, I still very much enjoyed this book! I like the science behind it and often wonder if parts of it are true (aside from the aliens, there’s obviously no huge alien robot terrorizing us). The story still manages to surprise with its twists and turns and always leaves on a note that keeps you craving more. I can only recommend this series!

Fazit: 5/5 stars! I am just so excited for what is to come next!

Have you read the Themis Files? Would you be interested?

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab (Book Review)

Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Page Count
: 510

Our Dark Duet is the second and final book in the Monsters of Verity duology (you can read my review for the first book, This Savage Song, here). While I will try to avoid spoilers for this part as best as I can, I don’t recommend you read on if you haven’t read This Savage Song.

Back in 2016, I talked about this series all the time. So much so, that I pre-ordered the hardcover copy of Our Dark Duet, fully knowing that I’d be in Canada by the time it would arrive and therefore also buying the ebook version for my Kindle. All of that because I truly loved This Savage Song. I loved how quietly exciting it was, how original the creation of the monsters was. But most of all, I loved the characters and that’s what lead me to put off reading the book for such a long time. I was worried about their future and their livelihood and rightly so, because Monsters of Verity doesn’t have a happy end, but it might just have a hopeful one (even if it comes at a price, as Schwab so deftly put it in her acknowledgements).

To me, Our Dark Duet was a lot … well, darker. Whereas Kate’s opportunity at a family and a place where she belongs got once again taken away, August tried to embrace his supposed purpose in life and lost himself in the process. They had to grow up even more than in the last book and it just made me feel terribly sad for their circumstances. Only when the two are together, they can allow themselves to be themselves. I am very protective of my son August, but Kate grew even more on me here than she did in the last book. They see each other for who and what they are and that’s such a vital and beautiful quality whether it’s in friendship or whatever else they were having. It’s my favorite part about their relationship, while I simultaneously hated that they spent most of the book apart.

The book didn’t just deliver more of the same old, it had quite a lot of new elements  a terrifying monster and a new Sunai, by the name of Soro. The latter, in particular, was quite the enigma to me, which leads me to a final statement I want to make with this review: There’s still a lot of unanswered questions. It’s not like the book ended on a cliffhanger and I won’t survive, but there is so much more that this world has to offer, so many characters that we could still explore and I truly want to spend more time with. I don’t know if that is an option, or if Schwab is truly done with this world, but I, for one, would really enjoy some sort of spin-off or continuation in Verity and its surrounding areas (aka maybe a Prosperity spin-off???).

A lot happens in the book, we get several different POVs and there was a lot of heart in the story. My heart broke and hurt for hours after I was done. It’s always that way when I truly loved something and I just need to establish it one more time – if I could, I would adopt August and coddle him for life!

Rating: 5/5 stars! I am sad it is over, but this story was freaking fantastic.

Have you read the Monsters of Verity duology? I am telling you, it is totally worth it!

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (Book Review)

Publisher: PUFFIN
Page Count
: 336

I am on a roll right now, folks, and I have to use that energy to get as many blog posts out as possible before it fades. Even if my Goodreads time stamps might claim something different, I also seem to read books in a day now … this is new … or at least hasn’t happened in a while. I knew I’d eventually get back into reading once I was in Vienna.

Anyhow, the book! Considering how long it took me to jump on the Simon vs. (read my review here) bandwagon, it should come to no one’s surprise that it took me forever to read Upside as well (even though I did pre-order it!). I was ready to love this book with all my heart and even though it wasn’t exactly as I expected, it easily won me over. Becky has this incredible talent to write a super fluffy story but with the most relatable and realistic characters.

When I look at Molly, I could do a checklist of how similar the two of us are … so, that’s what I am going to do because it shows why this story worked so well for me.

  • We are both chubby girls. ✔️
    I’ve seen how dismissive or over-reactive some people have found Molly’s thoughts. I always feel like some guys and girls might not understand how deeply rooted self-criticism and doubt can be in a person that doesn’t have the societal normative body type. It hurts double when your friends and family are the ones suggesting you should lose weight, because it just makes you feel all wrong and like you don’t fit in even with the people that love you. So, yes, during my days on this planet, I have wondered if I could possibly crush a potential love interest and how someone could possibly like me when they saw me next to my much skinnier/taller/cuter/whatever-you-have-it friend. It takes time and work to come to terms with your body and yourself but it instantly made me bond with Molly because we shared the same insecurities. Also, going shopping is a nightmare!
  • We both have a lot of crushes but rarely do anything about them. ✔️
    Admittedly, my crushes are either actors, actresses or fictional characters and I am never serious about them nor do I want to actually date any of them, but I do get the sentiment of how a simple kindness or a brief look might spark an epic crush. It happens!
    Still, it’s hard to put yourself out there, especially when everyone else makes it seem so easy and you’re just sitting there, wondering how to even start. It’s easier to not even let anyone close enough to do any damage in the first place.

  • All my friends had relationships before me as well and drifted away/thought I could not possibly understand their life now. ✔️
    I don’t think I had the time during High School to date. It’s not even that I studied that much, but thinking back, I just don’t know how a person would have fit into my life. Heck, I don’t even know how a person is supposed to fit into my life now. But I digress, I may not have a twin sister like Molly does, but I do get the pain of drifting from the people you were once closest to because they now hang out with their significant other. I do understand that balancing friendships and a relationship can be tricky, especially if you are new to it or have no experience, but you can hang out with one person at a time. Believe me, it is possible. And getting this opportunity, I just want to say that I was really strongly siding with Molly during that entire story as well. Cassie found a tough audience in me. This in no way means that Molly always handles every situation the right way, but I would have felt hurt by some of the stuff Cassie did too. She was hella condescending at times.
  • We both have anxiety. ✔️
    Does this need explaining? Social gatherings with new people or new situations in general trigger anxiety in me and it seemed like Molly felt similarly.
  • We are artsy in our own way. ✔️
    Just threw that in there to have one more point for the list, but it’s true.

In addition to me really clicking with Molly, she had just the cutest love interest that I would have loved to know even more about. And I also sense a story or two (or a hundred) for the broader friend circle (Will and Olivia – I am especially looking at you!). I definitely haven’t given the most detailed account of what’s going on in this book, but I would love for you to find out by yourself. It is heartfelt and lovely. It deals with so many questions I had as a teen and shows that you are rarely ever alone in having them. For that and so many more reasons, I think it will be a great book for teens as they figure out life, just like Simon’s story was as well.

Speaking of him! The shortest but most certainly favorite part of it all were the brief crossovers to Simon and his friends. I shrieked with happiness whenever it happened, which just makes me all the more excited for the upcoming Leah on the Offbeat!

Fazit: 4.5/5 stars! Definitely a worthy and great addition to Simon’s universe!

Have you read The Upside of Unrequited? How did you feel about it?

Winter Is Here Write Tag!

Guys, I am nervous! This is the first time I am making my own tag and I really just hope you will enjoy it. First things first, how did I get the idea to make this Winter Is Here Write Tag? Well, well, back in October I got tagged for the All Hallows Write Tag and I had so much fun with it. I don’t remember ever getting the chance to answer a tag with my own characters before, so I figured we needed more of that in the blogosphere. Let’s dive into what I cooked up!

RULES

  • Thank the person who tagged you but also link back to the original post(I want to see all your beautiful answers, people!)
  • Provide a short description of your WIP/story!
    (Just copying that from the other tag because I am terrible at pitching my own story …) It’s about a couple having to find their way back to each other after some magical beings messed with their lives (aka kidnapped the boyfriend into another world). Getting tangled up in an ancient struggle for power, they have to be careful to not get sucked in too deep before it is too late.
    I am working on that pitch. It’s not at all where I want it to be yet. You can check out the first 10+ chapters here if you are interested. They are a much better representation of the story.
  • Don’t use the same character for more than 3 answers!

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Which protagonist is most likely to break into Christmas song first? Bonus: What song?

Georgie always feels like a showgirl to me and I can definitely just see her singing randomly during the day, not even noticing that she switched from regular songs to Christmas ones.

It’s the first snow of the season, who would immediately book a ticket to a hot beach location?

Again, Georgie would probably prefer not having to deal with the cold in the city and rather spend it at some luxurious beach resort. Since she doesn’t have the actual money though, it’s not like she’s really going to go anywhere.

Which character believed in Santa (or a mystical equivalent) for the longest time?

Just thinking about how easily Kasia trusted in Georgie and Findlay, how easily she could accept the whole magic-is-real-and-you-have-been-cursed-situation, I just feel like she had that innocent belief in herself the longest.

Who is most likely to build a blanket fort and go into hibernation with books, Netflix and tea/hot cocoa/coffee?

This basically screams Kasia! Our girl would never pass up on tea to begin with and the coziness is like her essence of her being.

Image source: Clover Kate

Who would be the first to start a snowball fight and then get really competitive about it?

Alaya, while she can be soft when she wants to be, is more of a confrontational and competitive type in her “work life”. So, I could see her build an entire snow fortress and be all strategic about something as essentially non-important as a snowball fight.

Who buys their Christmas presents super last minute?

This gentleman right here may have something sweet planned for his one true love, but Dyson would definitely wing the presents for most people in his life.

There’s a local snowman competition, who would be the best sculptor? What would they build?

In my head Findlay has an artistic gene but since he doesn’t do anything just for fun, he would want to wow the judges with whatever he created. Since he’s not always as up to date as he likes to think, I can imagine him attempting an Olaf look-alike (from Frozen).

Image result for olaf snowman real

If someone were to organize a Secret Santa event, who would it be?

My dear Kasia hates responsibility, but she’d rather do something herself than see someone else do it “the wrong way”. She might snap at someone at some point and get super stressed and worried about people not having gifts for their assigned partners, but she will organize it (even if it will be the death of her).

Someone refuses to leave the house unless strictly necessary because of the cold. Who is it?

Arcadia, at least the part she lives in, is mostly warm all year round. I have the inkling of a feeling that Alaya wouldn’t appreciate the cold.

Who puts style before comfort and would rather freeze in fashionable clothes than be warm but not on trend? Bonus: Add a winter aesthetic for the character!

Georgie is my Queen of Style. Her – 100% her!

I TAG THEE

I hope you liked this tag and will spread the word! I would really love to read what other people have to say about their characters!